UPDATE, Saturday Nov 3, 2012: Review now reflects new on-contract pricing.
The HTC One X is one of the best smartphones on the market, and the best Android phone you can buy right now, period.
It’s fast, it’s gorgeous, it’s lightweight and it has a stellar battery that lasts all day. The camera is also outstanding. It’s the best I’ve seen on an Android phone, though it falls just short of the camera on the iPhone.
It’s not just the hardware — the One X runs version 4.0 of Android, aka Ice Cream Sandwich, which is overlaid by HTC’s own Sense skin. It’s fast and easy to use. Combine that with the excellent hardware and you’ve got a handset worthy of being a flagship device for both HTC and AT&T. This fall, the carrier even dropped the price. Introduced at $200, it’s now only $100 on-contract.
In fact, the one thing I really don’t like about the One X is its exclusivity to AT&T, the only carrier that sells the phone in the U.S. It’s a shame this phone isn’t available on T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon.
Android handset makers don’t have the same leverage as Apple when it comes to dealing with telecommunications companies, so they continue to pump out a few slightly different versions of every phone, each one exclusive to a different carrier. It’s unnecessary and insane — HTC produced more than 50 different handsets last year alone.
The One X, being a stellar phone, serves as a testament that Android handset makers should go the iPhone route and make fewer phones of higher quality available through multiple carriers. The hardware companies would of course gain from this, but the payoff for the consumer would be huge as well.
To wit: Nearly every quibble I had with the T-Mobile-exclusive One S — a fine mid-range handset being sold at a flagship price — was fixed in the One X.
My biggest complaint with the One S was its display, and the feature I enjoyed most on the One X was — you guessed it — the display.
The One X has a 4.7-inch, 1280×720 IPS LCD touchscreen, covered in Corning’s durable, crystal-clear Gorilla Glass. The viewing angles on the screen are some of the best I’ve seen on a smartphone. Colors are bright and accurate, producing consistently true-to-life images across websites and apps. Pixel edges are indistinguishable with the display’s density of 316 pixels per inch.
Let me put it this way: The One X’s screen is on the same level as the iPhone’s Retina display. I love looking at it, and it blows away the PenTile displays found on the One S and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (my former favorite Android handset).
Beneath the fantastic touchscreen, the One X is a beast, with a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (the same set-up found in the One S). Performance is blazing-fast, and though the AT&T handset doesn’t pack the Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor found in Europe and Asia’s One X, it doesn’t feel any less capable. The U.S. model is just as good and just as impressive as what HTC is offering overseas.
The U.S. version of the One X, unlike its overseas counterpart, runs on AT&T’s 4G LTE network, which is only available in a small number of cities right now. In San Francisco, the One X downloaded and uploaded data quickly, whether connected to AT&T’s 4G LTE, 4G HSPA+ or 3G service.
But despite performing like a beast, the One X is also a beauty.
The 0.36-inch chassis is made of a single piece of polycarbonate, giving the handset a sophisticated look free of seams or gaps, as seen on past HTC hardware. Given its size, the phone is also surprisingly light, weighing in at 4.6 ounces.