Probably one of the more polarizing design aspects of the HTC One is the inclusion of two capacitive buttons instead of the three we see on most other handsets that do include them. HTC’s rationale is that fewer buttons equates to less confusion for users, and as a result we have just back and home on the HTC One. For getting to the multitasking interface or task switcher, one double taps on the home button.

What’s notably absent on the HTC One is a menu button, which just like the other HTC Ones prior follows Google’s “say goodbye to the menu button” guidelines from early 2012. Unfortunately for HTC, just like the previous iteration of Ones, this means that unless an application properly implements the appropriate Android SDK level (11 or higher) it will have an ugly black action overflow button at the bottom. Worse, even some of the biggest developers and most popular apps (I’m looking directly at the pile of fail that is Twitter for Android) have failed to move to the new UI pattern or follow Google design guidelines. Last time around many blamed HTC for the action overflow button like it was an aberration of Sense. This actually isn’t entirely HTC’s fault, this is HTC getting burned for following Google’s hardware and software design guidelines which officially deprecated the menu button back in January 2012. Interestingly enough, in previous non-final builds of the HTC One software, there was an option for users to disable the action bar and press the menu button by long pressing the back button, which removed the action overflow bar entirely since the menu button is then implemented with a long press. However this has since been removed in the final software, and I strongly suspect Google is the reason here since they have final say about some of these things, and obviously nobody at HTC wants to waste pixels with a black bar at the bottom, since that was the whole point of going with capacitive buttons in the first place.


Twitter for Android (Left) whose action overflow bar does absolutely nothing. No option to change the behavior of the buttons for emulating a menu button in the final ROM (Right)

I need to stop here and note that I haven’t had any problems with the two capacitive button layout. I have yet to inadvertently tap the HTC logo once, nor is double tapping on the home button to access the multitasking screen difficult to internalize. As for the back button, in my brief time just playing with the build which had long press for menu, I had no difficulties either. I’m blown away, however, that the Android ecosystem has still yet to settle on a button layout that makes any sense, and no, the solution is not wasting pixels on painting buttons that don’t do anything but sit there. My experience is purely anecdotal however, and I’m switching between devices with myriad different button layouts so often and so regularly that my mind isn’t stuck in any one behavior pattern (nothing makes sense anymore, it’s just a surreal existence), but the two button system for me at least was little concern after the first ten minutes.

The HTC One industrial design is striking and unique, and that’s an understatement. There have been other largely-metal phones in 2013, and for that note, other largely-metal phones from HTC in 2012, but to call them similar looking or remotely similar to the HTC One is nothing short of a hilarious oversimplification. The HTC One feels unlike anything else on the market and marries just the right display size to just the right material choices and industrial design. The HTC One is without a doubt the first Android phone I’ve felt since the Nexus One that blew me away in terms of fit, finish, and materials choice. There’s something inherently valuable about metal that I can’t convey, and those materials choices drive the rest of the experience so strongly that I can’t help but get stuck on it every time I pick the phone up.

HTC One Specifications
Device HTC One
SoC 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600
(APQ8064Pro - 4 x Krait 300 CPU, Adreno 320 GPU)
RAM/NAND/Expansion 2GB LPDDR2, 32/64 GB NAND
Display 4.7-inch SLCD3 1080p, 468 ppi
Network 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Qualcomm MDM9x15 UE Category 3 LTE)
Dimensions 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm max / 4mm min, 143 grams
Camera 4.0 MP (2688 × 1520) Rear Facing with 2.0 µm pixels, 1/3" CMOS size, F/2.0, 28mm (35mm effective), 2.1 MP front facing
Battery 2300 mAh (8.74 Whr)
OS Android 4.1.2 with Sense 5
Connectivity 802.11ac/a/b/g/n + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, MHL, DLNA, NFC
Misc Dual front facing speakers, HDR dual microphones, 2.55V headphone amplifier

 

Cases

I had the opportunity to use one of HTC’s first party cases for the One, which HTC calls the Double Dip hard shell case. The hard case consists of three pieces — one large plastic component which slides on over the device, and two end caps which snap onto the top and bottom.

The case affords a fair amount of protection to the back and sides, and gaps the front display by a few millimeters as well to protect it from scratches if laid face down on a surface. I think the hard case looks awesome on the HTC One, with the grey, white, and red color scheme, I only wish there were some color options for the top and bottom snaps, which would make for cool personalization options.

I also got to play with the Otterbox Commuter case for HTC One briefly, which is pretty much exactly what you’d expect it to be. It snaps on over the One and provides ample protection for all sides. It's a commuter case through and through, and if you're into Otterbox's style which trades some of the thin profile for a lot more protection, the case they've crafted for the One is great. I like the rubber cutout in the corner as well.

The unfortunate thing about using a case with the One is that of course you’re covering up all that great-feeling aluminum surface. The One is one of the first phones I really wouldn’t want to use a case with, so much so that it outweighs my natural impulse to protect devices from scuffing or scratching. Hopefully the One will get a nice patina after enough time.

Gallery: HTC One Cases

Introduction, Hardware Battery Life and Charging
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  • Paulman - Friday, April 05, 2013 - link

    Now I can finally look forward to the next episode of the Anandtech podcast :P Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, April 05, 2013 - link

    Ha, heck yes!

    -Brian
    Reply
  • Bull Dog - Saturday, April 06, 2013 - link

    Yea I missed you on the last podcast. It just wasn't quite the same without (what I like to call) the "Klug rants." Reply
  • phillyry - Monday, April 08, 2013 - link

    Lookin' forward to it! Reply
  • leexgx - Thursday, April 11, 2013 - link

    i am very interested in this HTC One phone but i am also interested in the RAZR HD maxx as well but it does not seem to be much of an upgrade from the razr maxx i currently own

    issue i have is will it Really last an full day on one charge of real world use, as i have seen a lot reviews of phones and the battery life part of the reviews to me seem an Lie quoting Twice the real world battery life, yours included as well i got the HTC One X (uk) and it was an Joke to use as it would not stay on for long (only one that gets close to correct battery report is the razr Maxx and the Razr HD) only one site seems to side with poor battery life or currant smartphones correctly and that is "theverge" but other sites and other users do not like the site and tend not to agree with there results

    on the razr maxx that i own it can go nearly 2 days or 1 day if i go nuts on it, i really love HTC phones but with the Joke of an phone HTC one X (its like an portable gaming laptop your lucky if it lasts 2 hours on battery) that got rid off in less then an month of owning it, every phone i have had has been poor battery life, i had the G1 and HTC desire (the first one) but i could use an extended battery on them yes it made them an brick but it lasted long time

    i do really like HTC phones but as all other smart phone makers are doing still is neglecting the battery size so it can Just about make it last an day if you use it lightly
    Reply
  • leexgx - Thursday, April 11, 2013 - link

    but to add this is an running battery life with any one person i have come across who has got smart phones Reply
  • henrybravo - Thursday, April 11, 2013 - link

    Is the period key broken on your keyboard? Nothing but run-on sentences. Reply
  • leexgx - Saturday, April 13, 2013 - link

    was bit long my bad, just i find battery tests that sites do seem to be more then half what is reviewed as to why i norm just divide it by 2.3x ish to get real world results

    there needs to be a real world tests as well (facebook, twitter, skype, youtube, browsing so on), as there is no way you can get the times you see on review sites (HTC one X international version and the iphone is good example of unrealistic battery life is when reviewed)
    Reply
  • Thud2 - Sunday, April 14, 2013 - link

    Interesting that you acknowledged that you had not punctuated your post you then made another post and again you didnt use punctuation it is interesting i was going to ask you why you did it i have decided not to do that that would be redundant i am of the opinion that you are going to continue to post this way as a result of that i am going to disregard your posts in the future . Reply
  • sosrandom - Monday, April 15, 2013 - link

    at least ieexgx has punctuation in his sentences, anybody should be able to tell when a sentence starts and ends without thinking about it Reply

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