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Observations on the Retina MacBook Pro + HTC One X

I wanted to talk about two devices that I've recently taken a look at: the Retina MacBook Pro and the HTC One X. Both are my friend's and I've only had a limited time with them. This won't be a proper review as I'm mainly going to talk about some hardware design observations on both devices. 

 

First, the Retina MacBook Pro. This thing has been surprisingly difficult to get a good look at. The Apple Store in my neighborhood only has one on display.

 

Visit 1: Crowd of 10+ people at the store's single MacBook Pro, just left.

Visit 2: Some kid kept hogging the laptop. Gave up reasoning with him, just picked up the atrocious Smart Case.

Visit 3: Pushed away a girl looking at it. Got some great photos until the security came and forced me to delete them.

Visit 4: Only a small crowd. Took the photo above and had to leave for an appointment.

Visit 5: Went to go watch Moonrise Kingdom. There were 6 on display at a store by the theatre so finally got a good look.

 

Thankfully, a friend picked one up which gave me a chance to take some detailed photos. The first thing you notice is how thin this thing is. Although it's "only" 25% thinner, it feels incredibly light and Air-like in the hand.

 

The accelerated pillowing further helps it feel even sleeker. 

 

Making my MacBook Pro's screen look fat. 

 

A small but welcome change: the cutout for the magnetic latch is now a straight cut and much larger. 

 

The ports have been cleaned up. The standard leaf-spring-like friction lock is replaced by a proprietary design. Not as handsome as the ball-bearing design of the MacBook Air. Unfortuanately, Apple no longer pads the receptacle of the MagSafe connector with plastic. Every Retina MacBook Pro I see has a horribly scratched port.

 

The new Airs and MacBook Pro all use an updated MagSafe connector. Glad they went back to the far superior straight design.

EDIT: There is some debate over this, I personally prefer this because a) it's easier to remove b) it's easier to insert c) it doesn't scrach the laptop during removal by design.

 

Apple has finally given up and added vents. My friend tells me that the machine runs significantly cooler and quieter than the last generation.

 

I've never been a fan of these black keys. They always get super greasy. The bead-blasted finish of the aluminum is far smoother than older MacBook models and similar to the iPad.

 

Beautiful display (With no logo, yay!). Looks like Apple has done some new optical coatings - has a purple tint similar to Rolls-Royce windows. 

 

There's no way around it; the screen is gorgeous. It's not as shocking as the 3rd Generation iPad because I've been conditioned to see large Retina displays. Still, I'm jealous.

 

The best part is how Apple has removed the cover glass like on the iPhone. The icons look like they sit on the display.

 

I had high expectations for the One X. Many told me that it's one of the best Android phones in the market. Let me tell you, I'm not impressed. 

 

Little thicker than the iPhone, fairly thin though. It has a similar design to the Nexus S that I used to own. 

 

The iPhone is a really nice size. Using one hand, I can operate the phone without difficulty. I think the 3.5" screen is starting to feel a bit small though. The 3.7" size of the Lumia 800 seems perfect to me.

 

Though it's out of the Goldilocks zone, the 4.3" Lumia 900 might be workable. However, the 4.7" display on the One X is crazy. It's almost comical. You can't do anything one handed. I have average sized hands and the phone is so wide that it's uncomfortable to hold. 

 

When I was receiving the One X, I was expecting build quality like Nokia's polycarbonate phones. This phone feels nothing like that. As far as I can tell, it's a standard injection molded PCABS body. It's better than Samsung's crappy backs but it's not even close to the caliber of Apple and Nokia's phones.

 

The charging indicator's light leaks into different holes and even next to the bezel. This is what the best Android phone is like?

 

It's not that the use of plastic is limitting the One X. Its execution is simply not worthy of a flagship classification. 

 

Hard to capture in photos but the headphone jack has Samsung-like mold lines and a shoddy looking headphone jack.

 

A difference in philosophies.

 

The camera in the One X isn't great either - the 4S just kills it. What really bothers me is that HTC has put so much design emphasis on the camera to make it look more impressive. A prime example of dishonest design.

 

And not to mention that the phone has Beats branding on the back next to the tinny speaker.

 

Ice Cream Sandwich is frustratingly slow and laggy to someone coming from iOS. Sense UI is also tacked on by HTC which makes matters only worse (and far more ugly). And don't tell me that some launcher will fix this - phones should work out of the box without fuss.

 

I guess I'll be sticking wit the iPhone for now. Jelly Bean looks compelling though. I hope we get some real hardware to run it (without skins). And yes, that's a Jelly Bean wallpaper.