Review: HTC One X -- A Solid Underdog

4 stars
It's not as popular as the Galaxy, but it's an equally-outstanding device -- that's a bit short on memory.

4.7-inches, 720 x 1280 px, 16,700,000 colors
Super LCD 2 (Accelerometer / Proximity Sensor / Ambient Light Sensor)
8.0 MP / BSI Sensor / Dual LED Flash / Zoom / 1080p Video Recorder / 0.3 MP / Video Calling

1.5 GHz (Qualcomm MSM8960)
16.0 GB

Block / Google Android OS v4.0
135 x 70 x 9 mm
147 g
1800 mAh Li-Ion
Talk Time:
8.5 hours
Standby Time:
12.5 days

HTC's had a tough year. After a head start on Android, it lost the lead to Samsung, before being lost in the clutter of similar smartphones. Walk into any store, and a row of high-end Android phones will stare back at you. If you build a top-notch device without the hype, is it still a top-notch phone? In If you define top-notch to success, in HTC's case, that's a definitive no.

Why does Samsung succeeds where HTC fail? It stands out. When every device touts a bigger screen, better camera and faster 4G, all that's left is the brand. Samsung has the Galaxy; HTC has, well... nothing -- until now.

Compare With Similar Phones:

Google Nexus 5 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Apple IPhone 5C Apple IPhone 5S Motorola Moto X
Google Nexus 5 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Apple IPhone 5C Apple IPhone 5S Motorola Moto X

Welcome to the One. HTC's X is the flagship of a new franchise, and its sleek design and high-caliber multimedia are every bit as good as the Galaxy and iPhone -- but its measly storage is a problem. You won't see a wait-in-line-for-days mania at the launch; HTC doesn't have the marketing muscle yet. But the X is certainly up there with the best and deserves more attention than it'll get.

The polycarbonate shell and solid aluminum back are as thin, elegant and lightweight as a ballerina on a diet. The frame is beautiful, with a matte white finish that's far more sophisticated than the cheap plastic of the S2. The ergonomic curves are comfortable to hold, and remind me a bit the Galaxy Nexus.

Apart from the three buttons below the display and a volume rocker, micro-USB slot and headphone jack along sides, it's a smooth, minimalist device. The camera lens does stick out a bit, but a matte silver ring protects it from being bumped. You can't take out the battery either, a consequence of such a slim profile.

The biggest problem for me was the gargantuan 4.7-inch screen -- I simply had a hard time one-handing it. It's a whopping 34 percent larger than the 3.5-inch iPhone, so of course, you get an incredibly crisp canvas to watch movies on. It's superior to the S2 and just a smidge short of the iPhone in resolution -- 312-ppi compared to 326.

Colors are vibrant, blacks are very deep and text looks especially sharp -- at every angle. I loved the near 180-degree clarity on crowded subways, when I had to crane my neck to browse the Web. In short, it's one of the best displays on the market.

The 8-megapixel camera has a mix of hardware and software improvements. The auto-focus captures sharper photos at a wider range of distances without a trace of shutter lag. And the backside-illuminated sensor picks up more light in dark rooms. If it's still too dark, the LED flash really brightens things up, too. The photos I took were superb, crisp and bright, indoors and out.

One feature I love: you can take photos while recording 1080p high-definition video. Meanwhile, a front-facing 1.3-megapixel lens lets you video chat and take self-portraits for Facebook.

HTC bought a $300 million stake in Beats Audio, and the X's sound system is unmatched -- Dr. Dre would be proud. Your music will have a heavier bass and a full sound, which I admit can sound a bit clubby, but if you're not a fan of thumping beats, no worries -- you can turn it off for a natural and still clear sound. It's not going to replace a boombox, but if you want to share the music, the speaker is loud and clear, too.

When everyone runs on Android, it's hard to stand out. HTC tries by adding its "Sense" interface atop ICS, but it only tweaks the look by adding a few widgets, animations and fonts. There's a 3-D tray that shows open apps, but overall, I'd have preferred stock Android -- it's cleaner, faster and with less drain on the performance. I do like that you can remove elements on the notification bar, so if you don't want to look at a certain e-mail account, for example, you don't have to. But the Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth can't be switch on and off from there anymore, either.

My biggest complaint is the messaging app is convoluted, making it a hassle to type. In addition, HTC's tweaks to the keyboard are just buggy. Switch it to another keyboard in the app store -- it's unusable. Other than that, the software is similar to the S2.

A 1.5-gigahertz dual-core chip is fast. Apps boot up quickly and browsing is very smooth and navigation doesn't have the slightest hint of lag. The 1,800 mAh battery, meanwhile, lasts through the workday, but died on a nighttime rendezvous. You can't remove the battery, but you can switch off 4G LTE to prolong it a little. Still, if you stay out late, buying a car charger would be wise. Call quality was very clear.

You'll get 16-gigabytes of memory, which is a problem. If plan to listen to and watch a lot of music and movies, expect to clean out your storage from time to time. There's no microSD slot, but HTC does give you an extra 25-gigabytes of online storage from Dropbox. It's free for two years, but a better option for uploading static files like photos.

There's not much to complain about the One X -- the memory and the keyboard, perhaps, but that's it. Everything else is top-notch, especially the brilliant screen and the sharp camera. It's a shame it won't get much attention, but don't be fooled and think it's an inferior device. It's a solid well-rounded flagship, making it a formidable competitor to the Galaxy and iPhone. If you're in the store, give the X a try. HTC is making a comeback.

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User Reviews

Best HTC Phone Yet!

Rating: 5 of 5 | Peter Lassiter on June 15, 2012

After owning the One X for a few days, I thought it was time for an initial review.

So far so good! I'm very happy with the features, but it's the design that's even better. HTC did a wonderful job crafting this beautiful smartphone. It's made from one slab of polycarbonate polymers, for a slim profile and a lightweight feel, unlike other HTC models. I've owned a few older smartphones, and the aluminum shells made them feel rigid and heavy. This is definitely different.

The centerpiece is the 4.7-inch screen, and it's a monster, engulfing the whole front face! Don't worry about cracking it, since it's made from Gorilla Glass. The display is phenomenal. It's bright, vivid and sharp, and works indoors and out, and even better than the iPhone's screen!

The quad-core chip means that everything loads quickly and runs smoothly. The entertainment features are brilliant too -- an 8-megapixel camera snaps great photos and HD videos and Beats Audio blows any MP3 player away.

All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with the One X. It's loaded with entertainment features so I'm never bored on the road. It runs great with a fast processor and 4G connectivity. Highly recommended.

All that power comes at a price, and the battery life is one of them. HTC released a battery fix that boosts the power by 20%, so if you have the X, make sure you upgrade. Now I get through a day, a day and a half, and recharge at night. I use the phone to check email, browse the Web over 4G and play a few games.

Also, the browser isn't as good as the iPhone. For instance, the zoom isn't as refined, and there are some rendering issues. Hopefully they'll be fixed in an update.

It's been said before, but it's important to take note of the size of this monster. Yes, the screen is amazing, but to be honest, I have a hard time using it one-handed, and I feel like it could slip from my grip at any bump, even though I haven't yet -- knock on wood. But basically, it's not for everyone.

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Me Like!

Rating: 4 of 5 | Kevin Morris on May 05, 2012

I tried a few phones before buying it, and I didn't really like the iPhone. I also tried the Galaxy S3, and Android is pretty nice. But I'm not too tech savvy, so I didn't go with the S3.

After a few days of using the One X, I have to say, I'm in love with this phone. Its touch display is as good as the others -- the colors are vibrant and the screen is sharp. The One beats the iPhone and Galaxy in sound. It comes with Beats Audio so music sounds better than ever. Since it's a 4G phone, it's also faster than the iPhone 4, so downloads are faster than ever.

It's powered by Android 4.0 ICS, so I'm still getting used to the little quirks, but so far I like what I'm seeing. The OS is more streamline than ever, and on par with iOS as far as I'm concerned. I've kept the apps to a minimum so far, so I'm not so sure how the processor handles, but I imagine there wouldn't be any problems. Lastly, the camera is just great. The photos are high-quality and look nice printed, and I never have to find myself without a camera anymore.

The phone is sort of big. It's not the size of the Galaxy Note, but I have a hard time holding it with one hand. I feel like I may drop it. So if you have smaller hands, check to see if it's the right size first. The battery is okay. I can last a day on a charge. But if you forget to charge it the night before, you'll run on halfway through the next day.

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Rating: 4 of 5 | Zeke M. on August 11, 2012

After spending a week with the One X, I have to say I'm quite satisfied. The reception isn't as stable as my old Nokia 6030, but it's better than any other smartphone I tested at AT&T. The screen is fantastic -- it's bright and colorful indoors and out, even in sunlight. Since the screen is so big, you can almost lay the phone down horizontally and type on it like a keyboard. The speaker on the back is loud and clear. I used it during noisy environments and I can still hear everything.

The few cons I have are with the short battery life. I know smartphones all have this problem, but I can barely make it through an eight hour workday without it dying on me. I charge it before I go to sleep every night, and I even plug it into my car charger on the way to work. Buy an extra wall charger if you can and keep it around the office. You'll need it.

The 8-megapixel lens is great for wide-angle outdoor shots, but it's not very good when there's not much light. There's a flash, but photos still come out blurry. Zoomed in pictures look a bit grainy too. Despite the flaws, I'd still recommend the One X to everyone.

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