HTC One X – prepare for a new Sensation

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The Taiwanese manufacturer’s CEO said of its new quad-core Android 4.0 HTC superphone: ‘It’s the one phone you will need; the one camera you will need.’ Can its new flagship handset live up to this corporate chest-thumping?

It’s almost a year since HTC overtook Nokia in terms of market value. Admittedly, Nokia was in an almighty pickle at the time but, hey, it’s not bad for a company that, 15 years ago, was churning out generic PDAs under the dated guise of ‘High Tech Computer Corp’.

Fast-forward to 2012. HTC co-founder Cher Wang and her husband are worth $6.8 billion. The company has enjoyed success with a string of mid-range Android devices tarted up with HTC Sense, Beats

Audio and slinky unibody designs. But where’s the game changer? Where’s the must-buy, must-have smash hit to propel HTC into the upper echelons of the market?

Well, funnily enough, it’s right here. Enter the HTC One X – modestly described as “the one phone you’ll need” by HTC. It certainly has the bells and whistles: a large 4.7-inch touchscreen, a camera billed as “on a par with any compact snapper”, Android’s zippy new Ice Cream Sandwich OS and an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core chip, ready to take on the iPhone 4S with ease.

As the name suggests, the One X is something of a response to the confusion brought about by HTC’s appetite for near-identical mid-range devices. At one point last year, they were multiplying like rabbits. It’s good to see the Taiwanese company focus its considerable energies on creating a potentially world-beating rival to Samsung’s next high-end Galaxy phone.

Heavy on the ’carb
The first thing you’ll notice when picking up the One X is that HTC has followed Nokia and encased its flagship handset in polycarbonate rather than aluminium. So it’s ultra light (another 10g lighter than the Nokia Lumia 800) and has a rather futuristic, Tron-like feel to it.

There’s no nasty snap-off battery cover either as the battery’s built in. On the other hand, there’s a bit of flex in the back of the case and it seems to scratch quite easily, though we found said scratches rubbed out easily too.

Overall, it’s not quite the premium feel of an iPhone 4. On the top of the phone there’s a small cover for the microSIM and a microUSB socket to the left. On the back, there’s a drilled-out speaker grill and four mysterious tiny dots – connections for an in-car dock through which you can stream internet radio.

The bigger the better
Larger screens are now de rigueur for modern smartphones, so it’s no surprise that HTC has equipped the One X with a mighty 4.7-inch, 720p HD LCD display. It’s impressively bright in all lighting conditions and the viewing angle is near perfect.

Although it’s LCD rather than AMOLED, there’s no gap between the display itself and the clear Gorilla Glass screen so responsiveness is not an issue.

Combine all that with processing muscle and Google’s cleaner, smoother Android 4.0 OS (basically, it’s a lot more like Apple’s iOS) and you have a sophisticated and stable user experience. We tried – and failed – to trip it up by simultaneously booting apps.

Quad-core means twice as many cores ‘doing the math’ – it’s a bit like one of last year’s smartphones has drunk a lot of Red Bull. Of course, it needs more battery power to do this, though we could still get a day’s use by optimising the settings and staying away from movies.

The incredibly high screen resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels means the HTC One X has one of the top displays on which to enjoy HD content. Below the screen are three ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ softkeys: back, home and task manager. You can swipe away notifications more easily, the dock can be customised and, to save battery life, Wi-Fi usage can optimised – it turns itself off when no network is available.

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