Review of HTC OneX (AT&T USA)

A potentially great phone let down by under performing battery performance and lacklustre camera.

HTC OneXWhen HTC announced the OneX, it was with much anticipation. A sumptious screen, contemporary profile, enhanced audio and a dedicated image processor for taking great pictures. It says here.

A large but friendly giant

HTC have delivered on some fronts. From an ergonomic perspective, the OneX works pretty well. It fits comfortably in the hand and can be slipped into a gentleman’s trousers (pants for the colonials) without being annoying.

It’s rather generous dimensions work well from a viewing perspective – 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.7 inches (~312 ppi pixel density). Comparing the display against an iPhone Retina showed little difference in definition. However when it comes to screen brightness, it does not quite measure up to the iPhone – and when diagnosing battery issues (later), the screen was the biggest cause of battery drain.

Camera – Disappointing

My first foray into using the camera was an outside location (evening light); the result of the camera left high red tones, particularly on people. We had a DroidX also taking photos, which turned out fine. After adjusting the white balance from “Auto” it helped resolve the problems somewhat, but they still weren’t as expected. If you want to see how the issue appeared, click here. Clearly picked up the red dress and overcompensated.

Later I was using the camera again (inside the house) and felt the camera was again overcompensating and really pushing the yellows. So to settle it once and for all, I took the same photograph with an iPhone 4 and the OneX. The results are here – I think the iPhone naturally tweaks the shot to up the saturation and brightness.. but it worked for me. I also took some other comparison shots – each time the iPhone got the better across the board.

On the plus side the ability to take shots rapidly was amazing – it outperforms many other phones in this perspective – and the ability to take a shot whilst simultaneously recording a video demonstrates the power of the dedicated image processor.

Speaking of video, it actually performed better in the white balance department. Weird.

The battery is so draining

Battery life is a make-or-break-it thing for me. A phone must be able to last a day (or thereabouts) for it to be acceptable. Enabling 4G and GPS on the OneX would eat battery power faster than a large gentleman in a pie shop. There’s something fundamentally wrong with the way HTC have handled 4G – even with full bars on AT&T it would be a massive drain (along with the screen).

As mentioned, when looking at where power was being used, Android reported the screen being the prime consumer – this with brightness turned down, a black wallpaper and some battery management software (and no Live Wallpaper, though it is cool). If this is what it takes to keep battery use down, what’s the point of having such a big screen.

It’s not all bad

Android ICS with HTCs Touch works really well; the widgets work, the live wallpaper idea works well, screen scrolling is smooth, everything works without delay, GPS discovery is very quick and when 4G is enabled, it’s fast enough (but not blindingly fast).

I have a feeling that perhaps I may have had a faulty unit due to the poor battery performance – but also that HTC Touch isn’t quite mature enough and there’s more work to be done. I would be very interested to see how Android Jelly Bean performs on the unit – I have a feeling that natively, it would really exploit the power of the OneX.

In Summary

I could *maybe* forgive the camera, but the battery life is the thing that turned me off. I went to an old iPhone 4 and the difference was night and day. Yes, the iPhone doesn’t have such a powerful processor, 4G, nor the same screen dimension which needs to be powered – but then perhaps that’s why Apple took such a move; you don’t always need the biggest, fastest behemoth. Just the best for the job.

… and yes, I’ll probably get the next-gen iPhone now. Thanks to HTC.

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