Conclusion - The Good
- Large 4.7-inch LCD with good visibility in bright sunlight
- Fast F2.0 lens
- Good high ISO image quality
- Comprehensive camera settings offer manual controls without buying a third-party app
- Quick access to the camera app, brisk autofocus and minimal shutter lag
- Customizable post-capture filters that can be saved as presets
- Reasonably effective HDR and panorama modes
- Continuous shooting option
Conclusion - The Bad
- Mediocre, oversharpened low ISO image quality at default settings
- Lack of a hardware shutter button
- Lack of shutter speed indication limits usefulness of manual ISO capability
- Inconsistent 16:9 crop between stills and video mode
- Panoramas are prone to stitching errors
- HDR images display edge artifacts
- No microSD slot for expandable storage
On paper, the HTC One X stacks up very well against any of its competitors, lacking only the extraordinary resolution of the Nokia 808 PureView. And indeed the One X has a lot to offer. Its fast F2.0 lens means the sensor can gather more light, and thus use lower ISO sensitivities when light levels fall. And at a 28mm equivalent, it offers a wider field of view than the (33mm equiv.) iPhone 5 lens, for example, which depending on how (and what) you shoot, could be an advantage. The feature-rich camera app not only allows give you direct control over many shooting parameters but includes post-capture filters that can even be customized to taste. You can also capture still images while recording HD video.
Camera operation is quick and responsive, with shutter lag that is noticeably reduced even compared to some entry-level point-and-shoot standalone cameras. The large 4.7 inch LCD display provides a gorgeous platform for composing and viewing images and works well even in bright sunlight.
Of course, the appeal of any camera ultimately depends on image quality. And unfortunately, this is where the HTC One X falls a bit behind the best of its peers. The camera's default settings produce images that are perfectly good enough for most purposes but close inspection reveals that they are somewhat oversharpened, and the high contrast rendition produces results that can look rather 'overcooked' in many outdoor settings. While you can adjust these parameters for more pleasing results in the standard shooting mode, as soon as you switch to a scene mode like HDR or panorama, the camera is locked into its default parameters.
HDR and panorama modes are easy and intuitive to use, but again fall short in terms of output. Panoramas of detailed scenes are prone to visible seams and stitching errors, and composite HDR images display edge artifacts. We've seen better versions of both modes in competitive smartphones.
The Final Word
Make no mistake, the HTC One X is a fun phone to shoot with. It's thin, light and has a large display that makes composing and reviewing images a pleasure. You have access to pre- and post-exposure functionality that on some competitive phones might require the installation of multiple third-party apps. The camera interface is straightforward and well-suited to both novice and more experienced shooters. Our biggest gripe from a usability standpoint is without a doubt the lack of a physical shutter button. We also yearn for a visible shutter speed indicator to make more practical use of the ability to manually set the ISO sensitivity. If HTC can improve upon these usability issues and offer a more subtle approach to image processing, it should prove a very stiff competitor in the mobile photography segment against the likes of Apple and Samsung.
Please note that DXO test data is not currently available for the HTC One X. At such point as it becomes available, we will insert DXO's findings, and camera/video scores, into this review.
The Final Word
The HTC One X has much to offer the photo enthusiast who wants pre- and post-exposure image control without buying third party apps. Camera operation is quick and responsive and the 4.7 inch display is a pleasure to use. The biggest flaw is mediocre low-ISO image quality which is not quite on par with the likes of the iPhone 5 and far from the class-leading Nokia 808. And the lack of a physical shutter button makes the picture-taking process more awkward than it needs to be.
There are 35 images in our HTC One X samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review). We do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.