HTC One X Evaluate

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It's been a troublesome year for HTC. After several profitable quarters, issues have started looking less rosy in recent months with the company facing stiff competitors and affected by obvious model dilution -- the results of launching too many handsets with forgettable names, making too many compromises for the carriers, continuing to depend on Sense, and lacking an iconic flagship to take on Samsung's mighty Galaxy S II. We knew something important was coming for Cellular World Congress after HTC timidly revealed the Titan II at CES -- in spite of everything, the corporate has an extended historical past of innovation. A couple of days earlier than flying to Barcelona and after being sworn to secrecy, we had been quietly whisked right into a San Francisco convention room with clear instructions: no photos or video. There, in the middle of the desk, was a white phone that immediately caught our eye -- the HTC One X. To jot down that we came away impressed after briefly using it's a massive understatement. This was clearly a halo device made for geeks like us, one thing designed to take on the Galaxy Nexuses of the world, something with the mother of all spec sheets, something operating Ice Cream Sandwich with a significantly thinner and lighter version of Sense. Higher yet, there were two other handsets with the same impeccable consideration to detail -- the One S and the One V. HTC was finally exhibiting some vision again with robust branding, gorgeous design and a polished user experience. While first impressions go a good distance, there's a lot to be realized about a product by living with it for a number of days. So is the One X actually HTC's comeback system? Are we still delighted? Is that this the Engadget phone? Hit the break for our full overview. HTC went back to the drawing board. Whereas a lot of its merchandise from 2011 blended collectively in an amorphous, Sensation-esque blur, the corporate's drawn a line in the sand -- this is its flagship and it is a magnificence. The cellphone is housed in a polycarbonate unibody that's matte on the back and glossy at the sides. This polycarbonate materials means the physique should not interfere with the phone's signal, while incidental scratches will reveal but more brilliant white. Some thought-about contours alongside the physique of the cellphone mean that despite its 8.9mm (0.35 inch) profile -- and a 4.7-inch display -- it always felt protected in our grasp. Although its measurement could also be borderline for some individuals's palms, it's nowhere near as monstrous because the Galaxy Word. In comparison with the likes of the Rezound and Sensation, it is also round 30 grams (1.1 ounces) lighter -- presumably attributable to the brand new materials being put to make use of on HTC's great white hope. Touring the physique, the device is refreshingly unencumbered by complications -- the earpiece speaker is even built-in into the polycarbonate shell. The staple quantity rocker is a white bar on the suitable aspect, while the micro-SIM tray is now hewn into the unibody (you may need a steel pin to entry it at the top of the again). On the left edge there's the MHL-succesful micro-USB port, whereas the headphone socket and power button are each discovered on the top. Once more, HTC's placement of this key, which additionally wakes the screen, makes less sense than if it was positioned along the right edge, but the buttons are strong and responsive, coated in the same polycarbonate white as the unit -- no simply-chipped silver paint. The camera noticeably protrudes from the middle of the telephone, accented by a metallic circle -- it is a telephone that's proud of its camera and we have devoted a bit to this beneath. There's additionally a five-pin connector alongside the correct side, ready for these inevitable docks and in-car holsters. The speaker grill, made from eighty four individually-drilled holes, belts out loads of noise. If you're wanting to use it to broadcast your music, you may want to have the machine face down -- a built-in Sense characteristic does precisely that while you flip the device over throughout calls. It nonetheless suffers from the identical lack of bass found in most phones, though the One X is certainly one of HTC's first devices to deliver Beats Audio enhancements across all apps, eradicating considered one of our complaints with the tie-up. If you're in search of more detail on this Beats Audio providing, examine the write-up we gave it in our Sensation XE overview. Behind the polycarbonate gloss, the phone arrives with 32GB of reminiscence, with 26GB of this accessible to the person. This is additional augmented by a new Dropbox deal offering an additional 25GB to anyone that registers a device from the One collection. It's all running on NVIDIA's quad-core (plus one) Tegra 3, clocked at 1.5GHz and totally different from its incoming LTE variant set to arrive with Qualcomm's twin-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4. The processor is teamed up with 1GB of RAM, whereas HTC's joined the NFC get together, adding Android Beam performance -- the place ICS apps allow it. We had been in a position to ping some e mail addresses and web sites between the One X and the Galaxy Nexus. The One X's 720p show below a USB microscope at about 230x magnification. The One X matches the Rezound's 720p decision, however homes it in a new Super LCD 2 panel and gifts it with 4.7 inches to play with, which translates to a pixel density of 316ppi. At this resolution, it embarrasses the rest of its similarly-sized cousins (e.g., the 4.7-inch HTC Sensation XL) when compared side by facet. And whereas we're unsure whether or not it's the pseudo-concave design of the display, that drops ever-so barely on each edges or the thinner Gorilla Glass, the high definition pixel matrix seems to skim throughout the face of the cellphone -- viewing angles are great, especially if the brightness is cranked up. Tremendous AMOLED Plus aficionados, that is what your rival seems like. On the non-PenTile One X, colors seemed more natural and the whites had been whiter than on AMOLED devices like the Galaxy Nexus. When outdoors, we needed to max out brightness, however once we did, the display screen was both navigable and readable. There are two primary methods manufacturers implement cameras on increased-end phones. One strategy is to build a no-compromise imaging-centric system geared in direction of images buffs, as popularized by Nokia with the N8 and the recently announced 808 PureView. The choice is to take a competent shooter and make it simple and bulletproof for anybody to take pleasure in, one thing Apple and (to a lesser extent) Samsung have achieved with the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S II (and derivatives). Whereas HTC has aimed -- and largely succeeded -- at pleasing each the shutterbug and the layperson with handsets like the myTouch 4G Slide, Amaze 4G and upcoming Titan II, it has usually favored the convenience-of-use strategy. The One X continues this development by delivering probably the greatest all-spherical imaging experiences we've come throughout without sacrificing quality -- thanks to an 8-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor, an extremely wide aperture f/2.0 autofocus lens (vs. ImageChip. It's also the quickest cameraphone we have ever reviewed, the 0.7-second startup time and 0.2-second delay between shots beating even the speedy Galaxy Nexus. A single LED flash capable of five totally different depth levels completes the package deal. While the hardware is mostly state-of-the-artwork, there are a couple of omissions that forestall this shooter from hitting the bull's eye. Most disappointing is the lack of a dedicated two-stage digicam button -- we'll make do with out the mechanical shutter, xenon flash and autofocus-assist mild common to devices like the N8, but we'll take a proper mechanical shutter key over a primary on-display screen button anytime. We're additionally concerned with the long-time period sturdiness of the glass masking the optics which is exposed to fingerprints and scratches by protruding from the cellphone's body. Identical to the rest of the One X, the digital camera specs only inform half of the story. The software program -- known as ImageSense, naturally -- performs a giant half within the handset's imaging mojo. It packs critical processing chops and supports a smorgasbord of features like real-time filters, HDR, panorama, burst and gradual-motion video (to call a couple of). As an alternative of unraveling each minute UI element, let's focus (pardon the pun) on the shooter's functionality. First, there isn't any extra distinction between picture and video modes -- you are welcome to take nonetheless or shifting photos anytime by tapping the appropriate on-display shutter key. This implies you're capable of seize 8-megapixel widescreen photographs (3264 x 1840 pixels) while recording video! Higher yet, it is even doable to grab HD frames (1920 x 1088 pixels) from an current video during playback. Second, there is a full set of Instagram-like filters -- together with tweakable vignette and depth of discipline results -- which can be utilized to photos in actual-time or after the fact. Each the camera and gallery apps present a plethora of changes out there earlier than shooting and later whereas editing, corresponding to contrast, saturation and sharpness. There's additionally an array of manual settings to chose from, equivalent to exposure stage, white stability and ISO. We have a few niggles although -- conspicuously absent is any kind metering choice (heart-weighted, spot or common) and whereas touch-to-focus also gives some management over EV there's no option to lock focus and publicity earlier than reframing. Most shooters enable this either by half urgent the devoted two-stage camera button (N8), tapping and holding any a part of the viewfinder until the lock indicator seems (iPhone 4S) or -- our favourite for lack of a correct mechanical shutter key -- tapping and holding the on-display digital camera button (Galaxy S II). Hopefully that is something HTC can repair in a future replace. Now let's speak about image high quality. We pitted the One X in opposition to the current cream of the crop -- the N8, Amaze 4G, iPhone 4S and Galaxy Observe (which uses the same module as the Galaxy S II) plus Canon's S95 compact level-and-shoot. The digital camera landed someplace in the midst of this star-studded pack, marginally beating the Galaxy Note and iPhone 4S whereas virtually matching the Amaze 4G. Sure, it's not in the identical league as the N8 (which rivals the S95 in some circumstances), however that is one stellar digicam, especially when you consider that HTC is not positioning this phone as an imaging-centric machine just like the Amaze 4G. Low-light performance is particularly spectacular due to the fast f/2.0 lens and backside-illuminated sensor, which mix to assemble an enormous amount of gentle. HDR evening pictures are actually magical -- no mushrooms required. Still, the software program depends on somewhat too much noise discount in excessive low-gentle which ends up in a noticeable lack of detail, and since there is no help mild, the autofocus typically struggles at the hours of darkness and requires a couple of touch-to-focus attempts before getting a lock. Pictures taken in most conditions look fantastic, but wanting intently we're longing for a sensor with a wider dynamic range and better high quality lens (sure, the N8's Carl Zeiss optics are laborious to beat). Whereas shade balance is usually high-notch we observed some points with the white steadiness being off at occasions right after launching the digital camera -- it rights itself after a few seconds, however it's a problem if you are trying to catch that fleeting moment. Metering is usually correct, however the lack of publicity lock implies that in some cases (like sunsets) we resorted to fiddling with the EV to avoid washing out parts of the shot. Of course, we're being picky here and none of this takes into account ease-of-use, which rivals the experience on the iPhone 4S (and beats it, by way of pace). Sure, the proof is in the pudding -- individuals who care little about aperture and shutter settings will take great images with the One X. The One X captures 1080p video at a silky clean 30fps with continuous autofocus and stereo audio. Results principally look sharp and sound clear -- we seen some faint video compression artifacts (bitrate is 10Mbps) and the computerized gain control reacted a little too shortly to wind noise, however this is nothing to be involved about in most situations. In distinction with how shortly the camera handles stills, there's a few 4-second (!) delay between tapping the on-display video seize button and the actual begin of the recording which suggests you're likely to miss some firsts if you are not ready. There's another neat trick value mentioning, and that's sluggish motion. Yes, this shooter is able to report 480p widescreen video (768 x 432 pixels, to be actual) at 60fps for playback at about 24fps -- try our sample video under. Quad-core telephones have arrived. Whereas we have already seen the NVIDIA tech on one in all our favourite Android tablets, the One X is our first Tegra 3 smartphone to arrive for testing and it would not disappoint. We tried to push the hardware as a lot as we might and it dealt with nearly all of our duties effortlessly. GTA3 loaded effortlessly -- and was fast. Even process-switching couldn't sink the cellphone, though it does pause to suppose whenever you bounce between heavier duties like video and gaming. Browser performance is a revelation too. We could not spot any tiling points as we scrolled at high-velocity by the front web page of Engadget -- none -- photos had been there earlier than we even bought to them. This triumphant real-world performance is backed up by some understandably jaw-dropping benchmark scores, besting even the Transformer Prime in Quadrant and Vellamo efficiency assessments and thrashing the Galaxy Note -- our earlier smartphone heavy-lifter -- throughout the board. Three and O2 in the UK averaged round 2.2Mbps down and slightly below 1Mbps up on HSPA. Call high quality is good, with the noise-cancelling second mic serving to to give attention to the voice, though some background static remained on our take a look at calls on several networks. Battery life, however, seems more likely to pay the worth for this. With brightness set to 50 p.c, WiFi on but not related, the One X's 1,800mAh juicepack managed six hours of steady video playback -- that is two hours in need of its sibling, the One S. Obviously, this sort of exercise is likely to use the telephone's a number of cores, but we discovered that Tegra 3's 4-PLUS-1 setup nonetheless continues to slurp the battery on very mild use -- we didn't notice that additional companion core taking any kind of burden off the phone's energy consumption. Checking our battery status, it looks like HTC's Super LCD 2 screen -- maybe unsurprisingly-- was additionally to blame for a life span that didn't last a full workday. Update: To clarify, we received 12-plus hours of reasonable use out of the One X (that is checking, e mail and social networks, making a couple of calls, sending some messages, taking just a few photos, downloading just a few apps); your mileage will differ. Keep in thoughts there are variations between the One X and One S beyond the processor, reminiscent of just like the radio chipset and the show (4.7-inch vs. 4.3, 720p vs qHD, LCD vs. The most recent model of HTC's proprietary pores and skin, Sense 4, comes on top of Android 4.0.3. But this isn't your father's old model of Sense. In fact, it is a way more refreshing take on a pores and skin that was once incredibly bogged down by nonsense animations and pointless UI components. Is it stock Ice Cream Sandwich? No, not by a long shot. However what you will get with the One X's consumer experience is a pleasant mixture of ICS and Sense, both halves somehow finding a approach to dwell collectively in harmony. That is to not say Sense four is a whole and perfect Android skin. However it does a much better job determining the spirit of stock Android and actually striving to emulate the OS, as an alternative of throwing Google's designs and inspiration out the window. HTC's aim was to make the brand new Sense a lot lighter and fewer burdensome to the remainder of the platform, and we would say it has largely succeeded. There may be so much to debate in the new Sense that our overview of it became too large to include with the rest of our impressions on the One X. To get the full scoop full with screenshots and video, go to our incredibly comprehensive Sense four review. There's completely little doubt that the One X is a masterpiece of an Android device: it obliterates pretty much all of its opponents by giving even the mighty Galaxy Nexus a run for its money. HTC's really crafted one thing special right here, with an excellent combination of branding, industrial design and user experience. This handset looks and feels gorgeous, with high-notch supplies and construct quality, essentially the most gorgeous show we have ever stared at on a telephone, a unbelievable digicam that is quick and easy to use and a laundry checklist of every potential spec below the sun. Sense 4 is thin and gentle enough to boost -- not detract from -- stock Ice Cream Sandwich. Pinch us, 'cause frankly, we're smitten. Ultimately, buying a One X is lots like getting a unicorn -- it is wild, quick, white, stunning, expensive and fickle. Still it's not all rainbows and glitter. While it is incredibly fast and clean in precise use, we're stunned that the quad-core Tegra three in the One X carried out barely worse in our benchmarks than the dual-core Snapdragon S4 within the One S. Battery life is by far our greatest concern and we actually hope that HTC addresses this head-on with future software program updates. It'll be interesting to see how its LTE equipped twin (which can be Snapdragon S4-based) fares in those areas when it launches in the subsequent few weeks -- let's just hope AT&T keeps the firmware as unadulterated as possible. Ultimately, buying a One X is a lot like getting a unicorn -- it is wild, fast, white, beautiful, costly and fickle. Time will tell if dressage faculty tames this energy hungry beast. Mat Smith, Brad Molen and Richard Lai contributed to this evaluation. All products advisable by Engadget are selected by our editorial crew, independent of our mother or father firm. A few of our tales embrace affiliate hyperlinks. If you purchase one thing by one of those hyperlinks, we may earn an affiliate commission.