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HTC, Mobile Phones, Reviews
November 25, 2013 by Dan Nixon
UPDATE: After spending an extensive amount of time with the HTC One we have added our thoughts regarding the handset’s battery life. Click here to find out what we reckon.
The HTC One is the latest Android handset from the Taiwanese manufacturer and is aimed firmly at the flagship end of the market, featuring a stunning design, 1080p Full HD display and innovative UltraPixel camera.
Although HTC has always made great looking Android handsets with decent specs, the manufacturer has never really hit pay dirt in terms of sales. Even last year’s beautiful HTC One X never really got the public acclaim it deserved. Could the HTC One be the handset to remedy this lack of recognition and give the company a real contender in the high-end stakes? Read on to find out…
Design & Hardware
Straight from the off, the HTC One leaves no doubt that this is a handset that means business. An all-metal and glass construction complete with polished chrome edges result in a look and feel that is 100% premium. The device is also full of lovely little touches such as the precision machine-drilled speaker holes which really add to the flagship feel. There is the distinct air of Apple’s finest when viewed front on but the HTC One is arguably even better looking, particularly in the silver colourway.
The stylish luxury continues when picking up the device, with the curved rear and tapered sides resulting in a ultra-comfortable feel. It’s not particularly light or slim, being thicker and heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S III, but this bulk comes across as reassuring rather than cumbersome.
Dominating proceedings on the front of the handset is a 4.7-inch display and it’s only right that the screen takes centre stage because it’s quite frankly a bit of stunner. Operating at full 1080p HD, the display is every bit as good as the specs suggest, with a level of vibrancy and clarity that has never been seen before on a HTC handset.
Although it’s not huge, the screen is of a high enough quality to be a real joy to use – even watching a full movie on it isn’t going to give you a headache. In fact, the Sony Xperia Z aside, the HTC One’s sizzling screen is the best display currently available on an Android smartphone.
The story is the same when checking out still images and the outstanding sharpness really comes to the fore with high resolution images. Even browsing menus is a pleasure, with icons virtually jumping out of the display. If you were being very fussy you could argue that that the display is bit heavy on contrast (resulting in occasionally unrealistic colour reproduction), but that would just be nit picking.
The rest of the hardware spec on the HTC One is just as impressive as the display. At the beating heart of the device is a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor which is helped along by 2GB of RAM. These make navigating around the HTC One completely lag-free, whether undertaking serious multitasking or getting involved in processor-intensive gaming.
Storage is covered to thanks to internal space options of both 32GB and 64GB. Annoyingly though, there is no expandable microSD card storage, so if you fill the onboard space up, it’s only cloud storage from there on in. That said, the preinstalled Dropbox app is pretty well-integrated into the device, making uploading and sharing pretty much seamless.
In terms of battery life the device offers decent enough performance without being anything to write home about, with a full days use possible between charges when the handset is used moderately. In fairness, getting a full day out of one lot of juice when the phone has such an impressive screen and the constantly updating BlinkFeed is pretty good really.
Software & Multimedia
HTC has plumped for Google’s Android Jelly Bean as the operating system of choice on the HTC One, but the manufacturer has taken the radical step of introducing a totally new style of user interface.
Known as HTC BlinkFeed, the innovative bit of functionality brings together live news, social network updates and even image galleries, into one unified space. The interface itself is similar in design to something like Flipboard, with a heavy emphasis on images, and is fully customisable offering feeds from a number of news outlets and social networks including Twitter and Facebook.
To be fair, BlinkFeed might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It really is unlike anything seen within an Android device and does take a bit of getting used to. Thankfully, the traditional Android homescreen is available via a simple swipe to the left from the BlinkFeed screen. It is even possible to revert to using the usual Android/HTC Sense interface as your homescreen within the settings.
As is par for the course on all Android smartphones, all of the Google bits and bobs we have come to know and love are firmly in place on the HTC One. This means seamless integration with Google +, Gmail, Google Now and the beautiful Chrome web browser. It is also quite refreshing to see that HTC has not preloaded the handset with tons of useless bloatware, preferring instead to provide useful stuff like Car Mode and Dropbox.
HTC smartphones have always been equipped with pretty decent cameras, but the HTC One really takes things a step further with its brilliant snapper. The company has bravely moved away from the idea of megapixels, instead introducing its own UltraPixel technology. Without getting a too techy and yawnsome, this basically means that the sensor lets in more light and pixels are larger, which results in a higher quality image.
Whatever the geekery behind it, the UltraPixel camera is a total revelation. It manages to capture images with a level of sharpness and saturation that is pretty much unparalleled in the smartphone world. Without a doubt, this really is at the front of the smartphone pack for camera technology.
But it doesn’t end there with the HTC One’s camera capabilities. The strangely named HTC Zoe is an utterly bonkers yet amazing camera mode that grabs a 3-second burst of HD video and 20 photos every time your press the shutter button. These visual snippets, which HTC like to call ‘Zoes’, can then be edited to within an inch of their lives with the ability to do things that would previously be the preserve of expensive programs like Photoshop.
With just a few taps of the screen it is possible to stitch a sequence of images together, add lighting to an image or even enhance the skin and eyes of any faces in the image. While this may all sound outlandish, in practice it works like a dream and is so simple to use that even total novices will be able to grasp it quickly.
One of the most impressive features of HTC Zoe is the ability to erase elements from an image. For example, if you are trying to snap a lovely landscape image of somewhere picturesque and someone wanders across the scene, just a single tap will get rid of them from your snap. It really is that easy and really does that work that well.
Of course, you might want to keep your Zoe animated (no sniggering). This is entirely possible, giving you a little living photograph for you to keep in your gallery or even share via the HTC Zoe Share service.
If traditional video recording is more your bag, then the HTC One has this covered too with 1080p HD capture possible. Dual-capture is built right in so you can grab still images while recording and also included is a rather cool slow motion mode. To be totally honest, the video quality when shooting slo-mo is quite drastically reduced, but this doesn’t stop it being a fun little bit of functionality to mess around with.
As is now the norm with HTC smartphones, the HTC One comes complete with Beats Audio integration and as such, all audio output is optimised and EQ’ed up to the nines. Also included is a new technology dubbed ‘HTC BoomSound’ which essentially consists a pair of stereo speakers on the front of the handset for an improved audio experience. Unfortunately, the output, while certainly being loud, is somewhat tinny with very little bass response to speak of. Still, it is a big improvement on the usual tiny onboard speakers that most handsets have.
Performance & Verdict
The Android handset market place is a busy one at the moment, so the question to be asked is can the HTC One really force its way to the front of the crowd? Well, thanks to its exceptional build quality, gorgeous display and mind blowingly good camera, this is a device that has risen immediately to the very top of the class. BlinkFeed might be a bit of an acquired taste and ‘BoomSound’ is not as impressive as it appears on paper, but even these cannot stop the device being absolutely top notch.
Although the competition is getting ever hotter in the flagship Android arena, there can be little doubt that, in the HTC One, the Taiwanese company has created a device that is one of the best Android smartphones currently available.
Whats the battery life like
Hi there, thanks for getting in touch.
The battery life is a pretty standard representation of the average smartphone, with average use meaning it’ll last a day and heavy use less so.
Whilst not particularly impressive, it does well given the large demand of the Sense 5.0 Blinkfeed.
Hope this helps,
We need Battery Life tests……
This sounds like a good idea to me, I shall suggest it to the Phones 4u head honchos and see if we can’t get some knocked up.
I agree with Omar, because i want to compare it with samsung galaxy s4.
As no details of the Samsung Galaxy S IV have currently been released, we won’t be able to do any comparisons until the device has come out.
However, we will add the idea to our list and bear it in mind for some future content. Please let us know if you have any more.
i have pre ordered the htc one . When will it come?
The HTC One is scheduled for dispatch on 15 March, so not long to wait now!
Sample pictures from the camera plz
Hi Abdullah, thanks for getting in touch.
We are currently working on putting together a feature that will test all the top smartphone cameras at the same time. It’s very exciting but also top secret, so I’m not allowed to say any more at the moment.
Keep checking back though, as we’ll have plenty of camera info soon.
Hope this helps, Dan.
So again a nice phone with bad battery life ,typical HTC a they had many years to work on this problem but it appears they don’t want to,and then they wonder why their phones are not selling.
I have had my One for a week now and can say that the battery life is NOT bad. It is similar to other top of the range smart phones. There is always a trade off between battery size and phone bulk. Everyone wants slim phones, that fit nicely in the hand and the pocket., but also want decent battery life. The One has a good balance of size and capacity, for the capabilities of the phone. As the review says, Blinkfeed uses a constant amount of battery life. Guess what? You can turn that off. ALL flagship smartphones need daily charging when heavily used. Its a fact of life. And as to why HTC phones don’t sell?? The Isheep wont buy anything else, regardless of how good the Android phone is. Your comment demonstrates why HTC have a tough time selling top class phones……….. you, and many others, get an idea in your head and regardless of its accuracy, bring it up again and again. Read the reviews, battery life is good considering what the phone delivers.
I am glad that you are happy with the battery life ,can you compare it with your previous phone if possible ?.I am sorry if I gave the wrong impression but HTC is my favorite brand and I had the HTC one x and the HTC desire .one of the thing I like about HTC is that I do want something different that’s why I’ll never carry an iPhone or s3 and be like everybody else .I think the one x is still one of the best and most beautiful phones but I am a heavy user and was hoping the one would be the one!and you review brought some hope .
I’m really impressed with the HTC One with its build quality. But I still have a little concern on the aluminum unibody. Can it be easily scratched? If yes, how easily can those scratches be seen? Would the available protective cover accessories help by far?
Thanks for your question. The HTC One’s body is very scratch resistant and we were particularly impressed with how good it looked after taking a beating in our review!
Hey Dan N,
Thanks for your reply. I think I’m getting this phone definitely after hearing your reply. One question. Black or white? I’m having concern about the black one that if it were to be scratched, it’d show the silvery mark on the phone and that’d ruin everything.
HI Kimorsa, thanks for your question.
In terms of colour it really is down to personal preference. We’ve used the white variant a lot and really liked that, but the black one does look nice as well. We haven’t experienced any problems with scratching either, so as long as you look after your device this shouldn’t be an issue.
We suggest going in store and asking to see both, and then you could make an informed decision as to which you prefer.
Hope this helps, let us know if you need anything else.
Does it have a front facing camera?
Without a doubt this is the best smartphone HTC has ever released and it might just be the best Android handset ever...
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