HTC Desire X review

HTC have been doing some great work. The One X is a marvellous phone which can hold its own against top-rated devices, and the One S has been well received. They’ve come a long way since the early days of Android (and well before then) to become a maker of great smartphones.

Unfortunately, HTC haven’t been doing particularly well in sales against the onslaught of Samsung and Apple in the high-end arena. The Desire X aims a little lower down at the mid-range market, but is it good enough to entice buyers?

Design and build quality

On top is the 3.5mm jack and the power button. The power button isn’t on the left or right, but is instead smack in the middle. It seems like HTC is just moving the power button around for the sake of it rather than for any particular purpose. It’s also not particularly easy to find by touch.

On the right side is the volume rocker, while the left side holds the microUSB port. The volume rocker is even harder to find than the power button. It’s almost flush with the side and it’s the same colour with no markings to indicate its location. The microUSB charging/data port is at least consistent with other recent HTC smartphones we’ve reviewed, though we still find it an odd location especially when considering that the bottom is completely bare of ports.

Around the back, in the top left, is the camera with its LED flash above it. At the bottom left is the speaker, with a Beats Audio logo next to it, and a much more stylish HTC logo above it.

The back itself is plastic with a rubbery feel to it, which makes it easy to grip, but it’s quite susceptible to fingerprints.

The front is obviously dominated by the 4-inch screen, though there are 3 capacitive buttons below it (back, home, and recent apps), and the very bottom has a slight “chin”. Hidden away in the top right is a notification LED, and there’s no front-facing camera.

The HTC Desire X has a sleek look and a sturdy design, though a lot of minor annoyances present themselves when you actually have the device in hand.

HTC Desire X
HTC Desire X

Internals and performance

On the inside is a Qualcomm MSM8225 SoC, which is one of the lower-tier S4’s. It features a dual-core 1GHz CPU and an Adreno 203 GPU.

Backing this up is 768MB of RAM in total (our unit reported 587.4MB available), and 4GB of storage (we had 1.11GB of internal storage and 1.09GB of phone storage). Storage is expandable via microSD, though one is not provided with the device.

Storage was probably one of the biggest complaints of the original HTC Desire and the Desire X is certainly better, though its partitioning is more than a little convoluted, making us think that Google is on to the right idea with combining it into one big chunk (though their Nexus device could use a little more of it).

Connectivity is provided in the form of Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi b/g/n, and HSPA with up to 7.2Mbps down and 5.76Mbps up. Also included is an FM radio.

Performance was decent, but nothing ground breaking. In our AnTuTu benchmark tests, the Desire X scored an average of 5295.8, placing it 10th in our list. This is ahead of HTC’s previous-generation phones like the Sensation (4435.6) and Evo 3D (4839.4) as well as the Motorola Atrix (4700) and Sony Xperia Arc S (3675.14), but well behind the current top-tier Samsung Galaxy S3 (12006.4) and HTC One X (10607.6), as well as phones like the Sony Xperia S (6496.8) and Motorola Razr (6035.4) and even the Galaxy Nexus running the latest 4.1.2 version of Android (6461.8).

In real world use (browsing, social networking, etc.), performance was generally acceptable, though there were noticeable spikes of lag every so often, especially with more intensive webpages. Casual games (Bad Piggies, Granny Smith) ran without too many stutters.

Screen

The screen on the Desire X is a 4-inch super LCD panel with WVGA (480×800) resolution. Viewing angles were generally good, though there were some noticeable colour shifts at odd or extreme angles.

Brightness and contrast were acceptable – cranking up the brightness to max made it usable in direct sunlight though it’s not something we’d want to do too often.

Colour reproduction was also good, though the Desire X did seem to err on the side of over-saturated colours here and there.

The only complaint that we really have is the resolution, but we understand that certain sacrifices must be made to keep costs down.

HTC Desire X
HTC Desire X

Sound quality

HTC boast about Beats audio in their devices, and the Desire X is no different.

Beats activates whenever you have headphones plugged in regardless of which music app you use. It can be toggled on or off in the notifications pull-down on these occasions.

In our experience with it, Beats gives more volume, more bass, and seems to take a noisy edge off of sound (though this could just be hidden due to the upped volume and bass). Whether it deserves the amount of attention HTC tries to give it is up for debate (we don’t think so), and this reviewer actually prefers it off.

Having said that, the sound from the Desire X, with a decent set of headphones, is good. There’s better to be found, sure, but you could definitely do a lot worse.

The speaker on the Desire X is nothing to write home about. It works fine for notifications and alarm sounds, but any music through it sounded tinny.

Camera

The camera on the Desire X is a 28mm, f/2.0 lens, with a 5 megapixel, BSI sensor and HTC’s proprietary ImageChip.

To our surprise, the Desire X managed to take some good photos. Make no mistake, it doesn’t compare to the quality of its higher-end rivals, but it’s a good shooter for a mid-range device.

One area where it performed very well for us was in close-ups. The Desire X lets you get in very close to your subject, which is something that too many other phone-cameras fail at.

A big deal is made of the continuous shooting feature, as well as the fact that you can take photos while recording video.

Continuous shooting is quite useful: press and hold the button and you can take 2FPS continuously. The one problem with this is that the accompanying sound appears to be about double that rate, making you think you’ve taken many more photos than you actually have.

Taking photos while recording video sounds quite useful, but is limited in because photos are at the same resolution as the video, which is to say at a maximum resolution of 800×480 (as opposed to the usual 2592×1552).

HTC Desire X
HTC Desire X

Battery life

The battery life on the Desire X is one of its truly outstanding features.

In normal use of web browsing, keeping up with social networks, snapping a few photos, and listening to loads of music, the 1650mAh battery in the Desire X could easily manage 2 days. Less intensive use saw it clearing 3 days on a charge.

Using it as a Wi-Fi hotspot with a Nexus 7 constantly connected to it drained it much faster, but the Desire X still managed to clear between 8 and 9 hours.

Software

The Desire X comes with Android 4.0.4 and Sense 4.1. While Sense has always been one of the more heavy-handed skins atop Android, it’s also been one of the better ones.

Sense 4.1 skins every stock Android app, though HTC at least has the decency to be consistent about it and they tend to stick with Android 4.0 design guidelines. HTC also include a few additional customisation options and a number of useful widgets.

One change we noticed is that the Recent Apps list on the Desire X appears to be an almost stock implementation, with a vertically scrolling list of apps that can be swiped away to the left or right as opposed to the horizontally scrolling list found on the One X. While we can’t be 100% sure of the reasoning for this change, we speculate that it may be for performance reasons. Whatever the case, we much prefer the stock implementation anyway.

However it’s not all sunshine and daisies all the time. In a strange turn of events, we were unable to take screenshots using the usual power+volume down combination. The phone played the sound and made the animation, but then proceeded to display a rather cryptic “Couldn’t capture screenshot” notification. This happened regardless of whether the storage mode was set to internal or external.

In another odd display, photos captured on the external microSD card didn’t show up in the Gallery.

Conclusion

The Desire X is a solid mid-range smartphone – it’s not particularly spectacular in any area (except perhaps battery life), but it’s not downright bad either.

When it comes to buying time, we suspect that the ultimate decider will be the price. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, we didn’t have pricing information (though it was pegged at having a November launch).

For the budget-conscious buyer, the HTC Desire X is one device to keep an eye on.

Related Articles

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Google Nexus 7 review

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments

Recommended

Share this article
HTC Desire X review