After a series of well designed phones that nonetheless were poor sellers, HTC has adopted an all-or-nothing approach with its latest flagship, the somewhat confusingly-named HTC One. Does the One have what it takes to bring the company out of its slump? Read on to find out.
In a hurry? Check out our video review or jump to the conclusion at the bottom of the article.
We got our first look at the HTC One back in February when HTC officially unveiled it at dual events held in New York and London. As cool as that may be, those events aren’t necessarily the best way to get a good feel for a new device. Still, I was quickly impressed with the phone’s specs and design, and was looking forward to the day that I got to spend some, ahem, one-on-one time with the One.
With its aluminum body and sleek, clean lines, the HTC One holds up to the company’s reputation of excellent build quality, and then some. At 143 grams, it’s not the lightest phone we’ve seen, but the solid feel on such a thin device is worth the trade off.
It’s clear that HTC spent a good deal of time thinking over the design elements of the One. Looking over the device, you can see clear inspiration from earlier models bearing the One name, as well as the Butterfly / Droid DNA. The phone is a great fit in the hand. It might not seem it, but the slight step down in size from the Droid DNA is all it takes to make the HTC One a breeze for one handed operation. That said, with all this attention to design, the power button is in an even stranger spot than it is on many other HTC phones: on top of the device, on the left side.
At first, I wasn’t sure that the BoomSound HTC was heavily hyping would be anything worth paying attention to, but this is by far the most impressive sounding phone I’ve encountered. While Beats Audio is still going to be a turn off for audiophiles, it really works here, lending a thick, substantial sound to the HTC One’s speakers. For music, you’ll probably still want headphones, but for movies or games, you’ll be just fine with the speakers, assuming you won’t draw the ire of those around you by using them.
The HTC One’s display is quite possibly the best we’ve seen in an HTC device to date. At a resolution of 1920 x 1080 spread across 4.7 inches, the pixel density is a whopping 468 ppi, aka. incredibly sharp. Unless you’re looking at a low quality or low resolution source, it’s pretty much impossible for anything to look objectively bad on this screen. Text and icons show no sign of aliasing, and colors pop vividly. With Sense 5′s new text-heavy, minimalist interface, the sharpness is especially apparent.
One minor downside is that, at least on the unit I tested, the brightness wasn’t able to stand up to glare from sunlight or other bright light sources. With a glossy fingerprint-magnet finish on the screen, this was a problem that popped up more than once. Carry around a microfiber cloth and you’ll be far better off, but it’s something to be aware of.
With its Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset, nobody was expecting the HTC One to be a slouch in the performance department, and benchmarks certainly didn’t provide any surprises here. Running my standard AnTuTu test, using the average of three runs, I wound up with a final score of 24,258. Epic Citadel provided similarly impressive numbers, producing framerates of 56.7 FPS in High Quality mode, and 57.9 FPS in High Performance mode. Considering that the benchmark is updating 2,073,600 pixels that many times per second, it’s fairly impressive.
Of course, when we actually use our devices, we don’t just sit around and run benchmarks all day (most of us, anyway). Luckily real-world performance proved to be speedy as well. Even though rapidly flipping through homescreens is something people don’t usually do unless they’re very, very bored, I still noticed no hitches while doing this. Launching apps was very fast, and every single game I tried ran like a dream.
I did notice during the benchmarks that the device would get warm after a while, but certainly not as warm as the HTC One X+, for example.
The HTC One runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and, of course, HTC Sense 5. Sense has its share of fans and likely many more who would just prefer stock Android, but the good news is that whether you like it or not, Sense 5 is the least obtrusive version of Sense to date. Well, unless you count BlinkFeed.
BlinkFeed is essentially a homescreen replacement that eschews the standard icons and widgets approach for news items and social media update. Strongly influenced by the likes of FlipBoard and Windows Live Tiles, its goal is to pull a wide variety of information into one easily accessible space. I can certainly imagine that there are people who are going to love this feature, but I’m also sure that there are many, like me, who would rather just open an app or two to access the same information. Right now, the sources available for BlinkFeed are somewhat limited, but it seems likely that if the new approach takes off, others will become available.
For the rest of Sense 5′s updates, it seems that the general focus was on cleaning up the interface and adding small but useful tweaks. My personal favorite is the ability to have a custom app drawer layout, including folders for groups of apps. I’m sure anyone out there with pages and pages of apps will at least want to try this out if they haven’t already.
As no carriers had gotten their paws on my review unit, it was thankfully mostly bloatware free, but I wouldn’t expect it to be that way if I was buying one via the retail route. HTC has included a few apps like a Flashlight and Voice Recorder, as well as its TV app, which essentially combines a channel guide and remote control, complete with IR, so no need to dig through the couch cushions if you can’t find the remote.
It’s impossible to talk about the camera in the HTC One without talking about UltraPixels. So, what are they? Well, HTC’s reasoning is that it isn’t about how many megapixels you have, it’s what you do with them. So they cut the amount of pixels per photo, but instead use a sensor that captures more light per pixel. This, theoretically at least should lead to a host of cool features like improved low-light performance.
So, how does it work? Well, HTC is right in at least one regard: low-light performance is very nice. I also noticed that in heavily contrasted, like those with a subject in front of a bright light, the resulting image was less of a blown out mess than it would be with many other cameras. Does this mean that the HTC One’s camera is the best smartphone camera ever? Well, no. Photos are definitely very nice, but I’ve seen similarly nice looking photos taken on a wide range of cameras, and those do often have a higher megapixel count.
The 1080p video captured by the rear-facing camera (the front-facing camera records 1080p as well) is very much in the same boat. The video captured can be very nice, and the HTC One allows HDR video recording and 60 FPS recording, but the general image quality of the video isn’t far and away the best video I’ve ever seen.
There’s something else that it’s impossible not to mention when talking about the camera: HTC Zoe. Zoe is a novel new capture tool that simultaneously takes short videos and multiple images. In addition, when you engage Zoe mode, the HTC One starts running a constant buffer, recording in the background so that when you press the shutter button, it actually captures one second before you pressed the button.
In addition to all this, the HTC One features a host of different options like Sequence Shot, which uses Burst Mode to superimpose multiple images of the subject in motion on a single background, and a feature to remove unwanted guests from photos.
At 2,300 mAh, we’ve certainly seen batteries with higher capacities, but at least the previous generation of Snapdragon processors was very efficient, so how does the HTC One’s battery hold up? That’s an interesting question.
During heavy testing, the battery ran out after just a tad over 5 hours. Curious, I ran the AnTuTu Tester battery test, which scored the HTC One at 472, reporting a capacity of 18% at 5:55. So under heavy strain, the battery life isn’t as impressive as some other devices we’ve seen. That said, during normal use, the story was completely different. After a long day of frequent use, the One still had over 30% battery when I finally called it a night and plugged in the charger.
Unfortunately, the battery isn’t replaceable. Batteries last longer than they used to, but it’s still disappointing, though understandable in this case, given some of the HTC One’s design elements.
In the end, with the HTC One, the company has combined a gorgeously designed, well built phone with a “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” approach when it comes to the included software. The end result? A solid, well performing phone that does an awful lot really well, while only occasionally missing the mark.
According to HTC, they’re getting a lot of pre-orders, which would appear to indicate that there are some people out there getting excited about the One. So what about you? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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what do you mean by frequent use? does that mean 4 hours of screen on time or 5 hours or even more? can you be more specific?
4 hours of solid Asphalt 7 used 40-50% battery.
“The end result? A solid, well performing phone that does an awful lot really well, while only occasionally missing the mark.” Is this the review conclusion, of maybe the best phone made till today?
Please video review HTC BoomSound
Boomsound is class mate, but even on the lowest sound wen ur phone rings every1 will know haha. Amazing 4 games and vids.
I think the phone is amazing and u say about the finger prints I think ur so wrong because I hardly ever hav to clean my one and it’s by far the best screen ive had for finger prints. The battery lasts a day easy and I never hav it outa my hand. As ive said many times on here if u want 1 now please get the phones 4 u stores phone numbers and ring them asap they might still hav them in. Ive had mine over a week now so don’t believe that the uk has not got them yet because phones 4 u have. Ps once you hold this phone in ur hand :) :) :) SOLD :) :) :) I’m not joking people. And the price is 489.95 sim free which is 1 of the cheapest places to buy. Good luck all
Where’s the best pace to buy it? And at that price?
Best place is phones 4 u because u can get it now,Give them a ring the mara because u mite get it. If ur looking it sim free its 479 in 3store but its not out there just yet but 4 the xtra 10er u can get it sim free at phones 4 u or get it free on contract and all get a free case thing. U wont regret getting it mate coz I’m still so excited about using mine and its over a week old. Good luck.
will be my next phone when my contract ends this october. I’m happy to not-so-latest technology as my HTC OneX (running cm10.1 and have tried sense-based ROMs too) is still very smooth for old tech.
The HTC One has a Lithium Polymer battery. That’s why it has lower capacity but it suffers much less degradation than the cheap Li-ion batteries that other manufacturers like Samsung use.
good point. i heard that the li po battery doesn’t loose charge overtime and last more than the life of the phone. IMO battery looks just fine based on reviews I have read so far. htc one over s4/iphone 5/5s everyday.
li-pol have smaller capacity than same size li-ion? since when?
A bit of a vague review, it feels as if you are saving your superlatives for the S4….
…this is simply the best Android GSM ever. Specs, design, ergonomics…i could go on. It is a iPhone created by a company that refused tot panic (see last years sales figures) and set itself the simple task of creating a wonderful piece of tech. Unfortunately for HTC their marketing department was sleeping while they toiled away. Thus we now have the best phone being sold by the worst marketing division known to man. Sadly this will be another fail. It will also be my next phone, running apex launcher of course.
So let’s help HTC market this great phone by being positive and applauding an audacious new product of real beauty…
HTC has already stated it will double marketing. With that and the combined pre registrations I optimistically think this One may be the success HTC so desperately needed.
I for one am rooting for this phone (no pun)! As soon as I get mine, I’ll show it off to my Samsung and iPhone friends and then watch them drool!
I’m SOOOO bummed that I was SOOO fed up with Samsung that I got the HOX+ and didn’t have enough patience to wait for this bad boy. I’m not displeased with the HOX+, BUT, damn, I would have gobbled this up in a heartbeat. Keep up the great work HTC, hope this is your year to make a turn around.
1-sell One X+
POOR CAMERA AND POOR BATTERY!
Ah The battery life which is better than the S4 according to GSM Arena? or the Best performing camera in terms of low light performance with great normal condition image? troll more!
I think its you that sounds like the troll actually… The camera on the HTC is a completely new and unproven camera technology introduced on a mobile device. The battery life IS NOT better than the S4 either as in some tests the HTC was lower that the GS4 and visa versa. Plus of course, you can remove the battery on the S4… can you do that on the HTC? No (i wish you could) Benchmarks for the S4 also best the HTC and the S4 has (IMO) a far superior 5″ Super HD AMOLED display. I definitely like the front facing speakers and design of HTC, but instead of us arguing within the android community, we should be promoting both phones over the like of the iPhone 5 and Windows phones
I’m not trolling, unless you are talking about standby times, the One battery is better than the S4 on usage : internet navigation the One trumbs up the S4 by over an hours 20min or something like that where as to video watching and gaming the S4 wins by 10min for me that’s better battery life for me than the S4 of course we are talking about under usage, the S4 has a much better standby rating but we are the same thing….
And what if you can remove the battery? when it is discharged what can you do if you remove it eat it? unless you buy a back up battery that will work with that phone alone it is a useless feature (LG PRO comes with a spare out of the box), on the other hand if you buy a mobile chargers which will cost as much as spare battery and you can use if with any phone and other device, and you don’t need to turn your phone off to use it, if you are in a middle of an important call or sending pro emails, you just plugged and you have the juice.
Sure you like the Amoled screen better and I can’t argue with that, but objectively speaking, the One screen beats the S4 screen in every category except white and black contrast. In benchmark from what I saw so far in every video test both phones are put next to each other the One wins, you might argue is not final software and probably the S4 will get a slightly better score, but seriously with that much power the S4 still lags when it comes to it home screens….. We will see if that will be fixed by launch but right now it’s just meh…..
I’m not against the S4, it’s a good phone, what I’m against is people trashing the One just for the sake of it and they are fanboys
I was all set on buying the HTC One X last year. The non removable battery and lack of SD Card had me sitting on the fence. When I saw the reports of the gimped multitasking, I got off the fence and bought the S3. To make matters worse, they locked the bootloader! HTC basically lost a sure sale.
The One still doesn’t have an SD card, but at least they have 32GB on board RAM now. On my S3, I have a 32GB class 10 Micro SD card that I’m using with Directory Bind to prevent running out of internal storage. 3 games take up 7GB. Titanium Backup takes 3+ GB. Nandroid backups take another 5 GB. Chrome and Google Music Cache and my camera images take up a lot of memory. It’s really stupid on HTC’s part to not have an SD Card.
But the worst thing is the lack of removable battery. For $10, I bought an external charger and 3 batteries on ebay for my S3. I rarely use it. But every once in a while, I forget to charge the phone overnight or use it very heavily and the backup battery I always carry with me has proven to be a life saver. The HTC Inspire had a great feel without sacrificing a removable battery. Battery technology is still not good enough and if they wanted to keep it non removable, they should at least have gone the Razr Maxx route and added a 3300 mAh battery.
I haven’t read anything about the multi-tasking. Is it still “operating normally to enhance customers’ experience” or does it now follow the stock Android model? How about the bootloader?
The S4 was a complete disappointment, Moto keeps releasing rubbish phones. The Nexus phones have a great price, but slightly behind the curve in specs and the lack of SD cards is aggravating and given Google’s web only push, unlikely to change. The HTC is agonizingly close to a simply awesome phone and yet so far for me.
32GB on board RAM??are u high??
i dont have 32 gb on my pc….lol :P
LOL. Right. 32GB storage :-)
Try GoBackup PRO instead of Titanium!! :-)
I absolutely agree.. if only HTC would go back and identify why they were so popular back in 2010/2011… I will tell you, they had removably battery and expandable storage. Until they address this, I simply can’t buy one. I actually like the GS4 TBH and i’m looking forward to seeing how it feels in the hand.
i currently have s3 and if i playing game or surf the web continuously for 2 hours. the battery is 0%. how you guys got 4-5 hour continuous screentime? if this HTC one is better than 2 hours, I’m good.
Really.. My GS3 lasted me a whole day and I’m a heavy user. You saying you get 2 hrs is just BS mate
That’s a bold face lie! I have the Note2 and my battery last about 5 to 6 hours with heavy use. Not sure what you Institute as heavy use. Anyways, the battery in the Note2 is superior to the battery in the S111. It’s funny how Sammy drool’ers never seem to tell the truth.
The battery performance isn’t surprising. Sense has always been very aggressive about limiting battery use while the phone’s idle, e.g. by closing background apps that other versions of Android would leave running. So it isn’t any more efficient while you use the phone, but it drains slower when you’re not. For most people, that means it actually does pretty well in the real world.
Kristofer,you stupid fuck,what cellphone have better camera? Tell us about that mystery device with breathtaking video:D I really love this kind of bullshits on this server:D
LOL truth is out on this one. watch this guy. S4 with it larger battery only slightly beat the htc one in video playback and talk time (we talking about 2% which is nothing). but the HTC one handily beat out the s4 (15%) and everything else including the note 2 in web browsing test. massive win for HTC one here. I tend to think most people do web browsing or read something on their phone than making call or watch video all day. even if they watch video or making call all dady, the htc one and s4 are pretty much neck and neck. so there you have it, htc one is excellent in battery life and real world useage most likely will beat out the s4. link to battery test below.
Almost every review I have been reading has at best average battery life. e.g. http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/11/4086390/htc-one-review. Check the update. Or http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_galaxy_s4_vs_htc_one-review-913p3.php
For a non-removable battery that’s not good :-(
lol? Theverge review is bad, because they didn’t use any metric to measure batterylife and posted the review in less than 36hrs after receiving the phone (to be first website to post a One review) and from GSMArena the One battery life is better than the S4! not matter how I look at it, when the S4 is ahead the difference is a matter of couple of minutes when the One is ahead is at least an hour and more.
Also if you are a power user why would you want a removable battery? get a mobile charger that you can use with your current and future device where as the battery will be only for one phone, not to mention you have to turn off your phone to put it on where as if you are in a middle of an important call or emailling you just plug the mobile charger
I am a power user, and I prefer a removable battery (they are smaller and I can fit them into my wallet unlike a mobile charger). So what, I have to turn the phone off, big deal. If i’m in the middle of an “important phone call” I would just say “My battery is low, let me call you back in 30 seconds whilst i replace the battery” Personally, I really like the HTC One and genuinely hope its a comeback for them, however I just wish the would go back to basics when they were successful and manufacture their phone with expandable storage and removable batteries… simple really
Removable battery… enough said
Tandy Double Sided Certified Diskettes ?
Best smartphone ever!!! :-) At last, Apple has a new enemy. :-)
Not an enemy but a conqueror!
If you can go off last gen allow me.
I have the OneX and S3 in my house (S3 is mine)
The reviews said the OneX screen and S3 screen are very similar, WRONG, the One X blows the S3 away. Sure they are both great but the One X is so much brighter with better viewing angles. (Frankly the S3s screen doesn’t go bright enough, my original Galaxy S was brighter)
They said battery life was similar or the S3 had it, WRONG, the One X may have a smaller battery but it defiantly lasts longer. For the S3 to last a whole day you have to have it on power save with the lowest screen brightness.
Still these make no difference because the guys in the HTC board room flatly refuse to do anything about SD cards or removable batteries. If I had to take a shot I’d say their thought process would be along the lines of ‘It will compromise our design integrity’. Of course their sales figures prove their smarts. Put an SD card slot in their, a removable battery and get rid of those marketing monkeys for some new ones who know what their doing, unlock your bootloader and restore HTC to it’s glorious past.
Until then though looks like its sammy or some other brand for me and most of the android phone buyers. Batteries and SD cards HTC… BATTERIES AND SD CARDS.
Agreed, but i do prefer AMOLED technology on the Samsungs
I am in awe of the HTC One, and cannot wait until I have one in my hand. It is the definition of innovation, craftsmanship and quality!!!
My past 3 phones have been from HTC — love them…currently I’m using the HTC Evo 4G LTE — but I want to switch my Evo for an HTC One…
A very flat review, it feels as if you are bored with the phone, uninterested, and in need to finish the writing because someone is shouting at you to go out.
And this is for the possible best Android phone until now.
Luckily, there is sites like AnandTech, thats goes deep, and show all the strongs and weaks…
Beautiful amazing phone! But I’m not getting it…because I’m on Verizon.
Um…where is the demonstration of the sound quality you were touting? 8 and a half mins and you couldn’t play some music?
HTC one is an awesome all around phone
HTC ONE ,
WILL BE MY NEXT PHONE
I was an iPhone user for four years in a row, always had the latest model in my pocket. This year though, I bought 2 HTC One developer editions for me and my wife. As a former iphone user I realized three things;
1- Yes HTC one has a great built quality, but I would score it 90 where iPhone 5 gets 100 (devil is in the details).
2- But it justifies itself with its price tag. 64 GB iphone 5 is what $850? 64 GB one costs $650!!!
3- ios was getting sooooo boring, I love how android developed itself over time and how customizable it is. And within android smartphones, HTC one feels the best…
PS. there is no way for me to go back to iPhone unless they come up with a larger screened factory jailbroken device.
Smartphonecashin definitely pays the highest values from all the cell phone trade-in programs.
It will be better to generalize this product to all countries, because I see no reason why other product with less features and low qualities are officially sold nation wide. I got HTC one xl 16gb still love it very much, I m a phone trader in Nigeria. I sold more of HTC android mobile more than any other in the past 6months now cause of the feature it has. And also I will be very grateful if HTC corp could just try and give a try to the marketing of this product in Nigeria like the Samsung and LG including Sony which I never saw the reason to be the most acquired devices. Here is my Identification if you need more articles on product marketing and branding, http://www.facebook.com/westernwest.
Thanks with love for HTC mobiles
Best phone ever
well, the plus is aluminum body and the audio quality when compared to the same range mobiles. Minus is the Camera, They would have put an 8Mp rear camera as all same range mobiles. Still, It is a good pick though..