Mobile

HTC’s One X superphone pushes camera and sound quality above all (hands on)

Image Credit: Sean Ludwig
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After a few years of losing dominance in the Android phone arena, HTC is on a new mission to add sex appeal and unique features to top-notch phones in hopes of stealing some love from Samsung and Motorola. Enter the HTC One X, the company’s newly-announced Android superphone that emphasizes its camera prowess and Beats audio.

While the device was announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last night, we were able to get our hands on the slick handset at a private event in New York City Monday morning. My initial impressions are that the device is yet another powerful Android phone, but its key features, camera and Beats audio, are what the company is really pushing.

The HTC One X for AT&T, with its dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 4G LTE, runs fast. Flicking through HTC’s Sense Android skin user interface was a breeze, as was opening programs, playing music, and generally all types of multitasking.

An HTC representative told me the three things: premium design that makes it feel great in the hand, top-of-the-line 8-megapixel camera with 2.0 f-stop and ImageSense technology, and Beats audio quality. On the design front, the phone does feel “premium.” Its 4.7-inch HD screen with Gorilla Glass is beautiful and is capable of up to 720p video playback. For a phone with such a large screen, it’s still fairly light in the hand, weighing in at 4.6 ounces.

While I wasn’t able to the seriously test the camera sensor for a comparison with the iPhone 4S’ incredible camera/software, the pictures on the phone that I looked at were full of detail and strong on color. The phone does have a super-fast shutter speed as well as the ability to shoot multiple shots per second to make sure you get the perfect shot.

On the camera front, HTC may have been blindsided a little by Nokia’s announcement of its own high-quality camera phone this morning . The Nokia 808 PureView has a massive 41 megapixel camera inside, but in many ways the technology sounds more prototypical rather than fully realized, based on reports. HTC’s response:

“We’re not focused on a single feature, we’re focused on the full camera experience,” HTC Director of Public Relations Tom Harlin told VentureBeat. “We know the issues that people have taking good quality pictures on the phone and we’re helping them with faster camera speed and quality pictures in adverse conditions like no light or low light. We’re also excited about consumers being able to take high-def stills while taking video.”

If anything was disappointing about the HTC One X, it had to be the Beats audio. When enabled and using Beats headphones, songs by Jay-Z and Rihanna sounded a little muddled and not nearly as crisp as they should be. That could have been the sound quality on the audio files more than the Beats tech, but it was still a lackluster element. An HTC rep said that these phones are not finalized with software and said the Beats software may end up different from what I tested today.

The HTC One X will be exclusively available to U.S. consumers on AT&T. The device will start shipping in April globally. HTC would not let slip on U.S. pricing and availability –  except that it would land some time in the second quarter.

You can view a full gallery of the HTC One X below:

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