HTC Desire X Android phone
Decent performance and an excellent screen make the HTC Desire X good value for money
- Vibrant and bright SLCD screen
- Solid performance
- Good value for money
- Some annoying Sense issues
- No front-facing camera
- Limited internal memory
The HTC Desire X aims to bring the distinctive style of the company's higher end devices to a low-cost, pre-paid phone. The lack of a front-facing camera and some annoying software issues aside, the Desire X largely succeeds thanks to an excellent design and a great display.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
HTC promised to release less smartphones in 2012 than it has in previous years, but the company still seems as active as ever. Its latest release is the Desire X, which aims to bring a distinctive style to the pre-paid market. The HTC Desire X is well built and has an excellent display, making it pretty good value for money.
A touch of 'One' style
The bevelled edges, curved corners and smooth, rounded styling makes the Desire X almost inviting to pick up.
The HTC Desire X is arguably one of the best looking pre-paid handsets available on the Australian market right now. The phone features some design touches from HTC's more expensive 'One' range, particularly the One S. Like that phone, the Desire X has a slightly curved profile that makes it both distinctive and comfortable to hold. This curvature is elegant yet subtle — it's hard to notice if you look at the phone front as only the top and bottom of the device curves upwards when it's laid flat on a desk or table.
The bevelled edges, curved corners and smooth, rounded styling makes the Desire X almost inviting to pick up. We particularly like the white, plastic finish, which contrasts nicely with the silver bezel on the front and the gloss black border surrounding the display. The build of the Desire X gives the impression that it is a unibody, polycarbonate case but the back of the phone is removable. This provides two advantages over HTC's more expensive One X and One S phones — the battery is removable and therefore replaceable and there's a microSD card for extra storage.
HTC has placed the power/lock button at the top of the Desire X, right in the middle. This looks odd at first, as these buttons are usually positioned to the right or left. However, this position is perfect for one-handed use due to the shape and curvature of the Desire X. Touch-sensitive back, home and multitasking shortcut keys sit below the display, while a volume rocker is located on the right side. We weren't a fan of the spongy feel of these volume buttons, which often rendered them unresponsive. During testing, we found they required a rather firm press to activate.
Pre-paid Android phones are often compromised with a poor quality screens but the HTC Desire X doesn't go down that path. It comes with a large 4in super LCD screen with a resolution of 800x480. The use of SLCD technology in a phone that retails for under $300 is without a doubt the most appealing aspect of the Desire X. The display is vivid, bright and has excellent viewing angles. It can't display the same super crisp text as more expensive smartphones, but at this price point it is a clear leader.
Ice Cream Sandwich makes Sense, sometimes
The HTC Desire X runs Google's 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich software and once again features HTC's Sense 4.0 UI overlay. The user experience is very similar to most of HTC's more expensive range, with a few exclusions. HTC hasn't stated if or when the Desire X will be upgraded to the latest 4.1 Jelly Bean version of Android but given this is a pre-paid smartphone, we wouldn't expect it to be made a priority over more expensive models just yet.
We love some of Sense's less advertised touches, such as asking whether you'd like to save an incoming phone number as a new contact, the convenient four dock icon shortcuts on the lock screen and a slick suite of widgets, including HTC's now iconic clock and weather widget.
The Desire X isn't a slow or sluggish smartphone...things tick over nicely.
More importantly, the Desire X isn't a slow or sluggish smartphone. It has a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and comes with 768MB of RAM and this seems to keep things ticking over nicely. Everyday actions like unlocking the phone, opening and closing apps and swiping through home screens doesn't result in too much lag or slowdown. The Desire X certainly isn't as fast as HTC's top-end models, but it was never intended to be and we think performance won't pose an issue for the large majority of users.
While Sense is definitely user friendly, we still feel HTC has made plenty of changes for changes sake. The phone app offers excellent linking of contacts from multiple sources but the interface feels cluttered and doesn't achieve any consistency with the regular Android UI. The default Ice Cream Sandwich keyboard has been replaced by HTC's keyboard and is neither better looking or designed. Thankfully, the Desire X uses the regular Android multitasking menu which is both better implemented and more efficient than the version used on the company's higher end One phones.
The HTC Desire X has 4GB of internal memory but only a paltry 1.11GB is available for app storage. You'll definitely need a microSD card if you want to install plenty of apps. Our review unit didn't come with a microSD card and without it there wasn't enough memory to install some larger games like GTA 3 and Need For Speed Shift, for example.With just 282MB of apps installed, we only had 852MB of storage space left on our review unit.
Decent camera, good battery life
The Desire X lacks a front-facing camera for portrait photos and video calls.
The HTC Desire X has a 5-megapixel camera that borrows some features from the One range. This includes the ability to capture still images while recording video (called "double shutter") along with a burst mode that will take 2.5 photos every second. We also like the ability to add a range of real time effects including distortion, vignette, depth of field and sepia.
Performance is efficient but we did notice there was slight shutter lag when capturing photos. Colour reproduction is acceptable and in many cases vibrant, but image noise is a real issue leaving most photos grainy and lacking in detail. Disappointingly, the HTC Desire X lacks a front-facing camera for portrait photos and video calls, while the rear camera can't record HD video. We found video autofocus very erratic and it struggles to deal with any changes in light.
The HTC Desire X comes with Dropbox integration and includes 25GB of free storage for two years. The phone also includes Beats Audio qualities, which noticeably enhances bass and works in all applications, not just the music player. However, unlike some other HTC models, the Desire X doesn't come bundled with a pair of Beats headphones.
The HTC Desire X has reasonably impressive battery life. We managed to achieve almost a full day of moderate use before needing a recharge. Power users will undoubtedly still need to recharge before the end of the day, but most other users should be well served.
The HTC Desire X is available now through Optus in Australia.
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