What a difference a year makes for HTC’s devices.  Last year HTC was putting out monster stinkers like the HTC Vivid on AT&T.  We didn’t review the Vivid, but it wasn’t for a lack of time spent with the device. It just wasn’t worth our time or yours. It, just like the Verizon Rezound, was more like a grenade than a phone.

The One X changes all of that.  This is truly a great phone in the same league as the original EVO or the Nexus One. An instant classic.

As impressed as we were with the HTC One S on T-Mobile, the One X on AT&T is going to make some people even happier with its monster 720P 4.7-inch screen and svelte polycarbonate body.  I’ll go ahead and say it: This is the best screen I’ve seen on a mobile phone. Samsung and Apple make great mobile displays but this thing has 180 degree angles that look like a magazine.  Throw some high res. images at the screen and you’ll see the 720P display and 315+PPIs come to life.  Unlike some Samsung screens, this one looks great in sunlight too…

The matte surface feels great but attracts more dirt – keep in mind if you go for the white version. It actually feels similar to Nokia’s Lumia phones in that respect. The weight of the phone feels great in the hand with a study polycarbonate shell that sheds a lot of weight over HTC’s previous designs.

For instance, that HTC Vivid released at the end of 2011 weighed in at a hefty 176 grams and was over 11mm thick. The One X weighs 130 grams and under 9mm thick at its camera bump. That’s 20% thinner and over 40% lighter with a much bigger/better screen and a much better processor amongst other improvements in just five months.

Speaking of processor, the US/LTE version of the One X uses a dual core Qualcomm processor running at 1.5GHz vs. the international version which rocks a quad core Tegra. Doesn’t matter. This thing zips.  I haven’t found an application that taxes the processor and most reviews I’ve seen say that there isn’t much difference in speed. But that Qualcomm chip has LTE networking built in meaning that you are getting typical awesome LTE speeds at a very small power premium.

As with many phones in this class, the One X has 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage but HTC has upgraded to Bluetooth 4.0 which will be important for low power devices in the near future.

Downsides.

The One X is a pretty sparse device and the storage and battery are non-removable. Assuming I never have to remove the battery to reset it, I view this as a good thing. If I want more battery life, I’ll just buy a portable USB battery.  Besides, even with LTE, the 1800mA battery lasts all day and then some.

A real issue is the lack of expandable Flash storage. While the international One X comes with 32GB of storage, the US version comes with only 16GB and no SD card to speak of.  That means the 16GB you see is all you get.  Those who want to store lots of movies, photos and video might have to go elsewhere because you hit a hard wall on storage.

AT&T has thrown a bunch of crapware on this device. Thankfully, thanks to ICs, you can disable it all and hide it pretty easily.  More troubling, AT&T has locked the bootloader so there are no fun games on this device like its International sibling.  Boooo!

There is also no dedicated camera shutter on this device.  Personally, I don’t care and am able to ge to the camera app relatively quickly with the Sense 4.0 unlock.  One nit pick. Samsung usually includes a premium set of headphones in their high end phone packaging and Apple includes those white earbuds that always fall out – this one didn’t even have a cheap pair  -bring your own!.

Top of the class

Speaking of the cameras, this F 2.0 Camera is one of the best I’ve used, especially in darker spaces.  The low light sensor is good on its own, but when you want help from the Flash – which is set further back than the lens to guard from wash out – it takes pictures that look close to high end point and shoots.  HTC also included some fun filters that will get lots of use with the intuitive interface.

Video taking is also top notch with the camera shooting off 1080P video at 60 frames/sec and the built in stabilizer is as good as I’ve seen. The front camera is also very nice for video chatting.

The speaker is loud for a mobile device either listening to music without headphones or for speaker phone conversations. Both top of the line.

One area where HTC always trumped Samsung was the GPS strength.  No matter if it was a Galaxy Nexus, a Note or a Galaxy S, I always had trouble with Samsung’s GPS’s. On the other hand, HTC’s One X picks up a GPS signal in a matter of seconds and stay accurate during navigation and stayed accurate.

Wrap up:

If you want a phone screen bigger than 3.5 inches diagonally, this is simply the best phone that AT&T offers, no question, and one of the best phones out there, along with its S cousin on T-Mobile. I’d only hesitate to recommend this to people who don’t get great AT&T service, have a lot wrapped up in Apple’s ecosystem or the need for more than 16GB of local storage.  Otherwise, it is hard to find fault with the HTC One X.

You can pick up the HTC One X on AT&T for $50 off –  $149 at Amazon.