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

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MSRP: $549.99

The Good The HTC One X+ 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.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

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

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.

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.

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.