HTC is in an interesting position as a result of this last product cycle. While the previous HTC One series’ industrial design and performance was top notch, other OEMs still managed to eclipse the One series in terms of market adoption and consumer perception. Getting back to being a solid performer and cementing a place as at least the dominant number three player in the smartphone space is HTC’s mission for 2013, and the flagship device it’s starting that out with is the device previously known as M7, now known simply as the HTC One.

Design and Construction

The choice of the HTC One name really emphasizes how much this launch means to HTC — this is the canonical One. This is the fullest expression of HTC’s view for what the One lineup should mean, this is their flagship. The One is a clear evolution of the industrial design first begun with the Butterfly and DNA, except instead of plastic the One is machined from a single solid block of aluminum. There are over 200 minutes of CNC machine cuts per device, which is a unibody construction. Plastic is injected into the aluminum block after certain cuts are made for the back case, which then gets machined into the final form. The One uses the top and bottom aluminum strips for antennas, both of which are actively tuned to mitigate unintended attenuation from being held. There’s a plastic insulative strip in-between the two antennas and the main body. In spite of being aluminum, the One also includes NFC, whose active area surrounds the camera region. There’s no wireless charging from Qi or WPC, however.

In the hands the HTC One has the kind of fit and finish that I’d expect from a high end device. I thought that the One S was perhaps the best industrial design of 2012 in part thanks to the metal backside, unique concave shape, and size. The truth is that the HTC One feels even better than that. There’s something inescapable about metal — HTC described it as expensive and luxurious feeling, like a well crafted tool. Other OEMs with metal phones like to evoke imagery of watches or high end jewelry. I think at some fundamental level metal does imply value, and as a result it conveys a much higher end in-hand feel than other entirely polycarbonate plastic designs. There’s a thin strip of plastic which runs around the edge of the device, and it’s here that the microSIM tray, ejection port, primary microphone, microUSB port, power/lock button (which doubles as IR transmit and receive), earphone jack, and volume rocker sit. The front has two aluminum pieces which serve as the speaker, microphone, and earpiece grilles. The HTC One will come in both an uncolored silver version, and anodized black.

The One is topped with a 4.7-inch 1080p Super LCD 3 display. We’ve said that 2013 is going to be the year of 5-inch phones, and 4.7 is just shy. I think there’s something almost optimal about the device size that results with a 16:9 display size just short of 5-inches diagonal. It’s still possible to one hand if you have medium sized hands, easy to pocket, and still not laughably huge.

The HTC One at first glance might seem reminescent of another big metal unibody device, but in the hand couldn’t feel any more different. The convex rounded back side gives the One an entirely different in-hand feel, and the edges have a slight negative angle to them in addition to two chamfers.

Rather than place the primary speaker on the backside of the One, HTC has placed a set of speakers on the front of the device, one at top, one at bottom, behind the two grilles. These two provide stereo sound, and placing them on the front instead of the bottom or back makes a lot of sense for things like watching video, Google Navigation, and listening to music. The One also has dual microphones for noise rejection on calls, and also two different microphone pairs for accommodating low volume and high volume environments when recording audio. For example the commodity microphones generally included in a smartphone saturate around 70 dBA, HTC claims the dual microphone system on the One can accommodate up to 120 dBA SPL (Sound Pressure Level) without saturating.

Abandoning the Megapixel Race and Shooting for Quality
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  • weiln12 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Look, I understand companies want to "differentiate" using OS customization...but I hate it. I buy a phone based on specs and performance. I DO NOT want ANY customization. I want a Nexus phone essentially, but made by HTC.

    Seriously, just give me an option to run vanilla Android and I'd buy it. You're getting my money...but give me an option to run the Sensified version, make it default I don't care. But give me an option to run vanilla!

    The current situation is like buying a Sony Vaio and NOT being able to install and run just Windows...no you MUST run a Sony version of Windows.

    It's stupid. One reason why the iPhone is so popular? Because you don't get a choice...you get what Apple gives you. And it's the same regardless of carrier or country or whatever. No crap loaded on it that you can't get rid of or anything else.
    Reply
  • StealthX32 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    What makes you want the Nexus to be made by HTC?

    And you're naive to think that iPhones don't have crapware loaded all over it. ;)
    Reply
  • kezeka - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Last I checked apple doesn't allow sprint or any other carrier to install a NASCAR app by default. Or sprint store. Or sprint music. Or some half-asses skin over the operating system that sucks down half the system memory and is significantly slower than stock android. Reply
  • steven75 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Seems you're the one who's naive as there's no crapware on an iPhone, only first-party Apple software, just as you get only Google software on a "clean" Android phone. Reply
  • darwinosx - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    No they don't. You don't know what you are talking about. Reply
  • Kepe - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Well you can always root, S-OFF and flash a custom ROM without Sense. That's what I have on my HTC Sensation. Vanilla Android 4.2.2 with Nova Launcher. And I'm loving it. I've had the phone for almost two years now, and for 1½ years I've used custom ROMs on it. Some have had Sense, some haven't. I seem to swap between them from time to time, but I just love the fact that I have the choice and a very active community that still keeps developing their ROMs for a device HTC isn't updating anymore. Reply
  • humbi83 - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    Removable Battery !!!!

    I never could figure what happens with phones that have no removable battery. I would jump on this phone in an instant (metal body, yes!!).

    But, again, what happens if I flash a rom that simply gets stuck? Normally I would remove the battery, but in this case I have to wait for the battery to discharge.

    I have a DHD (been having it for the past 2 and some change years) . I really like when metal is used as a body material and I cannot go back to "high grade" polycarbonate. Please guys, plastic is plastic. No matter what you do, in the end it's plastic.

    This phone is spot-on so many fronts. 4.7in, 2gb, metal body, yet it lacks the most basic thing, removable battery.

    Sorry HTC, another one that I'll skip. Well, it seems that I'll have to keep my phone for yet another year.

    The problem with the new phones is that they mostly do what old phones do (music, web, mail, navigation). Yes, I cannot watch HD movies. Yes, I cannot play Crysis on it. That\s what 100+ in TVs & CF/SLI setups are for.
    Reply
  • darwinosx - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    Removable batteries are also going away just like sd cards. Get used to it. Very few people actually use either. Reply
  • g0d5hand - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    Tons of people use them. Why the hate on for sd card slots? Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - link

    I have a spare battery for my DHD.

    And I have just bought the Nokia 820 over the 920, given that it had removable battery, and a microSD slot.

    So yeah, let them remove features, and some of us will just not buy the flagship products.
    Reply

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