HTC One X vs HTC One S

Introduction and Design

With its new One lineup of Android 4.0 handsets, HTC said it aims to achieve a more focused and distinct portfolio of handsets, rather than spreading efforts over many names with unconvincing differences in hardware and design – a strategy that proved wrong in 2011 with the Sensation line.

The One series includes the HTC One X, One S and One V – simple, easy to remember naming scheme, which will be marketed under the One brand, and in fact HTC launched its biggest PR campaign ever for it.

With the current comparison we want to help with the choice most HTC aficionados will face when looking at the One series – should I get the HTC One X flagship, or the upper mid-range One S? We leave the One V out, since its entry level status makes it an easy budget-friendly pick.

HTC has the newest Sense 4.0 interface on both the One X and the One S, so we'd mainly focus on the design and performance of those two. Which is the One for you? Read on our comparison to find out...


HTC is clearly experimenting with modern chassis materials with the One X and One S, and the polycarbonate unibody logically went to the larger One X, keeping its weight in check. We first saw this material introduced in the Nokia N9, then the Nokia Lumias, and now HTC is following suit. The advantage, besides flexibility, durability and light weight, is polycarb's deep coloration, so even if you scratch it, the body underneath is the same color. 

Does polycarbonate achieve its goal in the One X? Well, let's just say that the 4.3” aluminum Sensation from last year weighs 5.22 oz (148 g), the 4.3” plastic Sony Xperia S from this year weighs 5.08 oz (144 g) , while the 4.7” HTC One X weighs just 4.59 oz (130 g). 

The One X the lightest handset for a screen of this size, and also very thin at 0.35” (8.9mm), but can by no means be called compact. It's long and wide, and pretty hard to operate with one hand, as all big screen phones are. It lies pretty well in the palm, though, thanks to its slightly curved chassis.

The One S, on the other hand, is one of the most compact 4.3-inchers we've ever handled, and certainly usable with one hand due to is narrower elongated profile, allowing your thumb to reach almost everywhere on the screen. It is HTC's thinnest smartphone to date, and despite its metal chassis weighs as much as the Galaxy S II, which is all-plastic and the same screen size.

Moreover, the blue anodized aluminum gradient, or the black ceramic metal coating versions of the One S certainly send a more premium feel to your senses than when holding the HTC One X white or black polycarbonate body. Both phones exude a premium build quality, though, with no creaks or crevices, and have easy to feel and press side buttons. 

Both fronts sport a waterfall design, where the bezel of the display seemingly falls off uninterrupted to the sides, but it is an optical illusion, and the phones actually have the usual wide bezels and slightly recessed screens.

The HTC One X and One S have the same 8MP camera module with LED flash and proprietary HTC ImageChip DSP that powers it on their backs. Both also carry the unfortunate trend of major phone makers to seal the battery compartments and deprive the phones of microSD card slots. Still, the different price categories HTC has put the One X and One S in warranted a 16GB internal memory upgrade for the One X – it has 32GB vs the 16GB on the smaller One S.

HTC's new premium phones also only take micro-SIM cards, with the One X providing a pin in the box to help you withdraw the tray on its back, and the One S micro-SIM slot having a latching mechanism for the card under a removable plastic section on its upper back.


The HTC One X has one big advantage before the One S, and it is the 4.7” display. It's easily the most radiant big high-definition LCD screen we've encountered to date, and a pleasure to look at. It is a second generation Super LCD of Samsung's make, with technology similar to IPS, sports way more accurate colors than the One S, has excellent viewing angles, and to top it all off, is very bright as well, helping with outdoor visibility.

It is also with normal RGB matrix arrangement, unlike the PenTile AMOLED display on the One S, which makes certain elements look pixelated. The smaller 4.3” display also sports lower 540x960 pixels resolution, but it still results in 256ppi pixel density. This is smaller than the 720p screen on the One X, but still above average and enough for everything thrown at it, including reading smaller text. 

The AMOLED display has much wider than the standard color gamut, resulting in way oversaturated colors, which seems a bit off in the interface, but thoroughly enjoyable when watching movies, for example. Don't get us wrong – the screen on the HTC One X also sports a very good contrast ratio for an LCD and accurate gamut, but it's hard to beat the true blacks and jolly colors of the AMOLED displays.

The AMOLED screen on the One S, however, is plagued by the same cold colors that most OLED displays of Samsung's make exhibit, with white rapidly deteriorating into a very blueish tint here when the screen is tilted further from 30 degrees or so. It compensates with high brightness and very good outdoor visibility, which is almost on par with the One X.

HTC One X 360-degrees view:

HTC One S 360-degrees view:

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