Mobile Phones Guide

HTC One X+ review

HTC One X+ Review - A Supercharged One X

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Launch SRP S$868

Overall rating 9/10
Design:
9
Features:
8.5
User-Friendliness:
9
Performance:
8.5
Value:
9
THE GOOD
Good overall performance
Solid build quality and design
Great display
64GB internal storage
THE BAD
Higher than average power consumption
No 4G LTE capability


Same Old Brand New One X

A Refreshed One X

While the HTC One X was indeed a very impressive smartphone back in April, it was gradually overshadowed by its competitors especially the Samsung Galaxy S III, which has captured the hearts, minds and wallets of over 30 million consumers

So what was HTC's response? Well, the Taiwanese company refreshed its One X and updated some of its specs to remain competitive in the market. There is also a LTE variant of the One X+, but Singapore will only be getting the non-LTE model (as first reported here). Before we dive into the review, let's take a look at the key highlights of the One X+ and how it stands in the One X family.

Key highlights of the HTC One X+

  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display / 1280 x 720 pixels
  • NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.7GHz processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 64GB internal memory 
  • 8-megapixel with autofocus, smart LED flash, BSI sensor,
    F2.0 aperture and 28mm lens
  • 1.6-megapixel front-facing camera with f/2.2 BSI sensor
  • 2,100mAh battery
  • 135g
  • 134.36 x 69.9 x 8.9mm
     
  • Pricing and availability: S$868 from November onwards
     

 

The HTC One X Series Compared
  HTC One X+ HTC One XL HTC One X
Networks GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 /
HSPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 /
HSPA / HSPA+ 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
LTE 1800 / 2600
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 / HSPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
Display 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 4.7-inch Super LCD 2
Resolution 1,280 x 720 pixels  1,280 x 720 pixels 1,280 x 720 pixels
OS Google Android 4.1
(Jelly Bean) with HTC Sense 4+
Google Android 4.0
(Ice Cream Sandwich)
with HTC Sense 4
Google Android 4.0
(Ice Cream Sandwich) with HTC Sense 4
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 dual-core 1.5GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.5GHz
RAM 1GB 1GB 1GB
Storage 64GB 32GB 32GB
Front Camera 1.6-megapixel with f/2.2 BSI lens 1.3-megapixel 1.3-megapixel
Rear Camera 8-megapixel with autofocus, smart LED flash, BSI sensor,
F2.0 aperture and 28mm lens
8-megapixel with autofocus, smart LED flash, BSI sensor,
F2.0 aperture and 28mm lens
8-megapixel with autofocus, smart LED flash, BSI sensor,
F2.0 aperture and 28mm lens
Battery 2,100mAh 1,800mAh 1,800mAh
Dimensions 134.36 x 69.9 x 8.9mm 134.86 x 69.9 x 8.9mm 134.36 x 69.9 x 8.9mm
Weight 135g 130g 130g

 

 

Design & Build

It is nearly impossible to tell the two HTC devices apart if not for some cosmetic differences in the newer model, which has an extra dash of red trimmings as you'll note from our photos below. The One X+ still sports the sturdy polycarbonate unibody chassis, a 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display and maintains the exact physical dimensions as the One X. After using the One X+ for a period of time, we realized that HTC might have added a matte texture on the back of the device. It's hard to see from the pictures but the One X+ offers a better grip.

 

 

Features

The HTC One X+ is the first smartphone in the company's portfolio to ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and the new Sense 4+ user interface. At the moment, HTC has only confirmed that the HTC One X/XL/S will be getting updated to Jelly Bean.

Earlier in October, a local HTC representative informed us that the Android 4.1 and Sense 4+ update is scheduled to be rolling out in South Asia for the One X / S from November. In the meantime, we take a look at the new features found in the upcoming software update: 
 

Expandable notifications 

Users of Nexus devices and Galaxy S III should be familiar with expandable notifications by now. You can now swipe down to reveal more details on notifications such as emails. The new notification tray also display the time and date details more prominently. There is also a new toggle switch to enable Power Saver mode.

 

Virtual Keyboard

While we had no problems with the current keyboard layout on the One X, HTC has refined it further on the One X+by removing the bottom row of navigation keys. You can also directly access the HTC Sense Input settings by pressing and holding the second key from the bottom left row. Emoticons are also accessed in a similar fashion via the bottom left key.

If you are upgrading from the One X, it may take some time for you to adapt to the smaller sized keyboard. Nonetheless, we appreciate the new design of the keyboard which takes up lesser screen space when composing messages.

 

Gallery Views

The Gallery interface sees a facelift with more lively icons that are actually shortcuts to your Flickr, Picasa, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Facebook or any other online service. You can choose to view your photos by location via Google Maps (if you have enabled the geo-tag photo options in the camera) or by the events at which they are taken.

 

Camera User Interface 

The camera user interface on the One X has always been one of our favorites as it has a straightforward layout which makes it easy to take photos or videos. On Sense 4+, HTC improves the interface by adding the option to switch between the front and rear facing cameras.

HTC probably anticipated that the front-facing camera will be used more often by consumers due to the slightly higher megapixel count, f/2.2 lens, BSI sensor and auto beautification for self portrait shots. By placing a shortcut on the user interface, consumers will find it easier to switch between the two cameras.

You will also notice that the interface gives you an estimate of the number of shots or duration of videos that your phone can take before it runs out of storage. The digital zoom bar is now shifted to the side. While these changes may seem subtle, they actually make the interface more user-intuitive. 

 

Power Management

One of the significant steps taken by HTC to improve the power efficiency of its devices is to include a Power Saver mode. Accessible either through the pull-down notification tab or via Settings > Power. The Power Saver mode helps conserve battery through conserving CPU usage, reducing screen brightness, disabling vibration feedback and turning off data connection when screen is off. 

 

HTC Get Started

Setting up a phone may be one of the most frustrating processes when you purchase a new phone. To bring convenience to users, HTC introduced the HTC Get Started web application where you can set up compatible devices (at the moment, HTC One X+ is the only device) even before you have it in your hands.

There are basically two steps in setting up your phone. First, you decide which account(s) that you want to use on the phone. The options available are Yahoo, Dropbox, Hotmail, Microsoft Exchange and other email clients.

Second, you can customize the interface of the phone via wallpapers, lock screens, sounds, apps, bookmarks and home screen layout. For example, you can choose from 31 default wallpapers or upload a custom photo. You can also filter through the free apps according to your interests (education, entertainment, games, lifestyle & shopping, news & business, photography, social and sports).

When your phone arrives, all you need to do is to login to your Sense account and everything will be set up according to what you've planned in HTC Get Started.

 

Sightseeing Mode 

Although placing the camera icon as one of the four shortcuts on the lock screen enables you to jump straight into camera mode after unlocking the screen, its speed of operation cannot be compared to the sightseeing mode on Sense 4+. 

To activate Sightseeing mode, all you need to do is to access the camera app and then tap the Power button to put the phone to sleep. When you want to take an image, simply tap the Power button and you can snap almost immediately. That's a vast improvement to a constant photo taking process such as when you're on a tour.

 

No Lock Screen Style

If you do not like swiping to unlock the screen, you can choose to enable the "no lock screen" . To enable this, go to Settings > Personalize > Lock Screen Style.

 

Performance 

When companies introduce a new handset into the market, they have to make sure that the device is able to stand up to the current competition or even outgun its competitors. HTC understands this and takes it seriously with the One X+. 

Running the show on the One X+ is a faster NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz, making it the fastest quad-core smartphone in terms of clock speeds at this point in time. It is supported by 1GB RAM although some of its competitors are already paired with 2GB RAM. 

As usual, we will be using the Quadrant benchmark to determine how the One X+ fares against the competition which include the ASUS PadFone 2 and Samsung Galaxy S III. We also included the One X to see how it stacks up against the newer model. For those who are unfamiliar with the Quadrant benchmark, it evaluates the CPU, memory, I/O, and 3D graphics of Android devices.  

How the Phones Stack Up
Device HTC One X+ ASUS PadFone 2 HTC One X Samsung Galaxy S III LTE Apple iPhone 5
CPU NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.7GHz  Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
quad-core 1.5GHz
NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.5GHz Exynos 4212 Quad
quad-core 1.4GHz
Apple A6
dual-core 1GHz
GPU 12-core GeForce Adreno 320 12-core GeForce Mali-400MP PowerVR SGX 543MP3
RAM 1GB 2GB 1GB 2GB 1GB
OS Android 4.1 Android 4.0.4 Android 4.0 Android 4.1 Apple iOS 6

 

Based on the results above, the HTC One X+ is a benchmark monster with the second highest score of 7301 which is about 46% improvement compared to the One X. In general terms (without going too technical), the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processors are the same; built on a 40nm process with four ARM Cortex A9s and a fifth "companion" core.

Therefore, there is a plausible reason to believe Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is behind the huge jump in benchmark scores. However, we also cannot discount the prowess of the Tegra 3 processor as the One X+ surged ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S III LTE which also runs on Jelly Bean. 

It's very impressive to see how the One X+ stood up against the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core processor in the ASUS PadFone 2. Having seen how the dual-core counterpart in the ASUS PadFone easily outperformed the One X, we were actually surprised that the One X+ gave a very good fight this time round. 

Synthetic benchmark aside, the One X+ ran a lot smoother and faster than the One X due to Project Butter of Android 4.1 where UI animations are kept at a constant 60fps. Overall, there was a neat improvement in the user experience, from multitasking to speedy web browsing.

 

Battery Mileage

Our standard battery test for mobile phones includes the following parameters:

  • Looping a 800 x 480-pixel video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
     
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
Test Phones Compared
Specifications/Device HTC One X+ ASUS PadFone 2 HTC One X Samsung Galaxy S III LTE Apple iPhone 5
Processor
  • Quad-core 1.7GHz
  • Quad-core 1.5GHz
  • Quad-core 1.5GHz
  • Quad-core 1.4GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
Display Size
  • 4.7-inch
  • 4.7-inch
  • 4.7-inch
  • 4.8-inch
  • 4.0-inch
Display Type
  • Super LCD 2
  • Super IPS+
  • Super LCD 2
  • HD Super AMOLED
  • IPS LCD
Display Resolution
  • 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • 1,280 x 720 pixels 
  • 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • 1,136 x 640 pixels
Dimensions
  • 134.36 x 69.9 x 8.9mm
  • 137.9 x 69 x 9mm
  • 134.36 x 69.9 x 8.9mm
  • 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm
  • 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm
Weight
  • 135g
  • 135g
  • 130g
  • 133g
  • 112g
Battery
  • 2,100mAh
  • 2,140mAh
  • 1,800mAh
  • 2,100mAh
  • 1,440mAh

 

Our battery test results are in line with HTC's claim that the One X+ will offer 35% more battery life than the One X - it took 7 hours 19 mins to drain the life out of the One X+ in our formal battery test. Its battery mileage is a good 100 minutes (1 hour and 40 minutes) more than the One X, which worked out to be about 30% more uptime.

This is more or less expected since the One X+ comes with a larger 2,100mAh battery, and we feel the software optimization of Android 4.1 did play a role too. When compared to the other quad-core smartphones, the picture wasn't very rosy for the One X+. The Samsung Galaxy S III LTE and ASUS PadFone 2 could last at least two hours longer despite having a similar battery capacity and same screen size respectively.

It boils down to one thing - power consumption. As the Galaxy S III LTE is equipped with a more energy-efficient AMOLED display, its power consumption is naturally lower at 0.85W. As for the PadFone 2, power management has been one of the ASUS's key strengths since the days of the first-gen PadFone. Therefore, it is not surprising to see it on par with the Galaxy S III LTE. Unfortunately for HTC, its devices are known to have high power consumption (partially due to its HTC Sense interface) and this is again evident in our chart.

In the Portability Index where each device is assessed on its ability to balance battery mileage with its size and portability, the One X+ did not fare as well as the recent competition due to its below average battery life.

Under normal usage conditions such as web surfing, instant messaging and checking emails, we were able to get through a day at work with the One X+. Enabling the Power Save mode will also help squeeze out extra battery mileage from our trials. The heating issue that plagued the One X is not as glaring on the One X+, although we could still feel the display and back warming up after playing some games. It does get warm, but not to the extent of discomfort. 

 

Conclusion

With the smartphone competition at an all-time high, where does the HTC One X+ stand? Can it rank among the most desirable Android smartphone to buy this holiday season? Our answer: It could be, if you can put aside its higher power consumption and lack of 4G LTE connectivity.

The HTC One X+ is no slouch when put against its competitors. Its solid polycarbonate unibody build, optical-laminated 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display and raw platform performance stand head and shoulders above the Android competition, and can give the premium-looking Apple iPhone 5 a run for its money. 

While Sense 4+ brings nothing new to the table this time, it remains one of the better customized skins we've seen from all the Android vendors so far although Samsung TouchWiz has a slight edge with several innovative features such as Smart Stay and Pop-up Play. In terms of aesthetics and integration with various social networking and cloud services, it is second to none. 

There is still room for improvement when it comes to power management on HTC devices as they generally register higher power consumption numbers than other leading smartphones. Imaging performance is very speedy and offers decent image quality, though it may not best the other top tier phones in imaging quality. Take note that it's front-facing camera is much better than most competitors and can offer you better self-portrait shots if that's something you regard highly.

Priced at S$868, the HTC One X+ is a compelling choice (more so when you consider its 64GB internal storage) if you are looking for quad-core Android smartphones that are available now. It is a close call between the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X+ since both devices have their respective strengths and weakness. If the price factor is one of your top considerations, perhaps the Galaxy S III is a better choice since you can easily get one with a lower street price as it has been in the market for five months.

Having said that, we feel the HTC One X+ is not befitting the company's newest and most powerful device to not come with 4G LTE capability. With more LTE smartphones entering the market and telcos' aggressive push to encourage the adoption of 4G LTE services, HTC may have missed a valuable opportunity to capitalize on this booming trend and position the One X+ as a viable option (at least in this region).

If you are looking for the best 4G LTE Android smartphone at the moment, the HTC One X+ is out of the question as it does not come with 4G connectivity for the Singapore market. The S$998 One XL is your best bet if you insist on considering one from HTC, but there are also better alternatives such as the S$998 Galaxy S III LTE and Galaxy Note II (LTE).