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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  • acky2lum - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    You are funny, why are you comparing AMOLED black to a dark room black? The fact is, AMOLED black is the most black u can get for phones now. I don't care if it's not more black then your coffee or your skin. Reply
  • darwinosx - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    You don't know what contrast is. Reply
  • s44 - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    2/10. Almost had us until you mentioned contrast. Reply
  • darwinosx - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Samsung doesn't calibrate their screens at all which is why color and contrast are so bad. Compare the Nexus 10 screen with an iPad 3 or 4 screen and the difference is very noticeable.
    Yes I know Samsung put a slightly higher res and ppi on the Nexus 10 screen but that is not noticeable and is a spec sheet ruse for the rubes.
    Reply
  • robinthakur - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    There are unfortunately a lot of rubes out there who seem content with poor quality screens with awful colour reproduction, I despair sometimes! Reply
  • krumme - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    You might want to stop buying Samsung phones then. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Galaxy Note 2 fixed all that, screen is AWESOME Reply
  • jayseeks - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    says the paid Samsung shill. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Read Brian Klug's review, mr retard, and discover WHY. Do I have to help you even more, troll fool who got it wrong again ? Yes of course I do... not that you want the truth... but I enjoy cramming it down your stupid throat.

    Brian Klug : " I’m not complaining, this is a great tradeoff and makes sense for the resolution and size that Samsung has selected for the Note 2. Going with a PenTile RGBG layout at this size would not be desirable, instead the “S Stripe” layout runs with subpixels small enough that I can’t see them. It’s tempting to look at the 1280x800 of the Note and the 1280x720 of the Note 2 and assume it’s lower resolution, when in fact the Note 2 has more subpixels (2.05 MP vs 2.76 MP) and in spite of the size increase stays around the magical 1 arcminute subtense (1.073 arcminutes on Note 2)."
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6386/samsung-galaxy-...

    GO LOOK FOR YOURSELF LAZY ONE THERE ARE PHONE STORES EVERYWHERE - HAVE A LOOK.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Or tiny screens they cannot see anyway without facepalming themselves. Reply

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