Much of the attention HTC has drawn this year has been focussed on its One series, but let’s not forget that before the trio of devices was unveiled, the Taiwanese manufacturer had a history of producing good quality, compact, cut-price phones.
The Desire X harks back to HTC handsets of old, but rather than being a retrogressive step, this latest addition to the roster is a move that sees HTC reminding the smartphone-buying public that the high-end is not its only focus, despite what recent releases may suggest. Bearing hallmarks of the HTC Wildfire and revamping the Desire brand name, the Desire X will look very familiar to HTC fans and is an excellent addition to the manufacturer’s range. But is it more than a collection of recycled ideas? Read on to find out…
- Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- HTC Sense UI
- 1 GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon dual-core processor
- 768MB RAM
- 4-inch, 480×800 pixel, 233 ppi, display
- 5 megapixel camera with LED flash
- 480p video recording at 30fps
- Li-Lion 1950mAh battery
- Beats Audio sound enhancement technology
Design and Build
HTC makes good looking phones. The One series devices were well-crafted handsets that incorporated the firm’s distinctive design elements while each kept its own individual identity and the Desire X does the same. A white backing (which looks to have been lifted straight from the One X) is in place on the new device and the manufacturer has introduced a splash of colour around the camera lens fitment.
At only 9.3mm thick and weighing 120g, the Desire X shares physical attributes with the earlier Wildfire and is as easy to grip and use with one hand as the older handset was. This kind of smaller chassis is something that may appeal to casual smartphone users (a possible target market for the Desire X) as they may may not want a larger, more cumbersome handset like the One X itself.
With HTC’s new handset being aimed at the lower end of the market, specs have been compromised and the display is not the biggest or brightest around. However, the 4-inch WVGA Super-LCD touchscreen is still bigger than that on the iPhone 4S. A resolution of 480×800 pixels gives a ppi of 233 (quite low considering that the display on the older Samsung Galaxy Ace is 246ppi), although the screen on Samsung’s budget phone is slightly smaller at 3.8-inches.
Basic tasks such as typing present no problem at all but the low-resolution display does become a slight problem when viewing webpages as they can appear cluttered when viewed in fullscreen. This is only a minor gripe though and on the whole the screen works very well, doing a good job of showing off the user interface and displaying small details clearly.
While online performance is not anything to write home about, there is no real trouble in navigating online with the phone’s processor being adequate enough to handle simple web-based browsing. Overall, the Desire X’s processor may not have particularly impressive specs but it is not overworked by the functionality offered by the device and is never put under enough strain to cause any problems.
Under the Hood
But it’s not just the Desire X’s display which is responsible for that smooth performance, with the dual-core, 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon being able to take the real credit. Far below the quad-core specs of the leading smartphones but still capable of offering an excellent level of performance, the processor is more than capable of handling the Desire X’s functions without any noticeable lag.
While online performance is not the best available there is no real trouble in navigating online, with the phone’s processor being adequate enough to handle simple web-based browsing. Overall, the Desire X’s processor may not have particularly impressive specs but it is not overworked by the phone’s functions and isn’t put under enough strain to cause any problems.
Likewise, the 1650mAh battery is far from the highest capacity available, with many flagships now featuring power sources that exceed 2000mAh and Motorola having recently set the bar even higher with the 3300mAh cell featured in its Razr Maxx. However, the mid-range specs of the Desire X, such as its 4-inch display and dual-core processor, mean that there isn’t too much pressure on the battery and it manages to keep the handset running for an impressive length of time.
HTC claims that the phone can manage 10 hours of talk time over 3G, and up to 750 hours on standby. These are impressive claims which should only add to appeal of the Desire X as a reliable, cut-price device.
Operating System and User Interface
HTC is launching the Desire X with Android Ice Cream Sandwich which, while not being the latest version of Google’s mobile platform, is still a very versatile operating system. Ice Cream Sandwich has pretty much become the standard for anything other than the highest-specced Android phone’s these days, with HTC even releasing the budget member of its One series, the One V, with the OS earlier this year.
On top of ICS is HTC’s Sense user interface, which in its current form is a slightly paired-back version of what has been seen in the past. The Taiwanese manufacturer itself admitted that previous versions of the UI had become cluttered and full of too many animations, and the current version removes some of these while still keeping a distinctive HTC flavour.
The firm’s trademark, location-based weather widget is still present and there are a range of distinctive wallpapers available. We have always found Sense to be an excellent UI that does a great job of building on top of the Android platform and there are several touches which we find particularly easy to use – the way in which the widgets menu brings up thumbnails of each homescreen, making it easier to slide icons on to them, for example.
HTC has also included its Car app with the Desire X package. The app’s name is unpretentious and its function is equally simple – when opened it creates a simplified, landscape desktop with just a few of the phone’s functions displayed (such as navigation and music player). The layout is well-suited to being mounted on a dashboard and makes it much easier to access essential functions when driving.
Also included is free cloud storage options via Dropbox, with HTC offering a free 23GB of space for anyone who signs in using an HTC handset.
Camera and Video
Several innovative functions were introduced to HTC’s camera app with the One series and these have been carried through to the Desire X. Perhaps most pleasingly, the excellent dual-capture functionality comes along for the ride, allowing photographs to be taken whilst simultaneously recording video footage. Vintage effects of the kind made popular by photo-sharing app Instagram can also be previewed through the camera app before a photo is taken.
The 5 megapixel camera on the Desire X may not be the most sophisticated of lenses but it is more than capable of performing well under good lighting conditions and an LED flash makes capturing shots in low-light settings that little bit easier. HTC’s camera app offers an impressive range of shooting options too, including ISO and white balance manipulation.
480p video can also be captured at 30fps with a range of other resolutions also available and the resulting footage smooth and well-lit.
Connectivity and Multimedia
Beats Audio’s technology makes a welcome reappearance on the Desire X, and the improvements it brings are certainly noticeable. While sound quality from the new device doesn’t match that produced by the high-end One X or even the older Sensation XE it is still very good and improved no end by the addition of the technology.
As far as connectivity options go, there is support for Bluetooth 4.0, handy for in-car use along with HTC’s Car app, and a microUSB socket for connecting the device to a computer.
Performance and Verdict
HTC continues to set the bar slightly higher with each handset it releases and the Desire X is a great example of what can be achieved with a lower-priced phone. The device looks great, evolving HTC’s familiar design shtick and the hardware and software packed inside it is of an excellent quality.
Ice Cream Sandwich, a dual-core processor and HTC’s well thought-out camera app make a great combination and the fact that the manufacturer has crammed all this into a compact, convenient design is to its credit. The Desire X is an excellent device which could very prove an attractive proposition for those looking at the lower-end of the Android range.