|Style & Handling|
Pros : Extremely speedy 4G connectivity; crisp, highly visible 4.7-inch display; Beats Audio; 8-megapixel camera stuffed with features
Cons : A dual-core processor where we expected quad-core; no way to expand the 16GB storage; 4 hours battery when streaming video
Verdict : The HTC One XL updates its predecessor the One X, with 4G. The One X got a five star rating though. Although both have the same impressive 8-megapixel camera, plus Beats Audio, the One XL only has a dual-core processor. Also, the meagre 16GB of storage is less than we’d expect. That's our 4G phone review verdict.
When it comes to style and handling, there’s almost nothing between the HTC One XL and the HTC One X. And we’re glad about that as we loved the One X, rating it one of the best 2012 media phones. Underneath there’s a few crucial differences though. First, and the point of this phone, you get 4G LTE support. Huge amounts of data, such as HD video streaming, will now download rapidly. Not all the changes are good.
The trade off
The performance from the HTC One X was top-notch, and rightly so as it had a quad-core processor as its beating heart. HTC has taken a step back, putting a 1.5Hz dual-core into the One XL, although you get the same 1GB of RAM. It is still good enough for the current crop of games and apps, and won’t slow down intensive tasks like media streaming. But the quad-core processor will undoubtedly shorten this 4G phone’s lifespan, necessitating an upgrade before the standard 24-month contract ends.
That’s not the only cut-back. There was 32GB of storage built in to the One X, where you could put photos, music, movies and other files. The One XL 4G 4G phone has a paltry 16GB. Sure this till take thousands of photos and songs, but remember there’s no memory card slot so you can’t expand on this.
There’s no denying that we don’t like the cutbacks to the specifications on the One XL compared to the HTC One X. But overshadowing all that is something of true magnificence. Drum roll please for 4G LTE support. This data download service is so fast it seems almost churlish to call it a step up from 3G. The differences are highly noticeable. Lengthy 720p HD video streamed from YouTube didn’t stutter once, and there were no buffering pauses, a bit of a bugbear on our current 4G contract.
To test this out empirically, we tested the connection speed with SpeedTest. Our 3G phone on the Three network managed 4Mbps download speed and 1.9Mbps upload speed. The One XL managed 19Mbps download speed and a staggering 23Mbps upload. Throughout our speed tests, 4G downloads data four to five times faster than 3G, regardless of the network used. The best option for media fans with a sizeable budget.
While the HTC One XL might not fit as many movies and albums as the HTC One X, the actual viewing and listening experience is just as superb. You get the same brightly lit 4.7-inch screen, on which to watch exceptionally sharp HD video or photos. And with all that screen space, it wasn’t too arduous to kick back and watch feature length movies on a long train journey.
It is an HTC phone so of course you will also find that the excellent Beats Audio technology has been built-in. We can’t rate this audio software high enough for what it can do for your music and any other audio. The technology improves sound, and will take the most poorly reproduced music track you have and make it sound CD-quality. Most likely you won’t notice so much difference if the audio files are already high-quality, we didn’t. Possibly a better bass sound and a change in volume.
Watching HD movies and video streamed on this 4G phone, with brightness set to full, took the life of the battery right down to four hours between charges. This is not the best result we’ve had from a 4G phone, but as this is a large screen we did expect the battery life to take a little bit of a hit. For more moderate use, such as using apps, emails, making calls, maybe using the camera a little and visiting a few webpages, you should get a full day before re-charging.
At least the excellent 8-megapixel camera hasn’t changed on this 4G phone. The virtual shutter button takes photos with no delay, and daylight photos came out richly coloured and sharp. The f2.0 aperture lens brings in enough light to make low-light shots look good. As light dims the shots do get grainier, as you’d expect, and a shaky hand will result in a blurry photo.
The main reason we’re so impressed with the camera used in the One XL are the features. Burst shot mode gives you a succession of photos when the shutter button is held down. Lots of cool filters will provide you with ample opportunities to take arty shots, and there’s also face-detection, and geo-tagging. Full HD video and photos are supported, with photos being taken while filming. The front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera takes sharp photos and is ideal for self-portraits and Skype.
There’s also a number of editing options that you can use as you go. These include cropping, rotating, and adding extra filters. Sharing options include sending as text, attaching to email, various social networks, and ‘cloud’ storage. This last is DrobBox and SkyDrive.
In common with the HTC One X, the 4G One XL is going to appeal to music and movie fans. The latter will have to put up with a short battery life though. The full 4G LTE support more than makes up for this, making stuttering or buffering a thing of the past. Streaming is preferred too as the 16GB of storage can’t be increased.
|Type of device||Smartphone|
|Operating System||Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich|
|Dimensions||134.8 x 69.9 x 9.3 mm|
|Processor speed||1.5GHz dual-core|
|CPU||Qualcomm Dual-core processor|
|Screen size||4.7 inches|
|Resolution||1280 x 720|
|Memory card slot|
|Secondary camera||1.3 megapixels|
|Special camera features||Flash|
|FM Radio description|
|Handsfree speaker phone|
|What's in the box||Charger|
|Battery life multimedia||4.5 hours|