The HTC One X+: A review

Posted by Kathleen Maher on January 30th 2013 | Discuss
Tags: nvidia graphics qualcomm tegra mt. tiburon testing htc one x+

The latest object of serious geek lust is the HTC One X+, the successor to the somewhat adored One. The phones are identical and they look nice. They are a critical bit bigger than most other phones, and especially the iPhone 4s, and OMG they have Beats audio. The latest version is available in flat black.

The HTC One X+ features the Tegra 3 1.7-GHz quad-core processor and 64GB of internal memory. It has a 1 GB of RAM. Offsetting that huge advantage in storage is the lack of an SD slot, but in emergencies you can add USB memory with an optional USB extender. In comparison, the HTC One X has had several incarnations with the slightly less powerful 1.5-GHz Tegra quad-core processor, or the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 with a 1.5-GHz dual-core Qualcomm Krait processor. To get oriented, have a look at the table at the end of this article to see the lineup and test results.

Visually, the HTC One X is pretty identical to the One X+. It’s a unibody design that’s 5.2 × 2.8 × 0.36 inches with a shiny Gorilla Glass screen to make you feel special. This phone comes with the Jellybean version of Android (Android 4.1) and HTC’s Sense 4+ overlay. A nice feature of the Sense 4+ customization is the ability to pull up all running apps with the dedicated multitask button at the bottom of the screen and the ability to then scroll through them carousel fashion. I use this all the time. In reviews of earlier versions of HTC’s Sense overlay, which is marketed as a 3D interface, it seems that it has been much more obvious … and not so popular. The Sense 4+ overlay has actually been improved by being less noticeable. The lock screen can be customized to provide news updates, notifications, etc. Opening the gallery makes several gallery apps available at once including Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa. There are several opening screens that are customizable so that you can make it really hard to find anything on your phone, but that’s of course up to you. There’s plenty of room to arrange apps any way you like on these customizable opening screens. HTC also puts context-sensitive buttons at the top of screens. All in all, HTC did a pretty good job of guessing which features you’d like to have more access to. 

The camera Sightseeing feature is a nice customization. If you close your phone with the camera on, the camera will be instantly on the next time you start the phone. So, if you’re wandering around Barcelona right around Mobile World Congress time, you’ll be ready to snap while your colleagues are still fussing with the unlock screen.

Performance and all that

The HTC One X+ is fast right outof the box and without testing. Moviesand videos run just fine and the screenlooks good. So, why in the world do wehave to mess up our contented state of mind with a bunch of tests? I have no idea, but we do. We ran tests onthe Motorola Razr M, the HTCOne X+, the Samsung Galaxy SII, the Nexus 7, and the Lenovo Thinkpad. They’re what we had around the office, and they’repretty representative of the devicespeople use for gaming andentertainment.

We ran GLBenchmark to test the OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics. The HTC One X+ lost out against the Motorola Razr M when it comes the basic native screen test, but it held its own on the more demanding 1080p off-screen test. We also ran the Rightware GUI Basemark tests for another look at OpenGL ES 2.0 performance. This time it was off-screen performance at 720p, and again the Motorola Razr M has a slight edge over the HTC One X+ kind of a surprise, on the face of it, but not really if you look at what’s going on. These devices have different resolutions and screen sizes. The Razr M is running these tests at 540 × 888  and the HTC One X is running at 720 × 1180. That’s going to make a difference in some of these cases because the workload is different. An advantage of the the GLBenchmark and the Rightware GUI benchmarks is that they have off-screen modes at the same resolution that provide a better look at how the processors are performing against each other. 

The Rightware GUI Basemark test uses vectors and blends to provide an idea of performance. Of all the tests we ran, this one seems more varied; the Tegra processors do well, but Moto­rola’s Qualcomm Snapdragon does better, and the Samsung seems to be a 2D laggard. The Samsung Exynos processor has Mali graphics, and as it turns out from reading up on the subject, the Mali architecture favors pixel performance over vector performance.

The HTC One X+ gets its turn on the Vellamo suite of tests, which look at a variety of features including HTML 5 mobile web performance and the CPU. It includes integer and floating-point tests, memory read/write, peak bandwidth performance, and memory branching speed. In this case, the HTC’s quad-core processor gets to flex its muscles, which makes sense. The Droid has a dual-core processor, and the HTC One X+ has a quad-core. 

The Antutu benchmark is a cute little benchmark with plenty of proponents. It runs a range of tests and rolls them up into one score. The HTC did well on the overall test, which indicates to us that the overall score weights the CPU over the GPU. We also broke out the GPU scores for 2D and 3D, and the HTC did pretty darned well on the graphics side considering the difference in resolution on the two different phones. That said, graphics performance between the Moto­rola’s Adreno graphics, the HTC’s Nvidia Tegra-based graphics, and the Samsung’s Exynos all come in pretty close. The earlier generation Tegra 2 betrays its age here.

So, what does all that add up to?

If you’re just looking at benchmarks, the hottest phones in the office seem to be the Motorola Razr M and the HTC One X+. As usual it’s a battle between Qualcomm and Nvidia. A phone is such a personal accompaniment it’s really about how well the phone fits into your life. For me, it has taken no time at all to become attached to the HTC One X+. It comes to life instantly. It’s amazing how important that is, when you have it.

One of the things I really liked about the HTC One X+ is the large screen. Also, it can work like an Apple TV with the addition of the Media Link HD that enables the phone use Wi-Fi to send content to a TV. The Media Link gadget is small enough to bring along while traveling, and HTC demonstrates it in use with a projector for presentations as well. 

And, I’ve got to say, while I sniffed at the addition of Beats audio, I added a pair of good ear buds, not Beats-branded ear buds, and got really good sound. I know there’s plenty of controversy over the Beats sound. There are complaints that the Beats algorithms ratchet up the bass, but I really liked the full sound and I was getting a good range. The 8-megapixel camera is very good in good lighting situations, and HTC has included plenty of options for formatsand effects. It has burst mode,which can be used to create panoramasas well as just take multiple pictures. Finally, a word about battery life. In general, I’ve found the Tegra-based products to have adequate battery life.The HTC One X+ has a bigger battery than the original HTC One X. It’s gone from 1,800 mAh to 2,100 mAh, and there are mixed reviews on the web. I wish I could say that we tested the batttery than the original HTC One X. It’s gone from 1,800 mAh to 2,100 mAh, and there are mixed reviews on the web. I wish I could say that we tested the battery life on this thing, but we didn’t because we wanted to get this already long review done. The phone goes all day, and I’ve been happy to find it still showing signs of life in the morning. Checking the online tests done by others, the HTC One X+ is competitive coming in at 13.31 hours for G3 talk, 7.56 hours for web browsing, and 8.11 hours for video playback. It will get you through most airplane rides. I have noticed that the phone does run hot at times, even when it seems as if it’s not being asked to do a whole lot.

All in all

I’d buy this phone for the 64 GB of storage it comes with. I like the way it looks and sounds. Right now, this phone is on top of the heap, sharing space with several other really great devices. For me, though, it’s got enough head room to keep me happy for a very long time to come.—K.M. 



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