HTC Desire X handson

Earlier this year, HTC spent much of its mobile bombast on that other major European conference: MWC. But that doesn't mean the company showed up to Berlin empty handed. In a closed door session today, the company demoed a flagship of sorts: the Desire X. The 4-inch handset, just recently announced, may look familiar -- that's because it lifts distinctive elements of the premium One series for a decidedly upscale spin on an entry-level device. With an 800 x 480 Super LCD display, a dual-core Snapdragon S4 8255 running Sense 4.1 atop Ice Cream Sandwich and a 5-megapixel rear shooter enhanced by the outfit's ImageChip, this first-timer device is anything, but average. Curious to see how this top-shelf budget phone fared in our testing? Then follow along after the break for some initial impressions.

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HTC Desire X hands-on

We'd be remiss if we didn't immediately mention how attractive the Desire X is and much of that flair belongs to the One line its build is derived from. The device is extremely light in hand at 114 grams and is a real pleasure to hold. In fact, we were impressed by how comfortably our thumbs were able to rest upon the curved edges. On back, there's a 5-megapixel rear module outfitted with the same f/2.0 lens that debuted on the One line, giving users access to the same simultaneous video / photo capture, as well as one-touch continuous shooting.

As you'll note in the associated images, that 4-inch screen rises above the shell, but it doesn't prove an ergonomic nuisance as you might imagine. And speaking of that display, the reps confirmed to us that it is indeed laminated, thus reducing glare and allowing users to set brightness to minimum without compromising readability and saving battery in the process.

It should come as no surprise that the Desire X ships running Android 4.0.4 out of the box. We'd have liked to see a more progressive build on there -- say Jelly Bean -- but we were assured that HTC is currently "evaluating the tradeoffs in terms of user experience and hardware demands". Naturally, as this is an HTC smartphone, there's Sense 4.1 skinned atop the UI. It's mostly unobtrusive, much like we've found on the One series, and also packs in an added bonus for users: HTC Connect.

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HTC Connect hands-on

Formerly only available to the One line, this partnership with Pioneer allows for DLNA peripherals to connect with any Sense 4.1 device via WiFi Direct. And as we saw in our testing, the setup and implementation is quick, simple and intuitive. After selecting the standalone speaker within the Music player's menu settings, our chosen track began playing immediately, allowing us to adjust volume and control playback from the handset.

Internally the Desire X is powered by a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 8255 buffered by 768MB RAM and though you might think the inclusion of that recent Qualcomm chip has the performance zipping along unperturbed -- well, you'd be wrong. Given, this is a budget handset, but the lag we noticed was not only heavily evident, it was also inconsistent. At times, it appeared as if the handset was revving up its clock speed from a sleepier state since transitions from the homescreen to app drawer and even app launches showcased a definite lag. This quirk also extended to the use of the navigation buttons at the base of the screen, leading us to believe the phone hadn't registered our touch.

Browser performance was much of the same, as pages loaded in about 20 seconds and then took a while to re-render when we attempted pinch-to-zoom. We managed to run Quadrant on the device and unsurprisingly the phone clocked in a comparatively low score of 2254, corroborating the sluggish real-world usage evinced. As always, however, we must remember that we're not playing with final firmware here, so this may not reflect the performance of the device once it's out.

All in all, its an attractive option for Android newbs looking for a stylish device with acceptable specs. The Desire X is set to launch internationally sometime this September for 299 Euros, but for those of you living in the UK, look for it to hit shelves at Virgin or Phones4U.

Mat Smith contributed to this report.

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