There's big, there's b-i-g and then there's "oh my god, are you [redacted] kidding me this is [redacted] BIG!" That's pretty much how we felt when we first laid our eyes and outstretched hand on Hisense's X1, a 6.8-inch Android smartphone first introduced at this year's CES. You wouldn't be wrong for thinking it's a tablet -- it pretty much unofficially is and depending on your taste and needs, that could be a good thing. The X1, which is slated to launch in China before the US, comes outfitted with what we'd expect from a high-end smartphone: Snapdragon 800, 13-megapixel camera, 1080p IPS display, 3,900mAh battery and Android 4.4 KitKat. So the performance and shine are there, but its dimensions stop it just short of being practical in daily use.
With Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 powering the X1, the overall user experience zips along smoothly and briskly. There's hardly any hesitation when effecting input actions, accessing the app drawer or launching applications. And viewing angles are also excellent, owing to that IPS display. As you can see from our gallery (demo video to come soon), the X1's also running a light skin atop Android, but it's not so cluttered as to make the phone confusing and nearly unusable a la Samsung's TouchWiz. Though the X1 model we previewed was on running 4.3 Jelly Bean, Hisense reps assured us it would ship with KitKat onboard.
As for its materials and build, the all-plastic X1 isn't quite a stunner, nor does it aim to occupy the premium smartphone niche. Hisense is positioning this as more of a mid-range device despite its spec load and we're told the price will reflect that strategy. That said, the X1's matte plastic back fit snugly into the full breadth of our palm and all hardware buttons are relegated to the right side of the device so you won't have to fuss with it much. Make no mistake, though, this is a two-hander -- you won't be able to get much done otherwise.
Hisense is currently aiming for a late Q2 launch for the US market and will release the X1 under the Sliver brand, but that's primarily for unlocked availability. The company is apparently also in talks with two US operators, so we could eventually see a subsidized model hit the states sometime soon. The only other thing you need to know about the X1 is that it's not LTE-capable; it's HSPA+ only. Hisense does have an LTE-capable model for the US market, the X3, but it wasn't shown off at the company's booth.
Brad Molen contributed to this post.