Seven months; Not long in the grand scheme of things, but when it comes to mobiles it’s a lifetime. That’s the reason HTC have done what they and so many have done before in the One X+: release an updated version of their flagship affixing an extra symbol or letter at the end in the hopes the device will keep HTC sales afloat until the next bout of announcements. Is the HTC One X+ enough though? With its more powerful processor, striking black styling, bigger battery and two-fold memory, our gut reaction would be yes, but reviews aren't about gut reactions, oh no - read on for our findings after a week with the handsome HTC One X+.
HTC One X+ - Design
Serving up almost the same design as the One X's of old, we know from the offset that we're in for another does of plastic fantastic with the HTC One X+. Unlike other One X iterations though, the One X+ manages to come complete with a rich black body and pure matte feel across the front, back and sides.
To recap, the One X design language is rich and stylised with flat sides, rounded edges refining the display’s extremities and an ergonomic curved back. The unibody plastic feels solid while the micro drilled holes add a sense of intricacy to the phone. The camera mount protrudes a fair bit, putting the lens at greater risk of scratches than we'd like, though doing so in a way that's visually cohesive with the look and feel of the whole handset.
We didn't warm to the glossy sides or grey colour in our original One X review, so regard the all matte black One X+ as an improvement across the board. As for the red accents, they add an edge, pulling focus to the camera mount and Beats logo on the reverse. On the front, we could take or leave the rouged capacitive buttons, but it’s a big thumbs up for everything else.
HTC One X+ - Screen
The 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display on the HTC One X+ is the same as that found on the original and that's only a good thing. With a resolution of 720p, the HD panel has been graced with a virtually gapless technology. This means the screen's image looks very superficial, viewing angles are better than most of the competition and the overall experience more immersive.
Colours are bright, bold and thanks to the incredibly fast processor and HTC's love and care the whole experience feels responsive to the touch. HTC Sense 4+ is visually well optimised for the display and while the pixel density won’t rival the iPhone 5 for example, on the whole the experience certainly does thanks to the additional screen size.
HTC One X+ - User Interface
On top of Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, HTC’s Sense 4+ is a bump up from Sense 4.1, currently found on the original One X. Despite the ‘+’ though, it all looks very familiar. In turn, we’re only going to cover the differences, with our full review of HTC Sense 4 in our HTC One X and One S Reviews.
Charity starts at home and so do the differences across the old and new versions of Sense 4, with Sense 4+ reintroducing continuous home screen scrolling. This means you can keep scrolling right, and when you get to the far right screen, another scroll and you’ll be taken to the far left screen. Pull down your notification bar and you’re also treated to a power saver toggle that wasn't there before.
Next up and it’s widgets and services, namely the new joiner called Best Deals. This scours your local area and online stores in a bid to deliver cheap buys your way. What kind of cheap buys? A quick thumb through the Beauty and Wellness category for example pulled up Groupon-esque Teeth Whitening and Hypnotherapy offers. We reckon the app might appeal to anyone who isn’t app-centric enough to download an alternative from Play Store. For everyone else, HTC makes it pretty easy to disable, thus seemingly expunging it from your phone until you begin to question the sheen of your gnashers once more.
The keyboard on Sense 4+ has also seen a few tweaks with the most notable being the removal of the arrow row and ‘minimise keyboard’ button. This makes for a cleaner aesthetic, though it was by no means unusable before, with swype input, great word prediction and comfortable spacing.
We mentioned earlier that the HTC One X+ is running on Jelly Bean, however it doesn’t come out of the box with all the gelatinous candy perks we might have hoped for. We’re specifically referring to the pull down notifications bar's two finger gesture support. We would expect this to come down the line in a software update, though have posed the question to HTC, watch this space for an update. What the Jelly Bean clad Sense 4+ on the One X+ does however deliver is Google Butter and Google Now for some smooth zipping and smart searching.
In turn, the One X+ UI delivers more of the same with some refinements. Seeing as “the same” was a stylish, solid UI atop Android in the original, we’re more than ok with it's latest iteration.
HTC One X+ - Camera and Multimedia
The HTC One X+ brings with it the same 8-megapixel back-side illuminated camera sensor as found on the One X and One S along with an f/2 lens and Image Sense chip. This means amongst the fastest burst mode out there, decent low light performance and an incredibly intuitive user interface. By default images are shot at 6-megapixels to fill up the whole screen, so if you feel you need more detail just revert back to the standard 4:3 aspect ratio.
Image quality is exactly as expected; very competent though superseded by the likes of the iPhone 5 and Sony Xperia T. Detail is fair, colours are generally good and noise is handled well, though zoom in and image grain is present. When macro shots focus they look good, though it can be a challenge achieving very close up focus at times.
Additional modes include panorama and HDR, both of which work well, not to mention a huge array of image tweaks that can be applied in shooting.
Video is recorded up to full 1080p. HTC rightly have the default set to 720p. This produces video best suited to the display size with ample resolution for YouTube, not to mention smaller file sizes. The only time to shoot 1080p is when you plan on viewing content on a full HD panel, in which case the One X+ produces good quality video and a smooth frame rate. Detail is strong and continuous focus reliable with touch to focus re-focusing quickly and accurately.
Media consumption on the HTC One X+ is a dream. The screen just implores you to ogle it, be it while thumbing through the beautiful UI, powering through games or passing time watching video. The ample 64GB of storage means you won’t be wanting for space and the 1.7GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor makes short work of even full HD video content. Add to that the processor’s gaming credentials and Beats audio profile adding an optional audio oomph and the One X+ becomes a corker for anyone in the market for a well designed multimedia monster.
HTC One X+ - Connectivity and Storage
While One X+s elsewhere else get the chance to fastrack along with LTE speeds, the UK variant is capped at DC-HSPA. Otherwise, it’s got every connectivity bell and wireless whistle you could want, including WiFi, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth, GPS, FM Radio and NFC The 4.7-inch screen looks immense and it should ship with Chrome out of the box giving you all in all one of the best pocketable web browsers available at the moment.
Storage is another area the HTC One X+ sees a bump in specs. Making up for its non-existent microSD card slot with 64GB of internal memory, it’s easily one of the most roomy phones, asking to be filled up with your content.
HTC One X+ - Performance and Battery
The One X+ does indeed speed through every game, video and super-sized PDF we threw at it with its 1.7Ghz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 1GB RAM. Sense 4+ is also a lot more stable than Sense 4 was in our initial review with absolutely no force closes or hiccups in our time with the phone. Audio quality on the handset is great in phone calls with good volume and as mentioned, 3D gaming performance is exemplary, even down to the ergonomics of the phone in the hand.
With the buffed up 2100mAh battery, this is the area the HTC One X+ really gets its improvement over its 1800mAh predecessor. It isn’t likely to go for more than a day with standard usage, but unlike its the original One X, a full day is definitely realistic.
HTC One X+ - Conclusion
The HTC One X+ is in one way what the original should have been - a phone that can last a whole day. That it’s also been souped up with more speed, memory and style only adds to what is without a doubt the best HTC Android device out right now. For many, it will also be the best phone available, bettering the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 in terms of style, offering more portability and stability than the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and more versatility than the iPhone 5. So while the One X+ isn’t an entirely new phone, the styling feels current, the UI is slick and stable, the camera is amongst the best around and performance is killer. With a whopping 64GB of storage on board too, it's plain as day to see that HTC’s new flagship hits all the marks