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By Mike Joubert 7 November 2012

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Not everyone has the budget for, nor the Pierre Spies-sized hands to work on, the high-end Android models. HTC provides a decent mid-range offering in the form of the Desire X.
 
When it comes to smartphones, there remains a lingering mystery – why does HTC not sell better? The Taiwanese manufacturer has for the past few years been consistently producing some really good devices. Still, when you look at sales figures, they don’t crack the top three manufacturers, and instead usually pops-up around number five.
 
Phones such as their latest mid-range offering, the Desire X, make a good case for questioning the company’s underwhelming sales ranking. It is super-sleek, complete with a gun-metal lining round the 4" screen, and a matte plastic finish on the back cover. At 9.3 mm thick, the device feels as smooth as a river pebble in hand. In keeping with HTC's Desire heritage, the X is rounded off with a slight upward curve at the bottom.
 
The Desire X is easy on the eye and a treat in hand.
 
As above, so below

Luckily the innards match the ‘outards’, since the Desire X is loaded with Android Ice Cream Sandwich and the best skin in the business - HTC’s Sense 4.0 (well actually 4.0a, a slightly stripped down version). It is the same configuration found on the excellent One X (to which the Desire X bears a very close resemblance, reviewed here) and makes for hassle-free operation.
 
An improvement on the part of the Desire X is the way it deals with recent apps. Unlike the One X which provides a 3D tiled Windows view of your recent apps, the Desire X, much like Samsung’s S3 (review), stacks screenshots underneath each other. In our opinion this is a slightly faster solution.
 
The OS is kept flowing smoothly by a dual-core 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, with overall performance in line with other mid-range offerings, such as Sony’s Xperia sola. In benchmarking, the Desire X was biting at the heels of some of last year’s top contenders such as the Motorola RAZR (review) and Galaxy S2 (review) – testament to how fast processor technology is progressing – but slightly behind the sola.
 
Although there is 4 GB worth of internal storage, less than half is available for personal storage. For that you should rather depend on a microSD card, or, if you have Wi-Fi, on HTC’s free offering of a delicious 25 GB worth of Dropbox storage for two years.
 
Camera and Beats Audio
 
Also worth mentioning are the 5 MP camera with HDR functionality and best shot selection (HTC persists in not providing a stand-alone camera button on the side of the device), and of course HTC’s Beats Audio sound enhancement that works a treat when listening to music through earphones.
 
A question mark hangs over HTC’s decision to only include WVGA (800 x 480) video recording on the device. At the very least, a mid-range device such as the Desire X should have 720p HD-ready recording. Also irritating is that once you switch to video from within the camera app, it immediately starts recording.
 
Furthermore, another minor niggle is that the volume rocker on the side can be a bit fidgety if not pressed correctly. As far as battery life is concerned, don’t expect it to last longer than a day with regular usage (calls, messaging, surfing and a bit of gaming).
 
From left to right: HTC Desire X vs. HTC One X vs. Samsung Galaxy Note II. 
 
Screen
 
With 480 x 800 (233 pixels per inch) 4”, the Desire X is not leading the pack when it comes to screen resolution. It trails phones such as the Sony sola (265 ppi, review) and Huawei’s U8860 (245 ppi, review), but to keep perspective – it’s on par with the original Samsung Galaxy S and the LG Optimus Black, so we’re not talking about a bad viewing experience at all.
 
Direct sunlight is the screen’s Achilles’ heel though, with smudges only being accentuated. 
 
To the point
 
Sleek on the outside and speedy inside, the HTC Desire X is a solid mid-range offering in all regards (well, except maybe when it comes to video capturing). It will make you wonder why you haven’t tried an HTC before.
 
Look to pay in the region of R4 000 for the HTC Desire X.
 
Pros
Sleek, stylish and unobtrusive
Decent performance, fast when it needs to be
HTC’s Sense skin is the best in the business
 
Cons
No 720p video recording
No dedicated camera button 
PROS
HTC's Sense skin is the best in the business; Sleek, stylish and unobtrusive; Decent performance, fast when it needs to be.
CONS
No 720p video recording; No dedicated camera button.
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