12 months ago, HTC pledged to slim down its product offerings and only focus on hero handsets. Despite that promise, the handset maker seems to be camping on most of the alphabet for its current set of products. One of them is a top-end pre-paid handset: the HTC Desire X. Pre-paid devices used to carry a stigma of being underpowered and under-specced, but this handset is here to set the record straight.
What Is It?
The HTC Desire X is a 4-inch, $299 prepaid handset from Optus. It sports a 1Ghz dual-core processor, 768MB of RAM, 4GB of storage and Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. It's running on the Optus 3G network rather than the new 4G offerings.
Just because you're buying a pre-paid handset doesn't mean you have to buy something rubbish. This handset restores quality to the many mediocre pre-paid offerings of late.
The Desire X looks and feels a lot like a 4-inch version of the One S — HTC's mid-range post-paid handset. It's running the Sense UI on top of the Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.
Unlike a lot of Android handsets we have seen before, the Desire X is smooth and fast. The Sense UI doesn't detract from the overall Android experience like it occasionally does on other handsets and the fact that it comes out of the box with Ice Cream Sandwich installed means that the Desire X is more advanced in software than a lot of post-paid handsets are these days.
It puts in a Geekbench 2 performance worthy of its specs, meaning that the Desire X is pulling all the power it can out of that dual-core 1Ghz processor to score the 660 we got in our tests.
As far as the 1650mAh battery is concerned, you'll have to charge it once a day, but you won't be hunting for a charger with an eye on the percentage numbers at 3pm every afternoon.
The other solid performance comes from the screen. Everytime I go eyes on with the HTC One XL, I'm impressed by the screen's brightness and vivid white quality. The same carries through on the Desire X: it's a screen that performs beautifully despite its 480 x 800 pixel resolution.
Just while we're on the screen, it's worth noting that — despite the brightness — glare makes it almost unusable in sunlight.
With every handset, we look at what could have been.
HTC could have bolted 4G, Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, a bigger camera and larger speaker on the device, but then it wouldn't have come in at $299. There are concessions that need to be made to hit that price point. Despite these omissions, though, the Desire X is still a great handset.
It's also worth noting that the all-plastic construction of the Desire X may put some people off.
Should You Buy It?
The Desire name carries weight, especially in Australia. The original HTC Desire was the jumping off point for Android in Australia when it was carried on Telstra way back when. Now that HTC is looking to simplify its offerings, the Desire name has been shifted into the realm of pre-paid handsets. It's not all bad, though.
The HTC Desire X carries the sexy design of the HTC One S with the specs of a top-end pre-paid device. At $299, it hits the perfect price point for what it is, while standing head-and-shoulders above other mediocre pre-paid offerings on Optus' network.
If you're in the market for a pre-paid handset that doesn't suck, get the HTC Desire X.