The Messiah Complex: the HTC One X hands-on review

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Smartphones
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The timing can’t be more impeccable than this. Just a few days ago, the Easter bunnies were still hopping around the corner, as the world commemorated the ascendance of the Messiah. 24 hours after, Filipinos celebrated the might & valor of our heroes. Then came April 10, and as the clock ticked 6PM in the Philippine shore, finally, as the dust settled, a new Hero is born, and The One emerges from the sea of smartphones, as if to save us from the abysmal and mediocre mobile devices we once thought to be the savior of our boring (techie) lives…

*cough*cough*cough*

Ok, enough of the melodrama, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, behold the HTC One X..

Is it really the One to beat, the One to follow, and the One superphone we’ve been waiting and dreaming all our lives? Can it live up to the hype? Lets find out…

THE BASICS:

  • OS: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • Chipset: NVIDIA Tegra 3
  • CPU: 1.5 GHz quadcore
  • GPU: ULP GeForce
  • Dimensions & Weight: 134.4 x 69.9 x 8.9mm / 130 grams
  • Display Type:
  •  Super IPS LCD2 capacitive touchscreen,
    16M colors with Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Pixel density: 312 pixel per inch (720 x 1280 pixel 4.7 inches)
  • Data speed: HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
  • Bluetooth: version 4.0 with A2DP
  • Near-Field Communication: Yes
  • microUSB port
  • Camera:
  • 8 MP primary camera, 3264 x 2448 pixels
    with 1.3 MP, 720p- secondary  front-facing camera
  • Video: Yes, 1080p@30fps, stereo sound rec., video stabilization
  • Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, face and smile detection
  • Battery: Standard battery, Li-Po 1800 mAh

BUILT: Hero or Zero?

And I quote HTC Philippines Channel Manager Mr. Richard Estanislao:

HTC One is so slim, compact, and made of  space-age  impact-resistant polycarbonate. It is made of the same material which Kevlar vests are made, thus it is bullet-proof!” 

(I’ll be doing the 20-story drop test PLUS ballistics tests as soon as I got my pre-ordered unit…says Chuck Norris)

  • Though no sane man will believe the aforementioned claim (because i’m not planning to use .45mm for it, instead, i’ll be using a rail-gun+machine gun+AK47 combo as my weapon of choice!), the One X is surprisingly tough as hell as HTC claimed. For a polycarbonate material (read:plastic) and a slim body phone, it survived abuses, random mishandling, considerable number of 2-4 ft drop tests, and intentional phone-throwing contests. Again, HTC raised the bar in the built & design category with One X
  • Though the over-all built is almost the same old HTC design, I give my props to HTC for making a huge leap in making the best out of polycarbonate technology — minimal paint-job thus less obvious scratches, impact-resisting body to withstand usual bumps and drops, and light-weight and slim for one tough phone. Again, HTC made another impressive feat in reestablishing its claim as the best manufacturer of sleek but tough smartphone.

DESIGN & FEEL: Looks that Kill or Cheap as Dirt?

  • Very slim and light but not to the extent that it feels too cheap or fragile
  • Compact and good grip
  • The curved glass design compliments the slim, sexy figure
  • Very elegant and solid feel (doesn’t feel cheap and plasticky….  *cough SGS2*cough)

                        

POWER: Future-Perfect or Plain Overkill?

  • Claiming another milestone in mobile technology’s history, HTC once again sets the bar a notch higher by being the first one to launch (and sell) the first quadcore-powered smartphone
  • Boasting a NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset, 1.5 GHz 4-PLUS-1 (quad-core + 1 companion core) Cortex-A9 CPU with 1GB of RAM, HTC One X obliterated the competition in synthetic benchmark tests and surpassed the previous benchmark numbers of the former kings of dual-cores, except for the CPU-stress test SunSpider, single-threaded and multi-threaded tests Benchmark Pi & Linpack respectively, where it’s step-brother HTC One S emerged as the king-of-the-hill
  • Its quadcore+companion core (branded as 4-PLUS-1) architecture, with 1GB of RAM, made multitasking a breeze, while games, apps and internet browsing run silky smooth and darn fast, delivers supreme smartphone experience for lucky owners of this quadcore beast

Number-Crunching: The Synthetic Benchmarks

SunSpider:

HTC One X posted great result for the CPU-stress test, beating all competitors except for step-brother One S.

BrowserMark:

Once again, One X conceded to the superiority of One S in HTML5 test. Take note that its score is approximately 10% lower than the much older, dual-core, ICS-powered Samsung Galaxy S II.

NenaMark2:

Don’t be easily fooled by the numbers. The 3D graphics department seems to be dominated by One S, however, it has 33% fewer pixels than the richer One X, thus One X’s ULP GeForce GPU does better than the One S’ Adreno 225 in terms of raw power per pixel.

Benchmark Pi and Linpack:
Single-threaded and multi-threaded tests showed that One S’ dual-core S4 Krait out-powered One X’s NVIDIATegra 3 quadcore.

SCREEN: Shiny, Shimmering Splendid!

  • 4.7-inch Super  IPS LCD HD screen with 312 pip
  • Yes, this is not SAMOLED+ screen or a Retina display, but HTC One X’s huge Super LCD HD screen (S-LCD) is one of the most impressive screen in the market today
  • Its S-LCD is actually a Second Generation Super LCD  which will definitely give iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy Nexus a run for its money, not only in terms of resolution but in major viewing aspects like splendid viewing angles, good outdoor visibility (a huge, huge leap in terms of improvement compared to its predecessors), brightness, deep and great quality black/white aspects, clarity and crisp, vivid HD quality
    

USER-INTERFACE:

  • Compared to the ICS-updated Sense 3.6 of Sensation XE/Xl, the One X sports a simpler and lighter version with Sense 4.0
  • The previous version of Sense (3.5-3.6) is more eye-candy and 3D-ish but bloated & heavy, while Sense 4.0 is more intuitive, much simpler yet still the same gorgeous and user-friendly UI

    


SOUNDS

  • The Good: Beats audio will not only give you a massive BOOM-BOOM-POW to your audio files, but the bass boost is integrated as well to ALL other media, like your favorite games, videos trailers in HTC Watch and YouTube, etc…
  • The Bad: Still the same weak and relatively poor so-so quality loudspeakers that is starting to become a (frustrating) staple among HTC models
  • The Ugly: Wow, now my apps, movies, and other media are screaming LOUD and crisp with improved BASS (and vocals as well)…but WHERE THE HECK is my Beats  headset?
    In-ear urBeats bundled headset — X
    Deluxe edition Beats Solo over-the-ear headset — X
    Now i know why they call it HTC One X…(insert sarcasm here)

Well, for now, what they can offer is the default, cheap-looking HTC in-ear cans instead of Beats headset. What an irony indeed, for the Beats logo screaming on its intro and the Beats logo painted on its body (back portion) only suggest that Beats audio tweaking technology is integrated here but no actual and physical Beats headset to show-off .


CAMERA

  • HTC Image Sense technology boasting 0.7-second shot time and a 0.2-second autofocus (wow!)
  • f/2.0 aperture, 28mm lens, BSI Sensors, and smart LED flash with five levels of brightness
  • With touch focus, face detection, geotagging and smile shutter
  • An awe-inspiring burst mode that can give you up to 99 continuous shots without a single second of delay
  • Shot modes offer HDR photos, panoramic shots (with a gyro horizon), portrait, group portrait, landscape mode, whiteboard, close-up and,  low light mode (good gracious!)

BATTERY:

  • Trying to get-away from the dark shadow of its mediocre batteries from the past, HTC One X is expected to be more power-efficient with its 4-PLUS-1 architecture
  • One X’s battery lasts for about 12-16 hours per single charge in light use, 10-12 hours worth of juice for moderate use, and 8-10 hours for heavy usage
  • At an average of 8-12 hour battery performance, One X ‘s battery is waaay better compared to the battery life of ICS-powered Sensation XE (both use 1800 mAh Li-Po battery) and its other dual-cored predecessors
  • Though sporting a huge power-hungry 4.7 inch screen, HTC One X delivers great battery performance for light to moderate use, however, using this quadcore beast heavily (like long hours of playing Back Stab, mobile browsing for more than an hour, tons of 8MB shoot fest, calls for more than 1 hour, plus video coverage on the same day) may not give you enough juice to last before bedtime
  • Conclusion – great battery life for light to moderate users, especially for a brand that has a long history of under-performing batteries. I tip my hat for HTC for a cool change (finally). However, if your a heavy user, don’t expect too much from One X despite having a far better architecture in the form 4-PLUS-1. Since Once X has non-replaceable battery, don’t expect that you can finally file for divorce with your AC charger, no son, not yet…

BITS OF WOW-FACTORS

  • Free 25 GB storage in the cloud via Dropbox for two years (to compensate the lack of expandable memory)
  • Awe-inspiring wireless multimedia sync via MediaLink with 5-7 feet coverage — which enables you to project anything from One X screen to a bigger screen (like playing Angry Birds Space projected in your monster 64-inch LED flat TV)
  • NFC-enabled + Bluetooth 4.0 for easy file transfer and Google Wallet payments on-the-go in supported commercial establishments in the future
    

 

GOOD TO NOW THAT…

  • No more deathgrip issue
  • No more poor viewing angles
  • No more highly reflective screen and outdoor-shy screen
  • No more damn slow auto-focus
  • No more dust-under-screen issue

PRICE:

  • $800  (Php 34,000)
  • UPDATE: (April 14) As per email yesterday from HTC, they dropped the price from $800 to $775.62 or Php33,000!


COULD HAVE BEEN PERFECT if:

  • One X has micro-arc oxidized aluminum built – here you can fool anyone that this one will probably  survive a serious confrontation with Rambo. The real deal. C’mon, this should be sported by the flagship phone, not One S or One V! (insert double face-palm picture here!)
  • MediaLink syncs faster
  • One X has micro-SD slot – nothing beats convenient data swapping OFFLINE
  • One completely divorced with the infamous HTC battery-from-hell – by providing at least 2500 mAh- 3300 mAh battery
  • Bundled with Beats Solo by default – for complete premium experience, something which is close to impossible now


RATING & END NOTES:


4.5 out of 5. Not perfect, but almost there. Despite some possible deal-breakers like the absence of expandable memory and non-user-accesible battery, HTC One X is still a the most desirable, the most powerful smartphone to date, period. Despite showing its stuff earlier to major competitors, One X has already established  bigger standards for smartphones for both technical aspects and overall user-experience. This will definitely post a major challenge to upcoming monsters like Nokia 808 Pureview, Samsung Galaxy S III, Sony Hayabusa, and Apple’s iPhone 5. Undoubtedly, without any hint of overstatement, the One X  is the best smartphone money can buy at the moment, and possibly HTC’s biggest hero/savior on its quest for survival and supremacy in the mobile arena.

Credits: MyHTC for the ImageSense Tech bits and GSMArena for the benchmarks.

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Comments
  1. Cipher says:

    @Mikhail

    at that budget (Php6,000-8,000) your best bet is indeed HTC Explorer. Though Samsung Galaxy Y is cheaper @ Php6,000 (it could lower these days), HTC Explorer has better pixel per density, more RAM, gorgeous user interface, better battery, better camera, faster internet browsing and better processing power. Go get it!

  2. Mikhail says:

    I am sorry for asking this question in this post. I am just hoping that you have an idea of my query. I am planning to buy HTC Explorer as my first android phone after using blackberry curve 8520 for a year. I am wanting an upgrade through an android but on a budget. It sells for 7980 pesos in HTC Store in Davao. Do you think I should go for this? My budget is somewhere between 6k-8k(max) since I am just using it for text, call, slight gaming and occasional wifi use. What do you think? Thanks Sirs!

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