HTC officially launched the One X Android smartphone in Sydney last night. Guests were treated to performances by the Bag Raiders and Canyons, but the real star of the show was of course the One X. We were there to get some hands-on time with the company's latest flagship smartphone and walked away pretty impressed.
Smooth polycarbonate design
The One X has impressive specifications, but the key feature is clearly the design, which is not something we often say about Android phones. The One X is constructed from a single block of polycarbonate plastic that quite simply feels excellent in your hands. This polycarbonate finish isn't new, however, as Nokia has made it a key feature on its Lumia 800 and N9 smartphones.
The HTC One X is a very large device but it has a slightly curved profile. This curvature is hard to notice if you look at the phone front on, but look from the sides and you can see that the bottom and top edges are slightly curved upwards.
The curved design is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, but there is one key difference — the polycarbonate plastic material used on the HTC One X makes it feel far superior. The matte finish means it is easy to grip while the material itself simply feels sturdier and better engineered than the bland, plastic design of the Galaxy Nexus. The One X comes in black and white colours, but HTC seems to be pushing the white model the most. We are yet to see a black handset in the flesh and most of the advertising and promotion around the One X uses the white variant.
The attention to detail in construction and design of the One X is very impressive. There are lovely little touches everywhere. The earpiece grill is visible, but rub your finger across it and you can't physically feel the holes. The bezel surrounding the screen is so thin it's barely noticeable. The camera lens protrudes from the back, but lay it down on a table and the design prevents the lens from coming into contact with the surface.
There are a couple of downsides to the new design. The One X's battery is not removable, there is no microSD card slot for extra storage and the phone uses a micro-SIM rather than a full-sized SIM card. None of these omissions are enough to completely overlook the phone, but the lack of expandable memory will probably annoy many current Android users.
Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box
We didn't get a huge amount of time to play with the One X, but we can make a few initial observations. It's fast. The software is smooth. There wasn't much lag in any of the apps we opened. The camera app looks very impressive. We particularly liked the fact you can hold your finger on the on-screen shutter button to enable burst mode. This will take up to 99 photos in quick succession. (I'm dying to use a "I have 99 problems but a burst mode ain't one" quirk here, but...ah). Anyway, we're not sure exactly why you would want to take 99 photos, but the option is there if you need it.
We also love the fact that you can take a photo while shooting HD video (a feature called "double shutter"). We briefly had a play with this feature, but will put it through its paces when we get our review unit.
The HTC One X comes out of the box with the latest Android software, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. In fact, this is only the second Android phone in Australia to ship with this latest software following the Galaxy Nexus.
What you won't find on the Galaxy Nexus is a UI skin, but that's exactly what you get on the HTC One X. The company's Sense 4.0 UI is the latest version here and HTC says it has attempted to simplify an interface which has often been accused of being too cluttered. Personally, we aren't huge fans of Sense. In our opinion it often makes changes for the sake of change. However, the new version does seem to have removed some fancy 3D animations, and redesigned other UI elements to tie in better with the vanilla Android theme. We'll reserve judgement until we use it extensively.
Finally, the One X comes standard with Beats Audio qualities, a direct result of HTC's "strategic partnership" with the Beats By Dr. Dre audio company. However, unlike the HTC Sensation XL, the One X does not come with a pair of Beats over-the-ear headphones.
Look out for our full, comprehensive review of the HTC One X next week. In the meantime if you have any questions please let us know in the comments below!