Hands-on with HTC's One X, S and V Android 4.0 smartphones

HTC's tagline is "Quietly brilliant." In the last year, it's been anything but. With what felt like an endless release of similar smartphones with wild names, HTC's going into 2012 with a different mindset: simplify, refine and excel.

The HTC One family is a trio of smartphones from high to low that represent the new HTC — a mobile company that is focusing more on the qualities in a smartphone that people care about most, instead of just pumping out smartphones every week. Read on to see if HTC's One X, S and V smartphones are worth considering.

One X, One S and One V

Starting off with the top of the line smartphone, the One X is HTC's high-end device. It has a 1.5GHz Tegra 3 quad-core processor (dual-core for AT&T 4G LTE model), beautiful 4.7-inch display (1280x720 resolution), 8-megapixel rear camera and it measures only 9.3mm thick. Like the Nokia Lumia 800, its body is cut from polycarbonate that's dyed all the way through, so that even when the phone is scratched, it's hardly noticeable.

Stepping down a notch is the One S. Similar in looks to the One X, the main difference between the One S is that it has a 5-megapixel camera instead of the 8-megapixel one on the One X, a thinner 7.9mm profile, and a smaller 4.3-inch display (960x540 resolution). My first impression is that it molds so nicely to the palm of your hand and is super thin and light.

Lastly, is the One V. As you can see in the gallery below, it retains HTC's "legacy" design with the little "chin" reminiscent of the G1 and Hero. With a 1.5GHz processor, anodized aluminum body, a smaller 3.7-inch screen (800x480 resolution) and only 4GB of storage, the One V is targeted at pre-paid markets. HTC didn't have a working model with its OS powered on, but I was told it should be in line with the One X and S in terms of responsiveness.

All three One smartphones have micro-perforated speakers that are supposed to enhance the Beats audio, but honestly, I didn't feel they were particularly loud. The sound is audible at close range, but nothing blew me away.

Additionally, all three smartphones run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC's Sense 4.0 skinned over it. Responsiveness on the One X and One S were very impressive. Apps loaded up with virtually no lag, animations were impeccably fluid and Web browsing was excellent. The One family of phones were fast and very snappy — just the way phones made in 2012 should feel. Other Android smartphone makers should take notice of what HTC is doing with the One lineup.

Monster Cameras

The cameras in our smartphones are finally large and fast enough to replace our point and shoot cameras. When Apple refreshed its iPhone 4S last fall, it touted its 8-megapixel camera as being a game-changer. It was and still is a fantastic camera for a smartphone.

The HTC One smartphones destroy it on every level. The One X has an 8-megapixel camera and the One S and One V both have a 5-megapixel rear cam. The One X and One S both have 1.3-megapixel front-facing cameras, whereas the One V doesn't have one.

Continuous shooting is crazy. The One phones do five frames per second and there is virtually no lag between shots. While testing the camera on the One X and One S, I actually thought some photos didn't go through because it was so fast. You can't even see the photo animation drop in the the little photo review app. The shutter is that quick!

HD video recording is of the 1080p variety with an added bonus: it also lets lets you shoot 5-megapixel stills at the same time. Even better, if you shot a video, but want to grab photo stills from it, you can go back during playback and do that. All of the usual HTC effects make a return and work great. HTC really worked its magic on the One cameras.

Things That Worry Us

Gorgeous as the One trio of phones are, we're a bit worried about the battery life on these guys. The One X will be a 4G LTE device, but it will only come with a 1800 mAh battery. That doesn't seem adequate enough to keep the device going all day. Similarly, the One S has a 1650 mAh battery. No battery specs were provided for the One V. And with all of these phones featuring sealed-in batteries, you won't be able to carry any spares around. It'll suck if I have to charge the One X before lunchtime.

As mentioned above, the Beats audio didn't feel very loud at all and we're skeptic as to how much of a performance difference there will be between the One X's quad-core international model and the dual-core AT&T model. HTC reps said it went with a dual-core processor because Nvidia Tegra 3 is not compatible with 4G LTE.

Pricing has yet to be announced, but AT&T will be selling the One X in the U.S. and T-Mobile will get the One S. As far as the One V goes, it should be headed to MetroPCS, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Virgin.

Overall, the One X, S, and V really impressed me. They're perfect for picture takers (like me) and are speedy enough to satisfy any impatient user. I think HTC has a family of winners on its hands if the battery life ends up being decent.

All photos taken by Raymond Wong for DVICE.

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