HTC One X review: eXtra special
8MP camera fails to inspire
The HTC One X packs an 8MP camera that does stills of up to 3264x2448 pixels and records 1080p video @ 24fps. There's an LED flash / video light too.
The camera interface is the same for both the still camera and the video camera - no they don't "look alike", the camera just has the UI shared between both functions.
The right-hand side features the Effects button, shutter key, camcorder record key and a shortcut to the gallery that shows the last photo taken. On the left is the flash setting toggle, general settings and shot mode (we'll get back to that in a moment).
To snap a photo, you tap the shutter key. To record video you tap the button below - and you can still tap the shutter key to snap a full-res photo, even while recording video. Another cool option is the burst mode, which we mentioned in the gallery - you press and hold on the shutter key and it will snap multiple photos and let you pick which one to keep (you can keep all of them of course).
The effects button brings out a tab on the left with the usual set of color effects (sepia, solarize and so on). There's also some other cool effects such as shallow depth of field , which lets you blur parts of a photo that fall outside a predefined circular area. It's like having Instagram built right into the camera app UI.
All this is pretty cool, but we had one problem with this combined interface - if you want full 8MP resolution still shots, you have to disable the Widescreen option. But then it becomes hard to frame a 16:9 video in the 4:3 view finder. That's made even worse when shooting 720p video. The field of view in that mode is narrower than what the viewfinder shows and framing involves a lot of guesswork.
The HTC One X has touch focus and face detection; geotagging and smile shutter are also enabled.
Continuous autofocus is available too which is good to have on a phone like the One X with no hardware shutter key (the virtual shutter key cannot trigger autofocus either, it does burst mode). On the downside, the continuous autofocus may be way off in some shots - the only way to be certain you have it right is to tap and hold on the spot of the screen where you want the focus to be.
The shot mode button offers some more cool stuff - HDR photos, Panorama (with a gyro horizon), portrait, group portrait, landscape, whiteboard, close-up and, finally, low light.
Group portrait is quite cool - we've seen something like it before in the Scalado Rewind. It snaps multiple photos and for each face (and the One X can track many faces), the phone automatically picks the one where that person is smiling and didn't blink.
HTC took the camera hardware seriously this time - an f/2.0 aperture and a dedicated image processing chip clearly show they mean business. However the image quality is not quite the best in the 8 MP league - the One X produces rather noisy, if nicely detailed photos. Colors are nice, but tend to be a bit over-saturated at times. Sharpening algorithm is a tad too aggressive, too, resulting in occasional artifacts.
We've prepared a bunch of samples for you guys below, check them out.
The camera captures images really fast, thanks to the built-in image processing chip. We also liked the fact that images (by default) don't get in the way - once you've snapped a shot it quietly pops-up in the preview box in the bottom right, without instant preview, and you're free to snap away.
The One X offers HDR mode too. Here's a comparison of a scene with HDR off and on. The result is okay, but if you don't like the exaggerated HDR look, it might not be your thing.
We also snapped a couple of close-ups with the HTC One X. The focus innately captures macro photos but opting for the dedicated close-up preset does give you an extra millimeter or two to work with. Overall we're pleased with the amount of produced detail.
HTC are bragging about the instant photo capture during video recording and we decided to give it a spin. The photos are taken in 16:9 aspect ratio and are in 3264 x 1840 resolution. The idea is that you can snap fast-paced pics while you're recording a video.
The results came out really nice with good detail and motion blur is kept in check. Here are the samples.
Photo quality comparison
The HTC One X joins the other 8MP shooters in our Photo Compare Tool. The tool's page will give you enough info on how to use it and what to look for.
The first two charts play to the One X strengths and shows it as a good shooter, though still not the best in the 8MP game. The third chart shows good too, but also some artifacts due to the sub-optimal processing of the One X.
1080p video recording could be better, too
The One X records 1080p or 720p videos at 24fps and it can snap photos while at it. You can also use touch focus and even toggle the video light - that's during recording!
Videos are stored in MP4 files and use H.264 encoding. 1080p videos have a rather low bitrate - 10Mbps or less and compression clearly takes its toll on the amount of detail resolved. The colors are a tad oversaturated and while noise is decently low, the One X is hardly the best smartphone for shooting video on the go.
On the positive side the One X camera boasts stereo audio recording and keeps the framerate close to the promised fps (at least in good light).
The 720p videos captured by the Once X are decent. They only use half the bitrate (makes sense since 720p is about half as many pixels as 1080p). You should keep in mind their field of view is narrower than the 1080p videos.
And here's a video uploaded to YouTube for you to enjoy right in your browser. Don't forget to click 1080p on the FullHD video sample and open the video fullscreen.
We've also prepped a 720p video sample taken with the One X.
The HTC One X also shoots slow-motion videos but the resolution drops significantly - you get 768x432 at 2.4Mbps bitrate. HTC didn't give an official number, but we measured it at a 3x slo-mo.
Video quality comparison
We entered the HTC One X in our Video Compare Tool database too and put it head to head with other 1080p mobile camcorders. In good light the One X videos tend to be less detailed than those of its competitors (and even the One X). Low light performance is much better though, even if the aggressive noise suppression combined with the high compression rate produces some artifacts.