Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

The One You’ve Been Waiting For

I’ve traded in my Samsung Galaxy S II (SGS2) for the HTC One X, HTC’s latest flagship smartphone. It was, surprisingly, not a very difficult choice. The Samsung Galaxy S III (SGS3) was just announced earlier this month, and it does look like a a great phone. The choice between the SGS3 and HTC One X, however, was quite clear to me. I’ll tell you more about that later. Let’s talk about the HTC One X first.

When the HTC One X was first unveiled in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands, I was actually not particularly interested about it. In fact, I even passed up on an opportunity to go down to the event. I was not planning to change my phone yet. I could find the technical specifications and read plenty of reviews online. I didn’t really do any of that either. But several key points did catch my attention: quad-core Tegra 3 processor (plus one extra low-power CPU core), and the awesomely fast 8 megapixel camera.

My SGS2 was a pretty good phone. However, one aspect that did disappoint me was its camera. Compared with the iPhone 4S, the SGS2 was colossally slow. Image quality was not on par with the iPhone 4S either. But it’s not the image quality that annoyed me (it’s quite decent, actually, just not as good as the iPhone 4S). What was really bad is its slowness in focusing, capturing the shot, and then being ready for the next shot. Unless you’re going to be capturing only still life, the SGS2 was often too slow to get any good photos.

I like to take photos. I’ve often talked about how convenient a camera phone is because it is something you carry all the time, always ready to take a photo. But to be really useful, the camera phone has to be actually ready to take the shot when you need it too. It needs to be fast. Preferably with reasonable quality too.

So, anyway, how did I come to meet the HTC One X since I wasn’t very interested in it in the first place? Well, thanks to working demonstration sets available at some retailers. Manufacturers should take note to make demonstration sets as easily available as possible, especially if you feel you genuinely have a winning product.

I was at the Challenger outlet at IMM one morning, and found a HTC One X demonstration set available. The first thing that hit me when I picked up the HTC One X was that the phone felt very good in my hands. It’s a little large. But it feels good to touch, and feels comfortable to hold. The body feels very solid. I think it helped a lot that the unibody construction didn’t need to accommodate a battery cover that will weaken the body. The display was absolutely brillant. In that instant, even before actually playing with the phone itself, I had a very good positive impression of the phone.

The SGS3 has been hyped so much, and just about anyone who’s watching Android smartphone development will want to wait to see what Samsung will unveil. I, too, was waiting to see what the SGS3 would be. The announcement came, and as I mentioned right at the start, I decided to go with the HTC One X. I wouldn’t even wait for a demo SGS3 to land in Singapore to try out.

I ordered my HTC One X online. I didn’t have to go play around with it a second time. It’s the first time I’ve bought a phone online, and the first time I’ve committed to a purchase so quickly. It’s also the first time I’ve done so with so little “hands-on” time with the phone.

I was sold onto the HTC One X for a couple of reasons:

  • It looked good.
  • It felt good to hold.
  • Awesome speedy 8 megapixel camera.
  • And of course, it has all the features it needs to have to be a flagship.

Yes, I know there are many more things that the SGS3 probably does better than the HTC One X. But I really don’t like the look of the SGS3. No matter how Samsung says the SGS3 design is inspired by nature, there is nothing natural about it to me. It just looks so awkward to me. There are so many simple things that could have been tweaked to make the SGS3 look better, but it seems to me like Samsung purposely chose in every instance to make it look worse. (It was made ugly by lawyers to avoid law suits.)

I don’t know if, over time, I would get over or get used to the look of the SGS3. But I don’t want to risk the chance that I would continue to dislike its look for a long time (or forever). It’ll be quite a problem considering that I’ll be looking at the phone so much every day.

This is one of the few times I’m choosing a tech gadget not based primarily on its tech qualities, but because of its aesthetics. It’s the first time for a phone. It’s not that the HTC One X fails in its tech qualities. It is the SGS3 that has failed in aesthetics.

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. I liked the SGS2’s design. I wasn’t font of the Galaxy Nexus, but I could tolerate it. The SGS3 seems to have amplified the parts of the Galaxy Nexus that I didn’t like. As much as I dislike the look of the SGS3, obviously some others will absolutely love it.

I wasn’t planning to go back to the HTC camp. My first Android phone was the Google Nexus One, which is made by HTC. A nice thing about HTC is the free pickup and return service when you have to send in your phone for repairs. Samsung requires you to visit their service centre (although it is fairly conveniently located, and queue times are short). Of course, it’s best that phones are made so good that you never have to send them in for repairs. Nevertheless, this is one up for HTC over Samsung, and it’s something to consider too.

As you can see, I chose the Glamour Grey colour. One reason is that I was slightly concerned that the Polar White version might discolour over time, or be more difficult to maintain. The more important reason, however, is that the Polar White seems to be featured too much. Even the demo phones I saw were Polar White. I’d like to have something a little more unique.

So, that’s how I came to choose the HTC One X.

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