Today we bring you a succinct review of the HTC One, released in March 2013. Yes it is true this isn’t a new device to review but it still has its place in the heart of Android users everywhere being that it was one of the first Android devices with an aluminium body and also brought an Ultra Pixel camera sensor and other top of the line specs. HTC thought the One was so good that they have revamped it with the M8 version, which we didn’t have the opportunity to test yet.
Design and Ergonomics
The body of the HTC One was crafted out of a single block of aluminium with some accents of polycarbonate here and there. This anodised aluminium then has some polished edges that connect the sides of the device with the glass on the front.
The HTC One is one of the best looking Android devices we have seen thus far, even after almost two years after it was first announced, and this is not only due to the build quality but also due to the curvature that can be found on the back of the device. This also makes the device feel well when you hold it.
This curvature is due to the fact that the largest components of the device are near the front while the smallest components are pushed back.
Although the One might be heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S4 for example, it is understandable due to its one of a kind aluminium body, and the difference is not that big, just 13 grams, the S4 weighs 130g and the One weighs 143g which is not too heavy to hold even for those of us who happen to have small hands.
The HTC One has a 4.7 inch Super LCD3 Full HD screen with a 469ppi pixel density with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 as protection.
Far from the usual 3 button setup the HTC One only has two capacitive keys and between them sits the HTC logo instead of the home key. Surrounding the top and bottom of the One’s display there are strips of aluminium that contain the BoomSound speaker grilles. These are there to offer the user stereo sound when watching movies or listening to music.
On the top right corner of the front of the One you can find the 2.1 MP wide angle front camera, on the opposite side of the grille you can also find the sensors and underneath the grille there is a notification LED.
The left side of the One is where the micro-SIM tray resides along with its ejection port. On the bottom you will find micro USB cable port and the mic. On the right side sits the volume rocker.
Finally on the top you will find the 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button near the left corner. But this is no ordinary power button, this button also doubles as an infrared transmitter.
The back of the HTC One is a beauty, without a doubt. There are two lines, one on the top and the other on the bottom that perfectly match the end of the 4.7 inch display. On the top line, there is a noise cancelling mic and on the center of this line is where you will find the 4MP rear camera.
As most you may have figured by now the 2300 mAh battery is not removable or accessible in anyway, and there is also no place for a microSD card, so you are bound to the 32GB or 64GB storage, so choose wisely when/if you buy it.
Besides the hardware we have talked about in the previous section there is much more under the hood of the HTC One that you should know about.
The HTC One is powered by 1.7 Quad Core Snapdragon 600 which is helped by an Adreno 320 fulfil all of your requests, and both of them have to work with 2GB of RAM. If you want to know more about the specifications please check our specification page for the HTC One.
The display of the HTC One sits well in all the areas we need to consider when working around device screens these days, color, viewing angles, brightness and readability in daylight.
Viewing angles are great as usual, very near the 180 degree mark, both vertically and horizontally.
When it comes to colour, the colours presented by this display are very good although the darks are not as rich as those we’ve seen for example in the Note’s 3 AMOLED screen. And finally reading what is on the screen while in direct sunlight is probably as good as it gets with this display.
Performance and Software
As most devices of its time the HTC One was released with Android 4.1.2 on board, and has since been upgradable to Android 5.0, so it still is current we just don’t know how long will HTC keep it that way.
When it comes to software the HTC One has the well-known HTC UI overlay Sense 5.
There are many differences between Sense 4 and Sense 5 and although most of them were a step forward in UI some of them were a step backwards. The most noticeable difference is change from a 3 button navigation to 2 button navigation since the menu button was removed. Users of the HTC One only have the back and home buttons to work with.
You can still access the recent apps by double tapping the home button. Of course that not having the menu key means that third-party apps have to show the virtual menu key somewhere and this seems like a step backwards.
All the while what we liked the least is BlinkFeed, which is the default homepage in Sense 5. This homepage is mainly focused on social networks. BlinkFeed won’t feature your emails or any other updates, just social network updates (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc).
A tab on the left will let you pick which feeds you want to see in the homepage. In case you don’t like to view this homepage when you unlock your device, just like us, you can change that just like you would in every other Android interface. Sadly there is no way to fully disable it so you will just have to endure having it occupy one of only 5 home screens.
There are not many pre-installed applications that you will find useless. So as usual here is the list of pre-installed applications:
- TuneIn Radio
- 7 digital
So Twitter and Facebook we all know, SoundHound is also well-known by letting you find the song being played. TuneIn Radio is as the name says a radio application that has the capability of keeping your favourite radio stations, browse radio stations that it can catch and so on.
KidMode allows you to give your phone to your children while being safe and knowing that they only play applications that are designed for kids.
7 Digital is a digital music store that allows you to download, sync and play your music everywhere you go.
Notes, as the name implies, allows you to take notes whenever you need them, these notes can be either written on hand drawn.
Finally, TV is an application that makes use of the infrared blaster found on the power button of the HTC One. It allows you to have several remotes and use them and changing between them with ease by just changing the selected remote in the drop down menu on the top left corner.
Not only that but much since it is powered by Peel it knows the major cable services available in several countries and thus is capable of telling you what is currently airing in each channel and so forth.
The HTC One, as we’ve said before, is equipped with a Snapdragon 600 which is the same chipset user both in the LG Optimus G Pro and the Asus PadFone Infinity. This is not something out of the ordinary since the Snapdragon 600 was the most powerful processor on the market as of the release of the HTC One which can be seen by the benchmark results that follow.
There were no slowdowns of any kind while we were testing the HTC One and certainly no slowdowns while playing games a while after. As usual we ran Real Racing 3, Dead Trigger 2 and Fruit Ninja.
You might think it odd that the HTC One only has a 4MP camera given that most manufacturers are increasing their camera’s pixel count every time they introduce a new flagship. So what is the difference you might ask, well the difference is what HTC called Ultra Pixels. Ultra Pixels mean that you grab a physically large sensor and then combine it with big pixels, capable of gathering more light than standard sized pixels.
The pixels of the sensor of the HTC One rear camera have 2 micrometers instead of the usual 1.1 micrometers, this means they are capable of absorbing 330% more photons than the usual pixels. Since that isn’t enough to excel in low light environments there is also a 28mm f/2.0 lends, a LED flash and optical image stabilisation.
Besides what is mentioned above HTC also took it upon them to develop a next-gen image signal processor that despite a lower megapixel count is capable of continuous autofocus in less than 200 miliseconds and real-time lens compensation, among other magnificent feats.
So don’t worry about the pixel count, take a look at the images and judge for yourself.
Lets not forget the frontal camera which comer with an f/2.0 wide-angle lends and is capable of capturing up to 1080p video.
When it comes to the camera UI the only thing that is missing is the capability of touching and holding the screen shutter button in order to focus, as this is not possible even when the burst-shooting mode is disabled.
Outdoor Video Sample:
Indoor Video Sample:
Indoor Low Light Video Sample:
Indoor Flash Video Sample:
Connectivity and Battery Life
The microUSB slot can be used not only to charge the battery and transfer data but can also transmit video and audio to an HDMI equipped TV, because it is MHL-compliant which gives it similar skills to a microHDMI connection.
It also has GPS, HSPA and Bluetooth, NFC and an Infrared Blaster.
The biggest issue we had regarding the battery drain is the 1080p screen this means that the battery drains pretty quickly and the only way to get two full days out of this battery will be to restrict connectivity when it is not needed.
Nonetheless if you are a regular user that only checks the email now and then and only browses the web for a little while each day the HTC One might be the device for you.
Although the HTC One was a great device when it fist came out, there are many other choices on the market right now, that are very similar to the One but with actual specifications such as the M8 and sooner than later the M9.
The One still has a lot of kick in it and bear in mind that the smartphone is almost 2 years old about now.
Review by: Cátia Sofia Ferreira @ AndroidEmotions