Tech Update: HTC One X

HTC One X
HTC One X

I haven’t been writing all that much recently, and as I’ve picked up a few “toys” in the last 6 months, I thought it would be useful to write a bit about my experiences with each one.  I’ll separate all these out into different posts, so you’ve got more to look forward to (hah!).

Brooke and I were both up for new cell phones last November and we had a few options available, but as we both had HTC phones previously and were generally happy with them, the HTC One X was the device of choice for both of us (Brooke got the black one, I got the white one).  Compared to my 2+ year old HTC Inspire 4G, this thing is a revelation, though compared with Brooke’s HTC Aria, it’s surely unbelievable.  I was used to a semi-large screen size, jumping from 4.3″ on my Inspire to 4.7″ on the One X, but Brooke’s jump from 3.2″ to 4.7″ was a bigger adjustment.

The screen’s unbelievable.  Seriously, there are times where I’d rather look at pictures on the phone than on a computer screen.  The rest of the hardware is pretty nice too, including the speakers and the camera.  One problem both our phones had was with the SIM card slot, where the device would conveniently forget it had a SIM card installed and wouldn’t let you make a call until you restarted the phone.  Thankfully, the phone reboots very quickly, as compared with our own phones, but it was still a pain.  It started happening a month or two into owning them, but once we got the cards replaced at a local AT&T store, we didn’t have the issue anymore.

Another complaint from my perspective (that is to say, Brooke didn’t care about this…) is more on the AT&T side than the HTC side.  The phone shipped with Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”), which was a newer version than my older phone (Android 2.3, or “Gingerbread”).  In some ways, this was like the difference between Windows 95 and Windows XP: a noticeable jump to a very stable, better operating system for a mobile device.  At the time we got the phones in November, we knew that Android 4.1 (“Jelly Bean”) was coming out for the HTC One X in the near future (as in, like, a week later).  However, just because HTC released the update didn’t mean AT&T would actually deliver the update to our phones in a timely manner.  We finally got the update on March 7th, a full 3 months after it was made available, and at least 2 months after other carriers made it available for the same device.  Very frustrating.  This update was akin to the jump between Windows XP and Windows 7: Android ICS worked well, but Android JB was available  faster, more efficient, and with additional features, like Google Now (Google’s “Siri” competitor).  Believe you me, the update was worth it: Jelly Bean is great.

In the end, I think we’re both very happy with the phones.  Any niggling issues we have probably wouldn’t be solved by other devices and, to be honest, the features announced on the newest phones for this year (the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4) don’t appear to be that drastic of an improvement.  This is good, though, so I’m not as ancy for a new phone once I see the new hottness floating around in other hands.

Because of the update issue I had with AT&T, there’s a strong possibility I’ll go with something like the Nexus 4 next time I get a new phone.  Google sells “Nexus phones” directly through their site and they work with AT&T and T-Mobile networks.  They are usually around $300 (so, more expensive than the “on-contract” phones from AT&T, yet cheaper in the long run as you can jump carriers without paying penalties), but they get Android updates on-time and are not pre-installed with software from AT&T or other carriers.  Much more “free and open” and easier to work with, depending on what you want to do.  By the time I’m ready to upgrade my One X, there’ll be a new Nexus phone out (perhaps two iterations by then…a new one is to be announced in May…) and I’ll give it a serious look.

Still, the HTC One X is a good phone.  I wish more people would use HTC devices, as they’re well designed and a pleasure to use (when the SIM card functions…).  Samsung shouldn’t have a monopoly on Android phones, but their marketing is clearly working.  Hopefully HTC survives another year and can keep making good stuff.  If they do, I’ll give ’em a look next time around.

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