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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  • darwinosx - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Because nobody cares about either things. Reply
  • Relaxin - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Uh, I totally care and not having either of those features is a deal breaker. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    darwin prefers the devolution of the iphone can u say fanboy ? Reply
  • jayseeks - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    A paid Samsung shill calling someone a fanboy. Interesting, but mostly sad. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Just the prior page, your smarmy bud got corrected by two others on the screen color.
    Now your idiot darwin apple fanboy osx clone spews pure a troller after having been exposed as an incompetent fool, "no one cares".
    An appletard needs to be exposed for what they, since losing the case on FACTS means fanboyism is ever present.

    If you'd like to make some factual corrections to me, please do. I always prefer the facts.
    I didn't name myself SpaceDriod, for instance, and that probably flew over your head.

    I appreciate the compliment though, and that also probably flew over your head.
    Reply
  • casualsuede - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - link

    He's calling you a nobody. Reply
  • speculatrix - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - link

    I bought a note 2 and quickly fitted it with a 32GB card which has 24 GB used. I also have a spare battery , because I want to be able to go away for a three+ day weekend and not carry a charger.
    I also use the pen for sketches and annotations.
    I rarely use it as a phone for voice calls, just sometimes for text.
    I sometimes make use of USB host to connect my DSLR and copy off a photo and crop scale and email it.
    Occasionally I show photos on a TV using MHL.

    This makes the note 2 ideal for me. It might or might not be right for you.

    I'd consider an HTC One if there was a 64GB version. There's been no mention of USB host yet but I'd want that. And MHL.
    Reply
  • gobaers - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - link

    There is a 64GB version. Reply
  • mohnish82 - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    Either you are GOD or you don't know the meaning of NOBODY. Reply
  • s44 - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    (In case my comment isn't clear any more because of comment tree expansion, it was a direct response to Anand, who -- as an iOS user whom I assume isn't switching -- is the "you" I mean.) Reply

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