HTC One vs HTC One Google Play Edition (video)

July 16, 2013
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We've already taken a look at the HTC One Google Play Edition, but just how well does is stack up against the original One? Find out in our review.

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We’re looking at two great devices that may look similar on the outside, but are quite different on the inside. Yes, folks, this is the versus we’ve been promising you — the HTC One and HTC One Google Play Edition.

So, is one better than the other? Not really. It all comes down to preference, as the original One is running Sense 5, and the Google Play Edition is sporting vanilla Android 4.2. What are the differences? Read on to find out!

Design

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The HTC One is unique in that it is clad with aluminum, coming in two different colors — Stealth Black and Glacial Silver. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Stealth Black edition, but only the Glacial Silver model is available with the Google Play Edition.

The downside to the aluminum material is that it might easily slide in the hand, but looking at it from a positive stance, it feel well-built and sturdy in the hand. It’s a very different feeling from the plastic material of the Galaxy S4, and overall, it makes the 4.7-inch screen easy to handle.

Display

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Speaking of screens, both the HTC One and the Google Play Edition are 1080p performers rated at 469ppi. The LCD panels make Jelly Bean 4.2 looks gorgeous on the Google Play Edition, although the stock Android elements don’t quite jump out of the screen like they do on the Galaxy S4’s Super AMOLED panel. However, it’s a refreshing change from the darker tones of Sense 5.

The LCD display will be able to handle everything you throw at it. Whether it be work or play, everything will look sharp and vibrant, making for a great media experience.

Performance

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As for performance, the Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz is loaded in both editions of the HTC One. It’s backed by the tried and true Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM, effectively making sliding through home screens and using even intensive apps a breeze.

If you go with the original handset, Sense 5 and Blinkfeed is very fast, but the Google Play Edition does feel a little bit faster likely because of the OEM skin being stripped out to offer a pure, unadulterated, vanilla Android experience. Rest assured, however, that you’ll have a speedy experience with either device.

Hardware

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The hardware is, for the most part, the same story as performance, as the same specs in the original handset makes a return in the Google Play Edition. As you probably know by now, nothing is removable on the HTC One, and the same goes for the Google Play Edition.

Both handsets come with 32GB of onboard memory, though the original HTC One can be found in a 64GB model. The IR blaster makes a return in the Google Play Edition, but with everything being stripped out, you don’t get the built-in app to use it.

You get the awesome, front facing BoomSound speakers, and while most everything has been stripped out of the Google Play Edition, Beats Audio seems to have stayed along for the ride, tucked away in the Sound settings.

Camera and battery

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As you can see, not a whole lot has changed specs-wise in the Google Play Edition, and the same goes for the battery. You get the same non-removable 2,300 mAh unit, however, you do lose all of the power saving features found in HTC Sense.

Even with the power saving features being stripped out, I never saw a drastic increase or decrease in general battery life. Of course, if you really need power saving features to eek out that last bit of juice in your battery, there are a plethora of options available on Google’s Play Store.

Either way, you can be sure that Sense or Jelly Bean on the HTC One will get you through a good day of work, possibly even more than that, depending on how you use it.

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The camera is where things get interesting. A lot has changed here due to Sense 5 being replaced with the unadulterated, stock Android. In other words, you lose HTC Zoe that was found in Sense, along with a ton of other features. However, it isn’t all bad, as putting together video collages can be done through other apps available in the Play Store.

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However, if you prefer HTC’s flavor of putting together your pictures and videos, then the obvious choice is to go for the original One.

Looking at the camera app, there actually aren’t too many changes between the stock Android camera and HTC’s version. In either camera app, you’ll see that both interfaces use the entire screen as the viewfinder with button overlays.

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In the original HTC One, you have some filters and options for adjusting the ISO. The original stock Android camera app is more simplistic, opting for  just a few buttons on the side, and a touch and wipe interface using arches. Not only that, but you get HDR and some screen modes here, and of course, you get Photo Sphere, too.

As far as quality goes, the 4 Ultrapixels do their job pretty well either way. When zoomed out, you see that both of the pictures look largely the same and when you zoom far in, the story doesn’t change too much. If you look very closely you can see a little more sharpness and color depth in the original HTC One. These shots in the sun both looked nice and then in lower indoor ambient lighting, both pictures still looked comparable.

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I suppose it is best to say that the GPE performs just below the original HTC One, but in reality the Ultrapixels still do a good job of flooding light in for low light shots and producing good photos.

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Software

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And finally, we have the software. We’re going to start with the original, as it saw a big change with this new release due to an updated Sense UI. Even if based on Android 4.1.2, Sense 5 was a big upgrade that brings added BlinkFeed into the overall dark interface.

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Personally, I love BlinkFeed because it is easy on the eyes but is also a good built in way of getting your news and social media feeds. And if it is too much at once, you can always hunker down to just what you need. Of course, you can easily get to a more traditional Android interface.

The app drawer is a vertical scroll and you don’t get power widgets in the notification dropdown. Overall, the boxy look with rigid lines works well and Sense 5 is a very worthwhile upgrade.

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And now the Google Play Edition. The stripped down Jelly Bean stock Android operating system is on the menu here and works well on the attractive HTC One hardware. First off, I will admit that I got so used to Jelly Bean being devoid of extras that I overlooked Beats Audio. But it’s there, tucked away in the sound settings. Good on you, Google!

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There isn’t too much to say about the more simplistic Jelly Bean operating system, as you get your usual home screens, app drawer, and notification dropdown that does include the settings shade.

Luckily, the extras available in the HTC One can be replicated on the Google Play Edition — if you miss HTC Zoe, there are plenty of quirky camera apps in the Play Store. BlinkFeed withdrawals can be satisfied with the slew of aggregator apps, such as FlipBoard.

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Honestly, I don’t view this as too dramatic of a change. It comes down to how you want your interface to look and what few extras come with the HTC One — BlinkFeed and Zoe. Obviously the stock Android experience can be a little more user friendly because it provides less and BlinkFeed can have a small learning curve.

Video review

Price

Finally, we get to the price. The HTC One has been out for a few months, so it can be found for around the same price as the Google Play Edition — $599 unlocked.

htc one vs google play edition aa price

And so, there you have it. HTC vs HTC Google-fied. Like I said before, I don’t view this as too much of a dramatic change. Much of what the original One offered can still be taken advantage of in the Google Play Edition — and if you miss some of those apps included, you can always find alternatives in the Play Store.

In the end, it comes down to your personal preference, perhaps more here than ever. Stock Android works very well on this device and is a fine choice for anyone that is looking specifically for that experience. But for me? I like the original in Stealth-all-Black-everything.

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