Product review: the new HTC One X smartphone (video)

6 Apr 2012

Innovative and fresh-looking the new HTC One smartphone with its quad-core processor and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) OS is a seriously strong statement of intent from HTC. 2012 is the year that HTC has come out fighting.

At Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona HTC’s stand was swamped on the day that it unveiled the new One X smartphone. After I fought my way up the hill to the hospitality booth where a visibly excited HTC UK boss Phil Robertson took me through the device’s features I felt something had changed in the HTC approach to things.

It wasn’t just the device, it was a sense of purpose and pride. Genuine pride.

You see HTC had a stellar 2010 where it debuted Android devices with titles like Hero, Incredible and Legend that denoted a certain swagger and the value of HTC Sense in allowing a degree of personalisation not found on many other Android smartphones.

Video review of HTC One X:

Silicon Republic editor John Kennedy reviews the new HTC One X smartphone 

But by 2011, you got the feeling HTC was iterating devices to suit every genre possible in the marketplace. It had a Facebook phone called the Chacha, for example, but you couldn’t help but feel really credible efforts like the Sensation and Evo 3D were being smothered by the noise.

But as we are well into 2012, the new range of One Series devices tells me that HTC has learned the lesson that every hardware maker of note has to learn – simplify your product line to enjoy success. Apple typifies this approach, bringing just one iPhone release a year to the market. Samsung learned this lesson in 2010 and all through 2011 thrived by paving a clean and simple path with its Galaxy S II, Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Note products.

An Imperial Storm Trooper dropped something

So what has the Series One X got to offer. Well let’s start with appearances. It’s whiter than white unibody in which nestles a 4-inch (1280 x720) 720p HD screen looks amazing.

For such a large display it doesn’t really feel awkward or large – the narrowness of the screen and the lightness of the device gives you a sense of solidness and assuredness. It weighs just 130g with a battery.

The white body looks fantastic and futuristic – it kind of looks like a piece of equipment that fell off a Star Wars Imperial Storm Trooper’s belt.

The One X is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and comes with Android 4.0 with HTC Sense 4.

Aside from the beautiful appearance of the device, the display is the next thing that will grab you. Very bright and vivid and ideal for the device’s true purpose – photography.

HTC One Camera

Snap happy

Yep, the killer feature of the One X is its camera which comes with HTC ImageSense technology. It’s an 8 megapixel camera that is powered by a dedicated imaging chip and can do things that you would expect to do on a proper SLR camera. For example, full-burst continuous shooting. Keep your finger on the photo-capture button and machine-guns in snaps!

Another stand-out feature is the fact that instead of a little switch to flick between video and photos, HTC has cleverly kept both actions on the one screen. What this enables you to do to is while videoing something you can take photos in the midst of recording in HD.

In fact the settings on the camera are pretty amazing and you can do things like shoot HD video in slow motion for example. It also features some great photo and video stabilisation tools, all of which can be accessed on a pretty clean menu system.

Another interesting feature is ‘Car’ – a new Sense-driven setting that converts the phone’s screen into a dashboard suitable for motorists to access essential services like navigation or music.

HTC One In-car

My favourite new addition is the integration between the HTC One X and Dropbox. Every time you take a photo it is automatically stored in your Dropbox folder in the cloud. This is fantastic because you no longer need to remember to have to try and back up photos. It happens automatically.

While the camera is the most outstanding and amazing feature of the HTC One X, I have to say I was disappointed at the fact that Instagram for Android, which also just debuted this week, isn’t compatible with the camera on the One X. It is such a shame to see two great pieces of technology come out at the same time and not be compatible. Duh!

I’m sure this is a temporary situation and can be rectified (please rectify this Instagram, it’s really a great camera, I swear!). So hurry up.


Verdict on the HTC One X

I think with the HTC One X it is obvious that HTC are streamlining their range and a clear product path will allow them to win back the momentum in the market.

Not only does it not look like any other smartphone – and let’s face it, they’re all beginning to look samey – but the HTC One X pushes the boundaries of technology even forward.

It’s a great multimedia phone for watching movies and capturing HD video and photos and comes with Dr Dre’s Beats Audio technolology, but it’s also a device that feels personal and one that you’d be proud to own.

I think 2012 will be an auspicious year for HTC. That’s because HTC has rediscovered its mojo.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years