Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

HTC unveils the One X+, breathing new life into their flagship Android phone

Following last month’s launch of the iPhone 5, HTC are back with an update to their flagship Android handset: meet the HTC One X+. Despite looking almost identical to its predecessor, the One X on the outside, the insides of the One X+ have been substantially improved.



The One X+ boasts a 1.7GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, which according to HTC, offers up to 67% faster performance than its 1.5GHz predecessor. To support this faster processor HTC have improved their battery management technology and have somehow managed to squeeze a longer lasting battery into the same chassis as the original One X, adding an additional six hours of talk time. These are impressive numbers indeed, but exactly how well the One X+ will perform outside the optimum conditions of HTC’s testing environment remains to be seen.



Unfortunately the One X+ still doesn’t offer any removable memory, however HTC have doubled the internal storage capacity to an impressive 64 GB, which should be enough to satisfy 99% of it’s owners. Especially considering the phone comes complete with 25GB of free Dropbox cloud storage for two years.



The phone’s eight megapixel camera remains the same, while the front-facing camera has been beefed up to 1.6 megapixels to improve the quality of video calls. Both cameras benefit from HTC’s ‘ImageChip’ technology, which improves low light performance, continuous focus and image capture, and a new portrait mode which ‘beautifies’ your portrait images, giving you the ‘photoshop treatment’ if you so desire.



On the outside, the One X+ has been given a slight cosmetic make-over in the form of a new matte black finish with red decals, as well as red capacitive touch buttons below the display. There are no changes to the chassis whatsoever, retaining the original One X design. All the updates are hidden inside its polycarbonate shell.



From a software perspective, the HTC One X+ has been updated to the latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, although this has been heavily modified to incorporate HTC’s custom Sense 4+ skin and features. One notable improvement is the addition of Jelly Bean’s Google Now app. An app that adds a contextual layer to Google search, providing you with useful information based on your location, calendar events, contacts and search history.



Complete with voice recognition, Google Now behaves like a personal assistant, providing you with useful information, such as alerts when traffic is likely to make you late for an appointment. Google Now will even pre-fetch directions to local places you have searched for using Google, saving you the effort when you leave the house. You can add calendar events, alarms, play music, even send SMS messages, simply by speaking into your phone and letting Google Now do all the work. Think of it as Google’s equivalent of Apple’s ‘Siri’ feature, only arguably far more accurate, with a plethora of useful features not available in Apple’s offering.



With Sense 4+, HTC have concentrated more on adding small improvements to usability, rather than adding lots of new features to their already feature-rich software. Similar to what Samsung are trying to accomplish with their Nature UX software, HTC are trying to differentiate themselves from the iPhone and other competing hardware using software and services, rather than concentrating on many different hardware designs.



HTC have successfully raised the bar with the One X+, bringing it up to par with the newly released iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone. After using the original One X for several months, I agree with all the changes HTC have made. They are obviously listening to feedback from their customers and have updated all the right things. The One X+ looks to be an excellent phone, it’s just a shame HTC didn’t provide these features the first time around. Original One X owners will be happy to hear that Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Sense 4+ will be heading to their phones, as well as the One S and One XL shorty after the One X+ hits the shelves.



HSPA+ versions of the HTC One X+ will be available from leading UK network providers sometime in mid October. Plans for a UK launch of the 4G LTE model have not yet been announced, however there are rumours that an LTE One X+ may soon be available on EE’s new 4G network alongside the iPhone 5.

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