X

HTC One X+ review: Its gargantuan storage space is hard to beat

For $199.99, the new HTC One X+ comes equipped with almost everything Android fans dream of including quad-core processing, 64GB of internal storage, and Android Jelly Bean.

bb-ces
Brian Bennett
bb-ces

Brian Bennett

Senior writer

Brian Bennett is a senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET. He reviews a wide range of household and smart-home products. These include everything from cordless and robot vacuum cleaners to fire pits, grills and coffee makers. An NYC native, Brian now resides in bucolic Louisville, Kentucky where he rides longboards downhill in his free time.

See full bio
11 min read

Editors' note: Portions of this review were taken from our evaluation of the HTC One X, since the two devices are extremely similar.

HTC One X+ (AT&T)
8.0

HTC One X+

The Good

The <b>HTC One X+</b> has a quad-core processor, 64GB of storage, and Android Jelly Bean, plus a great camera, all for $199.99.

The Bad

The HTC One X+'s battery life is short. The phone also lacks an SD card slot, and its battery can't be removed.

The Bottom Line

Although it does have some flaws, the $199.99 HTC One X+ is currently the best Android buy on AT&T.

The $199.99 HTC One X+ for AT&T, a revamped version of the One X, successfully improves upon its predecessor in many areas. This new model boasts robust quad-core processing courtesy of an Nvidia Tegra 3 chip, plus it has a massive 64GB of internal storage, enough for users to perhaps overlook its lack of an SD card slot. Those are certainly welcome changes compared with the One X's standard 16GB of memory and slower dual-core CPU when it debuted this past spring. A fresh helping of Android Jelly Bean operating-system software, a full-featured camera, and slick styling don't hurt, either, and add up to make the One X+ the best Android deal on AT&T.

HTC's One X+ packs it all in (pictures)

See all photos

Design
The HTC One X+ is practically the spitting image of its predecessor the One X. Just like with that device, HTC chose to mold the One X + from a single piece of polycarbonate plastic instead of giving it the aluminum unibody construction the company's handsets have traditionally used. Even so, the black plastic material HTC selected (a hue the company calls Carbon) feels high-grade, not cheap. I also like the phone's soft-touch finish, which has a slatelike texture that wicks moisture away and absorbs fingerprints. Of course the One X+ isn't as flashy as the HTC Droid DNA, which flaunts slick metallic-red accents on its edges.

The HTC One X+ has a slim 0.35-inch profile. Sarah Tew/CNET

A flat slab that has smoothly rounded edges, the HTC One X+ is every bit as aesthetically ultramodern as its progenitor. While it isn't as chic as the white version of the One X (HTC also makes a black model), as I mentioned, the surface of this Carbon model doesn't attract smudges easily. Measuring 5.3 inches tall by 2.75 inches wide by 0.36 inch thick, the One X+ isn't small but has the same footprint as the One X. Weighing 4.76 ounces, the One X+ is a hair heavier than the 4.6-ounce One X. That said, the weight lends the plastic phone some solidity.

Gracing the front of the device is a massive 4.7-inch (1,280x720-pixel) Super LCD 2 screen. It gets very bright, brighter in fact than the HTC One S' qHD AMOLED screen and even the HTC Droid DNA's 5-inch (1080p) Super LCD 3 display. Viewing angles on the HTC One X+ are nice and wide, too, comparable with those of the HTC One S. Of course the One S' high-contrast display produces more-vibrant colors and darker blacks, which I prefer.

The big 4.7-inch screen is bright and provides a good view. Sarah Tew/CNET

Above the screen sits a sharper 1.6-megapixel front-facing camera; the older One X uses a 1.3-megapixel shooter for video chats and vanity shots. Below the display are three capacitive buttons for back, home, and recent apps. On the phone's right side are controls for volume, and a Micro-USB port sits on the left. Up top are a tiny power button, a micro-SIM card compartment, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, while around back are the 8-megapixel camera and LED flash.

Just like with the One X, two big drawbacks of the One X+ are the phone's lack of an SD card slot for extra memory expansion and its 2,100mAh nonremovable battery. That said, HTC tries to alleviate the storage issue by outfitting the One X+ with a staggering 64GB of internal memory.

Features
As a pumped-up and tricked-out version of the One X, the One X+ boasts a few key improvements over its previous incarnation. First, instead of the 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor that powered its American predecessor, the One X+ relies on a 1.7GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU.

Additionally, as I stated before, HTC packed a whopping 64GB of internal memory into the One X+. While I'm sure some will complain about the lack of an SD card slot, I seriously doubt you'll miss one. Unless your music and movie collection is truly of gargantuan proportions, this phone has your mobile media needs covered and then some, especially compared with the typical 16GB most handsets offer. To be clear, though, there are benefits to having SD card access, since some apps are better served storing data on an external card. Additionally a card often makes it easier to sideload apps and more-ambitious hacks like custom operating systems.

Jump to apps with lock-screen shortcuts. Brian Bennett/CNET

In addition to the phone's powerful hardware, much of the HTC One X+'s real power lies in its robust software. Not only does this smartphone run a modern version of Google's Android OS, version 4.1 Jelly Bean, but HTC has placed its newest Sense user interface on top. At first glance, Sense 4+ is practically identical to the Sense 4 UI that the original One X offered. According to HTC, Sense 4+ is built to integrate with Jelly Bean's new features such as Google Now, which brings improved search and voice commands, plus automatic alerts depending your location and search history.

There are two ways to unlock the phone: you can either flick a virtual ring from the bottom of the screen to the center, or slide icons into the ring to quick-launch major phone functions. For instance, dragging the camera symbol into the ring fires up the One X+'s main imaging sensor so it's ready to snap pictures and video. Other standard lock-screen shortcuts bring up the Mail app, text messaging, and phone dialer.

Just like on T-Mobile's HTC One S and Verizon's Droid DNA, you start out with three but can add and choose from a total of seven screens that you can populate with application shortcuts and animated widgets. By default, HTC places its iconic weather clock front and center on the main home screen. Tapping the widget's digital readout launches a world clock complete with a slick 3D globe visual, and hitting the weather portion of the clock pulls up a detailed forecast. Another gift to weather addicts like myself are the engaging graphics displayed on the lock screen that correspond to current atmospheric conditions. I was even able to choose them as my live wallpaper.

At the foot of each home screen is a tab containing the same four quick-launch icons shown on the lock screen. I particularly liked being able to swap these icons for others or even create and add folders holding multiple app icons. Any changes here are reflected on the lock screen, and placing application shortcuts on top of one another creates a folder.

The main home screen provides clock, weather, and apps. Brian Bennett/CNET

You'll find a few fancy tricks in the browser too, such as a Flash player for viewing video and other Web-based media and the option to open multiple tabs simultaneously. As with newer Android phones you can even fire up an incognito window so cookies and other tracking software can't keep tabs on your surfing.

One creepy addition to the browser is an AT&T Browser Bar Analytics tool. It's essentially a strip running along the bottom of the screen that offers shortcuts from which to like or share pages via Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, it points you to AT&T curated content grouped into topics such as News, Sports, and Entertainment. If you choose to, the feature also will collect anonymous data about the curated content you share and read through the tool. (Personally I'd rather see the Pure Content Reader view that removes all ads and displays just the basic text of a selected Web page. It was a feature on the first One X but I can't find it anywhere on this device.) You can also choose pages and video to bookmark for later perusal offline.

As you'd expect on a modern Android device, the One X+ comes with the usual Google services onboard, including Gmail, Google+, and Navigation, along with the Play Store, from which you can download apps from a catalog of over 500,000 titles. Play also provides digital books, movies, games, and music to purchase. If that's still not enough entertainment, HTC's Watch app also gives access to TV shows and movies for rental or purchase. For example, I could buy the 2012 remake of "Total Recall" for $14.99 but not rent it. On the other hand, I could both buy ($14.99) and rent ($3.99) "Expendables 2."

Other compelling third-party software that's preloaded on the One X+ includes the Nook reader and a demo version of Mass Effect Infiltrator from Electronic Arts, plus TuneIn Internet radio (a personal favorite) and SoundHound hidden within the HTC Music app. Nvidia's TegraZone offers ways buy and download official Tegra 3-supported games as well. AT&T infuses the device with its own selection of apps and services of dubious usefulness. It has a bar code scanner, FamilyMap for locating family members ($9.99 per month for two family members, $14.99 for up to five), AT&T Locker, which stores files in the cloud for an extra fee, AT&T Navigator, and Messages -- all to do things you can pretty much do for free through Google software.

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 and One X, 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 I found that the Sweetener profile offered the most balanced audio across all genres.

Camera
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, though it does tend to paint subjects in a ghostly blue brush. 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 capabilities is the ability to record video in up to full 1080p HD quality and grab 8-megapixel 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. You also get a nifty panorama mode that sticks images together into one sweeping scene.

The camera app has plenty of settings and features. Sarah Tew/CNET

Like the One X before it, the One S, and Droid DNA, the HTC One X+'s camera image quality didn't disappoint. The phone took 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 yellow of flowers were vivid and natural, but not oversaturated. And 1080p videos I shot also were clear and exhibited none of the blocky pixelation I've seen from phones with lower-res camcorders. That said, I did see some video noise as I panned across vistas with lots of minute details such as individual blades of grass in park lawns.

Indoor still-life shots were clear and sharp. Brian Bennett/CNET

The front camera has a timer for better self-portraits. Brian Bennett/CNET

Colors looked vivid and natural, even under weak sunlight. Brian Bennett/CNET

In strong backlight, the sensor was overwhelmed. Brian Bennett/CNET

The HDR mode helped tame strong sunlight. Brian Bennett/CNET

Performance
I know many HTC fans were disappointed that the U.S. version of the One X had a dual-core CPU instead of the much-hyped quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3. Judging the One X+'s and One X's performance side by side, I have to say it ultimately didn't seem to make much of a difference which chip was running the show. Equipped with a 1.7GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM, the phone is very nimble but not noticeably more so than its predecessor.

Sure, it zooms through Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and HTC's Sense skin with great velocity and agility -- just like my experience of the HTC One S (T-Mobile). Linpack tests (multithread) verified that the HTC One X+ is fast but not faster than its older dual-core rival. In fact it notched a fast 168.7 MFLOPS in just 1 second. On the same test, the One X actually scored a higher 205.7 MFLOPs (in 0.82 second).

Further muddying the waters, on the more graphically intense Quadrant benchmark, the One X+ notched a much higher 7,355 compared with the One X's 4,324. Of course the HTC Droid DNA's score of 8,165 trumps both devices.

The One X+ does brings to the table a swift 4G data connection. On AT&T's 4G LTE network in New York, I observed average download throughput exceeding an impressive 12Mbps. Upload results, however, hovered at just over a slow 2Mbps, which is not the speed I have typically seen from AT&T. Moving to a different location resulted in much faster throughput, well over 20Mbps downloads with uploads cracking the 10Mbps mark.

AT&T's 4G LTE is swift depending on where you surf. 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.

AT&T claims the HTC One X+ will provide a talk time of 12.75 hours and 15 days running in standby mode. That's a long time for a device with such a big screen and quad-core processing. Still the One X+ does boast a sizable 2,100mAh battery, though it's disappointing that it isn't removable. In anecdotal use both over LTE and Wi-Fi, the handset lasted a full workday of moderate use, such as running tests, opening apps, and playing music. The handset didn't fare so well on the CNET Labs video battery drain test. It lasted just 5 hours and 11 minutes before shutting down. To be fair, HTC provides a power-save mode that by default isn't enabled.

Conclusion
I know there are many who will complain about the lack of an SD card slot for extra expansion. The same goes for the embedded battery, which you can't swap out in a pinch. That said, I think the handsomely styled $199.99 HTC One X+ more than makes up for this with its ridiculously vast 64GB of internal storage. It's the most I've seen available on a mobile phone save the iPhone, and unheard of at this price. Throw in Android Jelly Bean, quad-core computing, an outstanding camera, and 4G LTE, and the One X+ is the best bargain to be had on AT&T's current roster. Sure you could opt for the $199.99 Samsung Galaxy S3, but I don't think its removable battery and SD card slot offset its slower dual-core CPU and less attractive design.

HTC One X+ (AT&T)
8.0

HTC One X+

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 7
laptop
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping