Editors’ note: Because the HTC One X was reviewed by our companion site CNET Asia, we are publishing this review as an in-depth hands-on article without an official starred rating.
Arguably one of the more exciting new devices announced at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow, HTC’s flagship Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) handset looks good and comes with killer specifications.
Instead of the aluminum unibody designs that we’ve come to be familiar with in HTC handsets, the HTC One X cuts down on the weight with a polycarbonate finish that’s similar to Nokia’s Lumia 800. While the rear cover is matte, HTC has polished the sides, which gives the handset an unfinished look.
Despite its glossy edges, the One X did not slip from our hand. In fact the handset felt comfortable to hold and use. All about pleasant curves, the One X has no sharp edges to dig into your palm.
Measuring just 0.35 inch, the One X is among the latest breed of superslim Android handsets that are currently on the market. Thanks to its polycarbonate frame, the phone only weighs 4.7 ounces and is 0.74 ounce lighter than the smaller HTC Sensation XE.
The One X’s large 4.7-inch 720p (1,280×720 pixels) display is what catches your eye, and text looks sharp on the high-resolution screen. Instead of onscreen software buttons, HTC has opted to use three touch-sensitive keys located just below the screen. This is supposed to give you more display real-estate, though I don’t think it makes much of a difference. Just for comparison, the Galaxy Nexus uses software keys.
The battery is nonremovable, so there’s no rear cover. There’s also no microSD card slot. The One X comes with 32GB onboard storage, which should be sufficient for the average user. Multimedia junkies may have to manage their media files carefully to avoid running out of space.
At the top of the phone is where the power button, 3.5mm audio jack, and micro-SIM card slot reside. The right side plays host to the volume controls; the Micro-USB port is found on the left. The rear camera has an 8-megapixel backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor and a lens with an f2.0 maximum aperture. On the front is a 1.3-megapixel camera located just above the screen. Next to it are some speaker holes, instead of the metal grilles found on older HTC models. HTC said these holes are part of the polycarbonate chassis and are small enough that water droplets won’t be able to seep in.
HTC’s One-series devices come loaded with Google’s Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and the company’s own Sense UI. HTC Sense is now in its fourth version and takes a toned-down approach compared with the version found on the Sensation XE. We’ve covered most of the new changes in this feature.
Frankly, I like the slight tweaks to Ice Cream Sandwich that HTC made. The app-switching panel is bit more sensible (pardon the pun) compared with stock ICS. At the same time, HTC has also improved the camera app’s interface. Google’s original camera UI is very basic, but the One X has the ability to take burst shots and capture still images while recording video. It also adds a video-recording button next to shutter, so you can instantly capture videos instead of having to toggle a switch.
HTC has finessed Beats Audio, too, to work with almost all music and video apps — the equalizer will turn on when the phone is playing tracks from Internet radio or even YouTube video clips. Compared with the Sensation XE’s limited playback capabilities, this is a huge improvement. Unfortunately, the handset does not come bundled with any Beats-branded headphones. You’ll have to fork out more cash if you want the full Beats Audio experience. Still, I found audio with the equalizer enabled to have slightly more bass and clarity even with a normal headset.