A first look at the HTC One X for AT&T

AT&T’s(s t) newest LTE phone, the HTC One X, is due to hit stores this Sunday, May 6 for $199 with contract. The phone looks likeĀ T-Mobile’s One S, which I reviewed last month, but has a larger, higher resolution Super LCD screen. T-Mobile, of course, doesn’t offer LTE service yet, which is a big difference between the otherwise very similar handset.

I received a review unit of the One X just yesterday and since I’ve had such little time to use it, I can’t offer a true review, but I can share my initial impressions of this well-designed Android 4.0 handset.

In no particular order, here are some thoughts after a little hands-on time with the HTC One X:

  • The 4.7-inch display is superb and both images and text appear to float on the screen. The 1280 x 720 resolution is excellent, clear and bright. And I like how HTC contoured the glass to meld into the phone’s edges.
  • When I close my eyes and hold the phone I feel like I’m holding a refined version of my Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The size is similar, but the One X feels more premium thanks to the polycarbonate unibody design. The phone is thin and feels great in hand.
  • Integrated Beats Audio is part of the experience and works well; note that you don’t get headphones with this handset. I find that the Beats enhancement works best with larger, over the ear headphones as opposed to earbuds, but you can still notice a difference.
  • I find the power/wake button to be in a slightly awkward spot. It’s on top of the phone, but on an edge that’s tilted forward. Not a huge issue by any means, but something I noticed. The likely reason? The SIM card slot is where I expected the power button.
  • Android 4.0.3 with Sense 4.0 flies on the device, which is powered by a 1.5 GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chip. Outside of the U.S. this phone runs on Nvidia’s(s nvda) Tegra 3, but that chip doesn’t yet integrate with LTE radios; hence the change. It’s not a problem in terms of performance.
  • Also unlike the international version of the same phone, this model comes with only 16 GB of memory, not 32 GB. The memory is not expandable, but I’m used to that; its the same configuration as my Galaxy Nexus. Plus you can supplement with cloud storage although not everyone likes that option due to mobile broadband costs and caps.
  • The handset has an integrated, non-changeable 1800 mAh battery. I can’t speak to battery life just yet, but my experience with the One S –which runs on the same chipset (minus the LTE, of course) — shows an all day device with a 1650 mAh capacity battery. I expect the One X to be comprable although LTE could hit the battery life.
  • Speaking of LTE, I don’t have coverage within 100 miles, so I haven’t yet tested it. The good news is that HSPA+ fallback is excellent; at least where I live. I’m averaging 8 to 9 Mbps down, low latency, peaks over 11 Mbps and uploads near 2.5 Mbps.
  • HTC’s ImageSense with 8 megapixel sensor continues to impress me. Holding the on-screen shutter grabbed about 8 images in a second. Plus there’s a video recording button on the same interface to easily switch between stills and video. Using the digital zoom while taking 1080p video works well as the phone focuses quickly.
  • AT&T preinstalls — or adds an icon for installation — six carrier apps. I’d rather see these in an AT&T branded section of Google Play, but that’s just me.
  • There are five metal pins on the back edge of the phone that are likely to be used for docking accessories.

If you’re looking for a high-performing Android 4.0 handset on AT&T’s network with great quality music and photo quality, then the new One X is a must-see; at least based on my limited experience.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and call it early: the One X is probably the best Android phone available on AT&T for now, barring any issues or problems I haven’t yet found. High speed LTE support for 20+ Mbps downloads will be welcome, but even if you don’t live near an LTE coverage area, the phone’s HSPA+ connection can easily surpass that of the iPhone 4S(s aapl) by double.