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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  • jayseeks - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    I'm an iOS user and fully intend on switching. The microSD and removable battery are non-issues for about 95% of people not in the IT profession. These are two features that in all likelihood will be phased out soon enough as technology continues its progression. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Right mr fanboy ios osx apple ...
    So why do you pay $400 more for 16ram ? Because itard, that's why... who would like 64GB more for $50 - OHHHH just about everyone !
    ROFL - yep doesn't matter - phase out as we devolve further into Jobs worship fantasyand...

    itard: " my battery died my itardphone is shot, i guess shipping to cupertino day has come again, i can't understand why buying a battery at the million mobile phone shops and being running in 5 minutes is something people want"...

    Okay, just so you know, it's like retard on dummy syrum.
    Reply
  • jayseeks - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Says the paid Samsung shill. Get a real job, loser. Reply
  • JeffFlanagan - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Do you have evidence to support your assertion, or should you be disregarded as a nut?
    Paid shills usually don't come across as children like Cerese does.
    Reply
  • jayseeks - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link

    I'm just fighting trolling with trolling. My only evidence would be the flood of pro Samsung "fans" that deflect criticisms in tech sites across the web with the same arguments/information that I highly doubt any real person would go to the trouble of thinking of or finding out. You then often see these same "fans" on these tech sites trolling posts about their competition while simultaneously using these troll tactics to plug Samsung products.

    For example on trolling the HTC One:
    "No removable battery like the S4"

    Honestly, I've been reading tech blogs for quite some time now, and never have I encountered such trolling or shameless plugging like I have with Samsung products. I highly doubt that there's been some major shift in generational psyche that's all of a sudden caused this type of behavior.

    Also, Cerese does come off as a child, but I don't think most kids really care that much about any brand, which leads me to believe he's a paid shill. Also, if you read his other comments, they contrast enough so that it's likely he's posing.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    See Ne0 who claims his brother owns a cel, store and sells SD addons and batteries like mad.

    Go ask yourself at a store, YOU FRIKKIN RETARD.

    Nothing like the facts will do for the accusers. I got news for you, the truth has laready CRUSHED YOU, and you don't even know it.
    Now that's how children are, clueless.
    Our modern PC loser crew expects sanitized BS to be swallowed whole, and that's what you're all about, since you can't get anything correct.
    Reply
  • jayseeks - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    You are pathetic and sad. Get a real job instead of shilling online for Samsung, loser. Reply
  • jayseeks - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link

    Also, paid shills usually have their material prepared for them. Hence the recycling of arguments once their logic is defeated or rendered null.

    "Removable battery and SD storage are the most important features on a phone" - Samsung shill
    "Most people don't really care about either. On top of that, in order to even take advantage of a removable battery, you need to buy an extra one that's probably gonna run you a good $50. On top of that, you'll have to constantly swap out and recharge each one. Then, if you decide to buy a dock, that's an extra $30 bucks. Very inconvenient for most people." - non-shill guy just expressing his opinion

    "But, but, but removable battery's are the best!! What if you get lost in the desert and you run out of battery? What are you going to do then?? If I have my S4 I'll have my extra battery!"
    -Samsung shill
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    The most important is stretching, but also is not wanting it and no one cares, and especially is: PAYING HUNDREDS MORE FOR iSuck internal non upgradeable ram limit.

    Only here does BANG FOR THE BUCK become entirely lost on you poor raped stupid goofball liars.

    See you in every other thread where you scream moar ram is bettter.
    Reply
  • jayseeks - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Congratulations, you're officially an invalid. Reply

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