So, it has been just over two months since I reviewed the HTC One X and I thought it was time for an update now that I’ve been using it for some time. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had much time to do much technical fiddling with it, so I’m impressed that it has not only slotted into my life so seamlessly but that it does help me all of the time in ways that my previous phones didn’t.
On a general note, the One X’s software and hardware work together to make every experience with the device good. However, I want to highlight some hidden gems in the included software.
Back in the days of Windows Mobile, I was a big user of the tasks functionality to maintain a list of things I needed to do. However, as I moved to Android for the last few years, I gradually switched to solutions such as Post-it notes on things such as my desk. Now I’ve completely switched back to managing tasks on my mobile device again thanks to the excellent Tasks app on the One X.
HTC Watch, mentioned again in a section below, provides a decent range of films available for purchase and renting – the latter is often very attractively priced!
I was correct with my suspicions that in the panorama mode, some feature matching is done to produce better results. What I didn’t realise however, was that this is done on the fly. I also didn’t realise that this overrides the input from the gyroscope and compass which the phone may be using to help work out the relative directions of each photo. Indeed, I only stumbled across this revelation accidentally while trying to take a panoramic photo of a relatively empty room with plain white walls – it was impossible! The phone was confused by the homogeneity of the surface and proceeded to suggest nonsensical directions in which to point the phone in order to take the next stage of the panoramic photo. No matter how I reacted to its suggestions, it would stitch the resulting photos together in an incorrect fashion, demonstrating that the relative positional metadata generated while taking the photos was used in the stitching process.
In the vast majority of situations though, the camera has been superb. Other than the sharpness issues identified in other reviews when you see the photos at their native resolution, the only other issue I could find with the camera software is that it seems to be more reluctant than it should be to use the LED flash. I’ve had to force the LED flash on manually a few times to get a better quality photo. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to take many photos in particularly dark situations, but that should be changing very soon.
In my review I was quite critical of the sound produced by the included earphones, but I have since warmed to their sound – relative to my HD2’s earphones, they’re considerably more audible over background noise (e.g. traffic) without being uncomfortably loud. This is a very practical benefit and as a consequence I now consider the audio hardware to be a considerable asset of the device, though I still make sure Beats Audio is off. Less practical tests also reveal the audio hardware to be of a superior nature to some of my previous phones.
Weirdly enough, I have encountered two situations where the phone was consuming power at crippling rate. To be fair, both situations should cause considerable power drain but the phone’s (apparently planned) reaction to both was something I’d never seen before.
The first situation involved the phone being attached to a screen via the official MHL adapter, which supplies some power to the phone alongside its primary purpose: putting what you can see on your phone onto a much bigger screen. I have no trouble playing items purchased via HTC Watch (5p to rent films is an awesome price!) via the MHL adapter. However, when I stream content from iPlayer over 3G to the phone and attempt to watch it on a bigger screen via the MHL adapter, I get the message below and the phone continues to use its own battery power at such a rate that I think the available external power isn’t actually used at all.
That same situation also causes the phone to get close to becoming too hot – something I’ve learned from experience that a flashing red and green notification light indicates. Once it did suddenly die as a result of overheating and I’ve kept an eye out for that flashing light since, cooling it with ice or pausing iPlayer for a short while (the notification light returns to normal when the phone has cooled down enough).
The second situation is one that I don’t regularly put the phone in but is a further confirmation of the power the phone’s components (particularly the large and high-res screen) need. During a phone call if you start the camera application, you are told that you’re unable to use the flash while in a phone call.
The phone also gets fairly warm when playing serious games, though I would expect this with any device. It’s pretty cool to play games of the quality and scale of GTA 3 on the move – the controls for that game in particular have been translated to mobile devices well. Of course, ones designed for Tegra 3 specifically have better controls and graphics though they often feel more like they’ve been designed to show off the capabilities of the hardware than anything else. I do like the scale and ambition of some of the games designed for fifth, sixth and seventh generation video game consoles, which we are starting to see being ported to mobile devices.
So, in summary, the One X’s software is generally excellent, the panoramic mode on the camera can get confused when there aren’t many visual features to determine the relative positioning of photos, the audio quality and headphones are actually quite good, HTC Watch lets you rent films incredibly cheaply, the screen uses a large proportion of the current the battery or charger can sustain and you can play some pretty cool games (I’ve never really got games like Angry Birds). The phone has also had quite a few updates which have fixed a few of the small bugs that every new device seems to have these days and, in case you didn’t hear, the One X will also be getting Playstation games.