This HTC One Review is one that have been yearning to do ever since this shiny sab of metal landed in my hands last week. If looks could kill, the HTC One would leave you dead in its tracks. As soon as I opened up that simple white little box, I was drooling over the minimal look of the one piece metal body. This gorgeous all aluminum smartphone from the former Taiwanese giant finally brings a premium look and finish over to Android. It is not a secret that HTC has been struggling over the past 2 years. The rise of Samsung, along with popular lower-end Android brands has done a ton of financial damage on the once thriving company.
Many thought things would turn around for HTC after unveiling the One X, One X+, One S, and One V last year. Although those were great devices, HTC was losing when it came to brand recognition. When Samsung pumps millions into marketing a Galaxy device, the bland One series stood very little chance. Now one year later HTC seems to have gotten things right. The One brings a unique all aluminum body with a 4.7″ crystal clear display to the table. This kind of build quality and style resemble Apple iPhone like quality, and not the traditional polycarbonate (plastic) found on Android devices. Let me tell you that after a week with this device it is truly more then just about looks. HTC have put together a true winner both inside and out on the One. The main question is however…can the One truly save HTC? In my opinion, it most certainly can. Check out my complete HTC One review below.
Hardware & Design:
Build- HTC has finally brought recognition to its smartphone by combining metal and glass in one sexy package. Everything about the One screams luxury and class when you pull it out. The moment the One exits your pocket it attracts attention. It makes the Samsung Galaxy line-up of phones look like plastic toys and the iPhone look like a mini-replica. The One not only looks good but feels great in the hand. The subtle curved backside makes it easy to handle and comfortable while on a call. Overall, along with the Sony Xperia Z this one of the best looking and feeling phones on the market. Build rating 10/10
Screen- The HTC One features a 4.7″ display with 469ppi which ultimately gives you the best display in the industry. Remember that the iPhone 5 has a 326ppi and the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in at 441ppi. I think HTC have done a wonderful job and I honestly feel that 4.7″ is the ideal size for a smartphone. Cramming a 1080p screen in a 4.7″ display makes every little detail just pop. Well done HTC. Screen rating 10/10
Sound- HTC adds dual speakers to the One (one above and one below the glass) which incorporate Beats Audio to the mix. HTC calls this speaker system BoomSound and the name is fitting. The speakers produce the best sound I have ever heard on a smartphone. Sound rating 10/10
Check out BoomSound in Action!
Camera- HTC has taken a huge gamble in the optics department by putting a small 4MP camera on a flagship device. Most consumers these days get focused on mega-pixels only, and not sensor size and image quality. Mega-Pixel has become a powerful marketing tool to many phone manufactures over the past few years. HTC has taken a no-nonsense approach by labeling their 4MP shooter an “UltraPixel” camera. This technology translates to fewer but larger pixels which allow more light into the sensor. HTC claims that is capture 300% more light compared to standard 13MP cameras on mobile devices. Overall I did find the camera to be great in low light situations. Pictures looked very clear but did seem to be lacking in rich color when I was in or under bright light. I will get more into the camera features in the software section of the review. For now, check out the images below to see the camera samples from the HTC One, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 2, and the iPhone 5. Camera rating 8/10
Photo taken with the HTC One~
Battery- The 2300mAh battery on the HTC is a non-removable one but does not lack in performance. I found the battery to be better than average as I spent a good portion of the day using the camera, social media apps, YouTube, and streaming music. The HTC one also has powersave mode which will drastically improve battery life. Powersave mode will automatically kick on your device when the battery gets dangerously low. I was on WiFi most of the time but I also used Google maps on my 45 minute commute home over T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42mbps. The battery held up extremely well and was at about 12% before I went to bed at around midnight. I have the T-Mobile version of the device and I am located in Boston which does not have LTE support yet. Using the phone over LTE will ultimately drain the battery faster. Overall I was pleased with the battery performance but I would always welcome a removable battery over a fixed one. Battery rating 8/10
Storage- The HTC One is available in both 32G and 64GB models. AT&T will have an exclusive on the 64GB model as Sprint and T-Mobile will have only 32GB models. The One does not have any option for removable storage via a microSD card slot. The 64GB model is also available directly through HTC as developer edition. 32GB and 64GB offer plenty of storage, but expandable memory is always welcomed on any Android handset. Memory rating 8.5/10
Extras- It has been a long time since I have seen a phone with an IR port. I honestly used to love flipping the TV channel with my old N95 8GB. The HTC One brings back the IR port which is embedded under the power/lock screen key via HTC Sense TV. To activate this feature locate the “TV” app on the phone. The guide will take you through the process of adding your hardware to the remote. I successfully added all my TV’s, cable boxes, and even my LG Soundbar. This is a nice little feature found on the One which can also be found on the Sony Xperia ZL and Samsung Galaxy S4. Funny how all the flagships are going back to IR. Anyway, it was a welcomed addition. Extras rating 8/10
Performance- Thanks to the 1.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset, the HTC One zips through each and every task with ease. The 2GB of onboard Ram along with the Andreno 320 GPU, will ensure web pages and videos load quickly and transition smoothly. So far I have had zero with any apps or website that have got in its way. Even when using my Slingbox app over HSPA+ the One took it with ease. Thus far the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 are two of the fastest phones I have ever used. Check out the quadrant standard test score below. Performance rating 10/10
Software and Features:
OS and User Interface- The HTC One runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean from the box. Although it is not the latest version of Android it does get the job done. HTC has incorporated their latest version of Sense on top of Android for a true HTC experience. HTC and Sense have been synonymous with Android ever since it launched on the HTC Hero back in 2009. Over the years many have grown to either love Sense or hate Sense. What I can tell you about Sense 5 on the HTC One is that is HTC’s best attempt yet. HTC has removed much of the Sense clutter and has added BlinkFeed to the party. Sense feels very light and mature compared to previous versions of the UI. Personally I was always a fan of the look of Sense but became frustrated as it became a memory hog. The biggest new feature in Sense 5 is BlinkFeed. Think of BlinkFeed as a modern flipboard for your homescreen. It is a content aggregator which pulls your social feeds, gallery, and calendar entries into one scrollable widget. The one catch with Binkfeed is that it cannot be turned off and has to be one of your 5 homescreens. I currently have it all the way to my left homescreen and barley look at it. This is my one gripe with Sense and the HTC One. I just want to turn BlinkFeed off and I can’t. Last up for software is what can be found in the camera, and its called HTC Zoe. HTC Zoe is essentially a 30-second video clip combined with 20 images. These Zoe’ bring your gallery to life with moving snippets. Zoe will also allow you to create unique highlight clips comprised of Zoe’s and still images. These clips can all be combined, edited, and synced to music to create professional style videos. Once produced, than can easily be shared to social media sites directly from your HTC One. I could honestly write a complete HTC One review just on the camera and Zoe. HTC has put a ton of R&D into the camera on both the hardware and software side. Overall the HTC One brings more than just gimmicky features to the table. Overall the new software features along with Sense integration feel professional and look very well polished. I would still probably go for a pure Vanilla Android experience over this since I cannot move BlinkFeed off my homescreen. Software and features rating 7.5/10
Buttons and Controls- HTC keeps the minimal theme alive with the limited capacitive hardware buttons. The One feature just a home key and back key with no search key to be found. Holding down the Home key will bring up Google Now, while double tapping it quickly will bring up recent apps. On the bottom of the device you will find the standard mini USB charge port. The top of the device will give you the power key and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The left side offers an iPhone style mini SIM card slot (HTC Tool included in the box), and the right side a sexy aluminum flush volume rocker. HTC has done a solid job with the controls on the HTC one. If I had one wish it would be to make the HTC logo become an LED notification light similar to that found on the Sony Xperia ZL. Buttons and controls rating 8/10
At the end of the day the question remains, should you buy the HTC One or something else? The HTC One brings a lot to the table that the competition does not. However it also lacks what others can offer. It is a give and take situation when comparing most smartphones these days. The main competition for the HTC One will be the Samsung Galaxy S4, Sony Xperia Z, LG Optimus G/G Pro, and the iPhone 5. Each of these competing handsets will offer something that the HTC One lacks. On the other hand the HTC One will give you something none of these phones have, and that is style and class. The HTC One may not be as zippy as the Samsung Galaxy S4, or waterproof like the Xperia Z, or carry the Apple logo. The HTC One will set you apart from the crowd with its stunning design and quality build. At the end of the day however it comes down to personal preference. What feature do you value more? Each of these devices offers something different than the other, and that something different may just be for you. For me, the One fits the bill just right.
Price and Availability:
The HTC One is available now from three of the four major carriers here in the United States (AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile). Verizon is said to get the device at a later time as it is currently supporting the HTC Droid DNA only. The HTC One is also available directly from HTC as an unlocked model in both 32GB and 64GB options.
AT&T: The 32GB model cost $199 with a 2 year service agreement or $599 without contract. The 64GB model will cost $299 on a 2 year contract or $649 contract free. AT&T is also set to have the device in the black color later this year.
Sprint: The HTC one at Sprint is available in both silver and black colors but only in the 32GB storage option. The device will cost $99 on a 2 year contract to new customers only. Upgraders will pay $199 with a 2 year service extension. The phone is also available contract free for $549.
T-Mobile: The new un-carrier plans from T-Mobile bring the One to the big magenta for only $99 down. The remainder of the balance is paid off by forking over $20 per month for 24 months (interest free). The One is also available to be paid fully upfront for $579. The One on T-Mobile comes in the 32GB silver color variant.
HTC: HTC offers up the One contract free both in 32GB and 64GB options via their online store. The 32GB version cost $574, while the 64GB developer edition cost $649.
The HTC One is by far the best smartphone ever made by HTC, and probably the best Android phone currently on the market. HTC has always produced fantastic hardware and it seems this time around they have really stepped up their game. For the little features it lacks it makes up for in quality of hardware and style. The superiority of the display is second to none and the camera with HTC Zoe has a ton to offer. HTC BlinkFeed may not be for everyone but it is starting to grow on me the more use it. Every so often I find myself creeping to that last screen where I threw it onto just to check my updated feed. At the end of the day I guess I am truly a sucker for a lightning fast piece of luxurious metal hardware. Pulling out the unibody all aluminum eye-catching HTC One from my pocket each and every day has finally solved my craving for owning a true premium Android device. HTC One rating 9/10
HTC One Video Review