In the world of Android, it sometimes seems like a hot new superphone is crowned king every other month. But just because one device loses its spotlight status doesn’t mean it’s dead in the water.
The latest champion to emerge is HTC’s One X. Launched in Europe and parts of Asia this week, the One X is HTC’s bet for the future. The phone is bold, beautiful, and packed with power. So how does it stack up next to two other members of the current Android royalty — the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx?
HTC One X, Galaxy Nexus, and Droid Razr Maxx Comparisons
Make no mistake about it: The HTC One X, Galaxy Nexus, and Droid Razr Maxx are all first-class devices with their own unique types of appeal. Each phone is a flagship that represents the best of what its maker (or, in the case of the Galaxy Nexus, Google) has to offer.
HTC’s One X boasts a brilliant 4.7-inch Super LCD display that’s getting rave reviews from early evaluators. The Verge’s Chris Ziegler calls it “the best [he's] ever seen on a phone.” Engadget’s Myriam Joire says the colors “seemed more natural and the whites were whiter than on AMOLED devices like the Galaxy Nexus.” Android Central’s Phil Nickinson goes a step further, proclaiming that “the One X’s display makes the Galaxy Nexus look like an old yellowed newspaper.”
On paper, the One X and Galaxy Nexus are certainly well matched in actual screen specs. The One X’s 4.7-inch display has a resolution of 1280-by-720; the Galaxy Nexus’s 4.65-inch display has the same 1280-by-720 resolution. The Galaxy Nexus, however, uses Super AMOLED technology — which, on its own, is actually quite impressive. I described the screen as being “like a feast for your eyes: Colors are rich and brilliant, and images and text are crisp and clear, with no detectable pixelation or jagged edges.” But in the world of smartphones, it’s all relative.
The Razr Maxx, meanwhile, uses a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced screen with 960-by-540 resolution. By pretty much any measure — including the majority of subjective comparisons — it’s the weakest of the three phones when it comes to display quality.
All right — how ’bout under the hood? The HTC One X rocks one of Nvidia’s 1.5GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processors along with a full gigabyte of RAM. But — and this is a big but (you’re welcome, Mr. Mix-A-Lot) — the upcoming U.S. version of the phone on AT&T will use a 1.5GHz dual-core processor instead. That puts it more in line with the 1.2GHz dual-core chips used in the Galaxy Nexus and the Droid Razr Maxx; each of those phones also has 1GB of RAM.
In terms of storage, the One X and Razr Maxx both come with 16GB of internal space; the Galaxy Nexus is available in 16GB and 32GB models (the U.S. Verizon version of the phone comes with 32GB). The Razr is the only phone of the three to support external storage via an SD card: It comes with a 16GB card and is expandable up to 32GB. Neither the One X nor the Galaxy Nexus has an SD card slot.
Another area of distinction: The Galaxy Nexus is the only phone of the three that has a removable battery; on both the One X and Razr Maxx, the battery is integrated into the hardware and impossible to swap out. That said, the Razr Maxx ships with a beefy 3300 mAh battery — the phone’s trademark spec — giving it superb battery life that’s tough to beat.
On the camera front, the One X leads the pack with its high-end 8MP lens. The One X also has Beats Audio, which enhances sound quality on music played from the phone.
Then there’s the software: The Galaxy Nexus, as a Google experience phone, runs a pure and unadulterated version of Google’s Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, OS. As Google’s flagship Nexus phone, it also has the company’s promise to get frequent and fast OS upgrades in the future.
The One X, in comparison, runs Android 4.0 along with HTC’s Sense 4.0 overlay. Depending on your perspective, this might enhance the ICS experience or completely tarnish it; ultimately, it boils down to a matter of personal preference. Upgrade-wise, however, manufacturer-added skins do tend to slow down the rollout process. Case in point: the Razr Maxx, which runs Android 2.3, Gingerbread, along with Motorola’s own set of software customizations. Though Motorola talked about its Razr line getting the ICS upgrade at the “start of 2012,” the company has yet to deliver — earning it a disappointing “D” in my recent Android 4.0 report card. (Some rumors suggest the Razr phones could be upgraded this week, but those rumors are thus far unconfirmed.)
Finally, you’ve got the bodies to consider: The Razr Maxx has won plenty of points for style, with its stainless steel frame and Kevlar-strong back. The Razr is also the smallest of the phones, thanks to its 4.3-inch screen. Better? Worse? That’s up to you to decide. The Galaxy Nexus and One X are certainly no slouches in the design department; like with the software setup, it’s a subjective call that boils down to what you prefer.
The Galaxy Nexus and Droid Razr Maxx are both available from Verizon Wireless for $300 on contract. The HTC One X is set to launch on AT&T sometime soon; we’re still waiting to hear a specific date and price. Sprint is expected to unveil its own version of the phone later this week, too, so you may have even more options before long. (Update: Sprint has announced the HTC EVO 4G LTE, a modified version of the One X for its network. It’ll launch sometime in the second quarter.)