That would be the general hardware, but how is the software? Is it any different from the loads of phones that run Google's Android operating system these days? That's where HTC sets itself apart again. While the phones do run the latest version of Android -- Android 4.0, which is also known as Ice Cream Sandwich -- HTC has made a number of nice additions. Not only has it added some nice widgets, including the main weather widget, but it added some nice animations and polish. I particularly like what they did with the open or recent apps list; a 3-D carousel of your open apps appears and you can swipe upwards to close them. Those changes go a bit deeper too -- the camera app has some extra features, like the ability to add Instagram-like filters to photos, and some more editing capabilities.
Even better, navigating that software is really smooth, thanks to the dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor in both phones. For some reason the AT&T One X doesn't have a quad-core processor like the European version, but I really didn't miss those extra cores -- apps open quickly, web browsing is smooth, and handling multiple applications is no hurdle for the phone.
The One S and the One X are very, very similar phones; save for the size and design differences, they are pretty hard to tell apart. And interestingly, their biggest difference is not on HTC's end, but on the carriers they are available on. The One X is available for AT&T and runs on AT&T's brand new LTE network. That by nature makes the phone one of the fastest on the market; websites, like ABC News' non-mobile site, popped up in less than 10 seconds, and video streamed over YouTube without pauses or much buffering.
However, the HTC One S from T-Mobile cannot claim the same prowess. While T-Mobile's HSPA+ network is called "4G," it isn't as fast as AT&T's fresh network. It's not slow by any means, but it isn't as fast.
But there is a benefit to the T-Mobile's One S -- the battery lasts a bit longer on a charge. Both phones lasted a full workday with a good amount of use and email coming in very regularly, but the One S had 35 percent left at day's end.
Both phones also worked well as phones. Phone calls were clear around New York City, though my cheek hit the screen on the HTC One X a few times, touching the "end call" button with unfortunate results.
You'll notice I haven't really complained about much in this review, and that's mostly because there isn't much to complain about here. Both the One S and the One X are very well-rounded smartphones. They have beautiful screens, great cameras, and smooth and attractive software. The One X does have faster data speeds and a higher resolution display, but the One S fits better in one's hand.
But those differences aside, $199 with a two-year contract at either T-Mobile or AT&T buys you the best Android phone in the sea competitors. And that should make walking into a T-Mobile or AT&T store a lot more fun, even if you're not looking to buy a new phone.