If you've been following Android rumors recently, you'll know all about a device codenamed HTC Proto that we revealed last week — well, this is it, albeit under a new name. HTC has revealed a new mid-range Android handset, the Desire X, that bridges the gap between the company's low-end Desire C and mid-range One V. It runs Android 4.0 with Sense on top, and is powered by a Qualcomm 1Ghz dual-core processor from the Snapdragon S4 'Play' range, paired with 768MB of RAM. We spent a little time with HTC's new smartphone at a press event announcing the launch.
The Desire X has a 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800 pixels) Super LCD display that's definitely one of the nicest WVGA units we've seen. HTC told us that the display utilized similar optical lamination technology to the company's flagship One X, and the company's aim with the Desire X is to "bring the technology from the One Series to a more affordable price point."
The influence of the One Series on the Desire X is particularly evident in its industrial design, the majority of which has been lifted straight from the One S and One X — and that's definitely a good thing. It's not the very thinnest phone, but at 9.69mm thick it still looks and feels well-proportioned. Available in black or white, it apes the One Series' seamless perforated speaker grille, swooping curves, and edge-to-edge screen placement perfectly. Indeed, when you first hold the Desire X you'll notice the removable soft-touch plastic back cover feels very similar to the One X's polycarbonate unibody construction.
Underneath the back cover you'll find a 1,650mAh battery, along with space for a microSD card and a full-sized SIM, which curiously slides in underneath the camera housing. If you're planing on picking up a Desire X, you'll be needing that microSD slot: the phone comes with only 4GB of internal storage. HTC is offering 25GB of Dropbox allowance as well, though, which somewhat softens the blow.
While the company is keen to draw parallels between the Desire X's MSM8225 Snapdragon S4 'Play' and the S4 'Plus' processors found in the HTC One S and X, the two chips have very little in common. While the well-received S4 Plus chips have the 28nm 'krait' architecture that improves performance and battery life over previous generations, the S4 Plays are power-hungry 45nm Cortex-A5 chips, the likes of which can be found in the LG Optimus L7, which was revealed to be a poor performer in our review. In the brief time we spent with the Desire X, we noticed some slowdown and stuttering navigating through Android homescreens. Hopefully that's down to unfinished software — HTC told us the ROM on our unit was yet to be finalized — and can be resolved before the device launches.
One area HTC's processor choice has definitely affected is the Desire X's camera. Although it has what appears to be quite a capable 5-megapixel sensor, the Desire X is unable to record video at higher quality than 480p, and its burst-mode is limited to 2fps, down from 5fps on the One V. The camera app still functioned well, and for a device that should be priced very competitively, seemed to produce good results, although we weren't able to examine any of our shots on a larger display.
Ultimately, it's all going to come down to price for the Desire X — it needs to be low. HTC told us that while it wasn't ready to announce pricing just yet, it would "make sense" for the Desire X to be priced lower than the One V. With similar specs, an attractive design, and a larger screen than its supposedly higher-end cousin, the Desire X looks to be a solid low-end offering. It should go on sale in Europe and Asia from mid-September, although HTC will announce a detailed release schedule — and exact pricing — over the coming weeks.