Superphone Round-Up: Samsung, HTC, LG and More

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The HTC One may not “win” any of the hardware comparisons, standing out compared to the other phones in this roundup, but it doesn’t fall behind either. HTC incorporates a number of unique features in the HTC One that help this phone stand apart. In fact, although HTC doesn’t get as much media attention or buzz as the Galaxy S 4, the One has all of the features it needs to give Samsung some excellent competition.   

The HTC One features a full-metal, zero-gap unibody design. This design gives the phone a very rich look and feel. Held in your hand, the phone feels solid—more solid than most of the plastic phones we’re accustomed to holding. This design comes with a bit of extra weight, but unless you’re examining the actual reported weight in the chart on the previous page, you probably won’t notice a huge difference between the HTC One and other phones. What you will notice is the solid design and rich feel.

HTC has partnered with Beats Audio to deliver a better sounding audio experience on the One than you’ll find on other smartphones. The HTC One features HTC BoomSound which combines front-facing stereo speakers with dedicated amplifiers and Beats Audio integration. During our hands-on testing of the HTC One, we were very impressed with the front-facing speakers found on the HTC One. These speakers sounded significantly better than most of the run-of-the-mill speakers we’ve seen on other smartphones.

When you power on the HTC One, you’ll notice the main home screen features HTC BlinkFeed. This feature is designed to pull content from various sources into a single feed. BlinkFeed is customizable letting you select content from various news sources, social media accounts, your calendar, photos, TV listings, and much more. BlinkFeed does a good job at pulling content from various sources and displaying it in a visually pleasing manner. However, you cannot disable BlinkFeed which is a drawback in our opinion. If you don’t like BlinkFeed, the best thing you can do is select a different home screen as your main home screen.

Another key differentiating point with the HTC One is the all new HTC UltraPixel Camera and HTC Zoe. 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. Although a 4 megapixel sensor may sound small in comparison to most of today’s high-end smartphone cameras, the camera is actually quite impressive. In addition, HTC includes a number of high-end features which make this camera even better such as an f/2.0 aperture and optical image stabilization technology.


HTC's BlinkFeed as see on the primary home screen (left).In addition to BlinkFeed, the One's UltraPixel camera and BoomSound enable unique features you won't find on other phones.

Our tests of the UltraPixel Camera and HTC Zoe revealed impressive results. In addition to crisp, quality images, Zoe enables unique features such as “live photos” that you won’t get on other phones. These “live photos” capture a three second video of the moment. You can then freeze a single frame and convert it to an image or share the short video clip. Zoe also enables editing features and effects that you’d expect from a high-end camera such as Always Smile, Skin Smoothing, Red Eye Removal, and much more.  Although the images captured with HTC’s UltraPixel Camera may not have the same 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.

HTC also included a feature known as Sense Voice with the HTC One. Sense Voice is designed to help provide clear conversations even in loud, crowded environments. It utilizes the One’s dual built-in microphones that can detect loud ambient noise. When loud ambient noise is detected, the phone dynamically boosts the in-call voice to compensate. During our tests with this phone, we were impressed with the call quality thanks to Sense Voice. HTC also uses the dual microphones to provide clean, rich sound when capturing HD video.

Two of the biggest drawbacks to the HTC One are the fact that it doesn’t include a microSD slot or a user-replaceable battery. HTC offers the One with 32GB and 64GB of built-in storage, though the 64GB model is only available through AT&T. If you can get past these two sticking points, the HTC One is an excellent phone that doesn’t get enough credit in the market.

The HTC One is currently available through three of the top four carriers in the United States (AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile) for $99 on contract.Verizon Wireless has announced plans to carry the HTC One starting August 22.

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