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Programme 166 covers:

  • Review Special: Hands-on, detailed look at the HTC One X, the biggest, baddest phone in the world - but is it the best?


Here's a rough transcript of the main editorial content:


"First impressions of the HTC One X are that it’s the company’s best handset in years. The way the screen melds into the curved body is very Nokia Lumia-like, except that this runs Android, of course. More than that, it runs Android 4, HTC’s first handset to do so, of which more later.

It’s big though. Bigger than everything I’ve tried recently apart from the psuedo-tablet Galaxy Note. Yet the HTC One X still claims to be, unashamedly, a phone. Luckily it’s also big on features and is undoubtedly one of the flagship devices of 2012, knocking the likes of the Galaxy S II off the Android top spot - at last. The main reason why the One X is so big is the 4.7” RGB screen, fashioned in Super LCD 2 and it’s utterly gorgeous, indoors and out. Phone screen tech has come SO far in the last three years.

Amazingly, given the size, the One X is still 30g or so lighter than the previous HTC flagship, the ill-fated Sensation. This is partly down to the unibody construction and the absence of metal. There’s no loss of premium feel but you DO lose access to the phone’s battery - boo! It’s a sealed in 1800mAh Li-Poly cell, mind you, so just about as good as it gets - and you also don’t get a microSD slot, so you’re limited to the built in 26GB or so free of mass memory. Plus 2GB for your apps. Enough for you? Hopefully.

In fact, the only slot in the seamless case is for the microSIM, with a cute little metal HTC widget to eject the SIM caddy.... A headphone socket, data/charging/MHL port and a volume rocker are also evident, along with a power button on the top - a pet hate, since on THIS size of phone it makes the phone virtually unusable one-handed, at least without some really precarious juggling - YOU try unlocking the screen on public transport or walking down the road with shopping or a tube strap in the other hand! This MIGHT be a showstopper for some - a side power button would have been a LOT easier to manage.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention a camera shutter button - sadly, the One X is all screen-driven, though there’s some justification for this in that the s/w really needs TWO shutter buttons, since you can take videos and photos at the same time! So, here, I’ve started capturing a video in high def. And ooh, that looks cool, let me grab that as a still. And that one. No problem.

In fact, it turns out that you can grab stills later on (albeit at much lower 2mp resolution) from videos as they’re played back. Plenty of flexibility then, to make up for the lack of a shutter key!

Slightly less forgiveable is the ultra exposed camera. There is ZERO recessing of the transparent camera plastic. So you’ve got a camera ‘glass’ that’s mounted so as to make it to point that the entire phone rests on, the point at which it’ll catch on everything - and you don’t recess the optical bit in ANY way? That’s just crazy.

Photos are pretty good though, have a look at some of these samples. They’re up with results from the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S II but, again, fall some way short of those from the camera-specialist Nokia N8. Indoors, in low light, the One X does very well, with F/2.0 aperture and an LED flash with five intensity levels. For posed shots, you’ll get good results, better than on any other smartphone without proper Xenon flash.

[Video sample]

Inside the One X though is where much of its strengths lie. There’s a Tegra 3
QUAD-core  processor - it’s supposed to be fast when it needs to be and to be frugal on power when idling - you won’t get through multiple days on a charge here, but you shouldn’t run out before bedtime on normal use. 1GB of RAM sounds a lot, though you only get 202MB of free RAM after booting - amazing how hungry Android is these days - mind you, this is still just about the fastest Android experience I’ve ever had.

As an example, the One X boots from scratch in under thirty seconds. And I was able to load the full DESKTOP version of the Engadget web site in 14 seconds flat. And with the 720p resolution, in landscape mode I often didn’t need to zoom in at all to read web page text. Very tablet like, dare I say. Sumptuous viewing angles too and, for once, auto-brightness seemed to pitched just right. Well done, HTC.

Although this is Android 4.0.3, you’ll notice things look slightly different - the One X runs HTC Sense 4, seemingly retaining all the good bits from previous versions of Sense, including the neat homescreen helicopter view, without any of the bloat - though admittedly how would I tell ‘if the code was bloated’ with a quad core processor powering through everything? Honestly, the slowest thing about these modern phones is me and my brain - the bottleneck is almost never the hardware.

Sense has little touches everywhere, the multitasking view is now a screen carousel - just to be different, though I prefer the Google original - and HTC has added extra widgets, there are now a staggering HUNDRED or so to pick from. One thing’s not changed then, plenty to fiddle with on an HTC device!

Plenty of other extras are sprinkled throughout the device. When you hook up for the first time, you get a full Dropbox client PLUS 25GB free space for two years. Guess you’d have to pay after that, though. There’s HTC’s Movie Editor, the editing version of Polaris Office and its PDF viewer, TuneIn Radio, plus the usual extra stores: 7 digital and HTC Watch. Not too much bloat overall though, and I loved the ‘Show me’ system of on-device tutorials - who needs a paper manual these days??

Video playback is very good, as you might expect on this display, though codec compatibility wasn’t perfect - some of my AVIs and WMV files failed to play. Still, MP4 is solid and there’s the usual superb Android HD YouTube client.

As you can hear, the speaker’s loud enough, but tinny, as is usual with HTC - I wish they’d spend another 50p per handset and buy in better speaker components...

NFC’s built-in, as you might expect, for 2012, with possibilities to beam things Android to Android, to read tags (shown here) or - one day - to facilitate phone wireless payments. I tell you, NFC’s going to be ubiquitous by the end of the year.

I was disappointed by the One X’s battery life. Admittedly, I was rather hammering it this week in geek testing mode, but I can guarantee it’ll need nightly charging in normal use. I guess that’s all to be expected with 4.7” LCD screen and quad core processor?

Overall though, I was impressed by the One X. After five years of making plastic (and sometimes metal) rubbish, it feels as though HTC has finally fulfilled its destiny. This smartphone is its biggest accomplishment and light years ahead of the problematic Desire and Sensation ranges of previous generations.

Minor caveats over camera vulnerability and speaker tone aside, there’s very little for me to complain about here - the One X feels, holistically, a high quality product. Yes, it’s expensive, but for the first time in ages, I feel like HTC buyers are getting their money’s worth.

The smooth, sleek and superfast One X."

Steve Litchfield, (C) 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, email me at slitchfield@gmail.com


All content on this site and in the Show is copyrighted to Steve Litchfield and to the relevant guest reviewers. All rights reserved, please do not distribute the video files further than your own computing equipment.

Jelly BeanShow 176 - News/odds and ends, My favourite bits of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and a brief look at a new mobile-centric music system.

Show 175 - Hands-on review of the HTC One V, plus news catch up and a tour round my personal 808 set-up

Show 174 - Hands-on review of the Nokia 808 PureView - the best Symbian smartphone ever made - can its monster camera make up for other shortcomings?

Nokia 808Show 173 - News, A hands-on review of the Huawei Ascend G300 and my Top 5 Phones for June 2012

Show 172 - Hands-on review of the Samsung Galaxy S III, 4.8" screen and quad core processor - the biggest and best phone in the world?

Show 171 - Hands-on review of the Motorola RAZR MAXX with massive 3300mAh battery

Virtual controlsShow 170 - News, A rant on the non-take up of Android 4.0 virtual controls, and a hands-on review of the Nokia Lumia 900

Show 169 - Hands-on review of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active and some further thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S III

Show 168 - Hands-on review of the HTC One S, a blow-by-blow comparison between the Nokia Lumia 710 and HTC Radar, and news of the Galaxy S III

Ericsson R380Show 167 - News, My top 10 second hand bargains, A look at the very first touchscreen smartphone - 7 YEARS before the Apple iPhone

Show 166 - Hands-on review of the HTC One X, the biggest and fastest phone in the world - but is it the best?

Show 165 - Hands-on review of the Sony Xperia S, are the super 720p screen and 12mp camera enough?

Asha 302Show 164 - An editorial on the death of a form factor, my Top 5 Qwerty candybars in 2012, and my hands on review of the Asha 302

Show 163 - Review of the Nokia N9, running Meego, plus 'What you need to know' from MWC 2012

Show 162 - Review of the Google Nexus X(!), plus a look at the Nokia 500 and thoughts on Symbian Belle

Galaxy NoteShow 161 - Hands-on review of the Samsung Galaxy Note

Show 160 - Review of the 4.65", 720p-screened Galaxy Nexus


Archive of earlier Smartphones Shows


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