HTC One X – Review – Part 1

HTC’s flagship device for the year 2012; HTC One X is truly a magical device. For HTC this device is more than important after a poor financial quarter. For the Industry, HTC One X is the first among the quad core devices. HTC made sure they get right back on track with a bang using the HTC One X. They launched the HTC One X in many countries simultaneously. Especially in India, they must have realized that it is a potential market that can increase their worldwide market share given that many other manufacturers like Apple or Samsung either delay availability or launch stripped down version of handsets.

HTC one X is powered by 1.5 GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 CPUs and one extra low-power companion core combined with ULP GeForce 2 GPU set on top of the Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset. (that spec beats my desktop pc hands down) The design is slim, sleek and aesthetic. The accentuated curves and the polycarbonate body adds that extra feel and design aesthetics. The 4.7” S-LCD of HD resolution on the front is simply brilliant. Android ICS 4.0.3 and HTC Sense 4 completes the device in all terms.

Whats in the pack

HTC One X package contains nothing more than the charger and headset. The box is quite different from what is available for the rest of the world, but the contents are same. There is no separate battery as it is part of the body. No micro-SD support as the device has 32 GB of internal memory. But given the hefty price tag and the title of a top-end device, HTC One X could have been supplied with HDMI cable, pouch or silicon case or a beats earphone (similar to HTC Sensation). But none of this is in the box, making it a huge disappointment with respect to the contents of the box.

Watch the unboxing video

Design, Construction and Display

When you hold the HTC One X, you hold a piece of art in your hand. It is very slim device at just 8.9mm. The polycarbonate unibody design has the paint in the resin, very similar to Nokia N9 or Lumia 800 and 900. Any potential scratches will be hidden as it has no paint coating. Also the material used has contributed to the light weight of the device. Weighing just 130g, you wouldn’t believe you are holding a 4.7” device. The Super LCD 2 display is really super. At around 332ppi, the pixels are not visible to naked eye. The display reproduces brilliant color with great contrast and saturation both indoors and outdoors. On direct sunlight the screen shows its real brilliance with clarity and legibility. The viewing is not affected largely by the angle of viewing.

Physically speaking, the mobile has a super large 4.7 inch display on the front protected by corning gorilla glass. The display is capable of 720 x 1184 pixels. Above the display are the ear piece grills along with the 1.3 MP front facing camera. The notification LED is embedded inside the ear piece grill. The top edge of the screen has the proximity sensor, which is a standard these days in all smart phones. Moving down, the bottom of the display has the capacitive menu buttons. I am not sure as to why HTC chose to have the capacitive menu buttons as ICS design supports on-screen controls. If the one X had chosen to make use of the on-screen controls, the height of the mobile could have been reduced or the size of the display could have been increased. Either ways they have lost some serious real estate here. On the left side we have the microUSB port which acts as charging port, data transfer port and TV-out port. The right side has the volume rocker. The top has the lock/power button. The button is well designed to avoid accidental deployment and also at the same time easy to access when needed. The top also has the 3.5mm jack. The bottom has a small pin hole for the mic. The back of the mobile has the primary 8MP camera along with the LED flash. The camera is bulged out of the mobile back and the lens is not embedded in the housing, making it vulnerable to accidental scratches. I just hope they have used the corning gorilla glass to protect the lens as well. The micro-SIM slot is placed on the sloping end of the back. It has a small pinhole near it. You can use the clip provided in the box to open the sim slot or use any office paper clip point to open it. The back also has the loud-speaker grill with a beats audio logo near it. But the beats audio is operational only when the head-phones are connected. The logo must have been placed near the 3.5mm jack. You can also see the NFC sensor on the back. The battery is non-removable and so is the memory. So there are no slots or opening for these.

Ergonomically speaking I see a few minor flaws in the design. The mobile is designed for two hand operation. Single hand operation is not effective for most of the interactions. The large size and smooth design factors to less grip during operation. Either the mobile slips or you press the wrong area while operating with single hand. If you are choosing the HTC One X, you must have large hands or be prepared to operate with both your hands. But when it comes to two hand operation, this mobile is excels ergonomically. It’s very easy to hold and comfortably fits in the palm while the other set of fingers can tap its way to glory.

I would say it is one fabulously designed device to please you in all dimensions. Once again a special mention to the polycarbonate unibody choice of material and design.

Hardware

HTC One X is the pioneer in quad core mobile device segment. It is powered by 1.5 GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 CPUs and one extra low-power companion core combined with ULP GeForce 2 GPU set on top of the Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset. It has 3 axis gyroscope sensor for orientation and accurate measurement of movement within a 3D space, which works in tandem with the accelerometer sensor. It also has the light and proximity sensor to vary the illumination of the display with respect to the proximity of the user. For navigation, HTC one x has the magnetic field sensor (compass), Rotation vector, Gravity sensor, and linear acceleration sensor. The Android 4 (ICS) and the HTC Sense 4 runs well with the quad core processor. The animations and the graphic intensive operations are a child play for HTC One X, as it is running on top of the Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset along with GeForce 2 Graphical Processor Unit. However the 5th core attracts a special mention here. It is a low power consuming core dedicated for the camera. It enables the camera to click photos while recording video simultaneously and also for clicking in burst mode. I have noticed that when this 5th core is in use, the temperature of the device goes upto 53 degree Celsius. But after applying the first official firmware update, the max temperature is 43 degree Celsius. I don’t see a major issue here, and it will be resolved completely in further updated. But HTC must have looked into this during the testing phase and eliminated all possible heat and battery related bugs. HTC One X has a whopping 1 GB RAM and 32 GB of internal storage of which 26 GB is available for the user and the rest is occupied by the operating system. If I had to summarize in one word, its “FAST”.

Heat graph

Temperature of HTC One X over regular usage

Check out the performance test benchmarks.

Battery

HTC One X has 1800 mAh Li-Po battery. HTC One X – a quad core device with a gigantic display, is a power hungry device. The 1800 mAh power is sufficient to keep the device going for 24 hours of moderate usage. If it involves graphic intensive usage, then the power drains much faster. The battery being a non-removable battery, the option of carrying a standby battery is ruled out. Tegra 3 chipset is said to be a power friendly option and HTC claims that they have done many improvements in the HTC Sense to utilize power optimally. I have to mention that after the first firmware update the power consumption of the device has improved considerably. 1800 mAh is not deal breaker, but still I believe HTC could have done better in this area.

Battery capacity vs usage graph

Camera

Let’s talk about the most talked about feature in the HTC One X, the Camera. The One X is equipped with an 8 MP camera which can take pictures up to 3264 x 2448 resolution and record full HD 1080p videos at 30 fps. The front camera is 1.3 MP and it can record HD videos at 720p. The primary camera can take pictures simultaneously while recording videos, thanks to the dedicated 5th core processor. But what fails here is the view finder. While in video mode, the view finder shifts to 16:9 aspect ratio, restricting the percentage of area that is visible on the camera interface. But when you click the shutter to take a picture, the picture is shot in 8mp on a 4:3 wider area of capture. What you see is not actually what you click. You will have to guess the composition while shooting picture from the video mode.

The camera has continuous auto-focus. While this is a good to have feature, the focus keeps shifting to places where you don’t intend to focus, most of the times. Work around is to use the touch to focus feature. Touch the area which you want to be in focus and now the focus will not jump around the scene, both in video and still mode. Features like face detection, geo-tagging and smile shutter which are a regular feature in point and shoot cameras, is available on the HTC One X.

HTC One X has 28mm lens capable of F/2.0. It’s quite an impressive spec of a mobile camera, but the output is not sharp. The images from the camera have decent detailing w.r.t. depth of focus and it does a good job in low light situations, thanks to the F/2, but the images are noisy and blurred at the edges. This may be due to the sharpening algorithm which over does its job. Nevertheless the camera is super-fast. It can take pictures in burst mode and also switch between gallery and camera quickly. This is one fast camera.

The camera interface is quite simple and straight forward. It has the effects button, click and video button on the right. The effects are pretty neat and fun to use. But the set of effects is not all you have got. You can add a bunch of filter to the image after you have clicked. The photo edit feature offers a lot of advanced facilities but in a simplified UI. On the left hand side you find mode icon to change your shooting modes, settings icon and the flash control icon. The mode offers some cool features like HDR, Panorama, portrait, group portrait, landscape, close up, whiteboard and low light. I loved the panorama the best. It uses the gyroscope and all you to do is just mode your camera around and the image is clicked and stitched for you in a jiffy.

View the sample images clicked from the camera.

Sample Images from HTC One X

HTC One X also does a decent job in video capturing department (though not a great job). It perfoms well in low light situations and does a very good job with respect to framerate when it has ample light. It stores the videos in mp4 format and offers stereo recoding. Zooming while recording a video is choppy and unpleasant. The device comes bundled with a basic video editing tool, which I think is really cool. Oh! and one awesome feature is the slow motion video. Absolutely loved it, though the output is of low resolution and bitrate. Check out the sample videos below.

In part 2 of this review, I will talk about the connectivy, browser, Music and Entertainment, Maps, Organizer and Office Documents, Mail, Messaging and Communication, Phone and Call Management, OS and HTC Sense 4.0 before concluding the review.

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