Final Words and the Galaxy S 4 Comparison

The One is without a doubt the best Android smartphone I’ve ever used. HTC’s build quality and materials choices have been steadily improving over the past couple of years and I honestly don’t know a more fitting name for its latest flagship other than the One - it’s the one to get. Even iPhone users looking for something different might be tempted by the One.

For me it’s the camera performance and the highlights reel that really seal the deal. The fact that the One is an excellent looking device built out of top notch materials is just icing on the cake.

The rest of the spec list is equally fitting. I’m glad to see 802.11ac make the list. The great speakers and display are both useful and impressive.

Sense took a real step towards subtlety with 5.0, and it’s finally at a point where I don’t really mind the customizations. My preference is still for vanilla Android, but the latest iteration of Sense is far closer than it has ever been. The real trick is ensuring timely updates with major Android releases. If you’re an infrequent smartphone upgrader, the Nexus line is still the best option there.

Despite how well the One does in the build quality, looks and camera departments, HTC has an uphill battle ahead of itself. Samsung is clearly the dominating incumbent in the Android space, and it has the luxury of an order of magnitude higher quarterly revenues to support its smartphone business. If there ever was a David v Goliath race in the smartphone space, it would be between HTC and Samsung.

Zoe and the highlights reel are great features that need marketing to demonstrate and spread their word. The litany of new camera and interaction features that accompany the Galaxy S 4 will likely translate very well to cleverly crafted TV ads. I’d argue that HTC’s camera features (great low light performance, highlights reel) are more useful to me personally, but Samsung’s features (touchless scrolling, dual camera, smart pause) are easier sells to the mainstream smartphone market. Similarly, design and materials choices are obvious advantages for the One, but it’s easier to market a thinner and lighter phone.

Ultimately, HTC appears to have built a great phone for enthusiasts and one that can be marketed, with some effort, to the mainstream. Samsung, by comparison, seems to have its targets set squarely at the mainstream and it has the features and the marketing budget to really capture the attention of that audience. You can argue about the merits of features like the ability to automatically pause video based on whether or not you’re looking at it - personally I’d take better camera performance - but that’s a much easier feature to explain in a TV commercial than why larger pixels matter.

The One is expected to be widely available beginning next month.

The Rest of the Features
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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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