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Saturday, 3 November 2012

HTC One X+ Review : Our Rating 9/10


HTC One X+ Review


Introduction:

The HTC One X+ is a decked-up version of the One X, which shipped as the first phone with a quad-core processor back in the spring, but arrived on US soil with a dual-core Snapdragon S4. With the One X+, both the US and international versions sport a 1.7 GHz quad-core Tegra 3+ processor.

The upgrade was necessitated by the competition going into the holiday season, and with the most generous internal memory amount from all flagships at launch, Android Jelly Bean, plus the upgraded processor and battery capacity, the One X+ can stand its ground against threats like the Galaxy S III or the Optimus G. Does the upgrade warrant the higher price, though? Read on to find out...

In the box

  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • In-ear stereo headphones
  • Warranty and information leaflets

Design:

The curved unibody chassis introduced with the One X stays absolutely the same in the One X+ - it fits your palm nicely, and the cascading side bezel makes the front look seamless. Thanks to the polycarbonate housing the handset is very light and also pretty thin, with firm grip allowed by the soft-touch finish. We had the black version, which is a finger smudge magnet on the back, and there are also gray and white variants, like with the One X.

The HTC One X+ fits in your palm nicely - HTC One X+ Review
The HTC One X+ fits in your palm nicely - HTC One X+ Review
The HTC One X+ fits in your palm nicely - HTC One X+ Review
The HTC One X+ fits in your palm nicely

HTC One X+ Review

You can compare the HTC One X+ with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Since it is unibody design, the only openings around the sides are the MHL port on the left, the audio jack up top, and the micro SIM card ejector hole on the upper back. As for the rear, the only thing sticking out is the camera module, ringfenced in red to match the Beats logo at the bottom.

The sides of the HTC One X+ - HTC One X+ Review
The sides of the HTC One X+ - HTC One X+ Review
The sides of the HTC One X+ - HTC One X+ Review
The sides of the HTC One X+

The capacitive keys underneath the display are also painted in red to match the overall accent style, and are responsive to the touch. The metallic lock/power key at the top is almost flush with the surface, so accidental press chances are taken to a minimum, but the volume rocker on the right is flush too, which makes it a bit difficult to feel and press when you are not looking.

HTC One X+ Review
Capacitive keys - HTC One X+ Review
Front camera - HTC One X+ Review
 
Capacitive keys
Front camera
There is a higher resolution 1.6 MP frontal camera now, capable of HD video recording, which is much clearer than before, and a helpful LED notification light next to it, indicating missed calls, messages or charging status.

Back - HTC One X+ Review
Rear camera - HTC One X+ Review
Loudpeaker - HTC One X+ Review
Back
Rear camera
Loudpeaker

Display:

The excellent 4.7” S-LCD 2 display hasn't changed, which is good, since it is probably in the top three of high-def LCD mobile screens. It is a 1280x720 pixels HD panel, bringing pixel density to 312ppi, meaning crisp text and discernible details.

The strength of this display lies in its high brightness, while visibility outside is improved by a seemingly low screen reflectance, too.

The LG Optimus 4X HD is brighter, for example, but reflectance is high outside, and thus its screen compares worse. Low screen reflectance helps the AMOLED displays of the Galaxy S III and the Note II outside as well, despite that they are fairly dim compared to the LCD ones, yet only the Note II is comparable to the One X+ outdoors, as the S III screen brightness is too low.

Compared to the best LCD screens, the One X+ fares about equal with the in-cell touch panel on the Optimus G, but the same tech in the iPhone 5 yields better results, thanks to the bright screen, coupled with one of the lowest reflectance ratios of any mobile screen.

When we add the good color representation, high contrast and excellent viewing angles, the HTC One X+ screen is close to the best out there. It is now protected by the thinner and less brittle Gorilla Glass 2nd edition.

 Camera:

An 8 MP module with f/2.0 aperture is what we find on the One X+, accompanied by an LED flash. The ImageSense ISP chip is governed by the typical for HTC's One series a unified interface, which allows you to take photos and shoot videos without switching screens. Picture-taking is almost instantaneous, and the burst mode is much faster now than on the One X, which might have to do with the faster silicon inside.

There are Panorama and HDR options, as well as the embedded Slow Motion mode, which we are used to see in HTC handsets starting with the One series. A blue orb above the on-screen shutter keys starts a scroll list of many color effects you can apply to your pictures and videos.

Camera interface - HTC One X+ Review
Camera interface - HTC One X+ Review
Camera interface - HTC One X+ Review
Camera interface - HTC One X+ Review
Camera interface - HTC One X+ Review
Camera interface - HTC One X+ Review
Camera interface - HTC One X+ Review
Camera interface - HTC One X+ Review
Camera interface

Unfortunately the same issues that we had with the One X are present on the One X+, too, which could be expected, as we have the same camera unit. Contrast and saturation seem too high, and shots of the clouds turned out purplish instead the gray they were, especially visible in the violet lines that mark the borders between lighter and darker areas. With the HDR mode turned on, photos get much better exposed, but it is quite slower than the normal, automatic mode, that most people are using.

Indoor shots turned out fine, with no over or underexposed region or weird hues cast over the photo. Noise-suppression software lowers the detail a bit, and the LED flash is not particularly strong, even from a five feet distance.

The 1080 video capture is also a mixed bag. While frames per second have reached the typical 30 number outside, which was an issue with the One X, and the focus is no longer as jittery, there are plenty of artifacts to go around. Color, saturation and noise-suppression are also off the mark in video mode.

Multimedia:

We already mentioned that the music player and the gallery aggregate your tunes, pics and video from various sources under one roof, but in the music player this is less evident, only allowing you access to your 7Digital music store locker, plus TuneIn Radio, and you can't mix and match playlists among them.

Gallery - HTC One X+ Review
Gallery - HTC One X+ Review
Gallery - HTC One X+ Review
Gallery

The player interface is easy to operate and good-looking, but the only equalizer presets it allows are turning Beats Audio on and off. HTC says that this mode delivers “deeper bass” and “crisp vocals”, and that's precisely what it boosts. This time the surge in volume when you switch Beats on is palpable, though, unlike on the One X, so it really makes a difference in that regard. The One X+ loudspeaker is strong and fairly clean, even at the maximum level.

Video playback supports DivX/Xvid files out of the box, but up to 720 HD definition, whereas MPEG-4 files play up to 1080 definition, thus you'd have to hit the Play Store for something more versatile like the MX Player app.

The default video player interface allows you to adjust screen brightness directly from it, turn on Beats Audio, or capture a screenshot during playback, but no zooming option, or the ability to watch video while doing something else, like Pop Up Play in Samsung's Nature UX. There is a trimming command, which lets you cut footage captured with the camera on the fly, but for external videos you have to start the editing app.

Video player of the HTC One X+ - HTC One X+ Review
Video player of the HTC One X+ - HTC One X+ Review
Video player of the HTC One X+ - HTC One X+ Review
Video player of the HTC One X+

Call quality:

HTC One X+ Review
Sound quality in the earpeice of the HTC One X+ is pretty stellar, with loud and clear voices on our end, and no audible distortion. The microphones, however, relay a slightly distorted voices when the other end is at full volume, but the strength is enough, and the noise-canceling mics do their job of keeping ambient sounds at bay.


Battery:

The upgraded 2,100 mAh is now up to the capacity standards of the other flagships, and needfully so, since we have an overclocked processor in the HTC One X+. HTC quotes “up to six hours more talk time” compared to the One X, but there are no official times yet. Video playback tests peg the stamina at a bit north of 7 hours, which is about average for a large LCD Android, yet far from the Note II, Galaxy S III, or the RAZR MAXX achievements.


Conclusion:

We can't say that HTC “took a sad song and made it better” by upgrading to the One X+, as the One X handset is pretty capable. HTC, however, changed the specs where it most counts, and as a result we have a handset that can go neck and neck with the seasonal Android flagships in everything but camera performance.

The overclocked quad-core processor might be still a 40nm affair, but it delivers benchmarks on par with the Optimus G and Note II, and, unlike the G, the HTC One X+ ships with Jelly Bean out of the box.

The HTC Sense 4+ doesn't get in the way of the unique Jelly Bean features, like Voice Search and Google Now, and the company even leaves users the choice whether to go with the Chrome browser, or use the HTC one, which has a full Adobe Flash support with a handy switch to turn it off at will.

Considering the generous 64 GB of storage the One X+ comes with – more than any other flagship at launch – we would've wholeheartedly recommended it as one of the best Android handsets out there right now, if it wasn't for the subpar camera results. The fly in the ointment is that the camera has stayed unchanged from the One X, so you can expect some questionable white balance measurements and video artifacts.

As it stands now, the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Optimus G offer similar features for the price, with better camera performance. If you are not a big shutterbug, though, but rather into media consumption, the One X+ couples one of the best LCD screens out there with 64 GB of memory from the start, so you can enjoy your video collection on the go.

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