The iPhone 5, for better or for worse, is inevitably the one that all new smartphone releases will be compared to, at least for the next few months. Despite slightly underwhelming initial reviews, it's an inarguably impressive device that reaches, and in some areas exceeds, its Android-powered rivals.
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The latest major device announced in that ecosystem, the HTC One X+, comes from an OEM confronted with a similar need to make up ground on competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S III -- and it's a similarly impressive device. Here's a look at how it stacks up against Apple's latest offering.
PC Magazine's well-publicized benchmarking results recently prompted the iPhone 5 to be dubbed the fastest smartphone in the world, blowing away even the Galaxy S III and Droid Razr M in that publication's testing.
While benchmarks should generally be taken with a grain of salt, the size of the gap between the iPhone 5 and its rivals means that it's unlikely to be a simple fluke -- and its powerful PowerVR SGX 543MP3 graphics hardware likely has a lot to do with this discrepancy.
Although the 1.7GHz quad-core CPU should give the One X+ an advantage over the iPhone 5's 1.3GHz dual-core, the HTC device's ULP GeForce graphics processor is likely no match for the iPhone's three-core GPU.
ADVANTAGE: iPhone 5
The iPhone 5's slightly smaller 4-inch, 1136x640 display has better pixel density than the One X+'s larger 4.7-inch, 1280x720 screen, though HTC's much-vaunted Super LCD2 technology could compensate for that disadvantage. (Or, hey, you might just want a physically bigger screen anyway.)
While this isn't to say that the iPhone 5's own Retina display isn't very good as well, I have to give the nod to the One X+ here, on the assumption that production models have a screen at least as good as its One X predecessor.
ADVANTAGE: One X+
There's almost nothing separating the two devices in terms of their available camera options -- both pack an impressive 8-megapixel rear-facing shooter, with 1080p video recording capability and a host of bells and whistles, as well as front-facing 720p-capable options. (The One X+ shades the megapixel count at 1.6 to 1.2, but that's unlikely to make much of a practical difference.)
Although this can be considered a matter of preference, I've been consistently impressed with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean since its release, and that's what the One X+ carries. However, its version will use HTC's Sense overlay, which could dilute that Jelly Bean goodness. (It should be noted, though, that Sense is the least maligned of the OEM Android skins. Ever heard people talk about how much they hate Motoblur? It's a little intense.)
That said, iOS 6 is probably not the disaster that it's cracked up to be -- yes, Apple has had major problems and gotten a lot of egg on its face over the Maps fiasco. There's plenty that iOS 6 does right, particularly if you're into social media in a big way.
In the final estimation, however, it's tough to argue with Jelly Bean as the winner here. Unless the Sense experience on Android 4.1 is startlingly and uncharacteristically terrible, this one goes to the One X+.
ADVANTAGE: One X+
On paper, it seems like HTC's latest should win this easily -- on a strict count of milliamp hours, the One X+ leads the iPhone 5 by 2100 to 1400.
However, the Apple device's test results appear to give it a battery life well beyond a simple measurement of mAh, and there are no public benchmarks for the One X+'s battery as yet. Because of this ...
The One X+ is an impressive-looking device, arguably even more so than the iPhone 5, but it has a major drawback -- it's apparently going to be available only on AT&T, meaning Sprint subscribers like myself are out of luck. The iPhone 5 -- formerly an AT&T exclusive itself -- is now available on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, making it available to a much larger part of the U.S. populace.
ADVANTAGE: iPhone 5
FINAL RESULT: Push
I know, I know -- not even soccer fans like a draw. But based on available information, there's no real way to say definitively that either the HTC One X+ or the iPhone 5 is a demonstrably "better" product. As ever, it boils down to what you, the user, need your smartphone to do -- if you're after bleeding-edge graphics performance or you don't want to use AT&T, the iPhone 5 is probably the device for you. If you want a big, impressive screen or the excellent Android 4.1, go with the One X+.
Email Jon Gold at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.
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This story, "iPhone 5 vs. the HTC One X+" was originally published by Network World.