The original HTC One X was one of the first Android devices to rock a new-fangled quad-core processor, and marked the beginning of the Taiwanese veteran’s concerted effort to return to the glory days of the and . We liked it enough to award it four stars out of five when we reviewed it back in April, but were slightly disappointed by the weak battery life and issues with screen flex, which produced a disturbing ripple effect on the phone’s 4.7-inch display.
The HTC One X+ (not to be confused with the 4G One XL) is essentially a revised version of that device -- from the outside, it looks practically identical. Under the bonnet however, it’s a very different story: the One X+ is packing a 1.7GHz quad-core chip, 64GB of storage and a souped-up battery. It’s also got Android 4.1 pre-installed, meaning that it benefits from all the cool new features being cooked up by Google, including -beater Google Now.
You can pick up the HTC One X+ SIM-free and unlocked to any network for the princely sum of £480, while monthly contracts start at around £26. You can get a cheaper deal if you're willing to stump up a one-off payment when you get the phone though.
Should I buy the HTC One X+?
It may be a beefed-up version of a past classic, but the One X+ is being launched into a very different market than the one which welcomed its predecessor. Quad-core handsets are the rule now rather than the exception, and as such, the One X+ presents a less impressive proposition. That’s not to say it isn’t a top-of-the-range phone -- far from it in fact.
The 4.7-inch Super LCD2 screen is fantastic, and the unibody design is sleek and attractive. It's clad in a rubberised texture that almost makes it stick to your palm, so it's the ideal phone for those with butter fingers. It also comes with a massive 64GB of internal storage, which makes it perfect for music lovers, download addicts and photography enthusiasts. It arrives running, also known as Jelly Bean.
Sadly, the One X’s terrible battery life has been inherited by this newer model, despite the inclusion of a power cell with a higher capacity. Another problem which remains unresolved is the warping effect on the screen, which occurs when you squeeze the sides of the device.
With the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3, Google Nexus 4 and also fighting for your attention, the One X+ doesn’t make the impact HTC probably hoped it would. It’s still a competent phone with excellent features, but its lack of stamina will severely dent its appeal to serious mobile users.
Design and Screen
If you’re already the proud owner of the original HTC One X then this updated variant doesn't offer any surprises from an aesthetic perspective. Aside from the fact that it's currently only available in black (with tasteful red embellishments), the device is indistinguishable from its predecessor.
That’s no bad thing, as the One X could hardly be described as an ugly phone. It’s a little on the large side -- thanks mainly to that whopping 4.7-inch screen -- but not uncomfortably so. People with-like mitts may struggle to use the phone one-handed or get their thumb all the way around the screen, but that's arguably what your other hand is for.
In comparison with the glossy designs of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Google Nexus 4, the One X+ boasts a polycarbonate shell covered in a soft-touch rubber, which vastly improves grip. It also shows up marks and scratches like you wouldn’t believe, so expect to become quite precious over how you handle your phone should you decide to lay down the cash for this device.
Overall though, the One X+ is relatively thin, comfortable to use and easy on the eye, giving users little to complain about from a purely physical perspective.
The back of the One X+ is quite sparse, with the camera being the most striking landmark. It juts out quite dramatically from the curve of the casing, which means it makes contact with whatever surface you happen to lay your phone down on. This could potentially lead to the lens getting scratched or marked, giving you another reason to treat this behemoth of a blower with kid gloves. Charging pins are also found on the rear of the device, allowing you to dock the phone into compatible accessories without having to use a cable.
When we reviewed the first One X we noticed a rather disconcerting ripple-like effect on the screen when pressure is applied to the sides of the case -- an unfortunate drawback of having a display with little-to-no bezel around it. Sadly, the issue remains on the One X+. Gripping the phone tightly on either side will cause waves of distortion to appear on the LCD panel. Running a finger down the edge of the screen -- as you would do to remove pieces of dust and dirt from the grove between the case and screen -- has the same effect. I'd rather hoped that HTC would have rectified this irksome problem in this updated model, but the design of the phone clearly means this isn’t possible.
If you can overlook this shortcoming, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the One X+’s 4.7-inch Super LCD2 panel. The resolution of 720x1,280 remains unchanged from the previous edition, giving a pixel density of 312ppi. While this may not be the best in show, it’s high enough to make individual pixels almost indistinguishable. To cap it all off, the screen is covered by super-tough Corning Gorilla Glass 2 -- the same protective material that coats the front and back of the Nexus 4.
Possibly the single biggest advance the One X+ makes over its forerunner is the increased speed of its CPU -- it’s now revving at 1.7GHz over the original One X’s 1.5GHz. The processor -- which makes up part of the Nvidia Tegra 3 system-on-a-chip -- is still a quad-core offering, but that additional clock speed makes quite a difference. The slight lag we noticed on the previous model is gone, meaning that there’s not much you can throw at the device that it can’t handle.
Movement between apps via the multi-tasking menu is astonishingly fast, and the Tegra 3 chip makes short work of demanding 3D games, too. Such raw power comes at a price, though. Like the original One X, this successor becomes awfully hot when it’s being put through its paces. After less than 5 minutes of playing the zombie-packed shooter Dead Trigger, the back of the One X+ was very toasty.
It never became a problem during the course of the review process (in fact, it provided some much-need warmth to my digits as I waited for the bus on a chilly winter morning) but when technology generates this much heat, it’s rather worrying.
Android 4.2 may have received its debut via the Nexus 4, but it’s more of an incremental upgrade to 4.1, which is what the version of Android the One X+ ships with. Also known as Jelly Bean, this iteration of Android offers a wide range of new features, including enhanced performance, better notifications and a challenger to Apple’s Siri in the shape of Google Now.
This facet of the Android experience is a real jaw dropper, allowing you to access a world of information using nothing but your voice. You can ask Google Now what the weather is, or Brad Pitt’s age. Or, if you’re feeling particularly jovial, you can request a selection of cat photos. Like Siri, Google Now will speak back to you at certain points, reinforcing the impression that there’s a tiny little digital assistant residing in your phone. To round it all off, the service can even alert you to traffic problems on your way home (it memorises your route based on your day-to-day movement patterns) and send you the final score of your favourite sports team.