For the past week and a half our own Brian Klug has been hard at work on his review of HTC’s new flagship smartphone, the One. These things take time and Brian’s review, at least what I’ve seen of it, is nothing short of the reference piece we’ve come to expect from him.

In the same period of time I’ve been playing around with a retail HTC One and felt compelled to share my thoughts on the device. It’s rare that I’m so moved by a device to chime in outside of the official review, but the One is a definite exception. By no means is this a full review, and I defer to Brian for the complete story on the One - something we should be getting here in the not too distant future.

I’m not a financial analyst, but HTC hasn’t been doing all that well over the past few quarters. There’s a general feeling that the aptly named One is HTC’s last chance at survival. Good product doesn’t always translate into market dominance, but it’s a necessary component when you’re an underdog. Luckily for HTC, the One is great.

Design

Over the past two years HTC has really come into its own as far as design is concerned. The difference between the HTC One X and the plethora of flagships that came before it was remarkable. Moving to the One, the difference is just as striking.

I don’t seem to mind plastic phones as much as everyone else, but the One is in an appreciably different league compared to its peers. It’s the type of device that you just want to look at and touch. Given how much you do end up looking at and touching your smartphone, HTC’s efforts here seem well placed.

The One looks and feels great. The proportions are a little awkward in my hands, but I fully concede that’s going to vary from person to person. Despite the heavy use of aluminum, I don't feel overly worried about scratching/damaging the finish.

The challenge with any smartphone is to build something that looks distinct in a sea of black rectangles on a wall in a store. With the One (and arguably the One X before it), HTC does a good job of balancing the need to be seen with the need to be subtle. Elegant is the right word here.

While I’m sure there will be comparisons to the iPhone, the fact of the matter is that the design cycle on these smartphones falls somewhere in the 12 - 24 month range. With something as sophisticated as the One, you’re looking at the longer end of that spectrum. For what it’s worth, if I had to estimate I’d say design work on the One probably started before the iPhone 4S came out.

Smartphone Spec Comparison
  Apple iPhone 5 HTC One Samsung Galaxy S 3 Samsung Galaxy S 4
SoC Apple A6 1.3GHz Snapdragon 600 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz Exynos 5 Octa (1.6/1.2GHz) or Snapdragon 600 1.9GHz
DRAM/NAND/Expansion 1GB LPDDR2, 16/32/64GB NAND 2GB LPDDR2, 32/64GB NAND 2GB LPDDR2, 16/32GB NAND, microSD 2GB LPDDR3, 16/32/64GB NAND, microSD
Display 4.0-inch 1136 x 640 LCD 4.7-inch SLCD3 1080p, 468 ppi 4.8-inch Super AMOLED 720p, 306 ppi 5-inch Super AMOLED 1080p, 441 ppi
Network 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 (depending on region)
Dimensions 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm 137.4mm x 68.2mm x 4mm - 9.3mm 136.6mm x 70.6mm 8.6mm 136.6mm x 69.8mm x 7.9mm
Weight 112g 143g 133g 130g
Rear Camera 8MP 4MP w/ 2µm pixels 8MP 13MP
Front Camera 1.2MP 2.1MP 1.9MP 2MP
Battery Internal 5.45 Wh Internal 8.74 Wh Removable 7.98 Wh Removable 9.88 Wh
OS iOS 6.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Android 4.2.2
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, USB 2.0, GPS/GNSS 802.11ac/a/b/g/n + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, IR LED, MHL, DLNA, NFC 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, USB 2.0, NFC, GPS/GNSS, MHL 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (HT80) + BT 4.0, USB 2.0 NFC, GPS/GNSS, IR LED, MHL 2.0

 

The Camera
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  • ChronoReverse - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    It's been noted that using -2 for the sharpness on HTC cameras tends to be the optimal setting. Looking forward to the full review! Reply
  • youwonder - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    God damn I am excited about this. Kinda because I've never had an HTC device, and this being their "ONE" last shot I want to give them a try. By the looks of it their commited to making me not regret my decision. Reply
  • boruguru - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    I had a HTC. Their battery was horrible, They Die mid day. After a law suit they removed, http links from email. HTC were bad. Hope it is fixed on this one. Reply
  • tmas - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    The battery life on Android devices in general has been awful until fairly recently. There have always been apps that help fix this by turning off features that burn through battery when they're not in use (turning off gps/wifi when you don't need them can save hours of battery life), which almost made this tolerable. If you had an HTC device more than a year ago, you were probably dealing with this issue. Reply
  • mohnish82 - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    No Mr. tmas, do not pass the buck on to Android. @boruguru was talking about HTC phones. Many would confirm that HTC devices had (& still have) horrible battery (Oop! non-removable battery :) ). Reply
  • Steebie - Thursday, April 04, 2013 - link

    Who are these people that always say that HTC has terrible battery life? I would guess they aren't HTC users. Two years ago, yes, I will agree, I needed a recharge about halfway through the day, but 3 HTC phones since then and I usually top up at the end of a day when I have 20-40% left. On top of that, have you seen the battery tests on this phone? Almost 9 hours of non-stop video. Over 16 hours of talk time. 10 full hours of constant web browsing (beating ALL other phones, including the Maxx and the Note 2). Reply
  • dexter1 - Wednesday, April 03, 2013 - link

    I am using HTC One X for last 6 months....it comfortably gets me though the day...no issues at all...my usage involves an hour of calls, around 45min. gaming and again 45 min. of internet through 3G...still i will be left with 20-30% juice in the evening...i feel it's decent enough...and any one can plug-in to PC at anypoint to charge again...so now, it's not an issue... Reply
  • niva - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    My wife had an original HTC Nexus phone and it was amazing, lasted in near perfect condition for about 2 years when she dropped it (a bad drop on concrete) and it shattered some part inside that made the phone unreliable with calls. I was sad to have to replace it, but the product was so good that it taught me two things I didn't know beforehand: HTC makes good products, and if you're going to use Android, you absolutely must use the pure Android.

    That is the one critique I have against any non-nexus phone, I'm not ever going to put myself into a situation where I have to buy a new device to get a newer rev of the operating system... ever! Don't buy into the bs that these companies put out about how they will maintain their version of Android in sync with the latest rev of what's available. And this is probably why I will never buy an HTC ONE, nor a Samsung Galaxy 3/4 and etc. Currently I'm disgustingly happy with my galaxy nexus.

    The company is good though and so is their hardware.
    Reply
  • mohnish82 - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    Wait until your EFS partition get's corrupted! Reply
  • cknobman - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    Anand,

    So you like the One so much you are willing to give up a replaceable/removable battery and a micro SD card?
    Reply

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