DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.

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The HTC One X (along with its LTE-enabled XL and just announced X+ variants) sits at the top of the company's flagship One series. With a 4.7 inch screen, 8MP camera, fast F2.0 lens, 1080p video recording and a 1.5GHz multi-core processor, the Taiwanese phone manufacturer has packed some impressive specs into the One X that compare favorably against competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S III and iPhone 5.  And for those who care about a phone's looks as well as its performance, the One X grabs attention with a sleek, lightweight minimalist design highlighted by a white polycarbonate casing that is matte at the rear and glossy along its slim sides.

The One X ships running Android's Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.3) operating system and HTC Sense 4.0. They combine to form a very responsive interface and offer significant enhancements to the image-making experience. You can launch the camera app without unlocking the home screen, shutter lag has been reduced, continuous shooting is possible simply by keeping your finger on the shutter button and you can capture still images while recording video. An impressively wide range of shooting parameters and post-capture filter effects, along with HDR and panorama shooting modes signal HTC's strongest push yet to win over smartphone photographers. 

Click here to read our guide to the Android operating system

Key Specifications

  • 8MP backside-illuminated sensor
  • 28mm (equiv.) F/2.0 lens
  • 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 LCD
  • Continuous shooting mode
  • 1080p video
  • Video stabilization
  • Sill image capture while recording video
  • LED flash
  • 32GB internal storage
  • HDR and Panorama modes
  • Custom filter effects

Design and Operation

The HTC One X's large 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 LCD screen, constructed of Gorilla Glass, is housed in a slim 8.9mm wide body. Though by no means a small phone, the impressively thin and lightweight HTC One X fits easily into a pants pocket. The phone's beveled edges have enough tack to provide a reassuringly solid grip when shooting in landscape orientation. And after weeks of handling both in and out of our Seattle office, the phone's stylish white polycarbonate exterior has resisted visible smudges and scratches.

The One X has a 1.3MP front-facing camera for video chats. The double-rowed earpiece grill also houses  LED status lights.
The camera's 28mm equivalent F/2.0 lens protrudes proudly from the rear of the phone, surrounded by a sloped silver casing. The camera's LED flash sits to the right.
The Micro SIM card tray requires an included tray removal tool (or a small paperclip) to open. The power button is just visible here beneath the card slot. There is a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and a mini USB port for both data transfer and battery charging.
At the bottom of the phone you'll find speaker openings directly underneath the Beats Audio logo. A single column of contacts on the right allows for connection to a docking station.

Deviating somewhat from the Ice Cream Sandwich mandate of using context-sensitive on-screen buttons exclusively, the One X retains the approach of previous HTC phones with capacitive buttons found below the LCD (shown below).  And aside from the power button, the only other external control you'll find on the One X is a volume rocker on the side of the phone.

Below the LCD screen sits a row of three capacitive buttons. They are dedicated to Back, Home and Recent Apps, respectively. Note that users who install the Android 4.04 update can re-configure the Recent Apps button as a traditional menu button.
A volume control rocker sits along the side of the phone and is the only physical control point other than the power button. Disappointingly, it cannot be reassigned as a shutter release.

HTC's decision to arm the One X with capabilities so clearly aimed at mobile photography enthusiasts, but then decline to provide a physical shutter button leaves us scratching our heads. An external shutter button helps prevent camera shake that can result from tapping the screen too hard. It also allows the possibility of a half-press to lock focus, a trick that some smartphones like the Nokia 808 PureView have borrowed from standalone cameras. When holding the phone in a landscape orientation, tapping the screen is simply more awkward than pressing an actual button along the phone's edge.

The omission of a physical shutter button is most pronounced when shooting with the One X held in both hands in a landscape orientation. Keeping a finger available to tap the screen means you must grip the phone with your thumb and middle (versus index) finger, which can be slightly awkward.

To make matters worse, the volume rocker is positioned precisely where it's often difficult not to press it, making HTC's decision here doubly frustrating.

Camera app

Android phones have long provided users with a wealth of built-in camera features, shooting parameters and editing options; capabilities that require third party apps on the iPhone. And the One X is no exception, as we'll discuss on the features page of this review.

Running Android's Ice Cream Sandwich and powered by a multi-core processor, the One X responds quickly to user input and the camera app launches without noticeable delay. You can take photos without having to unlock the phone. From the lock screen simply drag the camera icon over the control ring. In this limited mode you can configure shooting parameters, and apply pre-built image filters. But if you then want to view existing images or use another app, you'll be prompted to enter your password in order to unlock the Home screen.

With the camera set to a 4:3 shooting ratio, all user controls except for the digital zoom slider (indicated by the magnifying glass icons) lie within the black borders on either side of the image preview. Along the left column, from top to bottom you can see icons for Gallery view (where you browse your image collection), video recording, shutter release and image effects. Along the right column, from top to bottom are the icons for scene modes, camera settings and flash operation. A 3 x 3 grid (shown here) can be enabled as a compositional aid.

Basic camera operation of the One X will be familiar to any previous Android user. You can tap the screen to select focus and bias exposure as well as drag a slider to engage digital zoom. There is an optional 3 x 3 grid overlay available to aid in composition.

With the One X you initiate either video or still image capture from the same app. Pressing the video camera icon simultaneously selects video mode (changing the screen's display ratio if necessary) and enables record mode, although there will be a roughly two second delay before the first frame of video is actually captured. Onscreen, you'll aslo find icons to go to the Gallery app (to review, share and edit photos), bring up the Effects menu, access scene modes, change camera settings and set the flash mode.