HTC Desire X Review: Finally, A Pre-Paid Device Worth Buying

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.

What's Good?

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.

What's Bad?

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.



    Nice price. Google Nexus is a better choice though for $329 + postage at Kogan.

      Very fair call. The Galaxy Nexus trumps the Desire X in OS, screen size, processor, memory and on-board storage.

      The Desire X arguably has a better quality screen though, and is $30+ cheaper (more once you take shipping into account).

      I'd be very curious as to how the camera compares between the two phones.

        Either way, great smartphones are getting damn cheap!

        just because the processors clock speed isn't as high doesn't mean it's inferior. This is running an S4 which even at 1ghz should be faster then the Gnex's.

        The main reason I like the Desire X is because the screen (And importantly the phone) is smaller than all the other new Android phones out there.

        I just don't like carrying around something so massive.

      Have had the nexus, now have the desire X. Wouldn't go back in a pink fit! I have owned a lot of mobile phones in my day since my first motorola brick, and the desire X is by far the best phone i have owned to date. The UI is faultless, the screen is very bright and clear and the camera for a phone in this price bracket, is nothing short of amazing! Finally a phone on the pre-paid shelf that is worth owning! (I say pre-paid shelf, because some people are really concerned about calling it a pre-paid phone, and I don't want them to get upset!) Lol,

    4GB? No Way I would buy this phone (and I probably won't recommend this to anyone). I had a HTC Desire and the internal memory was so low that I couldn't download apps anymore (apps2sd helped a little, but it didn't work on everything). I started receiving these "low memory space" alerts at unearthly hours. I then ditched it for an iPhone 3gs.

    Honestly, even the mid to low end HTC devices have a way higher build quality and a far, farrrrr better OS skin than the highest end from Samsung, they just tend to lack in specs. So this would probably be a great buy!
    - Just taken delivery of a super plastic Galaxy Note 2 with its rainbow vomit Touchwiz interface. Great device for art, great specs, but Tochwiz has taken everything great about Android and turned it into puke.

    Also possibly to buy these unlocked as well, Allphones has them for $328 outright.

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