HTC One X With Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Sense 4.0: a Hands-On Look

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-05-01

HTC One X With Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Sense 4.0: a Hands-On Look

Picking up the HTC One X€”AT&T's version of HTC's new line of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices€”a first impression is that it's thinner and lighter than one expects a phone of its size to be.

The One X has a silky smooth 4.7-inch, 720p high-definition Gorilla Glass display and overall measures 5.3 by 2.75 by 0.36 inches and weighs 4.6 ounces, considerably less than, say, the substantial-feeling 5.6 ounces of the Nokia Lumia 900, also an AT&T phone though with a 4.3-inch display. Both phones are constructed of polycarbonate€”a type of plastic that arguably avoids feeling cheap and makes the light One X feel cool and maneuverable in the hand.

However, the One X is so large that said cool maneuverability, paired with the subtle curves that have been designed into it for better "hand feel," make it downright slippery in a hand whose dimensions make it unequipped to palm a basketball. To keep the comparison going, the Lumia 900, at 5.03 by 2.70 inches, feels noticeably more manageable. While I never dropped the One X€”probably because I was always using it with two hands€”there was the nagging sensation that I might at any time.  

The issue of the size of the One X out of the way€” and if you can indeed palm a basketball or simply love the idea of a giant phone, it won't be an issue at all€”the HTC One X is a very nice, very attractive phone€”available in black or white, the latter emphasizes how even the display has been shaped and rounded so that it doesn't so much sit inside the phone as ease into it.

Apart from the design, the other major features that AT&T and HTC are keen to point out are the One X's camera, the embedded Beats Audio (a feature unique to the One X on the AT&T network), and the pairing of HTC's Sense 4.0 user interface with version 4.0 of Android.

The camera is 8-megapixels, but it's the experience of what HTC calls it's "Image Chip," paired with Sense 4.0, that's the camera's real selling point. The shutter snap is quick€”though a friend picking it up to take a snap insisted it was slower than his AT&T iPhone 4S. When there's a can't-miss-it moment, though, the One X lets a user hold down the shutter while it snaps like matter. Later, a single image is displayed in the photo album, with a little icon of a pile of photos. A user can flip through all the snaps that were taken, looking for her favorite, or tap "Best Shot," and let the phone pick the best from the bunch and delete all the others. Most of the time, I agreed with its choice.

The Sense 4.0 UI Is a Compelling Feature

Also cool€”one can take a photo while taking a video, or take a photo while playing a video file. What I liked best about the camera, though, was the generally improved experience over older HTC Android models. Fewer taps are required for everything. One doesn't have to choose a tab and then choose video or photo, for example; both options are just always present. Taking, deleting and sharing photos also requires fewer steps. It's all just simpler and more of a pleasure to use.

Though one complaint: When sharing images, four options come up; the last is "Send." The first, and so the one that one's finger most quickly goes to, is "Save." I found it so irritating to hunt around for where I'd inadvertently saved the message to, that I'd just give up and start the process fresh.

File editors for video and photos are also intuitively designed, making them simple to use, and there are cool, Instagram-like options for tints and various exposures, helping to make fine-enough photos suddenly more compelling.

AT&T describes the audio experience on the One X as "good, better, best"€”good as is, better with Beats headphones and best of all when plugged into a Beats By Dr. Dre BeatBox. The Beats Audio experience is supposed to be one that's just as the artist intended. To my unrefined ear, it all sounded good€”or, better. I wasn't majorly wowed€”the AT&T folks turned up the BeatBox, but didn't sync it with a different type of phone, for comparison€”but I'm sure some more-music-inclined folks will be.

I found the most compelling aspect of the One X to be the Sense 4.0 user interface (UI). Paired with a Qualcomm 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and maybe also the perks of Ice Cream Sandwich, the HTC Image Chip and AT&T's Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network, the wheels in this phone feel greased; it's fast and responsive and glides about as you ask it to. As expected, there are lots of apps for lots of things€”one can even stream video to an HDTV, or play a game on the television using the One X as the controller€”and they all work well. Some things lag, some don't go perfectly, but mostly, the One X€”giving a feeling that it's well in control of all that's inside€”is a satisfying phone to use.

High praise, in my book.

The HTC One X goes on sale on the AT&T network May 6 for $199 with a new two-year contract.


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