Yuhnke Commentary: New HTC One series sets new standard for Android smartphones

PHOENIX - In the swarm of Android-based smartphones, companies are trying to carve out their brand. HTC has made a name for itself and its new One line of smartphones may just be the new creme of the crop. I had a chance to check out both the HTC One X on AT&T Wireless and the HTC One S on T-Mobile.

The HTC One is not just a smartphone but an entire line of smartphones. While the One S and One X come from the same line and share the same name they are not the same phone. I'll look at what they have in common and what separates the two smartphones.

Thin is in

The HTC One is an Android phone on a diet. It's slim and feels smooth in your hand. The plastic curves around to the front near the top where the speaker lies and the front-facing camera. It looks nice and fluid. From there, a rounded piece of Gorilla glass covers the screen. It's a beautiful design that simply feels great in your hand. Not too thin but not too thick.

Stunning screen

The One S on T-mobile is, in fact, thinner and smaller than the On e X on AT&T Wireless . The S has a 4.3" screen while the X's screen is a whopping 4.7". Both look stunning although the X has a better resolution with its larger screen. The X is .35" thick while the S is .31" It seems like splitting hairs but it does make a difference. It would be easy to say that the larger, higher resolution display makes the X better than the S but I wouldn't jump to that conclusion. The X may be too much phone for some people to carry in their pocket all day. Personally, I think 4.3" is a good size for a screen. The X is approaching the "too big" category.

I do want to mention that the One S appeared to have a reddish tint when displaying white. It was especially obvious when sitting next to the X which appears to deliver a true white.

The guts

Both phones pack dual-core 1.5 Ghz processors and run the latest version of Android (4.0.3). Menu animation is smooth and switching between apps never hesitated. HTC has added its Sense software on top of Android providing a unique version of the operating system. Some people love it, some people hate it. I think it's a matter of what you're used to. Personally I prefer stock Android but I know people who can't live without Sense. Regardless, I think HTC does bring some unique features to the table with Sense.

Focus on camera

On the back, both the X and S have an 8 megapixel camera that takes great snapshots. They shoot 1080p HD video and can even snap photos while video is recording. The HTC camera software is a great improvement offering fun filters, burst-shot mode and high resolution panoramas. The camera is a highlight of both the X and the S. The front-facing camera works well for video calling although the X has a higher resolution camera than the S. I really don't know how much this actually matters since most people won't use the front camera much.

Battery on lockdown

The battery in both the One X and One S are not removable. The iPhone has proved that most users don't need a removable battery. This may frustrate a small number of users but I think it's a non-issue.

4G is not created equal

Both phones are branded as 4G phones but in my unscientific speed tests (using Speedtest.net) the AT&T Wireless 4G speeds smoked T-mobile 4G speeds out of the water. I tested the speeds at our office near the Phoenix airport, your results will vary based on location and network coverage.

Conclusion

The HTC One S and One X are two of the best Android smartphones on the market right now (May 2012). They are built well, look slick and have vibrant screens. The camera is one of many highlights in this speedy smartphone. You'll also be using the latest version of Google Android, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, albeit with HTC's Sense laid on top of it. Added software is my Android pet peeve (I prefer pure Android without extras) but HTC does a nice job of improving the experience and adding extra functionality. The HTC One, for now, is the "it" smartphone.

X or S?

Now, the hard part, which one is better? The One X on AT&T Wireless is clearly a technically better phone. It has a bigger screen with a better resolution, a better front-facing camera and faster 4G speeds in Phoenix. With that said, size doesn't always matter (giggle if you must). The One S on T-mobile still packs a dual-core 1.5 Ghz processor and has the same 8 megapixel rear camera as the X. Some people may actually find the X too big. The S feels like the perfect size. Bottom line, it'll depend on what you prefer and which network you prefer. Both models rock.

The HTC One S on T-Mobile is available right now for $199.99 after a $50 rebate and a 2 year contract.

The HTC One X on AT&T Wireless is available for pre-order now and hits store shelves Sunday, May 6th for $199.99 with a 2 year contract.
 
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