Meet the X1, the biggest phone you've never heard of
HiSense, a Chinese-based and state-owned manufacturer best known for its range of white goods and other household electrical appliances, is planning to bring its X1 mobile device to the US later this year. With its 6.8-inch display, the device straddles the blurry phablet line between tablet and smartphone.
I had a chance to spend some time with the X1 at CES 2014 in Las Vegas last month, and since then HiSense has launched the huge phablet on China Mobile. Company representatives at CES said the handful-and-a-half of a device should make its way to the US this Northern summer (sorry, no word on other markets).
With its 6.8 in display, the HiSense X1 might as well be a Nexus 7 with a 4G radio (technically it is only compatible with HSPA+ networks in the US). Personally, that's a concept that I might be interested in – see my review of the just slightly smaller Samsung Galaxy Mega for more on that.
As huge phones like this haven't been catching on with consumers, top sellers like the iPhone 5S and Galaxy S4 have been getting bigger than their predecessors each year, and the X1 shows us what the logical progression of that trend could look like.
The form factor is still taller and more phone-like than a full-blown 7-inch tablet, so you'll only feel a little bit ridiculous putting this monster to your ear. The actual build of the phone feels a bit cheap with its all-plastic construction, but I was impressed by how crisp the 1920x1080 IPS display is.
The actual operation of the X1 was pretty slick, snappy and responsive as well, with a quad-core Snadragon 800 2.3 GHz processor much like what you'll find in many of the top flight phones of 2013. Those guts are backed up by 2 GB of RAM and a beefy 3,900 mAh battery. Other key specs include a 5-megapixel camera on the front and 13-MP shooter on the back, 16 GB of storage space and Android 4.3, although I was told it will ship with KitKat (4.4).
There's been some reporting that we could see the X1 offered through a few of the major American carriers. If not, it will be available unlocked under a different name as the "Sliver X1".
While I've been unable to confirm any details on price, HiSense considers the X1 to be a mid-range phone, which means it could be competing with the likes of the Moto X, which can be had unlocked for as little as US$329 at the moment. I doubt we'll see the X1 available for so little, but with more Chinese phone makers eyeing other major markets, and Motorola's recent sale to Lenovo, I think we can expect to see some new names getting some traction – but it's too soon to say if the X1 and other huge phones like it will ride that wave.