The HTC One is a new class of Android device that should be on any smartphone shopper’s list. After spending a week using the HTC One, it is clearly the best built Android smartphone we’ve ever used. The HTC One rivals the iPhone 5 in style and build quality without asking users to pay more than $199.
The HTC One is an outstanding device that we highly recommend. The HTC One impressed us so much that we’re awarding it a GottaBeMobile Editors’ Choice award.
HTC’s new phone One is launching just ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S4, its closest direct competitor. While Samsung’s new flagship is riding the coattails of the wildly popular Galaxy S3, the HTC One stands on its own. The HTC One’s stunning all-metal design makes it stand out from the crowd. It is truly a device you need to touch and feel to appreciate.
Its HTC Sense 5 interface and features are tasteful, adding HTC BlinkFeed and HTC Zoe to the standard Android experience. We especially like the phone’s camera. The HTC One’s Ultrapixel camera and the HTC Zoe feature captures 20 photos and 3 seconds of video with one press and share many HTC One photo samples.
HTC One | $199 | AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint
HTC One Review Guide
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Check out our HTC One video review below for a closer look at the HTC One. HTC went to great lengths to deliver an attractive metal design.
The HTC One is the best looking and best built Android smartphone in recent memory. It feels as solid as the Droid RAZR MAXX HD, but the Razr MAXX HD can’t compete with HTC’s all-metal design. The HTC One design is much nicer than the countless plastic Android smartphones.
HTC cuts the back of the HTC One out of a single block of aluminum, filling in the gaps with a soft-touch plastic that adds a little grip to the sides of the device and highlights the aluminum back. Rather than squaring off the corners like the iPhone 5, HTC keeps the HTC One a little bulkier, but uses that bulk to deliver a curved back that feels natural to hold.
Read: Best HTC One Cases
The HTC One fell twice in the past week, once on carpet from hip level and another time into a still wet sink. The HTC One clanged off the porcelain sink surfaces multiple times before crashing into a pile of soap suds, but the incident left no marks on the device.
Though the HTC One’s larger display makes doe a larger device than the iPhone, the difference is not as large as the Galaxy Note 2 vs. the iPhone 5. The image above shows the HTC One vs. Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5 sizes.
The HTC One features a small notification LED in the top speaker grill for alerts and charging status. The LED is not as obnoxiously loud as many Android phones. A headphone jack and power button are on top of the HTC One with a Micro USB charging port on the bottom and a volume rocker on the right side. A SIM card slot sits on the left side. The power button hides an IR sensor that allows the device to control a TV, cable box and home theater system.
The HTC One features a 4.7-inch 1080P HD display. That’s the same resolution as most HDTVs. The HTC One screen looks fabulous thanks to all these pixels packed into such a small display. The HTC One display delivers a great viewing experience from photos and HD video watching to playing graphically rich games like Real Racing 3. Users who plan to read or surf the web a lot on the HTC One will also enjoy very crisp text.
HTC’s display delivers bright white whites and deep blacks, and with a 4.7-inch screen size it’s more attractive for watching movies than the iPhone 5.
In a side-by-side comparison, the HTC One display looks delivers a viewing experience that rivals the iPhone 5 and blows the Samsung Galaxy S3 out of the water. The Samsung Galaxy S4 display matches the HTC One on resolution but Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays deliver a slightly bluer tint to white backgrounds.
HTC pairs a 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor with 2GB of RAM to deliver great HTC One performance. During the last week with the HTC One, the device handled everything we threw at it from graphically intense games like Real Racing 3 to HD movies.
The HTC One is also capable of handling day-to-day tasks like navigating Android and switching between apps without lag. Touching the capacitive home and back buttons deliver near instantaneous results.
We tested the International HTC One on AT&T and T-Mobile and the device delivered good network connections on both carriers, though there is no AT&T 4G LTE available in the city we are testing the HTC One, and T-Mobile coverage is spotty on any phone.
The HTC One features a 2,300 mAh battery that is than capable of powering the HTC One for a full day of moderate use. During our week of testing the HTC One battery falls to 20-30% left after a day of push email, Google+, Facebook and Twitter usage as well as web browsing, eBook reading and light gaming.
Keep in mind our early HTC One battery test is without LTE as T-Mobile and AT&T both lack widespread 4G LTE coverage in Ohio. Further testing of the HTC One with 4G LTE is underway.
Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S4, there is no way to put a replacement battery in or to purchase an extended battery so battery life is important. Users that wish to stretch the battery longer can turn on power saving mode to reduce CPU usage, turn the display down, as well as limit vibrations and data connectivity.
The HTC Boomsound front-facing speakers deliver very good sounding audio, and the Beats Audio processing makes a difference when listening to music or movies on the speakers or with a good pair of headphones.
Rather than direct sound down or to the back like many phones, HTC placed two front-facing speakers on the HTC One to send the sound right at the user. This delivers better sounding music at a higher volume, though it won’t replace a good Bluetooth Speaker like the Logitech Mobile BoomBox.
While watching movies, like Transformers: Dark of the Moon the speakers even deliver a little bit of virtual surround sound.
Call quality varies with coverage, but while talking to callers on the AT&T network the HTC One delivered crisp clear call quality on both ends. The front-facing speakers deliver clear speakerphone quality, but callers reported we sounded garbled.
The HTC One features a 4MP Ultrapixel camera that makes may leave users wondering about the quality of the HTC One camera compared to the higher MP ratings on the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5.
HTC uses larger pixels, Ultrapixels, which the company claims delivers better low light photos than the competition. During our HTC One review we took a collection of photos indoors, outdoors, in good light and bad, and share the HTC One photo samples so shoppers can judge the image quality.
Overall we are pleased with the Ultrapixel camera in a range of lighting. The HTC One rear facing camera also records 1080P HD video, a sample of which is included as well.
The Ultrapixel camera is complemented with HTC Zoe. Zoe is a camera software feature that captures 20 photos and a 3 second video clip and allows users to share a living moment. With Zoe, users can create photos that show multiple frames, to deliver movement and more. While HTC Zoe may sound like a gimmick, it is a standout HTC One feature.
The front facing 2.1MP camera is wide-angle which allows users to capture group photos with more than just two users, without the need to cram together.
The HTC One runs Android 4.1.2, one minor version of Android behind the Nexus 4 and the upcoming Galaxy S4, but many users won’t notice thanks to the HTC Sense 5 skin. HTC wraps a sleek skin around the stock version of Android that delivers nice looking icons and special features without the cartoony look of Samsung’s TouchWiz.
One of the biggest HTC One software features is HTC Blinkfeed, a new home screen that pulls in content from Facebook, Twitter and a variety of sources to deliver an image rich newsfeed for the HTC One home screen. This is not like Facebook Home, which takes over the launcher, but rather a page dedicated to customizable news and social networks.
Check out HTC Blinkfeed and several other HTC Sense 5 features in the video below.
In addition to Blinkfeed, there is a standard Android home screen with apps, folders and widget support. There are no lock screen widgets, which are a feature in Android 4.2.
The HTC One also features Sense TV, an app that ties into the local channel listings to deliver a great looking remote control experience. Using the hidden IR blaster tucked behind the power button the HTC One can control your hoe entertainment system. The HTC One can handle multiple remotes so it’s possible to take control of all the TVs at home and even at a friend’s house or at a bar.
The HTC One is one minor version of Android behind, and will likely be a full version behind in May when Google is expected to announce Android 5.0 at Google I/O. The HTC One Android 4.2 update release is rumored for late May.
The HTC One software also lets users create quick highlight videos of events automatically, like the one above. Users can also slow down video with a slow-motion mode that accentuates action or drama.
The HTC One is the best built Android smartphone we’ve used, and with HTC Sense 5 on board it delivers an equally well-tuned software experience. The HTC One doesn’t offer all the flashy features of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the smaller screen are turn offs for some users, but the HTC One can hold its own against the Samsung Galaxy S4.