Shockingly, the rumors were all true. HTC has today confirmed the existence of a 4.7-inch, quad-core superphone, which it is dubbing the One X and using as the hero device of its new One smartphone family. The Tegra 3-powered One X will feature Android 4.0 right out of the box, alongside a streamlined new version of Sense, fittingly called Sense 4.0. Equipped with NFC, 32GB of built-in storage, and a 1280 x 720 Super LCD display, this is what HTC describes as its "all-in device." The camera comes with an f/2.0 lens and an 8-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor.
Camera performance has been a real priority for HTC with the One series and all three of its newly launched Android handsets come with a selection of important optimizations. Firstly, a dedicated imaging processor has been added to allow the One phones to manipulate pictures before compressing them to JPEG format. HTC expects this to result in lower image noise, greater color accuracy, and higher overall quality.
Most of the improvements in the One cameras actually relate to speed. Startup time of the camera app is said to be 0.7 seconds and autofocus takes a blistering 0.2 seconds, making it quicker than the blink of an eye. Holding down the onscreen shutter button (you'll find no physical camera keys on these phones) automatically flips you into burst mode, with an intelligent selection menu then allowing you to pick the best shot of the bunch and discard the rest. There's no longer any need to switch between video and photo modes — the software buttons for capturing stills and video sit right next to each other now, and HTC's neatest trick is that it also allows you to snap photos while recording video. And if you want to pull out a still from a video recording you've already made, HTC lets you do that too.
The richly enhanced camera software seems to have been HTC's answer to demands for more meaningful Android customizations and the rest of Sense 4.0 also looks to have taken past criticism on board. A lot of chrome and animations from the old skin are now gone, and a more two-dimensional look to UI elements underlines a shift toward utilitarianism. A good example of this can be seen in the new overscroll animation, which is reminiscent of the one on the PS Vita. Other software niceties include 25GB of Dropbox storage for two years, Beats Audio integration for all applications, and an updated HTC Sync that can now wirelessly sync with desktop programs like iTunes and Windows Media Player.
HTC has exited its design comfort zone with the One X by trying out a new material, polycarbonate, and a new microdrilling technique. While still constructed out of one chunk of material and thereby earning the unibody moniker, the One X is now a softer, more tactile device than its metallic forebears. It'll be offered in either white or grey hues, with the move away from aluminum allowing the lighter version to be white all over. By drilling the speaker openings right into the polycarbonate, HTC has shed another chunk of metal in discarding the separate speaker grille.
A few downsides to the new design include making the battery inaccessible to the user, omitting microSD storage expandability, and shifting to a Micro SIM card. The later may actually be a good thing — the quicker we move to the new standard, the better, you might say.
The HTC One X will be released across Europe in early April and will be an AT&T exclusive in the US. AT&T tells us its variant will come with a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, a change of SoC compelled by the addition of LTE. Vodafone has also announced that it'll be carrying the One X in the UK alongside the One S, promising both handsets "soon." The official launch schedule for all territories is "within 60 days" of today's announcement.