Since last Tuesday, much of the mobile phone news has centered around the latest Samsung flagship, the Galaxy S III (SGS3). Well, if you’ve been following my blog, you’ll have known that I’ve given up on my Samsung Galaxy S II (SGS2), decided not to go with the SGS3, and instead jumped ship to HTC’s One X (HOX).
How has the HOX been for me? It’s pretty good. There are plenty of things to love it for, as a user coming from the SGS2. The handset, with its soft-touch unibody polycarbonate shell, feels great in my hands. It’s something I’ve already noted when I first held a demo set at a shop. The screen is brillant.
Speaking of the display, I’m pretty impressed with whatever it is HTC has done with the Gorilla glass. My previous SGS2 also had Gorilla glass. But this one feels different. After 3+ weeks of use, the glass still feels smooth and slick. I’ve not cleaned it with anything apart from a dry cloth. My SGS2 would not have lasted a few hours of use without having its glass covered with fingerprint smudges. I’ve been cleaning my SGS2′s glass with a display cleaner. Perhaps the problem is with using display cleaners? For now I’m avoiding using anything apart from a dry cloth on my HOX’s glass.
Apart from the hardware, I’m also quite pleased with the HOX’s software. There no one single feature that stands out as a runaway winner. It’s the little bits and pieces that, when they all come together, tells me that someone has given some thought and used some common sense to make the phone work better. Some of these are going to be gripes coming from specific groups of people, but nevertheless, they are mostly valid issues.
First up is with the naming of the photo images taken with the camera. The HOX names its photo image files in the standard DCIM compliant format. The SGS2 did not. Actually, this is the fault of Ice Cream Sandwich, which chose to incorporate the date/time into the file name. So with iPhoto on my Mac OS X, photos on my SGS2 could not be automatically imported. I know, it’s just a couple more keystrokes and mouse movements, but surely, these things are meant to be automated. Thankfully, automatic imports are now possible with the HOX and iPhoto on my Mac OS X. (I wish Apple would also let up and not be so strict on the DCIM standards.)
The next little thing is about connecting the phone to the computer. It’s related to photo importing, and it has got to do with Mac OS X again. In Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), Google decided that the default transfer protocol should be Media Transfer Protocol (MTP). They’ve decided to drop (or make difficult to access) the previous ubiquitous Mass Storage Device Class (MSC) mode. That’s all fine with Windows. But Mac OS X does not support MTP out-of-the-box. It’s probably not going to happen anytime soon, no matter if MTP is really better than MSC (I agree too), since MTP started out as a Windows-thing and Apple probably isn’t very eager to back it. So this little problem has made it highly inconvenient to transfer content between my SGS2 and my MacBook Pro.
Thankfully, the HOX presents a USB menu from the Notification screen a bunch of USB connection options. The “Disk drive” mode puts the HOX in MSC mode. I can’t imagine why ICS had to spoil things, and Samsung didn’t see fit to fix this. Now transferring files is a breeze.
Another nice thing is about the Facebook integration add-on. HTC has something of their own. One problem with the original Facebook app is that you could not upload photos directly into specific albums. This used to be possible a long time ago, until at some strange point Facebook decided that everything absolutely needs to go into a Mobile Uploads folder. Well, thankfully, HTC’s own Facebook photo uploader gives us back the old option to upload a photo directly into an album. I would ordinarily protest to a duplicate app that doesn’t add value, but in this case, it is much appreciated to have an app that fixes what the original Facebook app won’t let you do.
Then, there are also a bunch of options for customizing the HOX’s lockscreen. Many custom ROMs and market apps do the same thing. But one wonders why couldn’t the original ICS provided at least some of the functionality. Things like previewing your appointments and messages.
Those are just some examples. They are mostly simple software tweaks. Nothing on its own stands out as a significant feature. But I appreciate how one company has taken note to make sure their phones work better.