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HTC One X (AT&T) review: HTC One X (AT&T)

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Also pre-installed on the HTC One X is the MOG app for music streaming and downloads. Sarah Tew/CNET

As we've seen on other HTC devices, social-media integration is just as strong in Sense 4 as in previous versions. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ apps are preloaded, plus a Friend Stream widget pulls all updates across multiple social media platforms to view in one location. Similarly, the People app will analyze your contacts list automatically and suggest any possible links, between say Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter. Additionally, within a friend's contact details I was able to view any albums my friend posted to Facebook and any recent updates like messages or missed calls.

HTC plays up the fact that the HTC One X boasts Beats audio processing. In theory, it automatically will activate a targeted equalizer profile to match specific Beats-branded headphones. As with my experience with Beats on the HTC One S, however, I found that it often pumped up bass way too much, killing the mids and highs. Certainly some tracks will benefit from the heavy Beats audio treatment, especially ones where booming bass is the central draw. Thankfully HTC also provides a group of equalizer settings and per CNET headphones editor Justin Yu's suggestion, I tried the Sweetener profile, and found it offered the most balanced audio across all genres to my ears and his.

HTC's new One series smartphones have what the company calls ImageSense technology. Essentially this is a buzzword signifying that the phone's 8-megapixel camera relies on a dedicated image processor for quick performance. It also indicates that HTC added additional photo goodies such as a wide range of scene modes that go way beyond the typical camera phone options.

Besides staples like face detection, auto smile capture, and panorama, the One X has an HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode, which uses the handset's back-illuminated sensor to add shadow detail to what would otherwise be overexposed shots. A Continuous Shooting mode snaps images in bursts of up to 4 frames per second, great for shooting unruly or fast-moving subjects like kids and pets. Another one of the One X's handy skills is the ability to record video in up to full 1080p HD quality and grab 8MP stills either while the camera is rolling or when playing back movies later. There's even a Slow Motion video feature to capture footage at a high frame rate to review at a snail's pace.

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The HTC One X's 8MP camera settings are very comprehensive. Sarah Tew/CNET

The HTC One X's camera image quality didn't disappoint. The phone took test shots of an indoor still life with accurate color and sharp details even under challenging fluorescent lighting.Outdoors in bright sunlight, the green of foliage and red and purple of spring flowers were vivid but not oversaturated. 1080p videos I shot also were clear and exhibited none of the blocky pixelation I've seen from phones with lower-res camcorders. The Video Stabilization feature, however, didn't do much to cancel out shake caused by my hands.

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The HTC One X took clear, detailed images of our indoor still life. Brian Bennett/CNET
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Colors of flowers and leaves were vibrant but not oversaturated. Brian Bennett/CNET

I know many HTC fans are disappointed that the U.S. version of the One X has a dual-core CPU instead of the much-hyped quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3. Well, I'm here to wash that bitter taste of sour grapes away. Equipped with a powerful 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and a full 1GB of RAM plus 16GB of storage memory, this phone seriously hums. It flies through Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and HTC's Sense overlay with oomph and agility -- just like my experience of the HTC One S (T-Mobile). Linpack tests (Single Thread) confirmed the HTC One X's processing prowess: it notched a fast 103.5MFLOPS spit out in just 0.81 minute. On the same test, the One S, running an identical CPU, scored a virtually identical 102.4MFLOPS.

What the One X brings to the table that the One S lacks is a truly swift 4G data connection. While I saw maximum download speeds of 12.45Mbps on the One S over T-Mobile's HSPA+ network, the One X's 4G LTE connection obliterated these results. The HTC One X buried the Ookla Speedtest download needle with peaks often exceeding 20Mbps. Average download throughput came in at an impressive 16.63Mbps, and I even measured upload results at a high average of 7.53Mbps that once reached a high of 15.83Mbps.

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The HTC One X turned in swift data speeds on AT&T's LTE 4G network. Brian Bennett/CNET

Call quality on the HTC One X via AT&T's GSM cellular network was on par with other AT&T handsets I've used. For calls made in New York, voices sounded clear with no discernible static and people on the other end reported clean audio as well. The phone's slim speaker doesn't get too loud even with the volume pushed to the highest setting.

HTC One X call quality sample Listen now:

AT&T claims the HTC One X will run for 12.5 days in standby mode and provide 8.5 hours of talk time. That's a long time for a device with such a big screen. The One X does boast a sizable 1,800mAh battery, though as I mentioned, it's disappointing that the battery isn't removable. In anecdotal use both over LTE and Wi-Fi, the handset lasted a full 11-hour workday of moderate use (such as running tests, opening apps, and playing music), then was left unplugged overnight, and managed to cling on into the late morning before finally powering down. I'll update this review soon with more anecdotal video playback tests.

AT&T has made waves this year with a few very prominent smartphone announcements. Though only a handful of devices actually have made it to market, the carrier's customers face a tough choice. In one corner, of course, is the $99 Nokia Lumia 900. If you ache for a Windows Mango smartphone, or simply a well-designed and affordable device on AT&T, I wholeheartedly recommend it. And in the other corner is the $199.99 HTC One X. It's fast, it's modern, and it boasts LTE, all of which at the moment makes it the best AT&T Android available.

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