Hands on with HTC’s second stab at glory, the One X+

The HTC One X wasn’t able to match the staying power and popularity of the Samsung Galaxy S3 earlier this year, but HTC wants a rematch. For the last few months, it’s been working out and training hard and sometime this fall, the One X+ will enter AT&T’s squared circle to duke it out once again. Will it be up to the task? I’m not sure, but I do know that HTC has a good looking, powerful phone on its hands. This week, I got to hold it in my own hands and the One X continues to impress. This time, as the revamped “One X+.”

If you’d like to know everything there is to know about the One X and its capabilities, check out our full One X review. The differences between that device and the one I fiddled around with are minimal and mostly internal. When it comes down to it, if you didn’t like the One X, you’re not going to like the One X+, but if you did like the One X, and for some insane reason already need a new phone after only six months, then the X+ may be for you. Instead of white, it now comes in black; instead of Android 4.0, it now runs Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), which is much smoother and has some nice upgrades; and instead of an 1,800mAh battery, it now has a 2,100mAh in it, which HTC reps told me boosts battery life by 50 percent. If true, then the One X+ will be a definite contender in the war for a phone that can last an entire day. It will also be one of the first phones to come with Android 4.1 out of the box.

The One X+ has a few geekier (yes, it gets geekier) upgrades. It’s capable of high-speed 4G LTE connectivity like its predecessor, but thanks to Nvidia getting its act together, now the U.S. LTE version of the One X+ has a 1.7GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor in it as well, which also helps battery life thanks to Nvidia’s optimized miniature 5th processing core that handles easy tasks when you aren’t using your phone much. Internal file storage memory has doubled from 32GB to 64GB, making this one of the best phones for storage to ever come out. Unfortunately, there is still no microSD option or battery access due to the unibody design. The weight and dimensions of the phone are virtually unchanged aside from a slightly refined coating on the polycarbonate (a really good kind of plastic) shell, that has a better rubbery grippy feeling to it — and yes, “rubbery grippy” is a technical term now.

HTC One X+ and HTC One X
HTC One X+ - and HTC One X

The One X+ has the same rear camera as before, but the front camera and the camera app have received some tiny upgrades. You can now switch from rear to front cameras without digging into the camera app settings and the front camera is 1.6 megapixels instead of 1.3. Will it make a big difference? Not really, but if you love to take pictures of yourself, it will add some pixels to your face. It is fun that you can now set a timer for the front camera.  Again, a small feature, much like the minuscule increase in the size of the onscreen shutter button. Compared to other manufacturers (outside of Apple), HTC’s camera app is currently just about the best. And because it has taken photography so seriously and even included an ‘ImageSense’ chip inside the phone, the One X+ will be one of the best camera phones on the market, no doubt. 

I received a lot of flack a few months back when I said that I prefer the Galaxy S3’s Super AMOLED screen to the One X’s Super LCD 2 display. In retrospect, I may have underestimated the One X. The One X+ has that same, gorgeous 1280 x 720 pixel display and it looked just as good last night as it ever has. If you’re a screen buff, you’ll want to check out HTC’s flagship.

Overall, it’s sad that the One X+ is only coming to AT&T. That puts a cap on its potential. If the final product turns out this well, though it’s going to be one of the best phones on AT&T this holiday season, right alongside the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5. Kudos to HTC for sticking with the One X. It may not have made its mark, but the second time may be a charm.

Hands-on video