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HTC One X Review [AT&T]

 

HTC is out to reinvent their brand this year after they struggled during 2011. To kick off 2012 the right way, they have presented their newest flagship device, the HTC One X. We have already published our full review of the unlocked Tegra 3 variant of this phone, but this one is branded with an AT&T logo and is powered by a Snapdragon S4 chip to support their 4G LTE network. Could this be the device that saves HTC in the US handset market? Let’s take a look. 

The Good:

  • Display:  Since the display is the same on this One X as the unlocked version, I am going to pull from Kellex’s review since I agree word for word with his breakdown of it. “Easily the most beautiful smartphone display you will find anywhere. At 312ppi and 4.7-inches of Super LCD2 glory, the colors and details are natural, defined, and simply put, stunning. We probably won’t find another display that will compete with the One X’s until Samsung puts out a phone with their HD Super AMOLED Plus. Even then, the vibrant and sometimes oversaturated colors on the AMOLED may not be preferred over these LCD2 displays that HTC is using. Experiencing this screen in person is something that each and every one of you should attempt to do.”
  • Design, Look and Feel:  I am not ashamed to say that this is the best and most beautifully designed phone on the planet. The subtle, smooth, milky feel of the back against your hands is one of the most satisfying sensations you can hope for when touching just a phone. Keeping it in your pocket is almost a crime and it should never be kept in a case. We wouldn’t want it to think we’re ashamed of it. And yes, we’re weird like that. All creepiness aside, the phone’s curves are just fantastic examples of symmetry and I have found myself just staring at it in amazement.  Did we mention that no other phone has attracted as much curiosity from strangers and friends than when we pull this device out? You have to see it to believe it.
  • Hardware:  Inside this beast, you have a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (kind of a downer), 8MP f/2.0 camera in the back, 1.3MP camera in the front, a 4.7″ HD Super LCD2 display, NFC chip, MHL port, and a 1800mAh battery. It doesn’t get any more top-of-the-line than this. As far as the average Android user is concerned, this device leaves almost nothing to be desired.
  • Battery:  Unfortunately, I am not in an area that supports AT&T’s LTE network, so giving it a true battery test was not possible. Although, I will say that while running on HSPA+, that this device has the best battery life I have ever experienced. From the shot below, I went a solid 25 hours without having to throw it on the charger. And when merely idling the device is a slow drainer. I give big blue ribbons to Qualcomm and HTC for making this possible. Once the Portland area gets some AT&T LTE we will have to retry this though.
  • Performance:  With only a dual-core chip and 1GB of RAM, there may seem to be a lot of devices that can match up to this device on paper, but that’s just paper. In reality, the Snapdragon S4 cruises through tasks without even a stutter. In my attempts at trying to slow this thing down, I came up empty handed. You can open multiple apps in a row, switch to the camera, snap photos, toggle off and on settings, flip home screens, open your app drawer, and more without ever noticing a bit of lag. Well, you may see them from time to time in HTC’s Sense UI, but without that, this phone is unbelievably fast. We performed a set of standard benchmarks between the Tegra 3 version and the Snapdragon S4 variant that can be viewed here.
  • HTC Sense 4.0 (parts of it):  Um, where should I start with Sense. I am a passionate Nexus lover and if you throw a skin on top of my Vanilla Android I might have to cut you. But you know what? This new Sense isn’t completely unbearable. In fact, it sort of kicks butt in some cases. Previous versions were highly intrusive and made Android look like a completely different OS in my opinion, but with this new version, they leave a lot of the Android experience alone basically and just sort of revamp the look. It has a great way of managing your contacts, pimping out the camera, and tying into your social network feeds. Not bad, HTC.
  • Camera:  The rear camera weighs in at 8MP with a f/2.0 aperture and is better than your average smartphone shooter. After spending most of my time with the Galaxy Nexus’s camera and liking that, I can now see why people despise it so much. This camera is a serious upgrade in that department and I just hope and pray that we can see more devices get shipped with a shooter such as this one.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich:  I would expect nothing less from a flagship device in 2012. With companies like LG and Motorola releasing phones that still have Gingerbread, a shout out should be given to HTC for keeping up with the times. They may have tossed their new Sense 4.0 on top of it, but the features that were introduced with Android 4.0 are all there for you to enjoy to their fullest.
  • Call Quality:  Had nothing but pleasures when speaking to people over Big Blue’s network. No disconnects, no static, no nothing. And in fact, reception in general was fantastic. Everywhere I went, including the woods and the lake had mid to full bars. Knowing that I can go anywhere and still be receive my tweets is a huge plus(/s).

The Not-so-Good:

  • Bloatware:  The number of applications that come pre-installed and serve a general useless purpose isn’t as bad as I first thought it could be. There are definitely some that take the cake such as AT&T Navigator, YPmobile, and Device Help. I understand for people new to Android that these apps may be beneficial, but come on. This is a Google device. We already have Google Maps and a Google Search feature built it, so just give us those things instead of confusing people even further as to which app they should use for each task.
  • Hardware Navigation Keys:  It’s a major bummer that this device has been shipped with actual hardware keys, seeing as how the Galaxy Nexus has been out for months now and HTC had plenty of time to see that people really loved that concept. Either way, this isn’t a complete negative. They feel pretty good, but we just sort of wish HTC stayed completely current and ahead of the design curve.
  • Non-removable Battery:  The internal battery is 1800mAh and should be strong enough to get most people through an entire day of use. But not everyone is the same and there will be times that having a non-removable battery will hamper your abilities when it comes to extended options and things of that nature. In the long run, if you are the traveling type or like to be unplugged from a wall outlet every 24 hours, then you will definitely notice this downside. With most Android devices featuring removable batteries, it is definitely a different approach for HTC that may not pay off in the end if users experience sub-par battery life.
  • Top Lock Switch and Headphone Jack:  I share Kellex’s beliefs on the placement of these two items, so I shall piggyback from his review of the International variant. “The top lock switch, sucks. As does the top headphone jack. The thumb lock switch on the side of the device, makes so much sense, that there should be a law created to make top switches illegal. Same thing with the headphone jack. If I’m listening to music on my phone through headphones, a plug at the bottom simply works better. The cord doesn’t have to hang out the back of the device or dangle to the side if I’m looking at it, and when I place it in my pocket top down (like everyone does), the cord pokes right out, without me having to think about it.” Couldn’t have said it any better myself. When will the manufacturers learn? At least Samsung has it right.
  • No Camera Lens Protection:  While we may crown this device as having the most beautiful design, the camera placement almost kills it. My girlfriend said the design looks like a nipple and after looking at it for five seconds, I agree. The lens is out in the open for anything to come along and scratch it, so you might find yourself placing the phone screen-side down, just to make sure you don’t damage it. If the camera was flush with the body, then it would be money.

Full Gallery:

Screen Comparison:

Unboxing:

HTC Sense 4.0 Overview:

The Verdict:

Easily a 9 out of 10 star performance from HTC on this device. Without a doubt, the best device I have had the pleasure of reviewing and it easily replaced my Nexus during the trial time. Superior camera, performance, and design make this the best device on the market. American customers who are on AT&T or were thinking of making the switch should put this device at the top of their lists when shopping for a new phone.

Unfortunately for Verizon customers, it looks like we may be getting a less impressive variant such as T-Mobile’s HTC One S we reviewed earlier. Let’s hope that later down the road Verizon has plans of picking up a superphone such as this one.  And with Samsung’s Galaxy SIII being unveiled in just a matter of days, who knows how long the HTC One X will sit atop the Android device kingdom.

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