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


View All Comments

  • BoloMKXXVIII - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Nobody uses the SD card slot or removable battery? I replace my battery yearly. Hard to do with the HTC 1 or Iphone. The microSD card slot is not as necessary with a phone with 32 or 64 GB of storage but a lot of phones still come with a measely 8 or 16 GB. Reply
  • jmunjr - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    Nobody? I swap batteries all the time. I don't have to worry about charging my phone when I have a freshly charged battery at hand, and I can go on a several day trip without charging if I use just 2-3 batteries(at least 2 being extended batteries)... It really sucks when I don't have access to charging and don't have an extra battery. It must suck for people who can't charge and can't change the battery.

    I also can say my phone is MUCH easier to handle with an oversized extended batterry since I have such big hands. Any time I use a skinny phone made for little people I have trouble. Once I add the extended battery/cover I instantly can use the phone with one hand...

    As for the SD card, yes I could conceivably live without it but O do swap cards from time to time. I prefer to have the option mainly for external content. Storing apps on the SD card is not preferable for me for this reason, but being able to have lots data accessible while offline is nice.
  • mohnish82 - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    I miss the SD card with my GNex while using Linux. The MTP crap doesn't work well in Linux. Had to go SSH route. Reply
  • darwinosx - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    I don't like the grossly oversaturated screens Samsung uses. Given a choice I much prefer the HTC One screen. Whats odd is that Samsung does not use their best display technologies on their phones and tablets. Reply
  • krumme - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Nonsense. On a s3 you can change profile to neutral, and its far better picture for photos than their best pls screens. On the S4 you can change to rgb adobe. Satisfied? Reply
  • Ne0 - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    That's why there's the Screen Mode option of Dynamic (if you like over saturation), Standard, Natural (what I choose), and Movie. You have options. Reply
  • RichPaterno - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    Why is it that people who like the GS3 display never seem to notice the bluish tint inherent in these GS phones? Side by side with my HTC one x, the bluish tint is really noticeable and quite annoying Reply
  • s44 - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    As I said elsewhere, HTC has designed the best Android device for iOS users who aren't going to switch anyway.

    This seems a poor market strategy, but if you actually ARE going to switch, that would be big.
  • danbob999 - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    good point Reply
  • flyingpants1 - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    Yes, very good point. If you're going to switch from an iPhone, why not switch to a device with the benefits of removable battery/microsd? Reply

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