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HTC One X and One S Hands-On: .7-Second Camera, Sense 4, Beats Audio

HTC's new line of One handsets are more than just a set of pretty faces. At the company's Mobile World Congress launch event, we had the opportunity go hands-on with both the quad-core HTC One X and uberslim HTC One S and came away impressed not only with their sleek designs and colorful screens, but also with the amazing Image Sense cameras and software that can shoot high-quality pictures and videoso fast you'll be done shooting before your cat realizes you've caught him doing something cute and walks away.

HTC One X: Colorful Screen, High Speeds

In our brief hands-on with the One X, we weren't able to really take advantage of its quad-core power or LTE connectivity, but we were able to stare longingly at its Super LCD, 1280 x 720 display and test out its blazing fast camera. 

The One X's Super LCD screen looks so bright that, at first, we thought the home screen might be a sticker not an actual display. The orange and yellow tones in the default wallpaper were particularly sharp and vibrant. Our test was conducted indoors, but we can't wait to test this screen in direct sunlight to see how it does. 

The HTC Sense 4 software has a lot of the goodness we've come to expect, including the colorful and user-friendly Friends widget that shows social updates, a better looking email client, and an attractive apps menu. We were also pleasantly surprised to see HTC stick to its guns in terms of UI design. We didn't see the blue lines or fonts of Ice Cream Sandwich anywhere we traveled in the UI.

In lieu of the virtual buttons for home, layers and settings that eat up precious screen real estate at the bottom of every screen on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, HTC has three capacitive buttons for these functions that sit below the screen.  When you hit the layers button, you get an attractive 3D list of cards showing all your open apps, which you can flip through and use to switch tasks. In stock Ice Cream Sandwich this list appears on top of the current screen as a set of small thumbnails, which is less attractive but does allow you to see open tasks without leaving the screen you were on.

We were most impressed with the One X's camera software. Though we were unable to test the quality of the camera by shooting anything other than the table next to us, we were amazed by how quickly it operated. When we tapped the camera icon, the software launched almost instantaneously and we were able to shoot photos as fast as we could tap the photo button on the screen. We were also able to shoot pics while recording video. The device also supports burst mode, which shoots up to 99 photos in a row and lets you choose the best ones.

HTC One S: Style and Substance

When we played with the HTC One S, we were stuck immediately by its dark gray color, which seemed much more attractive and grown up than the shiny white plastic on the HTC One X. We also thought that the colors on its 4.3-inch AMOLED screen were a little bit more vibrant than those on the 4.7-inch HTC One X's Super LCD display. However, the One X has a brighter panel that's 1280 x 720 as compared to 960 x 540 on the One S.

The One S has the same attractive Sense 4 software as the One X and the same useful capacitive buttons. When we wandered through its UI, we noticed no differences from what we saw on the One X. In our brief hands-on, the camera seemed just as blindingly-fast as the One X's.