HTC One X Review

Introduction and Design
This is a review of the international HTC One X. In the U.S., the phone will launch through AT&T and will be equipped with a dual-core processor and LTE.


There's always a certain amount of coolness involved with being the first at something. Usually, the products that manage to be the first to deliver a new exciting technology to consumers are the ones that get the most recognition for their achievement, even if other competitive offerings also do that shortly afterwards.

Such was the case last year with the LG Optimus 2X, which was the first handset to come with a dual-core processor – the Tegra 2. This year, however, phone manufacturers had a new technology to implement in their products – the quad-core Tegra 3 processor, and this time, it was another company that got to the finish line first. HTC needed that. The firm went through a series of underwhelming financial results lately, which made some analysts express opinions that the unprecedented success story of the Taiwanese manufacturer has finally come to an end. However, opening the season early this year, HTC has already launched its new One series of phones, consisting of the One X, One S and One V.

Considered to be “the one” solution for all of your communication, organization and entertainment needs while on the go, the HTC One series is striving to dramatically improve on the capabilities of HTC's smartphones, and deliver a high-quality all-in-one package. At the top of the One hierarchy sits the HTC One X – the handset that we're dealing with in this review. This is the new top HTC model, the personification of the very best the company's capable of, at least for this first half of the year.

At first glance, there's a lot to love in the HTC One X – the quad-core Tegra 3 processor, brand new ImageSense camera technology, beautiful 4.7” S-LCD 2 HD screen, massive amounts of internal memory and pretty much everything else a smartphone aficionado might dream of. However, we never judge a book by its cover...


It must be difficult to come up with a phone which has a very large screen, beautiful and thin body, as well as a relatively reasonable weight, all at the same time. HTC has done it for the most part. For the casing of the One X, the company hasn't used aluminum, as it often does with its handsets, but polycarbonate. This has basically ensured that the giant One X actually doesn't weigh that much at 4.59 oz (130 g). At the same time, its polycarbonate body doesn't feel bad at all. To tell you the truth, it's completely the opposite – the One X feels incredibly solid and fine to the touch.

In terms of size, there's just no way that it doesn't feel bulky, and that's exactly what it is, both in your hand and pocket. Alas, one can't have a small phone with a 4.7” display. But who says that the One X is even trying to be compact?! This is a smartphone targeted at the hardcore user who needs more function than form.

You can compare the HTC One X with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

When it comes to its looks, we can only speak of the white variant, because that's what we tested, but the other color variants shouldn't be too different, of course. At least in white, the One X is a great-looking handset. It's very thin, but not too much, and has that sense of elegance to it, unlike previous HTC handsets, which also had premium written all over them, but where thicker and thus had a generally more masculine appearance. The front of the device features a nicely-shaped black glass framing the display, which also contributes to a somewhat sophisticated retro look. Interestingly, HTC has decided to stick with capacitive keys under the display, rather than on-screen ones. On one had, this leaves more space to display the interface at any time, but on the other, accidental presses are more likely. Above the screen is where you'll see the 1.3MP front-facing camera.

Taking our sweet tour around the sides of the handset, on the left we find the microUSB port, which doesn't fit the white casing really well. If it had some kind of a cover, that would have been a different story. However, we can imagine that it probably won't look bad in the darker versions of the handset. On the right is the volume rocker. It reacts OK when pressed, though the volume down key could have used a bit more travel. On the top of the HTC One X sit the power/lock key — which could also be a bit clickier, but is mostly fine — as well as the 3.5 mm headset jack and the second mic for noise-cancellation. Right behind the lock key is the Micro SIM tray, which is ejected in the same way that you eject the iPhone's Micro SIM tray – with a special tool, or, if you are a professional, with a clip. The bottom side of the phone houses only the primary microphone, while on the back you'll get to see the 8MP ImageSense camera with LED flash, awesomely-designed speaker grill, some dock connectors, as well as the HTC and Beats Audio logos. The 8MP camera actually sticks out like a sore thumb due to its protruding shape, and when we factor in the contrasting gray color that HTC used to distinguish it, this pretty much becomes the only area of the device that we find hard to look at (again, this is for the white version). Of course, this might be totally subjective, and some users might even like it just the way it is.


The gigantic 4.7” display of the HTC One X is very good-looking. Not only is it big enough to let you fully enjoy your videos, but it also has this great resolution of 720x1280 pixels. This means the pixel density comes in at 312 ppi, making it very hard to spot an individual pixel. The screen uses the so-called Super-LCD 2 (it uses IPS) technology, which is said to bring better viewing angles and less glare, compared to traditional S-LCD panels. We did find the viewing angles to be pretty good with this device, although the glare was about equal to what you get on other premium smartphones. The screen also treats us to some very saturated color. Actually, it's much closer to AMOLED, rather than LCD displays in this respect, which isn't a bad thing. In some situations, its colors might seem a bit too saturated, but in most of the cases the visuals that it produces are extremely pleasant. For those who still care, the pixels of the display are arranged in a standard RGB matrix, so no PenTile here.

All in all, HTC has done a terrific job with the One X's design. The phone is very big, as we said, due to its gargantuan display, but it still manages to appear elegant and pretty. Its polycarbonate body may not be anything that fancy, but it's solid, light and feels relaxing to the touch.

HTC One X 360-degrees View:


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As every self-respecting smartphone nowadays, the HTC One X runs Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich. This latest version of the OS has come with tons of improvements in almost every aspect of the system, including the UI, the browser, the core apps, performance and so on. Still, you won't get to see a thing of the ICS interface, because HTC has personalized it heavily with the new Sense 4 UI. Everything from the lock screen, through the widgets, to the core apps has been skinned in order to get this typical HTC look.

The main goal for HTC in terms of the interface has been to simplify it. Indeed, previous versions of the UI had so much options and personalization stuff, that it could easily throw the more inexperienced users into confusion. Indeed, we do find Sense 4 to be significantly streamlined. Well, you still get the characteristic weather clock and big widgets, taking up a whole homescreen page, but HTC wanted to remain recognizable among the ocean of Android handsets on the market. However, gone is much of the eye-candy that was present in the previous version of the software. For example, you no longer get the spinning carousel when you energetically switch between homescreens. In some reviews, you might read that the widgets are no longer 3D, as in Sense 3, but are now simple planes. This isn't true, because the 3D effect is still there, it's just not that pronounced.

The main menu is also different now – the apps are arranged in a 4x5 grid pages, which are scrolled horizontally, instead of vertically as in previous versions of Sense. The new experience is probably simpler this way. The good thing for us is that the handset is moving pretty swiftly now, with no hint of lag or choppy animations. We're not sure how much of this is to be attributed to the optimizations done to the interface, or the Tegra 3 processor, but anyways – the result is a perfectly smooth UI, and that's what we care for.

We're not going to go into too much detail here regarding the interface, we'll do a separate article on that. We'll just mention that the whole UI is good-looking, pleasant to use and very different from what you get on other Android phones. HTC has also pre-loaded a lot of additional apps like Mirror, TineIn Radio, Weather, SoundHound, PDF Viewer and Polaris Office, as well as the Teeter game and its services Watch and Hub.


So, you're wondering if it's comfortable enough to type long emails and lots of texts out with the HTC One X. Well, let's say that typing is OK with the handset. This absolutely isn't the best phone for this purpose, but it will certainly get the job done. Now, before you reach for that trusty revolver of yours and point it at us, let us share our arguments with you. First of all, even though the display measures 4.7 inches, the portrait QWERTY keyboard isn't so big, due to the aspect ration of the screen. Of course, that would mean that the landscape keyboard should be very large, and indeed it is, but it's not “4.7 inches” large, because there's a column of navigational arrows to its right side, so the whole space isn't dedicated to the letter keys only. Then we have another problem to consider. When in landscape mode, the keys are no doubt big, but there's almost no empty space between them. That makes it easier for the user to mispress a key. In addition, the graphical appearance of the keyboard itself doesn't help much, because the keys aren't of a contrasting color, and thus they easily blend with the background color; besides, the letters are lowercase ones (not as simple as uppercase letters), and to top it off, each key has its alternative function written on it, all of which contributing for an overall cluttered keyboard design. Make it a 5” display if you will, this keyboard isn't going to get much more comfortable.

Of course, every way of using email known to humankind is available on the HTC One X. In addition to custom POP3/IMAP accounts, you can also easily set-up Exchange ActiveSync, Gmail (now, that's a surprise!), Yahoo! Mail and Microsoft Hotmail.


Browsing the internet with the built-in browser is an affair similar to the typing experience with the built-in keyboard, of which we spoke about in that clunky paragraph above. In short, we don't like it, and we'll tell you why. It's just not intuitive, and, at times – irritating. In addition to the Back button, address bar and menu button in the upper end of the screen, there are the “Add to”, “Bookmarks”, “Saved for later” and “Tabs” keys situated in the lower end of the screen. Now, the trouble with all of these buttons is that they seem to appear at random. In most cases, when you're scrolling downwards, they do not appear; while sometimes, and note that we said “sometimes”, they appear when you're scrolling upwards. This type of inconsistencies leads us to think that HTC has rushed the phone, without taking its time to perfect the software. Yeah, it works, but it doesn't work the way you'd expect a premium, cutting edge smartphone to work.

And it doesn't stop there. When you're doing pinch-to-zoom, or simply double-tap-to-zoom, the handset, of course, zooms in, and you think you can start reading or whatever it is that you're doing, but then, all of sudden — BLINK — everything disappears, and then reappears, but with your view potentially offset, and the text formatted in a different way, causing an inevitable moment of frustration. That's this browser's way of doing text-reformatting, so that it fits the view width. The trouble here, however, is that it does it when it shouldn't, and it takes a few moments to do it. This way, if you want to zoom in on a certain element, you double-tap it, for example, this gets you closer to it, everything seems to have loaded, then you scroll a bit just to adjust your view, and it goes “blink”, and all of a sudden you find yourself in the opposite end of the page. Frustrating, we tell you, even for us. Imagine how the not so tech-savvy users would react to that. Naturally, Flash Player is supported. In terms of speed, the browser moves swiftly, but it's definitely not the best we've seen. We're willing to believe this is due to the underlying software, rather than the Tegra 3 processor. Unfortunately, we couldn't really resolve these issues with third-party browsers. Opera Mobile crashed, upon loading a page, while Dolphin HD performed in a similar manner to the stock one. Still, we guess there must be a browser out there that can set things right.

The international version of the One X supports HSPA+ at up to 21.1 Mbit/s down and 5.76 Mbit/s up. In the States, the phone will be carried by AT&T and will feature LTE connectivity.

The GPS of the HTC One X works the way it should. It found us relatively quickly without using the aid of wireless networks, and almost immediately when we turned on the A-GPS.

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As we told you, the HTC One X is the first handset to launch with a quad-core processor - the Tegra 3 by NVIDIA. We're definitely excited about this new technology, although there still isn't a lot of software that can take advantage of all that horsepower. Anyways, we decided to run a few benchmarks to see what we'd get. First up, we fired up Quadrant Standard, where the One X achieved an average score of about 4500, which is a great result. On the AnTuTu system benchmark, we got an average score of approximately 10500, while on the purely graphical NenaMark 2 test, the One X managed to achieve 47.9 fps. All of these scores are great, and indeed, the One X is one very snappy handset. We didn't encounter any lag or choppiness while browsing through the UI, or when running 3D games. The best thing is that this should get even better, when developers start to optimize their apps to take advantage of the quad-core SoC. Check out the comparison table below to see how the One X's results rank against some of the competition.


According to HTC, it has done some tremendous improvements to its camera technology. It has even given the whole camera package a name – ImageSense. Among the more important enhancements should be faster loading and focusing times, as well as overall better shots due to an f2.0 aperture and BSI sensor. Finally, a special chip called ImageChip is taking care of the necessary calculations before you're presented with the final result. With so many improvements and special brandings, one would think that the One X is the next big thing as far as camera-phones go. Well, this isn't really the case. But let us first tell you about the camera interface!

What we like about this 8MP camera's UI is that it presents you with separate still photo shutter, and a video rec button at the same time. So, if you want to take a shot, you simply have to press the shutter key; and if you want to start recording a video – you pres the video rec button – no need to change modes. There is also a good number of additional settings like changing the review duration, self-timer, ISO, white balance, exposure, contrast, saturation, sharpness, etc. There's also a slow-motion shooting mode. Two cool little features introduced by HTC are the continuous shooting mode (takes a series of images incredibly fast, but may introduce focusing problems), and image taking while shooting a video, which is pretty neat. The cool thing about the said continuous shooting mode is that it allows you to easily select the best shot of the series, and simply delete the others.

One of the areas where HTC has focused is the speed of the camera. Indeed, it shows that they have achieved great results here, as taking a picture literally takes only a fraction of the second. What's way more important, though, is actually how those quickly-taken images look. The short version here is: they look OK. And here's the long one:

The images that the HTC One X does introduce us to a good level of detail. We took our set of samples on a cloudy day, and this let us put the ImageSense camera to the test. And although the level of detail is clearly not 8MP, it's still pretty decent. What's not so decent is the level of noise that we see in the shots. It turns out the sharpness of the images was at the expense of noise. This effect is actually stronger than usual due to the slight oversaturation of the shots. In order to make the images more appealing, the camera is boosting the saturation of the colors, which is OK, if done reasonably. The color balance itself is quite good; images appear natural-looking, though in some of the shots the oversaturation was simply too much. There is also this color artifact visible in one of the images below, where the edges of the tree's branches have come out purple, but let's say that this has been an isolated issue.

Just what was HTC thinking when choosing the type of video capture for the One X is beyond us, but they actually come up with the strange decision to have the camcorder record 1080p video at 22-23 frames per second. Not that it's impossible to watch, but it's not as smooth as what we've gotten used to. The video quality is very good – strong detail presence and natural colors, but the mediocre frame rate kind of ruins the whole thing. The quality of recorded audio is fine; a bit on the sharper side, but everything is easy to comprehend.

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Watching video on the HTC One X's 4.7” screen is epic. The large diagonal, incredibly high resolution, saturated colors and strong brightness output all contribute to the awesome video experience. Just make sure that your video source is of the needed quality! Of course, you can play all kinds of clips with this handset.

The HTC One X also comes with Beats Audio in order to deliver an impressive audio output as well. Sadly, we couldn't test the bundled earphones, but they won't be Beats ones anyway. The Beats Audio technology is available thorough the software side of things, and what's really cool is that it's now accessibly by any other app, and not just the music player. The stock music player itself is rather simplistic. It gives you the standard options to filter your content, displays large album art, and is easy to use. Its most interesting feature is that it's integrated with SoundHound, so you can get more info about the song with just a quick tap.


Due to its size and somewhat sharp side edges, the HTC One X isn't the most comfortable phone to hold next to your ear. However, it's something that you get used to with time. As a device for making phone calls, the One X performs decently. Voices were easy to comprehend on both ends of the line, while loudness was just enough to hear the other person well. However, you might run into some trouble hearing them if you happen to be in a noisier situation. If we have to rate the calling experience, we'd give incoming quality and loudness 8 and 7 out of 10, respectively, and outgoing quality and loudness 8.5 and 7.5 out of 10, respectively.

The built-in loudspeaker is nothing impressive. It has a decent loudness output, almost no depth to its sound and, overall, will simply get the job done, but don't expect any wonders from it. This is one area where HTC can learn a thing or two from Sony's smartphones. Anyway, we like the fact that it doesn't sound strained on its loudest setting.

HTC hasn't yet released the official numbers regarding the 1800 mAh battery's talk-time and stand-by times, however, during our testing, we found it to last a reasonable amount of time, having in mind the One X's gargantuan 4.7” screen and quad-core processor.


It was really surprising to see HTC fall from a record-breaker to an underperforming company in just a few months. Thankfully, the firm's management has recognized the need for a change and has taken a number of timely actions in order to turn the ship around. The HTC One X is one of the first handsets produced with these new policies in mind, but after spending some time using it, we feel that there's still work ahead of HTC.

We really like the new design language that the company has employed. It's previous phones were well-built, but too thick and masculine. Now, the One X comes to introduce us to a new, slimmer and much more elegant appearance, which should further popularize the brand among the mass public.

With such advanced and expensive devices like the HTC One X, though, you have to demand top-notch quality in every aspect. That's not what we got with it. For the most part, there's nothing wrong with the handset. It has a big and beautiful screen, fluid UI and pretty much every hardware or software feature that a user may need. However, when you delve deeper is when you begin to encounter its imperfections, most of which are software-related. We appreciate the fact that the manufacturer has simplified the Sense UI and has worked a lot to improve certain aspects of the device, but the final result is still not quite there. Don't get us wrong – the One X gets the job done, but with such a premium handset, we expect more than this.

For now, the One X comes to prove that HTC is working actively to innovate its line-up, and while it's moving in the right direction, this is not the ultimate phone we've been looking for.

Software version of the reviewed unit: Android 4.0.3, HTC Sense 4.0, Software number: 1.27.401.7

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  • Slim and solid body
  • Beautiful HD display
  • Future-proof quad-core processor
  • Great video watching experience


  • 1080p video recording at 23 fps
  • Unintuitive stock browser
  • Typing experience could have been much better

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