The HTC One X (center) is a contender for the best Android smartphone on the market.

The HTC One X from AT&T goes on sale Sunday, and this newcomer is a definite contender for the best Android smartphone on the market.

The phone, available for $200 with a two-year contract, has all the bases covered: it looks great, has the latest version of Android, runs on AT&T’s 4G LTE network and has a powerful processor to let you fly through what you need to do.

That speed was a nice surprise, since HTC has put a dual-core processor (1.5 Ghz, from Qualcomm) in the U.S. version of the phone instead of the quad-core processor in the international version. But in the week that I had the One X, it never lagged or stumbled while running multiple applications.

One of the best features of the HTC One X is its sharp 4.7-inch display (1280 x 720), which is clear and bright. That makes it a breeze to read on the phone for extended periods of time, or watch a movie without undue eye strain. Even fairly graphics-heavy games looked good.
And although the screen is fairly large, the phone doesn’t feel bulky. I’ve had my share of complaints about how larger phones don’t work for smaller hands, but the One X’s high-quality plastic build is light enough that I never felt uncomfortable holding it, and the large screen made it easy to type. It also passed my other real-life test — surviving a week being lugged around in my purse —without a scratch, though the white review unit I had from AT&T was a bit prone to smudges.

Call quality was fine, with no echoes or tinny tones, though conversations were occasionally a bit muffled. The phone also has good speakers, thanks to a partnership with Beats Audio, and the quality is particularly noticeable when using headphones. Still, the audio isn’t so impressive that it should tip the scales.

The same goes for the camera, which uses HTC’s innovative software to help you capture even difficult pictures on your phone. Good for parents and doting pet owners, the camera lets you hold the shutter button to take continuous shots when the action’s moving quickly. Most of the shots I took were still clearly identifiable as smartphone pictures, even if they were really good smartphone pictures.

This phone isn’t perfect, however. HTC had to make some compromises to get its sleek profile. The phone’s battery isn’t removable and users will have to make do without an expandable memory slot. HTC does offer users 25GB of free Dropbox space with the phone, which could help off-load some of your personal files, but not your apps.

It also comes with HTC’s particular flavor of Ice Cream Sandwich, an overlay called HTC Sense. It retains HTC design hallmarks such as a sliding ring and quick-launch menu on the lock screen. As with past versions, the overlay still feels overdone. There are too many animations and still too many apps that users can’t uninstall. That said, this version is better about getting out of your way so you can actually use the phone.

The only other thing I noticed that gave me pause was that my review unit ran a little warm at the top after heavy use, which gave me a toasty ear when speaking on the phone afterward. It wasn’t hot enough to bother me — and certainly not enough to be painful — but it was noticeable.

All in all, the HTC One X acts and performs like a premium phone, and it should perform well for almost any audience. Even without the quad-core processor, the handset is easily one of the best Android phones out there. While it’s not a phone that you must rush out to buy on launch date, it should be in the running for anyone looking for their next all-purpose smartphone.