Rogers HTC One X Hands-on (Video)

Daniel Bader

April 20, 2012 4:13 pm


The Rogers HTC One X is here, and it is a stunner.

Before we publish our full reviews, we like to give you a taste of the device, and since this is one of the most-anticipated Android smartphones of the year, there is no better day to do it than on its release.

For reference, the HTC One X specs are:

– Android 4.0.3 with Sense 4.0
– 4.7-inch 720p Super LCD 2 display
– 1.5Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor
– 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage (non-expandable)
– 8MP back camera w/ ImageSense, 1MP front camera
– 1080p video capture w/ image stabilization
– WiFi (b/g/n), WiFi Direct, GPS, NFC
– 1800mAh non-removable battery
– 3G: 850/AWS/1900/2100Mhz, LTE: 1700/2100Mhz
– 3G: 21Mbps down/5.76Mbps up, LTE: 100Mbps down, 50Mbps up
– 134.8 x 69.9 x 8.9 mm
– 130g

Design

The One X is a departure from previous HTC devices, with a smooth (though shiny) single-piece polycarbonate shell, subtly-etched speaker and headpiece grills, and a sloping waterfall effect on the side of the Super LCD screen.

Despite being 4.7-inches it doesn’t feel oversized, as there is very little wasted space above and below the display. At only 130g, the light weight and relative thinness of the chassis also lends itself nicely to even moderately-sized palms, though it may be too large for some people. In that case we’ve recommend waiting for the One S, which is due to be released in a few weeks.

Rogers is releasing the white model, which may be a blessing and a curse. While initially stunning in its pristine white coat, over time the One X will likely show dirt, scratches and general wear more so than a darker shade. The 8MP camera, one of the true highlights of the phone, protrudes ever-so-slightly from the back. It’s not quite to the same degree as the Desire HD, but could become a concern for the less assiduous users among us.

The phone just feels like a premium product; we wouldn’t have minded a bit more heft, or maybe a metal shell, but what HTC has done with the material and design here is a huge improvement over its 2011 models. There is a clear acknowledgement of form — the embedded notification light; the precision-bezelled speaker grill; the oh-so-slight curve to the body  — that speaks of a consistent message of restraint, and enhancing function without excess. If the Amaze 4G was HTC’s equivalent of giving customers a T-bone steak, the One X is its version of a lean filet mignon.

Display

Hands-down, the best display on the market. I lavished praise on the Sony Xperia S (which is still fantastic) but the One S one-ups it in a few important ways. Colours are bright and accurate, blacks are very deep for a traditional LCD, and viewing angles are absolutely endless. This could be the best mobile display on the market.

It bears repeating that the Super LCD 2 panel is non-PenTile; text is so sharp it’s like reading a piece of paper. The automatic brightness setting works as expected, and at maximum brightness the screen is adequately viewable in direct sunlight. We’d say the Xperia S beats it on overall luminance, but not by much. The One X’s screen looks massive without feeling like a mini-tablet; HTC got the right balance of size and weight distribution here, and we’d be very happy to watch a couple movies on it.

Performance

This is how Android should perform. Seriously, the improvements are staggering.

The One X is running a dual-core MSM8960 Snapdragon S4 SoC with an Adreno 225 GPU. This is the first device released to market with Qualcomm’s 28nm Krait architecture, a chip that easily doubles the speeds of its previous S3 family in most applications.

Running through the various homescreens of Sense 4.0, opening up apps, playing back movies, games, whatever — the One X doesn’t stutter. It just does not flinch. Even the Galaxy Nexus, which was built with Ice Cream Sandwich in mind, is occasionally felled by the weight of its own aging hardware. Not once since picking up the One X have we felt like there is a task it’s not adept at.

In benchmarks, too, the story is the same:

147MFLOPS on Linpack multi-threaded
- 1988 on Vellamo
1898ms on Sunspider Javascript suite
4299 on Quadrant

All of these scores are some 30-50% higher than the Snapdragon S3 family, and surpass even the mighty Samsung Exynos 4210 of the Galaxy S II. In terms of GPU performance, the Adreno 225 does not quite match the prowess of the Tegra 3, but bests it by a mile in CPU benchmarks.

It will be interesting to see how the One X, in both its Snapdragon S4 and Tegra 3 iterations, compares to the upcoming quad-core Galaxy S3.

Camera

We’ve taken quite a few photos with the HTC One X, and while we can’t yet speak to whether the quality bests the iPhone 4S, it comes pretty close in most situations (to our eyes). More importantly, the camera UI in Sense 4.0 has seen a complete overhaul, with side-by-side camera and video shutter buttons. The One X captures shots at 4fps, something that only Intel’s upcoming Medfield chipset can boast of, but what we were most impressed with were the focus times and depth-of-field. The f/2.0 aperture lens and ImageSense DSP allows for a remarkably true camera experience, complete with touch-to-focus and sub-second shutter speeds.

It appears that low-light shots don’t fare as well, and there is a perceptible amount of noise at ISO 800, but the camera module is usually able to keep values to below ISO 400 in most shots, unless there is a complete dearth of light. We’ll focus more on the phone’s low-light capabilities in the full review.

Network Speeds & Battery Life

As you know, Rogers likely chose to go with the Snapdragon version of the One X because it wants a flagship product for the summer to showcase its high-speed LTE network. While battery life is a big concern, HTC representatives assured us that they worked closely with Qualcomm to squeeze the most possible juice from this fruit. In other words, built-in LTE plus a 28nm manufacturing process means lower power consumption. But Rogers LTE signals are traditionally weaker than its HSPA+ for two reasons: they are deployed on the less spectral-efficient AWS bands, and there are fewer towers currently deployed with LTE modems.

In Toronto we noticed our LTE signal usually vacillated between one and three bars, whereas we always managed to get four to five bars of HSPA+. Battery life has been good so far, but we won’t comment on it until we’ve done extensive testing.

LTE speeds, however, are fantastic.

Averaging 20-25Mbps download speeds and 12-28Mbps upload, the Rogers network is fully primed for LTE. The sheer speed combination of the CPU and LTE makes the One X feel like the fastest phone we’ve ever used. We did notice that under heavy load, such as streaming a YouTube video or playing a game, the back of the One X would get quite warm, but we’re not going to declare a Heatgate until we’ve had more time with the phone.

Sense 4.0

Without getting too long-winded, Sense 4.0 is exactly what it should be: a pared-down, sped-up, attractive upgrade over its bloated predecessor. Gone are the gaudy animations, slow reaction times and generally-dissatisfying feeling of floating in space. Sense 4.0 is lean, and it shows.

There are areas we’d like to see improved. Those widgets, such as Friendstream, are still there, pre-installed on the home screen like a blister. You don’t have to use any of HTC’s built-in social media services, and we’ve venture to say the official versions of Facebook and Twitter are vastly superior, but we’d like the company to tone it down a notch. The keyboard, too, has been redesigned, but there are two sore spots that we’d like to see addressed: the directional arrows on the bottom cannot be removed, and the space bar is far too small. We kept on accidentally hitting the ‘period’ instead of space, forcing us to change to SwiftKey Beta 3.

Then there is the stop-gap legacy menu button that takes up a centimetre of space in every app that hasn’t implemented the new ICS menu bar design. In the official Facebook app, for example, one doesn’t get to enjoy the entire 4.7-inch screen as the bar just sits at the bottom (or right, depending on orientation), looking smug. Once the majority of developers update their apps to take advantage of Android 4.0 the problem will be moot, but in the meantime many of our favourite apps have this ill-seeming protrusion.

Overall performance throughout the OS is incredibly smooth, but this is owed more to Ice Cream Sandwich than anything HTC has implemented. The superior hardware and Google’s GPU-accelerated software layer are a match made in Android heaven.

That’s it for now

While we work on a full review for you, let us leave you with this one tidbit: Android is still Android, and if you’re not a fan you won’t likely become one overnight. But the One X is possibly the industry’s best “custom” implementation of hardware and software to date. It comes as close to feeling instantaneous as possible, peeking above that iOS responsiveness threshold we seem to hold in such high regard. In reality, Android is still a very fragmented world, with new devices launching on Gingerbread even as we speak.

But the OS has gained so much in terms of app quality and overall “shine” since the release of Ice Cream Sandwich that we can’t help but feel optimistic for its future. HTC, like Google, did what it had to in building upon its previous missteps. Both the One X and Android 4.0 feel like a culmination of their respective creators’ hard-earned experience.

  • Dv

    Will this work on wind?

    • Cole

      It won’t be able to work on Wind or Mobilicity because the AWS band they use for HSPA is being used by Rogers for LTE.

    • Acco

      Cole derp’d. According to the specs posted here… It supports 1700/2100 3G.

      “3G: 850/AWS/1900/2100Mhz”

      So, go wild, buy the phone. It’ll obviously not have LTE support on Wind, but 3G? Sure. :)

  • JL

    Best phone on the market hands down. OMG that display (it’s as good or even better than the iPad display), I’ve seen it in person, the reviewers aren’t lying.

    The Galaxy S III has it’s work cut out for it.

    • Bri

      Is it better than the Super Amoled Plus HD display??

    • 4u2nv

      Do you find the screen better (video playback not text) than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus’s HD AMOLED? I have personally been won over by AMOLED the blacks just look so dark. i.e. in the sun my black on screen are darker than the bezel around the screen and its jet black…

    • daveloft

      Yeah it’s better than the Galaxy Nexus Super Amoled display. I own the Galaxy Nexus and spent an hour comparing it with a One X.

  • KhensU

    Rogers is only releasing the white model? Say it ain’t so Joe.

  • Stu

    still waiting for MobileSyrups review of the Lumia 900 on Rogers – this phone was my second choice as an upgrade

    • Tom

      It is starting to sound like the Lumia 900 (etc.) are just warm up for Nokia. WP8 is the real deal, and the current phones are probably not upgradable (according to today’s news).

      If I wanted an Android I would get this phone (the HTC One X). If I wanted a WP, I would wait until the fall.

  • Cody

    I can not wait to get my hands on one! Amazing display, quality build and very fast. The recent leaks of the GS||| are FAR from keeping me from this one x purchase!

  • rd

    Why only 16gb? The specs for the One X everywhere else seem to be 32gb.

    Especially without expandable memory this is ridiculous. My Iphone from 4 years ago came with 16gb (and it is maxed out).

    Seriously, how much more would it cost to manufacture with the added 16gb… like $20? Is this Rogers trying to squeak out a little more cash?

  • Dv

    Rogers, Y U No get HTC ONE X quad-core?

  • rd

    Why only 16gb of memory? This is not really acceptable without expandable storage. My Iphone from 4 years ago has 16gb. (and please don’t tell me to use “the cloud”… I want to take my media with me)

    The specs for almost every One X every where else have 32gb listed. Seriously how much more could it cost to add the 16gb… like $20? Is this Rogers just trying to squeak out a bit more cash?

    • RP

      If they want us to use the cloud give us unlimited data …

    • Reggie Noble

      From what I heard, it was AT&T’s fault on offering only 16gb. They wanted the phone priced as low as possible. What ever AT&T dictates, we (Canadian carriers) have to follow.

    • Duw

      As soon as I saw the 16GB I stopped caring about this version.

      * The Telstra / Int’l version of the XL also has 16GB. Why? Who knows.

  • gogakhan

    Please don’t get me wrong, but for all new Android phone that hits the market, the reviewers get so flipped over it that they say everything else is just trash. I am not saying that this phone is in anyway worse than anything out there, for all I know it would be great. But don’t downplay other phones just so that you could prove this one to be the beast out there.

  • RP

    Looks like you had some difficulties with the size of the phone at times.. I’m wondering if 4.7 is just a little too big.. I’ve gotten used to the Arc’s 4.2 inch screen but I don’t think I can go any bigger..

    • Studystand

      Gonna be upgrading from a SGSII to a Galaxy Nexus next week, not looking forward to have a 4.65″ screen (compared the to the 4.3″ I currently have) but I’m going to Wind! Hopefully it won’t be too bad

    • daveloft

      The Galaxy Nexus is 67.9mm wide compared to 66.1mm wide Galaxy S II. Because it has a wider aspect ration, the extra size is more in height. Also since a chunk of the screen is taken by the menu buttons, the usable screen space barely bigger.

  • D Kupiec

    HTC needs to sell this phone directly to us outright, unlocked. I like this phone and there is no way I will ever go back to Rogers.

  • Robert

    A very impressive device and a great review, with the exception of “call quality” which you seem to have forgotten. Looks like it’s going to be an interesting summer in the mobile market.

    • Daniel Bader

      @Robert, this is just a quick preview. The full review is coming in a few days.

    • Robert

      Ya, I guess compared to your standard review, it is fairly short. ;)
      Thanks for the heads up, I’ll watch out for the full version.

  • Eric

    I can’t believe that they would put a non-removeable battery in this phone, it’s just as bad as the iphone. When I go out for the day I take an extra battery with me. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  • street poet

    not bad but the atrix 3 is going to kill it when it comes out.

    • Azzo

      if the atrix too didnt kill anything, i highly doubt it will kill this phone….

      good phone, love the design and specs. but i think i’ll have to wait for the GSIII before i purchase.

  • zzZZzz

    @Daniel, it’s not more expensive than the iPhone 4S.
    625 One X, 650 4S

    3Yr price, it’s just Rogers trying to squeeze in more money. Can’t compare phone prices based on how providers price them on a contracts. By that logic – 4S will continue being 160 until the next iPhone comes out – prolly in late summer or fall, while this one (no pun intended) will fall to 50-100$ by that time.

    • Techie

      Your clearly an Idiot, Apple sets the price for the iPhone that is why it is the same price on all carriers.

  • Jay

    how is this only dual core? where’s the quad core? why even name it the ‘X’ without quad cores? so dumb, HTC/Rogers must think Canadians are stupid

  • Deli

    It’s dual-core using the highly-efficient Snapdragon S4 NOT S3 processor. In may CPU tests, it bests Tegra 3. And it’s compatible with LTE to boot. If u game LOTS, then the Tegra3 is for u.

    The phone looks great, not a fan of the big round perimeter around the camera, but overall, a beautiful device. Looking forward to GS3 and how it competes!

  • Eric

    I just pickup mine from Rogers and it’s absolutely impressive!!!

    .Eric

  • MrMarvelous

    My Galaxy Nexus is better.

  • John

    Daniel:

    1) Did the X come with dr dre headphones or crappy white iphone like headphones?
    2) How long have you been using it? Can you give us a battery update?

    Thanks

  • jepoy

    does anybody knows when will they release the One S?

  • Tomatoes

    I got a chance to check this phone out today and I disagree with it being the best display period. It’s nice but basically a bigger version of the iPhone 4 display. Pretty much like the LG Optimus LTE display.

    • John

      Where did you see it?

    • Tomatoes

      Burnaby BC best buy.

  • theturtle

    I just picked one up to use with Bell. First off its not 12GB useable storage. Its 2 GB’s partitioned for apps and 9.93GB for storage. Also does not come with any headphones at all.

  • AhCup

    How’s the phone handle older apps that need to get use of the menu button?

  • WhoCares?

    Is that a tablet?

  • Gotta get the bestest soonest

    If I live outside an LTE hotspot, why bother with this one if I am stuck with 3G? Even if we had LTE, the data plans are still more expensive. Maybe the SGSIII will have HSPA+ 4G in addition to LTE to allow higher speeds outside major centers.

  • 4u2nv

    Love it but sadly I wont buy it because the back button is on the left and i’m use to it being on the right and its also easier to get to on the right unless your left handed…

  • Frank the Tank

    Will this work on Telus? Thinking of trading in the Galaxy nexus for this bad boy

  • RogersRep7

    I finally got my hands on this beauty today, and good lord, the display is absolutely stunning. This can not be overstated. Over the last year, I’ve either owned (Blackberry, all Androids) or had extensive experience with (iPhone) every device Rogers has carried, and this phone looks incredible. You have to see it for yourself.

    Still, many questions still remain to be answered with the One X. How will sense 4.0 hold up over time? Will the camera (amazing as it seems) glitch out like the Evo 3D? What tangible battery life will the device provide?

    I prefer to hold off final judgement on a device until it’s been out to the public for AT LEAST 3 months. That’s when I usually see phones coming back to me with issues if there are any. BUT, so far, this looks like the absolute benchmark for smartphones. Well, until the next best thing anyway.

  • RogersRep7

    And as a follow up, I forgot to mention a few things for the consumer:

    (1) The phone only includes a micro-usb cable with the attachment for wall outlet charging and the tool to open up access to insert the micro sim. No headphones. Dissapointing? Yes.

    (2) Side by side with the Galaxy Nexus, the One X looks prettier in my opinion. I’m splitting hairs here, and perhaps it’s the novelty, but the display on the One X just seemed much more impressive upon first glance.

    (3) 16 GB internal with no expansion capability is very dissapointing, but not a deal breaker for most people based on the average user’s utilization. 1/3 of my clientel are still asking for blackberrys for pete’s sake.

    (4) The Beats audio was a cool feature, and will be a tangible improvement if you use your phone as an MP3 player often. Tested with a few different headphones, and the difference was noticable.

    (5) Testing the phone in various locations in Ontario outside of LTE (Burlington, Hamilton, Oakville, St. Catherines) the average download speed was 3.1 mbps. Up stream I didn’t have the opportunity to record significant data. Decent speed relative to other “3/4G” devices on the Rogers network.

    (6) The camera is the best I’ve used on a smartphone that I’ve actually had in my hands to date.

  • Marco

    Damn I want this phone so bad! I don’t really care about HTC Sense 4 skin, the things I can do on this device is really perfect for me!

  • Eluder

    Really nice phone and probably the best phone in Canada right now, but if the GS3 is out in the next couple of months, this phone will be old hat soon.

  • John

    What a HUGE letdown. No micro sd card slot, only 16gb, lousy battery and now NO FREKIN HEADPHONES!!!! I just watched the video review of the X on mobilesyrup and they said there’s 9.9gb of storage available, but ONLY 2GB AVAILABLE FOR APPS!!!! Is HTC crazy? Apps are utilizing better and better graphics, so the size of them is bigger anf bigger and they only allow 2gb for app storage. Friggin unbeleivable. I was considering the X, not anymore. Hello S3, you better meet my expectations!!!

    • AhCup

      I do agree with you that only 16GB is like a joke in year 2012. And the reason we got this is to lower the price after Rogers order the LTE chip in the phone just make me sad.

      But I believe 2GB app storage is not that bad. Since for most apps you can install/move to “int.sd card” which is the 9.9GB partition. Only a small number of apps still force install to “app storage” partitions.

  • doit

    White only? Forget it then.

  • Al

    Well this work on Telus micro Sim????

    • theturtle

      Yes it will. I bought it and unlocked it. Am using it with Bell right now. Just unlock it and pop your Telus micro sim in. Don’t forget to add your Telus APN settings for data and mms.

    • Frank the Tank

      Hey bud, I appreciate the reply. Exactly how do I unlock it to work on Telus? And how do I enter my APN settings into the phone?

  • Al

    How do i unlock it? Also, how do i add in my Telus APN settings in the phone? Thanks a lot for your help :)

  • droidz

    16GB and not expandable is not good enough now I prefer to be able to put an external SD if I want more space for music etc… also a non removable battery is a bad idea since sometimes things happen and you need to pull the battery to reboot.

  • RogersRep7

    Yes, Samsung, you BETTER meet John’s expectations! Or else! He’ll…ummm.. maybe go and make his own phone! YEAH! That’ll show you chumps what’s up if he doesn’t deem your device to be to his lofty standards.

    Or wait, no, he won’t. Nevermind.

    • John

      @RogersRep7

      Ha Ha, you’re so funny. What you fail to realize that as the consumer, I have the choice to spend my money on what I want. If the X doesn’t cut it, then Rogers and HTC doesn’t get my money. It’s as simple as that. The same goes for Samsung.

      I think maybe your namesake has clouded you brain and you’ve forgotten that the customer is always right.

    • d3v14n7

      @John

      No, the customer is NOT always right… In fact, the majority of the time, they’re wrong. That saying is completely absurd and should be buried along with the old corpses that started it.

    • Bob

      @d3v14n7

      Examples?

  • Trek

    Switched from the Lumia 900 to this phone cannot be happier.

  • Sub-Joker

    the phone looks sexy …. I’m very disappointed to know it’s not the product for me (no replaceable battery is a big issue).

    other than that…. looks like a big hit for HTC

  • roja

    Why only 16gb of memory? This is not really acceptable without expandable storage. My Iphone from 4 years ago has 16gb. (and please don’t tell me to use “the cloud”… I want to take my media with me)

    The specs for almost every One X every where else have 32gb listed. Seriously how much more could it cost to add the 16gb… like $20? Is this Rogers just trying to squeak out a bit more cash?

  • roja

    Why only 16gb of memory?

  • Lani

    Boo! I ordered mine from Rogers and it’s back ordered! and they even charge me for it already! I am losing money as we speak.

  • DingleBerry

    Does the One X have poor call quality? That is the rumor I have been hearing at least not for the one x owner but for the person on the other end of the call. Apparently there is a bad microphone….

    I thought the One X is 32gb so dang only 16gb on a 3 year isn’t really future proof!

    No headphones out of the box is disappointing on a $625 phone to say the least. Especially one that is supposed to be optimized for dre beats

    Camera looks awesome but sticks out pretty bad

    So I will wait and see how this compares to the S3 when it hits although this phone definitely has a killer display.

    Would like to have seen quad core nvidia on lte but apparently there’s no way of squeezing both on a single chip right now so as mentioned regarding storage, we aren’t very future proof here.

    I will wait for S3, or android 5 / Bb 10 before investing in another phone although this is tempting me.

  • Mark Roberts

    Just got rid of my iPhone 4 and picked up this phone yesterday. Wow. Absolutely unreal. I had no idea just how fast LTE was. Incredible. The screen is gorgeous and ICS is WAY better than iOS.

    Anyways, everyone seems to be complaining about the 16gb of storage. People, just use Google Play for your music. It works flawlessly. Use the free 25gb of dropbox storage that comes with the phone for everything else. Storage is not as important as it used to be.

    Just my two cents.