The HTC One X was the first phone to slay the mighty iPhone and take over its number one spot in our Top 10 Smartphone list, thanks to its gorgeous aesthetics, solid build and slick performance. Relegated to second place by the Samsung Galaxy S3 however, HTC is hoping that the One X+ (or as we like to call it, the One X 2.0) offers up enough improvements to stand on top of the podium once again. Has the extra tinkering done the job? Let's find out.
design and build
The One X+ is as solid as its curvy predecessor thanks to its single-piece polycarbonate shell, which now comes in a matte black, soft rubber-like finish that’s easier to grip. It definitely oozes a more premium vibe than the plasticky Galaxy S3, and many gadgeteers will prefer its overall design to that of Samsung's offering.
It retains the same 8.9mm profile of the One X and is only 5g heavier despite its larger battery. It's also sporting Sith Lord-friendly red accents on the camera and capacitive buttons, which we're rather fond of.
The only downside to the build is the fact that the new matte finish is more prone to fingerprints and will definitely display the evidence if you handle the One X+ after snacking on anything remotely oily or greasy. That's kebabs out then.
The One X+ still lacks any expandable storage options but more than makes up for it by arriving with a very generous 64GB of internal memory, which should be more than ample enough, especially when coupled with the 25GB of free Dropbox storage included out of the box.
One other area in which the original One X let us down a bit was battery life – an issue that has been addressed with a Galaxy S3-matching 2100mAh battery. In real-world use, that means we were reaching for the charger a good few hours later than before. Expect our video battery life rundown update shortly.
The One X+ boasts the same 4.7in 1280x720 LCD 2 screen as its predecessor, which is no bad thing by any means. It's still one of the best smartphone screens we've ever laid our eyes on and its bright whites and punchy (yet not over-saturated) colours still impress.
Some will still prefer the deeper blacks and more saturated colours of the Samsung Galaxy S3’s AMOLED display, but for movie watching and photo viewing the HTC definitely offers the more neutral, natural balance.
It's hard to say if the extra slickness in flicking through the One X+'s homescreen and menus is down to the 0.2GHz increase in the Tegra 3 quad-core processor (which HTC claim is 67 per cent faster), or whether it's Google's Project Butter working its magic, but the One X+ flew through everything we threw at it, matching the Galaxy S3's fluidity. It doesn’t beat its arch-rival for speed, though, and we can’t help but feel a smidge of disappointment at that.
High-def 3D games? No problem. Multitasking and flicking between apps? A breeze. Browsing is also extra nippy, with blistering page load times over Wi-Fi and smooth text rendering. Switching webpage orientation is also near-instantaneous, though there are still a few pesky black patches that appear for a split second or two while pages re-align.
The rear 8MP snapper retains the same f/2.0 lens as well as all the many features that made us love the One X's camera the first time around. From picture-in-video functionality and super-fast shots, to burst mode and heaps of effects, the One X+ can remain proud of its imaging and 1080p video recording capabilities.
The front-facing camera has been upgraded to 1.6MP and features a self-portrait mode that automatically adjusts the picture to reduce blemishes and even skin tones – ideal for narcissistic Facebook posers we suppose, but not something high on our priority list. Still, nice to know its there in case of any minor facial crises.
Jelly Bean 4.1 and Sense 4+
Jelly Bean is thankfully included out of the box, and although it's not quite the latest 4.2 version, it still serves up the benefits of Google Now and Project Butter.
The former lets you check up on live transport information near your location including buses, trains and traffic, while the latter is Google's tinkering efforts to increase the fluidity and speed of the Android experience. Judging by the slick home screen transitions, those code maestros at Google really know what they're doing. Who’d have thought it, eh?
Sense 4+ also brings a few changes, including the ability to unlock directly into the camera app via the power button – a feature called sightseeing mode. HTC's Gallery has also been updated, letting you peruse your snaps by where you took them or where they’re stored, whether that be Dropbox, Picasa or Facebook.
The One X+ also introduces HTC's Get Started service, which lets you set up your One X+ before it's even in your grasp. From setting up email accounts to downloading apps and games in advance, you can be set up and ready to go the minute you power up your sleek new handset.
The HTC One X was (and indeed still is) a fantastic device, slightly blemished though it was by its battery life, lack of expandable storage, and the absence of Jelly Bean. The One X+ addresses these key issues and throws in extra power and a few tweaks to boot – so much so in fact that not even the Galaxy S3 should deter fans who prefer the One X's more premium design and screen from snapping it up.
The only way in which HTC hasn’t closed the gap is in the camera, which while good can’t quite match that of the Galaxy S3 (which in turn can’t match that of the iPhone 5, but that’s another story). We think that for many people that will be a deal-breaker, which is why the Samsung just manages to cling on to the number 1 spot in our Top 10. It’s as close a call as these things get, though, so if you prefer the look of the One X+ we encourage you to go for it wholeheartedly..
Review by Esat Dedezade