Both AT&T's One X and its unlocked cousin run Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.3, in fact) along with HTC's new streamlined Sense 4 UI. We're happy to report the carrier's managed to avoid diluting HTC's vision by keeping customizations to a minimum. AT&T's start-up animation is far less tacky and annoying than what we saw on T-Mobile's One S, but here again the network status indicator's been adjusted to display 4G LTE for LTE, 4G (instead of H) for HSPA+ and E for EDGE. The word AT&T always appears in the left of the notification bar, wasting valuable space.
In addition to Google and HTC's usual software, you'll find a dozen or so pre-installed apps on the phone. The good news is that half of them are removable. The bad news is that several useful apps that exist on the foreign version -- such as Voice Recorder, Polaris Office, FM Radio, Flashlight and Dropbox -- are missing from AT&T's One X. The operator-specific crapware includes AT&T Code scanner, AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Navigator (why?), AT&T Ready2Go, Device Help, Live TV and myAT&T. Amazon Kindle, MOG Music, Top HD Games, and YPMobile complete the package.
As with other AT&T devices, the hotspot functionality is crippled and will "call home" to check for a tethering plan before turning on -- this even after unlocking the handset and inserting a SIM from another carrier. There's also no AWS support for HSPA+ in the baseband out of the box. On the plus side, NFC was left untouched and Android Beam works as expected.
At $199, this is the best subsidized Android phone in the US today.
By now you're probably asking yourself, is AT&T's One X really better than the global model? Yes, absolutely -- assuming you can live with the carrier's software tweaks and bloatware. At $199, this is the best subsidized Android phone available in the US today. It arguably dethrones Samsung's mighty Galaxy Note as AT&T's flagship device by combining Ice Cream Sandwich, a faster processor and a more efficient LTE radio. The only alternative, if you can afford it, is to import the unbranded, unlocked Canadian version of the One X, which is also compatible with AT&T's LTE bands.