For the past week and a half our own Brian Klug has been hard at work on his review of HTC’s new flagship smartphone, the One. These things take time and Brian’s review, at least what I’ve seen of it, is nothing short of the reference piece we’ve come to expect from him.

In the same period of time I’ve been playing around with a retail HTC One and felt compelled to share my thoughts on the device. It’s rare that I’m so moved by a device to chime in outside of the official review, but the One is a definite exception. By no means is this a full review, and I defer to Brian for the complete story on the One - something we should be getting here in the not too distant future.

I’m not a financial analyst, but HTC hasn’t been doing all that well over the past few quarters. There’s a general feeling that the aptly named One is HTC’s last chance at survival. Good product doesn’t always translate into market dominance, but it’s a necessary component when you’re an underdog. Luckily for HTC, the One is great.

Design

Over the past two years HTC has really come into its own as far as design is concerned. The difference between the HTC One X and the plethora of flagships that came before it was remarkable. Moving to the One, the difference is just as striking.

I don’t seem to mind plastic phones as much as everyone else, but the One is in an appreciably different league compared to its peers. It’s the type of device that you just want to look at and touch. Given how much you do end up looking at and touching your smartphone, HTC’s efforts here seem well placed.

The One looks and feels great. The proportions are a little awkward in my hands, but I fully concede that’s going to vary from person to person. Despite the heavy use of aluminum, I don't feel overly worried about scratching/damaging the finish.

The challenge with any smartphone is to build something that looks distinct in a sea of black rectangles on a wall in a store. With the One (and arguably the One X before it), HTC does a good job of balancing the need to be seen with the need to be subtle. Elegant is the right word here.

While I’m sure there will be comparisons to the iPhone, the fact of the matter is that the design cycle on these smartphones falls somewhere in the 12 - 24 month range. With something as sophisticated as the One, you’re looking at the longer end of that spectrum. For what it’s worth, if I had to estimate I’d say design work on the One probably started before the iPhone 4S came out.

Smartphone Spec Comparison
  Apple iPhone 5 HTC One Samsung Galaxy S 3 Samsung Galaxy S 4
SoC Apple A6 1.3GHz Snapdragon 600 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz Exynos 5 Octa (1.6/1.2GHz) or Snapdragon 600 1.9GHz
DRAM/NAND/Expansion 1GB LPDDR2, 16/32/64GB NAND 2GB LPDDR2, 32/64GB NAND 2GB LPDDR2, 16/32GB NAND, microSD 2GB LPDDR3, 16/32/64GB NAND, microSD
Display 4.0-inch 1136 x 640 LCD 4.7-inch SLCD3 1080p, 468 ppi 4.8-inch Super AMOLED 720p, 306 ppi 5-inch Super AMOLED 1080p, 441 ppi
Network 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 (depending on region)
Dimensions 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm 137.4mm x 68.2mm x 4mm - 9.3mm 136.6mm x 70.6mm 8.6mm 136.6mm x 69.8mm x 7.9mm
Weight 112g 143g 133g 130g
Rear Camera 8MP 4MP w/ 2µm pixels 8MP 13MP
Front Camera 1.2MP 2.1MP 1.9MP 2MP
Battery Internal 5.45 Wh Internal 8.74 Wh Removable 7.98 Wh Removable 9.88 Wh
OS iOS 6.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Android 4.2.2
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, USB 2.0, GPS/GNSS 802.11ac/a/b/g/n + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, IR LED, MHL, DLNA, NFC 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, USB 2.0, NFC, GPS/GNSS, MHL 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (HT80) + BT 4.0, USB 2.0 NFC, GPS/GNSS, IR LED, MHL 2.0

 

The Camera
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  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    iPhone users don't need to see the screen, they just need to know they have their personal self esteem status and stupidity in tact. Plus there's always market worship. And iPhone "genius" help. Plus it's the greatest cultural excuse for that Starbucks or other coffee, and they don't want to be shunned by all the other mind numbed robots who haven't noticed and never want to that apple is now losing and has been for some time.

    Believe me the stories I've heard and seen in person are amazing.
    Reply
  • Gathomblipoob - Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - link

    As a iPhone 5 user who is looking at testing out the HTC One, I resent every word you posted among a lot of generally well-thought-out and helpful comments. I tend to use what works for me; I'm not a slave to brand. Are you sure it's not YOUR self-esteem you're trying to shore up? Reply
  • ex2bot - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    We really don't need to see the screen because we are confident in our prettiness and attractive square jaws. And you're jealous. Your own dog even thinks we're prettier, Bob. Yes, we Apple users even know you're real name. We're so secure that we intentionally made a grammatical error in the previous sentence. You can't fake that kind of confidence (imagine a charming, disarming smile with a bright flash on a corner tooth).

    Keep it real.
    Bot

    - not sent from my beloved iPhone
    Reply
  • Steebie - Thursday, April 04, 2013 - link

    I think there are a million reasons Samsung chooses pentile displays...for start:
    Longer battery life
    Brighter colors (which people seem to prefer over accurate colors)
    Assembly line issues
    Cost
    Who knows why else?
    Reply
  • krumme - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    The screen on the gs3 is far sharper than the gs2. Your numbers is misleading. Go read Brians article about s3, to the the right comparisons regardless if its pentile or not.
    Thats not to say you cant see pixels on s3, i think i can be far sharper, but its not like those number let us to beliewe.
    Reply
  • Steebie - Thursday, April 04, 2013 - link

    Have you ever held a pentile screen side by side with an LCD screen? The difference in sharpness is something that can't be argued. Reply
  • nerd1 - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    AMOLED has non-matched blacks and with 1080p resolution it still gives >300ppi for red and blues, exceeding most people's eyesight. So basically even though it's pentile, it's still not worse than iPhone in terms of resolution. Reply
  • Thud2 - Monday, April 15, 2013 - link

    Nerd1! i you have reaffirmed my trust in you! Your impartiality is confirmed! Very informed post! Reply
  • Thud2 - Monday, April 15, 2013 - link

    looking at the One and my bosses iphone I think the One is definitely better Reply
  • dv220s - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link

    I hear the GS4's screen isn't completely Pentile. There's actually 3 sub pixels per pixel like the Note 2 but they aren't the standard RGB pixels. 1 long blue sub pixel and red and green sub pixels stacked on top of each other Reply

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