When the HTC One X was announced at Mobile World Congress in February this year, it was one of a few select phones that ticked all the "shiny new feature" boxes.
Not only does it include a quad-core processor -- the first smartphone in New Zealand to have one -- but it's also the first we've seen running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich.
We caught up with Jeremy Matthews, of HTC, yesterday, and got a review sample of the HTC One X. After 24 hours with it, we have a fair idea of whether it can live up to its tantalising promise.
The HTC One X is constructed from polycarbonate, making it tough and resilient. The Gorilla Glass facing on the screen also adds to it's robustness. The design is, overall, a little more angular than we were expecting, but there's nothing rough here, and it will slide easily into a pocket. At just 130g and 9mm thickness, it's likely that you'll notice its overall size less than you would for a heavier phone, too. That's ten grams less heft than the iPhone 4S, for example.
First thing's first: the screen is amazing. It's a definite upgrade from our current Platinum Award phone, the HTC Sensation, as well as the big-screen Sensation XL. The Super IPS display has a resolution of 1280 x 720, compared to the Sensation's 960 x 540, and only the iPhone 4S has a higher pixel density -- a reasonable indicator of how smooth the screen will appear. When we put the One X next to an iPhone, the difference in screen quality wasn't immediately obvious: another good sign. The One X's screen is bigger than the iPhone, too (4.7 inches compared to 3.5in).
HTC has upgraded the version of its Sense overlay UI to Sense 4.0 on the One X. One obvious change is the choice of font, which now looks smoother than ever, and -- dare we say it -- more iPhone-like. Aside from that, Matthews told us that most of the changes are subtle, making Sense 4.0 the "least intrusive" overlay yet.
One major change is that the 8MP camera now has some excellent user-friendly touches. We particularly liked the ability to take multiple rapid-fire shots, then quickly select one as the "best shot", which instantly deleted the duds. You can also take stills while recording video, although those stills will only be taken at 5MP.
Switching between still and video shooting is now easier, and you can shoot stills while you're recording video. All the touches we love, such as the louder ring when the phone is in your bag, are still there.
The keyboard is also fantastic -- the haptic response is gentle, but effective and makes for great feedback without annoying bleeps.
Beats audio is now incorporated into movie playback, musics and gaming -- although you won't get it for internet radio.
Additionally, Matthews told PC World
that anyone purchasing the HTC One X -- it's available on all carriers from April 26 -- will get 23GB of Dropbox storage. If you have an existing account, it will get a storage boost on top of your existing capacity, and if you don't have an account, you can open one with that much space. Annoyingly, to claim your 23GB, you have to complete five tasks out of a list of Dropbox 'Get Started' examples that include installing Dropbox, putting files into your Dropbox folder and sharing a folder with friends.
Given that there's also 32GB onboard storage, we think it'll take a while before you run out of space. That's fortunate -- there's no SD card slot.
The One X has support for 21Mbit/s HSDPA, for fast internet downloading - you're most likely to notice this on Vodafone's faster mobile nodes in city locations or through Telecom's XT network.
A quad-core processor and large, high resolution display might be expected to consume a lot of battery, but the quad-core 1.5GHz Tegra 3 processor is quite parsimonious when it comes to video processor usage, among other things.
The battery is also quite substantial, at 1800mAh. We haven't noticed that it's less efficient with battery than any other large screen smartphone, and it seems better than some -- we're looking at you, LG Optimus 3D.
Ice Cream Sandwich
Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, offers a few improvements that we've been keen to try out. One is the ability to now group apps into folders on the home screen. You can also swipe to close apps, which is intuitive and handy. Social networking features are now more integrated with contacts, too.
Our review of the HTC One X will be up soon.