Telstra’s 4G network is a wondrous beast. Lightning quick speeds make mobile internet browsing a joy using a 4G dongle. But if you were after a 4G phone, there hasn’t been a true standout… Until the HTC One XL.

The HTC One X is easily a contender for handset of the year, combining state of the art hardware with a sleek design that is a joy to use. The One XL is the same phone on the outside, with the same HD screen, same amazing camera and same slick user interface.

The difference between the two is 4G. Where the One X comfortably works on 3G and HSPA networks, the One XL is capable of accessing Telstra’s super-fast LTE network.

To do that, the engineers had to make a sacrifice – and it’s amazing that they only had to make the one. In order to enjoy the faster speeds of 4G without destroying battery life, the One XL features a dual-core processor instead of the quad-core chip inside the One X. Theoretically, you might think that will make the One X a superior handset, but in reality, the difference is minor at best.

In many cases, the One XL’s superior download speed makes it feel faster than the One X, especially when using internet-connected apps like Facebook and Twitter. There’s no really noticeable difference in speed in day to day operations on the dual-core processor, which gives it a serious advantage over the One X for anyone other than the nerdiest of phone geeks demanding the latest hardware.

The dual core/4G compromise also strikes a good balance in terms of battery life. We got through most of the day with the One XL with moderate use, which was about the same as the One X. Not quite as much as Samsung’s Galaxy S III, but still competitive enough to make it useful for road warriors. If you’re a hardcore smartphone user, you’ll probably need to carry around your charger, but that can be said of so many smartphones today.

So when it comes down to it, is it better to get the One X or the One XL. Honestly, it will come down to your location. If you live and work in a capital city, the 4G speeds from Telstra’s LTE network are well worth the asking price. Rural customers won’t enjoy the same speeds, although it is worth noting that the One XL is the first 4G handset to get the Telco’s “Blue Tick” stamp of approval for reception in remote areas.

Either way though, you’re going to end up with a spectacular handset.

Price: $6/month on a $59 Freedom Connect plan over 24 months
Web: HTC