HTC didn’t have such a great year in 2012 with revenues and profits falling quarter-by-quarter. The One X was an amazing smartphone, which was released at the beginning of 2012 at MWC, and it won many awards and was personally our favorite Android phone. However, the One X couldn’t hold it’s on against the terrible onslaught know as the Galaxy S III. This was because many things, bad marketing and carrier fragmentation, to name a few. Now HTC is back and it’s ready to take that number One (sorry for the pun, but you’re going to have to get used to it) spot.
The One’s design is absolute perfection
This is possibly the best smartphone hardware I have ever seen. It rivals, and dare I say, surpasses the iPhone 5 in some aspects of engineering. The phone is an all aluminum build with the band and two lines, on the back, being made of polycarbonate to aid with wireless signals. The back is more curved, which makes it more comfortable to hold, but the sharper edges of the phone also make it a little less ergonomic. The chamfered edge is great and even continues beyond the the aluminum to get a glass chamfer at the edges of the display. The front has aluminum bands on the top and bottom to house the speakers (more on that later) and mic. There’s Gorilla Glass 2 all over the display. The phone weighs in at 143g and is 9.3mm (0.37 inches). The level of detail and complexity of the manufacturing shows in the design as HTC says that it takes 200 minutes to produce a single shell, which makes sense considering how precisely the polycarbonate is injected into the gaps in the aluminum casing. The aluminum is custom grade and is supposedly stronger than than the normal aluminum used, in say the iPhone 5. The white polycarbonate starts to pick up some dirt which is a factor when deciding color and the black may be prone to the scuffing seen on the slate iPhone. The design is absolute perfection.
The HTC One is so much more than that amazing design! It’s an absolute beast of a phone. The display is absolutely brilliant with an impressive 1080p HD panel that measures in at 4.7-inches, which is smaller than the the other 5 and 5.5-inch HD displays. There’s a really sharp pixel density of 468 PPI. This is the most mobile pixel dense display ever made! It t the much more advanced Super alsoLCD 3 display tech which betters the already amazing SLCD 2 on the One X. The colors and touch response are clear and fluid. The viewing angles are better because of the SLCD 3 and the optically bonded display, so there’s no air gap between the Gorilla Glass and display. It’s a stunning display in all aspects, worthy of a HTC flagship.
This is a beast of a phone
The phone is very fast too, which runs Android 4.1 JellyBean with Sense 5.0 (more later). There’s a brand new Snapdragon 600 chip clocked at 1.7GHz. It’s quad core and has the new and updated Adreno 320 graphics, which should handle these new high power games, like Real Racing 3, like a breeze. The chip is faster by 40% compared to the S4 Pro. It’s accompanied with 2GB of RAM for even better performance. There’s 32GB and 64GB of inbuilt storage, non-expanable. There’s 802.11ac WiFi, that’s right it has AC WiFi which has transfer speeds up to 3 GBps. This has world 3G HSPA+ up to 42Mbps and 4G LTE up to 150Mbps. It has Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and an IR blaster in the lock button to control your TV based peripherals. There are some really nice dual stereo speakers on the front that fires some good sound. They, supposedly, have the biggest sound chambers ever seen on a phone. They are Beats Audio-certified and, so is the 2.55V headphone jack for better performance with high end headphones and earphones. There’s better stereo audio recording with the two mics. This whole sound package is know as HTC BoomSound. The battery seems a little more than substantial at 2300mAh, which should last a while and I hope so because HTC phones have been plagued with questionable battery life.
In typical HTC fashion, the cameras are game changing and will make a big change in the industry. There’s always been this story in the camera industry, even in smartphones, that more megapixels mean more quality. That’s not the case here. The HTC One takes a huge risk in the Android specs race by having a 4-megapixel camera, not a typo, 4MP (2688 x 1520)! That’s small compared to the 8MP and 13MP cameras making it to the market. To put this in perspective, my 8 year-old Sony Ericsson camera has a 3.2MP camera. HTC claims that this camera will equate to and beat other cameras. The difference here is called “Ultrapixels”.
HTC takes on the “megapixel myth” with Ultrapixels
An average phone cameras sensor size per megapixel is 1.1 µm and an Ultrapixel has a 2 µm size per megapixel on the sensor. This allows the sensor to capture 330% more light. The camera has a 28mm wide-angle lens with ƒ/2.0 autofocus. This results in a better picture overall. The camera does 1080p HD video @30fps. There’s also some neat Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which uses the gyroscope for video stabilization on multiple axes. The front camera’s a 2.1-megapixel snapper 88-degree sensor with 1080p video recording. The phone if fitted with a newer ImageChip 2 for better camera output processing. It helps with 1080p HDR video at 60fps. There’s also a new software Vine-like service which makes 3 second clips. The camera is impressive, but HTC made a huge gamble by HTC adding a 4MP camera into a market where the “megapixel myth” runs rampant.
The HTC One is running Android 4.1.2 Jellybean, don’t fret 4.2.2 upgrade is in the works. There’s a brand new version of Sense running on top of this latest OS, Sense 5. The new looks for Sense is definitely more cleaned up and with less cartoonish icons (They have a new layout of 3×4, but can be changed to the older 4×5). It just looks more ‘grown up’.
The biggest addition here has to be BlinkFeed which is a very robust form of checking all your news and information in a single feed that lives on your home screen. Think of it as a Flipboard on steroids, with more system integration. There’s aren’t any options for the user to add feeds, but HTC has kept 1400 channels ready for you, with more coming soon through a developer SDK. It acts as a notification center for your news, social networks and Sense apps. The feed is constantly updating every two hours on mobile data, more often onWiFi, to give you the latest updates wherever you are. The BlinkFeed can be disabled if you don’t like it or if it’s killing your battery.
Sense 5 is all about BlinkFeed
HTC is taking advantage of the built-in IR blaster by introducing the Sense TV app. It works as a Universal remote like any other device with an IR blaster. The speciality here is that there’s support for TV guides on supported providers. If your provider supports this then your phone can keep track of your favorite channels and shows, and later give you relevant info in your BlinkFeed.
More about HTC Zoe. It’s a little add on to that impressive camera. This takes 5 pictures before the shutter goes off and another 15 afterwards. This give a selection of 20 to choose from. It also takes a 3 second video, which is used to bring more life into your gallery, and can also be shared on Zoe Share for 30 days. It’s not amazing but it’s a neat addition that will make your photos and gallery looks a lot better.
Other things have gotten refreshed. The music player has gotten a makeover with an equalizer and lyrics scroller. The entire system uses the more modern Roboto font introduced in ICS. The keyboard is cleaner and still just as good. It’s ok, that classic HTC flipping clock widget is still here for you.The Get Started, and Sync software have been updated to work better with iTunes and it’s huge library of content.
The HTC One is an extremely capable phone that has got an industry leading design, state-of-the-art performance and some really great software to top it all off. This One is what HTC needs, but will it be enough to go against what’s rumored to be released on March 14th, the Galaxy S IV? The phone will go on sale in March. It will be available in 32GB and 64GB variants. The colors available are black and white, but there’s a rumored red on the way. It all probably sell for $199 with a two-year contract, and around $700 for an unlocked unit.