|Introduction And Specifications|
After some delays in manufacturing, the highly anticipated HTC One smartphone is officially here. Although this high-end smartphone has not received the same amount of buzz as Samsung’s much-hyped Galaxy S 4, the One has many compelling features that will give Samsung some serious competition among savvy consumers.
The HTC One features a full-metal, zero-gap unibody design along with a number of software features that set the phone apart, including a new home screen with HTC BlinkFeed, and HTC BoomSound which combines front-facing stereo speakers with dedicated amplifiers and Beats Audio integration.
HTC also incorporated a unique camera sensor and software into the HTC One. With the HTC UltraPixel Camera and HTC Zoe, you’ll get the ability to capture high-resolution photos and video in various lighting situations and the software on the device offers some cool editing features not found on other phones.
As the flagship smartphone in HTC’s line-up, the One features a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor along with 2GB of RAM. The phone is available in both 32GB and 64GB models, depending on your carrier. There is no microSD expansion card slot, so the onboard storage is all you get. The phone also features a vibrant 4.7-inch full HD 1080p screen with an ultra-high pixel density of 468 ppi. Out of the box, the One runs on Android 4.1.2 with HTC Sense.
The HTC One is currently available from AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. You can also pick up the HTC One from a number of retail stores nationwide. In this review, we’ll take a hands-on look at the HTC One from Sprint. Our handset came in silver; a black version for AT&T and Sprint with 32GB of storage will also be available.
|Design and Build Quality|
When you pick up the One, you can tell HTC put some serious time and effort into designing a phone that feels solid and rich. The handset features a full-metal, zero-gap unibody design with a curved back and rounded edges. The One’s silver finish, black glossy screen, and white detailing and edges give the phone a high-end look you won’t find on many other phones. While we like the look of the One’s all metal design, we should point out that this smooth finish will slide out of your hand more easily than some of the soft rubberized finishes found on other phones.
The HTC One measures 5.4 X 2.7 X .37 inches and weighs 5 ounces, making it one of the heavier phones in today’s market. Still, it’s a nice phone to hold and if you’re used to putting one of today’s other large-screen smartphones in your pocket, you shouldn’t notice a huge difference with the One.
The One features a 4.7 inch Full HD 1080p display with 468 PPI. Above the display, you’ll find a proximity sensor, indicator LED, earpiece, and 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera. Below the display, you’ll notice Back and Home keys on either side of the HTC logo. The One’s front-facing stereo speakers with built-in amplifiers are located above and below the display.
The left edge of the One houses the SIM card tray along with an eject hole. On the right edge, you’ll find the silver volume rocker. The base of the phone houses the microUSB 2.0 port along with a microphone. A Power button and 3.5mm headset jack are housed on the top edge of the phone.
When you flip the One over, you’ll find the HTC UltraPixel Camera along with an LED Flash. This camera features a 4 megapixel sensor that HTC claims is capable of capturing 300% more light than most leading 13 megapixel cameras. This is possible because the sensor on the One actually has a larger area per pixel. Don't be fooled into thinking the 4MP sensor on this phone is somehow lower-end than the 8MP or 13MP ones found on some other devices. The camera also features HTC's ImageChip processor, an f/2.0 aperture, and optical image stabilization technology. We’ll take a closer look at what this camera can do in the coming pages.
Although it looks and feels very nice, one of the downfalls to having a zero-gap unibody design is that you can’t replace the battery in the HTC One. You may also notice that the One lacks a microSD card slot for additional storage. These two features may not be deal breakers, but they’re definitely something you’ll want to be aware of, especially if you’re torn between the 32GB and 64GB model.
The main home screen on the One features HTC BlinkFeed, which pulls content from various sources into a single feed. You can customize BlinkFeed to include content from various news sources, social media accounts, calendar, photos, TV listings, and much more. BlinkFeed can pull content from more than 1,400 media sources globally. When viewing BlinkFeed, swipe upwards to see additional stories and photos. You can tap on a story to view more information.
In addition to the main home screen, the One comes with two additional home panels stock. You can add an additional two panels, however, for a total of five home screens should you so choose. HTC also includes a number of widgets for home screen customization. Some of these widgets control your power and data functions while others provide easy access to Facebook, Twitter, and other application-related functionality.
Thanks to the One’s front-facing stereo speakers with a dedicated amplifier and Beats Audio integration, this phone is well-equipped to provide an excellent multimedia experience for watching movies and listening to music. Indeed, the front-facing speakers sound much better than many run-of-the-mill speakers we’ve seen on other smartphones.
HTC BlinkFeed customization options
Given the fact that this smartphone is designed to offer an excellent multimedia experience, we were a bit disappointed HTC didn’t integrate a kickstand into the One. Although few of today’s phones offer a kickstand, HTC has offered one on previous phones that has been functional without detracting from the device in any way. It’s a minor thing of course, but something we feel would have been a nice touch to add to the One.
HTC also includes HTC Sense TV with the One. This interactive program guide makes it easy to figure out what’s on TV and can also serve as a remote control for most TVs, set-top boxes, and receivers. When you tap to view information about a show, you will see information about upcoming episodes as well as a season guide. You can also add the series to your calendar so you don’t miss an episode.
HTC One Apps
Recognizing that conversations are a key part of any phone, HTC has developed Sense Voice to help provide clear conversations even in loud, crowded environments. The One features dual built-in microphones that can detect loud ambient noise. When loud ambient noise is detected, the phone will dynamically boost the in-call voice to compensate. The phone’s dual microphones also assist when capturing HD video to provide clean, rich sound.
Call quality on the One was as good if not better than most other phones we've reviewed. While speaking outside with a running lawn mower in the background, the people we spoke with said we came through loud and clear. In fact, they said they didn’t even hear the background noise. We had no problems hearing the people we were speaking to throughout the call. Overall, we were very satisfied using this phone to make and receive calls.
HTC Sense TV
HTC has placed many of the apps that come with the One into folders on the App screen. For example, in the Media folder, you’ll find Watch, YouTube, Play Movies & TV, Music, Play Music, TuneIn Radio, FM Radio, and SoundHound. The Google folder houses your standard set of Google apps including Chrome, Gmail, Google, Google+, Talk, Messenger, Navigation, Local, News & Weather, and Voice Search. In addition to these apps, the One comes with a number of other apps such as Car, Stocks, Dropbox, PDF Viewer, Kid Mode, Qualcomm Enhanced Location Service, Shopper, and others.
The HTC One comes with the HTC Sense keyboard as well as Swype.
During use, the back of the phone tends to get hot. It’s not so hot that you can’t hold the phone comfortably, but you’ll definitely notice it. The warmest spot is in the center of the device, presumably just above the SoC.
|Camera And Battery Life|
The HTC One is the first smartphone to feature HTC’s new UltraPixel Camera. Although pixel count cannot be ignored when comparing cameras, there are many factors that affect the ability to capture good pictures other than just the number of megapixels. HTC’s UltraPixel Camera features a 4 megapixel sensor. But according to HTC, this sensor is capable of capturing 300% more light than most leading 13 megapixel cameras.
Another key feature of the UltraPixel Camera is the use of HTC ImageChip which enables continuous autofocus, color shading, noise reduction, and a more realistic High Dynamic Range feature. The camera features an aperture of f/2.0 and optical image stabilization technology as well.
HTC also includes a feature known as Zoe with the UltraPixel Camera. When Zoe is enabled, the camera automatically takes a series of photos and a three second video to give you a living photo of the moment. Zoe captures for three seconds after you press the shutter button. Zoe also captures a few frames before you tap the shutter button. You can freeze a single frame and convert it to an image to share or share the short video clip. You can also use Zoe to edit your photos using a number of effects including Sequence Shot, Always Smile, Object Removal, Skin Smoothing, Face Contour, Red Eye Removal, Anti-shine, and more.
Although the pictures captured with the UltraPixel Camera may not be as large as pictures taken with other camera phones, it is possible to capture some really great images with the HTC One. As you can see from some of our sample shots below, some of our close-up images are very detailed. Landscape and distance images also turned out well, though some of our distance images were not quite as crisp as we would like. Although the UltraPixel Camera has a continuous autofocus lens, in many instances when we told the camera to refocus on a spot by tapping the screen, we captured better images than when we let the camera select the focus area.
While viewing images on the phone, the One will automatically place the images into albums. When you open an album, you'll see a slideshow of images at the top and individual images below. If you scroll through the images and come to a live photo, you'll notice the thumbnail will play the living photo.
When capturing video using the UltraPixel Camera and Zoe, the camera did an excellent job at focusing and capturing crisp video, even with a very active subject.
The HTC One comes with a 2300 mAh embedded Li-polymer battery. As mentioned earlier, this battery is not removable. HTC claims you should get up to 19 hours of talk time in CDMA mode on this phone and up to 496 hours (over 8 days) of standby time in CDMA mode.
In an attempt to quantitatively measure the HTC One's battery life in a controlled benchmark environment, we ran a test in which we set up a webpage with a mix of graphics, media and text. The page automatically refreshes every three minutes, we loop the page and also setup a screen lock utility that keeps the display from sleeping during the test. Battery life is measured down to the minute the smartphone shuts down. The Wi-Fi radio is enabled in this test to simulate battery life in real-world web browsing over a wireless connection.
For this test, we set the HTC One's display to 50% brightness, which is still plenty bright and easy on the eyes. The HTC One lasted 12 hours and 28 minutes untethered before it powered down, making it the longest lasting phone in our chart by a large margin. Although we always like user-replaceable batteries in phones, the longevity of the One should eliminate the need to swap batteries for most users.
In real-world use, the phone seemed to last longer than many other phones we’ve tested. We would expect an average user should have no problem making it through an entire day with moderate use of the phone while checking email, taking pictures, making calls, surfing the web, etc.
|Performance: CPU and Browser|
Next, we'll take a look at how the HTC One compares to other smartphones by examining a few benchmarks that are currently available in the Android Marketplace.
The HTC One out performed all other smartphones in the Linpack tests by a good margin, including the similarly spec'ed Samsung Galaxy S 4.
GLBenchmark is an OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark with a myriad of test options available. We specifically use the Fill Texture Fetch suite to measure raw texture fill rate of a graphics core and the Egypt Off Screen test to measure 3D performance in frames per second. The Off Screen test renders workloads at 1280x720 for all devices, but off-screen, so Vsynch and screen refresh are not limiting performance.
In the Egypt Off Screen test, the One earned second place, coming in four frames per second behind Samsung’s Galaxy S 4. In the Fillrate test, the One performed better than any other Android smartphone we’ve tested to date but it still comes in behind Apple’s iPhone 5.
An3DBench XL is a benchmarking tool based on an Android port of the jPCT 3D engine. The app runs 7 tests in total that look at graphics processor fill rate and complex rendering workloads and scenes.
The HTC One scores exceptionally well in the Ninja’s Garden and Magic Island tests, earning the top spot. It doesn’t fare quite as good in the Flower Power test, but still earns sixth place.
When you pick up the HTC One, you instantly get the sense that this is a high-end phone with plenty to offer. The One’s outer shell aesthetically pleasing and gives the phone a high-end look. It’s also solid thanks to its full-metal unibody design. This design adds a bit of weight to the phone, but it’s a tradeoff we suspect many users will tolerate.
A quick glance at the specifications of the HTC One, reveals that this phone was meant to compete with the other super phones available today—it features a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor along with 2GB of RAM and Android 4.1.2. Depending on your carrier and budget, you can pick up a One with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. Unfortunately, HTC doesn’t offer a microSD card slot, so make sure you’re committed to whichever option you choose. The One’s 4.7-inch full HD 1080p screen is crisp and clear and supports wide viewing angles.
In addition to offering all of the high-end hardware specifications you’d expect from a super phone, HTC includes a number of software features with the One that help set this device apart. We appreciate the number of customization options that come with BlinkFeed and HTC Sense TV is a cool addition that gives the phone additional utility as well.
Multimedia features are a key component of any high-end phone. To that end, HTC incorporated two front-facing stereo speakers with dedicated amplifiers and Beats Audio into the One. These speakers sound excellent and the fact that they’re on the front of the device simply makes sense. Call quality while using the HTC One was also excellent, due in part to the dual built-in microphones and smart noise suppression technology.
HTC’s custom UltraPixel Camera and HTC Zoe add some unique features to the phone as well. Overall, we were pleased with the images and video we were able to capture using the UltraPixel Camera. Although the images may not be as high of a resolution as other camera phone images, HTC definitely proves megapixels aren't the only thing to consider when comparing the quality of images captured with a smartphone.
The HTC One performed very well in our benchmark tests too. And its price is in line with other-high end phones with similar specifications. Given the HTC One's exceptional performance, excellent multimedia capabilities, and attractive design, this phone is definitely one of today's best high-end devices. We like it so much, we're giving it our Editor's Choice award.
Check Amazon for price and availability of the HTC One, here.