The HTC One X is the top-of-the-line One series phone, as we’ve seen from our comparison of the four models. So now it’s time to see how it compares to the current top-selling phone on the market, the iPhone 4S. Which will come out on top? I think you may be surprised by our results.

Size

The iPhone has been, and may remain, relatively tiny for a smartphone. Right now it’s not the thinnest phone at 9mm, but it does have the smallest screen size of any smartphone at just 3.5″. And most people want larger screens. Meanwhile, the One X has a huge 4.7″ display, is 8.9mm thick (and slightly curved), and has very angular sides so it’s easy to grip.

Which size is better? It’s easy to say that the iPhone is too small while the One X is too big, but the truth of the matter is that Android phones by and large have bigger screens, and they own 50% of the smartphone market. So people like bigger phones. The question really becomes what is too big, and that’s a bit harder to tell. From my use, I’d say that the One X is right on the cusp of too big, but it doesn’t cross that line. It’s comfortable to use one handed, and is far better thanks to the widescreen resolution for viewing media, using apps, and playing games.

Winner: HTC One X, which is bigger without being uncomfortable.

Appearance

Looks aren’t everything, but whatever you use daily should be pleasant to look at, whether it’s just for you or for impressing your friends. The iPhone is an easy handset to show off; so many people have it, and even if you do, it still looks great thanks to its highly reflective glass panels and industrial design.

The One X takes a different approach, boasting a pearl-white shell that really stands out without compromising the overall look of the phone. A slight curve in the glass and frame makes it look futuristic, and the 720p display is a pleasure to view. Even the red Beats Audio logo on the back grabs attention, as I’ve found when strutting around town with the One X. That, of course, isn’t even mentioning the very sleek receiver, highly angled sides or the overall very sharp appearance.

It’s a tough call, but as the iPhone has been out for quite some time now, the One X has a new, unique style that looks great equally in the hand and on a table.

Winner: HTC One X, which is fresher, sleeker, and way more provocative.

Display

The iPhone’s display has long been considered one of the best because of the IPS technology its LCD panel uses, similar to the acclaimed Cinema and Thunderbolt displays. While the Sprint variant (Evo 4G LTE) has an IPS panel as well, the One X uses a Super LCD display which provides some very strong, vibrant colors with excellent color and light contrast. And it does all of it at 720p.

Now you might be saying, “well, the iPhone’s Retina display is better,”, and you’d be right, only technically. The iPhone’s screen is slightly more dense at 326ppi, while the One X is a 317ppi display. But at hands length or closer, that 9ppi difference is impossible to see with the naked eye. It would be difficult to notice the difference under a microscope. Furthermore, HTC’s phone does a better job of making the images on screen appear right at the top of the glass, unlike the iPhone, which looks like the images are deeper in the phone. This provides better quality images.

And the topping on the cake? The One X is widescreen, so it’s better every time for watching videos because of the proper formatting.

Winner: HTC One X, which has a dense, excellent widescreen display.

Operating System

Android fanboys may claim that Ice Cream Sandwich is a godsend, and while the latest update to Google’s OS does indeed provide significant improvements, it still doesn’t match the simplicity and design of Apple’s iOS 5. HTC’s added Sense 4.0 UI has some improvements, and there are some definite wins for the One X like the improved camera software, but overall iOS 5 is still more powerful, faster, and less power-intensive.

But, at the rate that Android is growing, that lead won’t last for long.

Winner: iPhone 4S, because Android 4.0 still isn’t quite as good as iOS 5. But it’s getting close.

Processor

The iPhone’s A5 processor may already seem old, especially with the iPad’s A5x, but it still packs one hell of a whollop. Most phones today don’t edge out the iPhone in benchmark tests, but the One X does in several key areas: regular web browsing speed and traditional computational tasks. That’s thanks to Qualcomm’s latest Krait processors, but while the One X may have a lead there, in graphics processing the iPhone still kills the competition.

So who’s the victor? It’s hard to say, because the software improvements make it a little muddy. iOS has always been very conservative while Android has, until recently, been quite the opposite. Now it’s too difficult to say for sure, but considering how closely the iPhone 4S and One X score on the benchmarks that the X wins on, and how far away the two are for iPhone wins, it’s clear that Apple remains the victor.

Then again, with the Samsung Galaxy S III, that may not last for long.

Winner: iPhone, which loses in general processing by a hair, but still is much faster in graphics processing.

Storage

This one’s almost unfair. The One X only comes in one model, 16GB, and has no upgradeable memory, while the iPhone has three models (16GB, 32GB, 64GB). What makes it unfair is that the nearly identical Evo 4G LTE, which is practically the same phone but designed to run on Sprint’s network, does have upgradeable memory. However, this is specific to the One X, so that’s that.

Winner: iPhone, which offers more memory options.

Wireless Connectivity

This one is tough, for a similar reason to the previous category. The iPhone is available in both CDMA and GSM models, and in the US is available through AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. The One X is specific to AT&T, but there is also a nearly identical Sprint model, and a slightly different T-Mobile model (the One S). So for the “authentic” One X experience, both AT&T and Sprint work.

That isn’t enough, but both models also work on LTE networks. Now while Sprint’s is tiny and likely will be very slow to grow, AT&T’s is still small but growing fast. All of the One devices feature 4G speeds that only the AT&T iPhone model can reach, but both the Sprint and AT&T models have LTE. In the past I’ve given this category to the fastest networks first, then to network availability, and in this case it’s hard to not give it to the One X. It’s faster, is a world phone (works on GSM and CDMA), and if that doesn’t work for you there are two additional models on other carriers.

Winner: HTC One X, which has LTE, is a world phone, works on both GSM and CDMA, and there are other One models to support different carriers.

Camera

In my testing the iPhone 4S has one of, if not the best camera of any smartphone on the market. I’ve been truly hard pressed to find a competing device that does a better all-around job. The Lumia 900 was the closest to do so. Meanwhile, the HTC One X is supposed to come with a stunning camera, but frankly it falls flat with soft photos that tend to be blurry and lacking in contrast.

So while the iPhone 4S could replace a decent point-and-shoot, I wouldn’t recommend the One X to do so. It still takes great 1080p video, and can take some really great shots, but it lacks the sharpness and clarity that the iPhone has. Though the software that HTC has on the One X is above and beyond what the iPhone and any other cameraphone have available.

Winner: iPhone, which takes sharper, clearer images with better contrast.

Battery Life

Always a tough sell for the iPhone, the HTC One X features a large 1800mAh battery that does a really excellent job thanks to Android 4.0′s more conservative power management. Even with its larger screen, the One X almost always matches the iPhone in general use when it comes to battery life, which is no small feat. And this is taking into account that the One X is an LTE model.

The thing is, while the One X consistently gets very close to the iPhone 4S’s times, it regularly has 5-10% less battery life for whatever task is at hand. So even though the iPhone wins this round, the One X is the best all-around smartphone based on power management behind the iPhone 4S and Motorola Droid Razr Maxx. And that says a lot.

Winner: iPhone 4S, which consistently has 5-10% better battery performance over the One X.

Carriers

While the One X beat the iPhone out in connectivity, it can’t win based on carriers. The iPhone is available through Verizon, AT&T and Sprint in the US, while the One X is only available through AT&T. Even if you count all One series phones, that’s still comparing the 3 largest carriers to the 3 second-largest carriers, because Verizon has no One device. Verizon also has some 113 million subscribers.

Winner: iPhone, which is available on more carriers.

Price

To say that the iPhone can go on sale is, well, a lie. Apple products don’t really go on sale, they just get 5% off a few times a year, and then drop $100-$200 in value when the newer model comes out. So if you wanted a new iPhone 4S today, it’d cost the same as on day one: $200 for the cheapest model plus contract, or $650 off contract.

The HTC One X, however, sells for $150 on contract, but $730 off contract. If you include activation fees and sales tax, that $50 saving doesn’t go very far, but it’ll still be slightly cheaper than the 4S. But if you want the One X off contract, then you’d better find a state with no sales tax, and from a reseller that has the European, non-LTE model, which can be found for around $550.

In either case, the One X is slightly cheaper, and since the contracts will be identical, it’s the winner.

Winner: HTC One X, which all things considered is slightly cheaper.

Overall Winner

The HTC One X is, by far, the best Android phone available. It’s no contest, at least for now. With the recent announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S III, that ball will be in anyone’s court soon enough, as if the pace of smartphone growth wasn’t horrendous enough. But even as the best Android phone out, it still doesn’t edge out the iPhone 4S.

If you’ve paid attention to our comparisons, you’ve probably found that nothing has managed to beat the iPhone. For Android users, this is understandably frustrating. How is this possible?! The reason is simple, and it’s the reason the iPhone has remained the top selling smartphone in the world: it’s that well built. Some iPhone users may say that Apple’s device can’t be beat, and that Android doesn’t even compare, but that’s not true. Google just needs some serious design lessons before it can be considered a true competitor in the OS field. All of the benefits surrounding the OS revolve around Google services. Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk, Google Voice…all of these run better on Android than iOS.

Meanwhile iOS provides the overall better experience. It isn’t better at media playback, the display is small, but it gets the overall UI better than any other device. Windows Phone 7 is a better OS than both for exactly that, though for users it’s a question of a phone-centric device, or an app-centric device.

The point is this: if you’re looking for a new Android handset, the HTC One X is the best model you can get today. While I haven’t tested the Evo 4G LTE yet, it’s essentially the same model, built for Sprint, so if you’re stuck to either carrier both options work.










James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.