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HTC One Review

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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.

GottaBeMobile-Editors-Choice-Thumbnail-189x126-customHTC’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.

Pros

  • Stellar Design
  • Good Battery Life
  • Great Performance
  • HTC Sense 5
  • Great front-facing speakers
Cons

  • No Expandable Storage
  • Lacks Android 4.2
  • Non-replaceable battery

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HTC One | $199 | AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint

HTC One Review Guide
Related HTC One Review Articles
Buy the One
  • $199 at AT&T
  • $199 at Sprint
  • $99 at T-Mobile

HTC One Video Review

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.

HTC One 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.

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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.

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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.

HTC One Display

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.

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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.

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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 One Performance

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.

Read: T-Mobile vs. AT&T vs. Verizon 4G LTE Speed Test

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.

HTC One Battery Life

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.

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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.

HTC One Call Quality and Audio

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.

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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.

HTC One Cameras

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.

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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.

Software and Apps

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.

The HTC One runs HTC Sense 5 with HTC Blinkfeed and a collection of other features.

The HTC One runs HTC Sense 5 with HTC Blinkfeed and a collection of other features.

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.

Read: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One: Software Feature Showdown

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.

Is the HTC One Worth It?

HTC One Review -  009The 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.

Smart shoppers should check out the HTC One before buying a Samsung Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5.

HTC One Gallery

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

13 Comments

  1. Matt

    04/17/2013 at 1:28 pm

    This is the best review I’ve read for the HTC One, thank you! Mine should be showing up on Friday.

  2. Foodess

    04/17/2013 at 1:55 pm

    I’ve had mine for two weeks and love it – got one up for grabs right now on my blog!

  3. George Mason (@1morevet)

    04/17/2013 at 11:59 pm

    Most watchable of the HTC One reviews. My hardware arrives in 36 hours. One of the users switching from long-time iPhone; easier to do when keeping the iPad.

  4. Tony

    04/18/2013 at 5:28 am

    No doubt the HTC One is a beautiful well spec’ed smartphone. My only issue with HTC is their lack of timely OS updates, or doing updates at all. My current experience with the HTC Rezound was, HTC made a lot of promises, but often failed to carry through. I’m watching much older phones receive their Jelly Bean updates while the Rezound is not scheduled to ever receive it. Gives me pause when I consider going with another HTC product.

    • RobAMcClellan

      04/18/2013 at 6:44 am

      HTC has commented that they will be quicker on the HTC One because unlike last year where they had multiple flagship phones to worry about updating, this year they just have the One. HTC also knows that this phone will either make or break them so I think that will be a huge motivating factor in how quickly updates arrive. HTC already announced that the HTC One will be getting Android 4.2 around a month after release.

  5. Andrew Kelly

    04/18/2013 at 7:56 am

    One of the most important things for me in a mobile is a Camera. I love taking pictures. For more than 2 years, I have not had a phone that had lower than 4 MP camera. However, the quality of photos with this phone is simply amazing and given the design application options in the phone, I am actually tempted to buy it.

  6. Marian Ferrer

    04/23/2013 at 5:07 am

    HTC one is awesome all around phone, best built quality, best screen, best speakers, love HTC sense5 with zoe and blink feed and high end specs. The samung gs4 is also really nice and has more features, but half of those features consumers won’t be using on daily basis. Htc all the way.

  7. Larry

    04/25/2013 at 8:29 pm

    Haa HAAAA apple you got beaten!! iPhone 5 looks so low end so cheap compared to the beautiful htc one!!! Just got mine and tossed my fairly new 64 gb iPhone 5 out the window on freeway on the way to t mobile to activate it, mines unlocked on t mobile n works great buye apple

    • Matt

      04/26/2013 at 8:51 am

      I hope you didn’t actually do that! You could easily sell an 64gb iPhone 5 for $400-$500 to someone that doesn’t want a contract. People are willing to pay top dollar for those when they are still stuck in the reality distortion field. I know because I used to be in that prison. However, like you, I have gone to the One and am not looking back. The One is an amazing top-notch device.

      • Larry

        04/26/2013 at 8:14 pm

        Yes I did!!! I regret doing so your right but I was so pissed at it freezing up etc, and I did what I did, I was mapping t mobile store and the phone was slow as well as Verizon, it’s in bit and pieces along the 405 frwy in long beach ca!! Ya someone would have wanted it and was a waste of a new iPhone 5 but I spared someone else’s anger if they got mad!! Ya I was a duche lol lol but my htc one mapping works perfect too as well as all functions on t mobile, but good news Verizon sent me another one with my ins I had on it, I’ll put that on eBay 300 bucks!! It’s in a sealed box!! 300 just to get rid of it fast!! It’s a white ip 5 64 gb

      • Larry

        04/26/2013 at 8:23 pm

        Great thing on the htc one is its the first metal case android finally too:)) now there is a great phone to beat them and soon the Samsung g s4 it will take apple years to catch up, if they had a 4.8 inch screen and a newer UI look and better camera ect for the 5s or 6 whatever they call the crap, they might get someplace?? But I’m not looking back either, I puke every time I see a apple store like its a desese

  8. Steve

    04/29/2013 at 8:30 am

    Sorry but the pictures look nearly as bad as those that came from my One X. The low light picture of the car is terrible. Is the tree pic in Monrovia, IN by chance?

  9. FELIX

    08/05/2013 at 12:26 pm

    WERE CAN I GET MY HTC ONE SCEEM REPLACE

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