The detail in the images is good, especially when viewed on the phone's own display.
The software behind the camera packs in quite a number of features and adjustments to consider before taking a shot. Above the shutter button is a shortcut to a range of popular image filters, and in the Scenes menu you'll find an image-stitching Panaroma, Macro and HDR modes complementing the usual assortments of lighting adjustments.
Hipsters rejoice: there are stacks of Lo-Fi image filters to play with.
If we have one complaint about the camera in the One X, it's that the best results are found outside the default settings. Without tweaking the One X image settings, we found that images were both over-saturated and over-exposed, and that the quality of the shots we took were improved significantly by adjusting one or both of these options. Happily, these settings are set and forget, so if you find a custom setting you like, you can leave it that way for the future.
Colour reproduction is good, if a touch over-saturated.
Here, we have two similar photos with incrementally different camera settings.
With Beats Audio built in to the One X, the music pitch is likely to pique the interest of music lovers, although we're not sure whether this ticks all the boxes for a dedicated audiophile. Beats Audio is activated whenever music or video files are selected, regardless of which apps you choose to play then back with. Though we're probably simplifying it, the Beats software seems to act like a "Bass Booster" or "Loudness" setting found on older phones and MP3 players. So while there is a significant difference between having it on and turning it off, we're not sure it actually does much to differentiate the sound of audio on the One X, compared with its nearest competitors.
The One X is also unable to play a wide range of popular audio and video file formats out of the box. It will play standard MPEG 4, WMV, H.264 videos and MP3 and AAC audio, but don't expect it to recognise your media library full of DivX, MKV, XviD, FLAC or OGG files. This might not make much difference to many smartphone shoppers, but considering that you can buy phones that support these files, especially the high-end audio files, this does count against HTC and it's "Authentic Sound" marketing campaign.
Last year, HTC released a dedicated Media Link accessory to promote the idea of using DLNA to share music, videos and photos with a TV or home entertainment system. HTC still wants you to use DLNA, and this year has incorporated a new "three-finger swipe" gesture into its software, allowing you to create a media-streaming connection by swiping across the screen in a way that looks like you are "pushing" the media from the phone to the larger screen.
We love this idea, and any new use of gestures to control complex commands on mobile devices, but we had a lot of trouble using this to share media on devices other than the HTC Media Link. Most media-sharing tools on other machines, like an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3, require the user to create a server-client relationship before trying to stream media. The One X tries to skip this part, and we've been unable to establish media streaming to these machines without downloading a third-party app to the phone.
In many respects, the HTC One X is among the best smartphones we've ever seen. Its design is top notch, its screen is superb and it's packed with great, easy-to-use features. Some of the features of its 8-megapixel camera are unique to this phone, like the ability to take a photo while shooting video, and the camera takes great shots after a little tweaking.
The combination of the phone's Tegra 3 processor and the latest versions of Android and HTC Sense work well to deliver a smooth, painless user experience, but we're sure that there will be some who feel that it's still not fast enough, as the boost in performance from last year's dual-core systems to this quad-core system is difficult to perceive. Similarly, battery life will be sufficient for some, but it's not outstanding, and business users may find that it just doesn't meet their needs.