Android/Sense

The One ships with Sense 5.0, and I have to say that the latest version of Sense is really the first custom Android skin that I don’t mind. I’m not sold on Blinkfeed, the default homescreen that allows you to aggregate content from multiple web sources as well as Twitter and Facebook, but thankfully you can easily change that default to something more traditionally Android.

With Sense 5.0 HTC dramatically reduced the presence of widgets on the default home screen. Other than the Blinkfeed screen, there’s only a single home screen by default and the only widget on that screen is a Google search box. You can obviously add all of the widgets you want, but this is a noticeable departure from HTC’s strategy in the past. To be honest, it’s a lot cleaner.

Sense 5.0 isn’t intrusive, and the work HTC has done in the gallery app sort of make the customizations worth it (more on this later). Even the default pre-load of apps is very sensible.

Thanks to the underlying use of Android 4.1.2 combined with the fast Snapdragon 600 SoC, UI frame rate is incredibly smooth. Some interactions are still not perfect (e.g. zooming in Google Maps) but the overall experience is very polished and very fast.

 

Performance & Battery Life

The One is the first Snapdragon 600 based smartphone that I’ve used regularly. For those who aren’t familiar with Qualcomm’s latest branding change, Snapdragon 600 refers to a quad-core Krait 300 based SoC with Adreno 320 graphics (APQ8064T). The SoC still uses the same 28nm LP process as the previous quad-core flagship (APQ8064), but clocks are a bit higher (1.7GHz in the One, 1.9GHz in the Galaxy S 4).

GPU clocks appear unchanged, which is contrary to what I was told at the launch of Krait 300 but it’s entirely possible that we’ll see implementation with higher GPU clocks.

Performance, as I mentioned before, is very good. Even the speed of the NAND HTC used in the device is among the best I’ve seen in Android devices. We’re still not yet at the point where I believe smartphone SoC performance is good enough, but at least we won’t see a huge jump in SoC performance (at similar power) until the move to 20nm in mid to late 2014.

The impact of all of this on battery life, as always, depends on your usage model. I’ve been using the international One on AT&T, and 3G battery life is comparable to the iPhone 5 on the same network (non-LTE) at identical brightness levels. I have yet to see what the difference will be like with LTE enabled.

Obviously with four cores and a larger, higher resolution display, the One definitely has the ability to draw more power than the iPhone 5. Keep the cores more active and/or drive the display at very high brightness levels and you’ll see worse battery life. For the past couple of years I’ve been talking about the increase in dynamic range when it comes to smartphone battery life, the One is no different in this regard. Brian will have a full rundown of battery life data on the One in his review.

Other Frills: Of Big Screens and Usability

For me, the iPhone 5’s display is a little too small, and the One is probably a little too big. I think I agree with Brian here in that the ideal display size is somewhere around 4.3”. That being said, I find both devices (the 5 and the One) to be comfortably usable. The 5 is better for one handed use, while the One is better for actually consuming web content. In pocket, the One is thin enough to not be a problem.

Although it’s probably a bit overkill, I am pleased with the move to 1080p across all of the high end Android smartphones. The One’s display looks excellent and lacks the oversaturated colors of the alternative AMOLED displays.

The One also features stereo speakers that get impressively loud (louder than any other smartphone I’ve used, by a considerable margin). I keep my phone on silent all the time but when showing others highlights reels, the One’s loud stereo speakers definitely come in handy.

The final element of the One that I’m really happy about is the integration of 802.11ac support. The One is good for WiFi speeds of up to 275Mbps (that’s actually tested, not theoretical).

The Camera Final Words and the Galaxy S 4 Comparison
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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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