on April 24, 2013
Earlier this year, I jumped ship from Apple (the iPhone 5, specifically) to Samsung's Galaxy Note II. In the process, I also went from AT&T to a rival carrier offering unlimited data and slightly lower monthly bills. While I liked the Note II very much, the data speeds on the other carrier were so poor that, only four months later, I found myself willing to eat the very large early termination fee and switch back to AT&T (who I knew firsthand to have LTE in this market). Since I was switching carriers and had the option to get a new phone, I figured I might as well pick up the latest and greatest on the Android front. Plus it just happened to be release day.
So, I now find myself in possession of the HTC One, and I can say without hesitation that it's the best smartphone I've ever owned (and that includes the Note II, the iPhone 5 and the previous generation iPhones I've had in the past).
As I said, I really liked the Samsung Note II. The display size, for me, was not completely absurd, though the display quality wasn't entirely to my liking -- not crisp enough, and it had the slightly blue cast I notice on Samsung's Super AMOLED displays. The plastic build on the Samsung was also disappointing. I recognize that most people put their phones in cases, but I do not. I'm not careless with phones, and I've never been a fan of needlessly bulking up a device. Finally, Samsung seems to have a knack for stuffing in a lot of "gee whiz" features that seem impressive at first blush, but then get ignored completely because they're simply not very useful.
Those issues are all completely absent from the HTC One. While going from a 5.5" display to a 4.7" one was a bit uncomfortable initially, I've gotten used to it... and, yes, the smaller device is a bit easier to handle with one hand. But the HTC's display is spectacular. It currently has the highest pixel density of any smartphone on the market (and some that haven't hit yet -- like the Galaxy S4), and text is amazingly crisp and smooth. It's bright enough that I usually keep it at half brightness comfortably. And the colors look natural, unlike the hyper-saturated look from Samsung.
The phone as a whole feels solid, but not heavy. It's heavier than the iPhone 5 (which honestly feels almost hollow), but it conveys a sense of substance, which is appealing. The HTC One is the first phone that matches the iPhone 5 in fit and finish, but takes it a step further by incorporating an industrial design that is more beautiful than the stark simplicity of the iPhone 5 without straying into "over-designed" territory. It's simple, but interesting and thoughtful... and it feels wonderful in the hand.
Having gotten used to Samsung's UI overlay, there was a little bit of a learning curve when switching to the HTC device, but in the end, I find it a much more elegant experience. Samsung tends to needlessly complicate things in a very ham-fisted way. HTC's Sense UI is much more subtle, and one gets the sense that every decision that was made in its creation was done thoughtfully and purposefully, instead of "just because we can." There are fewer bells and whistles, perhaps, but the ones that exist are genuinely useful and polished.
The front-facing, stereo speakers are great. The device can pump out some serious sound, and once you experience a stereo sound source, you'll wonder how you were ever satisfied with the sound quality on other smartphones. I'm not entirely convinced that Beats Audio is much more than a marketing gimmick, but there's no denying that having two front-facing speakers on opposite ends of the device make for a great listening experience.
The built-in IR blaster is an interesting addition. Its functionality is wrapped up in a pre-installed app that asks for your cable provider and location, lets you set up remote control functions for TV, cable box and A/V receiver... and then ties it all together. There's a handy feature that displays shows that are currently broadcasting (there's even a handy progress bar at the bottom so you can see how much of the show is remaining) and allows you to jump straight to them with a push of a button. You can also store multiple remote setups for different locations/TVs.
The camera. Ahhh, the camera. HTC very wisely eschews megapixels in favor of larger pixels on the sensor. Anyone who knows anything about digital cameras knows that devices touting extremely high megapixel counts are usually just pandering to an ill-informed consumer. Today's smartphones, with very few exceptions, all have the same camera sensor size. By stuffing in a greater megapixel count, the manufacturer is simply shrinking the size of the individual pixel... to fit more of them on the sensor. This results in very large photos, but at the cost of low-light performance. A tiny pixel on a sensor is capable of capturing far less light than a large pixel. The HTC One's rear-facing camera is a 4MP camera. Compared to the iPhone 5's 8MP camera, that sounds like a huge step backward. The reality is, unless you're planning to print out poster-sized photos, 4MP is more than sufficient. (And, no joke, if you're doing poster-sized prints, you should be using a real DSLR -- not a phone.) The physical size of the sensors in the One and the iPhone 5, however, are very close -- though, in fact, the HTC One's sensor is actually a bit LARGER than that of the iPhone 5. But it has half as many pixels. The pixels on the HTC One's sensor, however, are twice as large. Why does this matter? It allows the camera to capture more light much faster, which means superior low-light performance. For me, that's a big deal, since 90% of the time I use my phone to take a photo, it's indoors -- frequently in a dim environment. The One's better innate low-light performance combined with the fact that it has optical image stabilization (as opposed to the inferior *electronic* image stabilization that most smartphones use) means more detail and better shots in darker situations.
In addition to the camera hardware, the software is excellent. I didn't realize how pedestrian Samsung's camera app was until I used this one. The settings make more sense, offering a nice level of control without being completely overwhelming, and it's all very intuitive.
One of my absolute favorite features of the HTC One is the Zoe feature (short for zoetrope). Instead of just capturing a still frame, Zoe mode captures a 3-second movie clip. You can pull out a full-size frame from the clip if you want, but far more interesting is to let the phone create an event highlight reel. Within the gallery app, photos and Zoes are organized into events (by date, as a default, though they can be reorganized as needed) and a highlight video is dynamically generated, which can be shared. These highlight videos are incredible. They seem to make even the most mundane subjects look interesting and exciting. They're only around 30 seconds each, but they give a much more rich and vibrant sense of the event. You can select one of six different "themes" for the highlight video, and you have the option of specifying which Zoe clips are included, but it literally takes seconds to create a polished, compelling video that would be a thousand times more interesting for others to see than flipping through a series of flat photos. Zoe and the highlight videos I think make one of the most promising new vehicles for sharing experiences I've seen in recent memory.
The downsides are well documented in other reviews, the two biggest being the lack of a micro-SD slot and a battery that is not user-replaceable. For me, these are a non-issue, but their importance will vary from user to user. The HTC One is available with either 32GB or 64GB of storage at this time. On my Note II, I had 16GB internal and a 64GB micro SD. After four months, I was using well below 16GB of storage space -- my storage needs simply aren't that demanding. The HTC One, meanwhile, has twice that much space. And to upgrade to the 64GB model is only $100 more. Honestly, since I'm still within my 14 day return window, I *may* end up trading mine for the 64GB model, just so that I never have to think twice about it -- I will definitely be using the camera more than I was on the Note II.
Some folks like to be able to add aftermarket, higher-capacity batteries. That would not be possible on the HTC One, but those high capacity batteries also add significant bulk and weight, which does not appeal to me. The micro-USB charging cable is easily available, and it's not a big deal to plug it in once in a while. That being said, the HTC One should have no trouble making it through a full day of fairly heavy use without needing a charge, but this will vary wildly from user to user. I'm also not concerned about the battery going bad. In several years and several smartphones, I've NEVER experienced it with any manufacturer or device, and I don't expect it to suddenly become a problem.
Really the only thing I might change on the HTC One is the position of the power button. I tend to hold the phone in my left hand and use the touchscreen with my right. Since the power button is on the top left corner, it requires quite a stretch with my left index finger to turn on (for checking the time, for instance, since I don't wear a watch). The power button, meanwhile, on the Note II was placed exactly where my left index finger rested when holding it, so I considered that placement ideal. I'm sure I'll get used to it.
If that seems like a minor thing to quibble over, that should give an indication of how satisfied I am with the device.
Android has finally caught up with iOS in terms of polish and performance. iOS, in fact, is getting a bit long in the tooth, whereas Android is very aggressively improving and evolving. So the software on the HTC One is great and eminently usable... and the hardware design is *at least* as good as the iPhone 5.
I repeat: this is the best smartphone I've ever owned.
on April 22, 2013
I got the HTC One yesterday from ATT, and it has blown me away. As background, I have been an Android fan and my wife is an iPhone fan. I currently have the S3 and my wife has an iPhone 5. I was waiting for the S4, but upon researching HTC One (CNet has a good review and comparison), I did not want to wait for the S4, and I am very happy with the decision. Ironically, I came upon the HTC name because I was researching the S4, and saw that Samsung pled guilty to hiring students in Taiwan to write negative reviews about HTC One. Strange but true.
Anyway, I am a tech junkie and wanted to provide some background to my thinking. In my opinion, an iPhone tries to combine high end components and squeezes out the best user experience possible from a limited, boring (and now aging) system-- in short I think an iPhone is a very efficient design despite its limitations. Samsungs are the opposite- powerful, almost garish (TouchWiz and the plastic body, cheesy software) and full of software without regard to how it would actually work- user experience is pretty bad as I can attest to using S Voice. S4 sounds cool but in my experience Samsung flings all they can at a wall and hope that something sticks (and it has worked for them). It's the opposite of an iPhone. In my opinion, HTC falls in the middle and combines the best attributes from the two. Power and flexibility of Android, gorgeous beautiful design (the best I have EVER seen on a phone), and software features that are useful and sensibly implemented. I love HTC Sense on this phone- it is light and responsive, and I really like Blinkfeed(seems to be a Flipboard/Windows 8 copy but it works). Camera software has been updated, and Zoe (short 3 second "films") is genius- I never thought how cool it was till I tried it.
In terms of performance, the phone was very snappy and blazing fast with no lag whatsoever. Sound quality for calls was good and I particularly liked the speakerphones. Additionally, the sound from the stereo speakers was surprisingly loud, so much so that I could crank the phone up in a room and play music without needing external speakers. The highlight of the phone to me was the camera which excels in low light. HTC has halved the number of pixels (hopefully this will end the pixel arms race as it was getting ridiculous) but doubled the size of the sensor. So images in low light are outstanding and beats my S3 and iPhone 5 hands down.
I'll update the review as I spend more time with the phone (I'll also be posting this on CNet). This may be my "honeymoon" period with a new phone and maybe I am over-hyping this, but honestly I feel this is by far the best phone I've ever used, and it is an order of magnitude better than anything in the market today. Frankly, I think this is better than anything that has been announced- including the S4. I'm a very happy user.
UPDATE: It's only been a day so I did not put battery numbers but since someone asked me, I'll put my answer here as well. I went through a "normal" day today with regular calling, continuous push email from my work outlook email and personal yahoo email, some camera Zoe use and general "playing around" and had 50% left by the end of the day. I know that CNet's review had the continuous battery life at 9+ hours, equal to the vaunted iPhone battery life. Frankly, that is one of the reasons that I bought the phone as battery life is important to me. Given CNet review, and my limited experience today. I feel very comfortable about it. I'll update this in case my experience turns out to be different over the next couple weeks.
UPDATE 2: OK. The battery life rocks.It goes back to my statement of this phone being a very efficient system- like the iPhone. I'm NOT a gamer, but I use the GPS/navigation a lot (in the excellent car mode for the phone that makes the display tailored for driving- large icons and less complicated and busy), emails all day for work, browsing/YouTube, making calls and camera. I also use the fantastic Google Now feature (not an HTC feature but an Android one)that figured out I was at the airport and automatically displayed my boarding pass on the screen-- genius. Anyway, I digress :). During my normal use, the phone has about 50% of juice left after the day. It's very comforting. I don't understand why people complain about the non-removable battery- if they at least use it first before complaining they'd realize this thing can go on for a long time. The other thing I discovered was setting up my phone as an IR blaster remote to control my AV equipment. In this case, it was the HTC software that made what could be a passing novelty into a really useful function. Kudos to HTC. This is an amazing phone. Just wonderful.
UPDATE 3: I'm not sure if it is proper to do this or not but I'm feeling pretty good I did not wait for the S4. Here is a good review from Bloomberg that echoes the feelings I had about S3 I shared above. Looks like the S4 is no different. Link: [...]
on May 18, 2013
EDIT (3/4/14): Another update just like the last. I haven't have any issues with my HTC One. Battery life is staying steady since day one, and the phone is just as fast as it was when I first received it. Very happy with the purchase thus far and hopefully will continue to be!
EDIT (11/28/13): Another four months later, I'm still very happy with my purchase. I haven't had a single problem with the phone, and it's just as fast as ever. Seems fitting to post on Thanksgiving because I'm definitely thankful for such a great phone.
EDIT (7/17/13): Two months later, I'm still in love with my HTC One. The build quality is amazing and haven't got a scratch on it yet (no case but I'm very OCD when it comes to electronics). BoomSound (could have perhaps picked a better name) still gives you the best sound quality out of any phone currently available. My phone still has the same zip from day one. Swiping screens, opening and closing apps, etc. still butter smooth. The lag and jitters the Galaxy S4 sometimes experiences was a big turn off to me, which is why in terms of everyday use, the HTC One is much faster and more responsive. If anyone has any questions, leave a comment and I'll definitely reply back.
It came down to the Galaxy S4 or the HTC One, and I'm definitely glad I went with the HTC One. HTC truly outdid themselves with this phone, both in design and quality. I'm coming from an iPhone 3GS, but even if you're coming from an iPhone 5 or a Galaxy S4, this phone is impressive. I'm mainly comparing the HTC One against the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S4, because I've had hands-on experience with both and also because I don't think any other phones even come close.
The HTC One not only looks amazing but has one of the best builds I've ever seen on a phone. Its build quality is only rivaled by the iPhone 5 (I'd still say HTC wins). It's not featherlight, but the slight heft you feel when you hold it only makes it that much better. It's the perfect mix of premium quality, great design, and the intelligence to actually put it all together without screwing it up. The Galaxy S4 in terms of build quality can't even compete. Don't get me wrong, the Galaxy S4 feels solid in your hands, but the HTC One brings that experience to a whole new level.
Simply stunning. The HTC One currently has the highest pixel density of any phone with 468 ppi, followed by the Galaxy S4 with 441 ppi, and finally the iPhone 5 with 326 ppi. I love the fact HTC went with an SLCD 3 display versus SAMOLED. While SAMOLED displays offer truer blacks and usually better color saturation, this comes at the price of often times over saturating colors and not being as crisp and clear as an SLCD display. Both the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One offer full HD 1080p displays, but I'd still go with the HTC One despite the slightly smaller screen. Colors are simply more accurate and text is crisper, clearer, and easier to read whether indoors or outdoors.
The Galaxy S4 has a slight advantage on paper when it comes to processing power, but you'd never guess it by using the two phones. The HTC One is actually a lot faster in everyday use. I was amazed the Galaxy S4 still experienced lag and stutters when it came to simple things like switching screens or opening/closing apps. While almost every benchmark you see gives the edge to Samsung, it really only proves that Samsung is better at... you guessed it: benchmarks. In terms of raw processing power, the Galaxy S4 clearly wins, but in the real world benchmarks mean next to nothing, and HTC shows this pretty convincingly. I'm not saying the Galaxy S4 doesn't have any edge because it does, but processing power alone is misleading. In the words of another reviewer, "In terms of performance, this phone is pure butter out of the box," and I couldn't put it any better myself.
HTC shows you don't need a high megapixel count to experience amazing pictures. I've never seen a camera take pictures as well in low light as the HTC One. The detail and quality you get are ridiculous. The Galaxy S4 is great in bright light, but if you're like me, most of your pictures are not in perfect lighting, which means the low light capabilities of the HTC One are much more valuable. The Galaxy S4 also tends to over saturate colors, so while pictures may seem brighter, they're not true to color. The colors and contrast on the HTC One are more accurate. The HTC One is also quicker at taking pictures than the Galaxy S4. If you're someone who spends a lot of time outdoors (in the sun) and wants a high level of the detail when zoomed in, the Galaxy S4 would work best. If you're someone who spends most of their time inside or out at night, the HTC One would be a better fit. I'd probably put the iPhone 5 somewhere between the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One.
Beautiful. The dual front speakers with built-in amps sound better than any phone I've ever heard. There's really not much else to say. The sound is crisp and clean even with the volume up. Since the speakers are on the front rather than the back, the sound isn't muffled when it's lying down. It also doesn't sound tinny like most phones. Both the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 have a single speaker and simply can't compete with the HTC One in terms of sound quality.
There's been some fuss over the HTC One being released with Android 4.1.2 instead of the latest version (4.2.2). I couldn't care less for a few reasons. First, there's not many differences between the two versions to begin with. Second, HTC is probably holding out for the KLP update and simply skipping 4.2.2 altogether. If you're someone who always needs the most up-to-date version, the Galaxy S4 is probably a better choice (ships with 4.2.2). I have to give credit where credit is due, and Apple wins hands-down when it comes to update releases (not necessarily talking about quality). All iPhones regardless of carrier receive updates at the same time. Some argue Android has become too fragmented due to all the different versions currently running on phones and tablets, which in the end tends to hurt Android.
HTC offers their UI called Sense while Samsung has their own called TouchWiz. Here's where personal preference is going to come into play. HTC's Sense 5 UI has been stripped down and takes a simple approach and design concept. Samsung on the other hand has a lot more bells and whistles. I'd say once again Apple is somewhere in the middle. If you're someone who loves using a lot of apps and features, Samsung certainly has a lot more to offer in this area than HTC and Apple combined. When it comes to what I'd call useful features, however, I think that comparison is much closer. I like HTC's "stripped down, no nonsense approach" versus Samsung's "throw everything at a wall and see what sticks." If you're someone who likes to mess with things, the Galaxy S4 is more geared toward you. If you're someone who enjoys simplicity, the HTC One is probably more your style.
The Galaxy S4 has a larger battery than the HTC One but in real world testing performed about equal, so the extra 300 mAh doesn't give too much of an advantage (you could argue because of the Galaxy S4's larger screen but it's hard to say). The main difference is the HTC One doesn't have a removable battery (much like iPhones) while the Galaxy S4 does (I've never been one to use multiple batteries, so it doesn't bother me). There's another slight difference that usually goes unnoticed. HTC chose to go with a Li-polymer battery versus the normal Li-ion (Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5). Li-ion batteries suffer from "aging" or losing capacity even when not in use. Li-polymer batteries, however, can hold a much better charge over time.
The fact there's no microSD card slot on the HTC One might be a deal breaker for some, but I don't think it should be. First, the HTC One starts out at 32 GB, which is double the Galaxy S4. Second, the OS takes up less memory on the HTC One than on the Galaxy S4. Roughly half of the 16 GB on the Galaxy S4 is reserved, which means you're already down to close to 8 GB before you download a single app. It seems as if Samsung is literally forcing customers to buy a memory card, and worse yet, apps can't even be stored on them (only internal memory). Out of the box, you either start with a little over 8 GB with the Galaxy S4 or close to 26 GB with the HTC One. The HTC One is also currently about $40 less than the Galaxy S4 (AmazonWireless). Apple wins again though when it comes to OS size with iOS taking less than 2 GB.
The HTC One to me is the perfect blend of design, practicality, and power. While it might not be perfect for everyone, I honestly think it's currently the best phone out there. Perhaps the Galaxy Note 3 or the iPhone 6 will change this, but for now the HTC One is king (or rather the one :P).
on May 12, 2013
Yes I am that Apple fanboy who used to wait in every line when every iteration of the iPhone was released. I have owned every iPhone from the very first one and have loved the design and software of every phone. Only recently did I become seriously interested in Android based phones again because of the Galaxy S4 and all of its cool features like preview without touching the screen or eye tracking. I have tried Android phones in the past as well as Windows 7 phones, and I never thought I would give them a shot again but Samsung's big marketing push peaked my interest.
Most of you know of at least one person who is always getting the latest iPad, iPhone, Kindle, etc. and you think to yourselves, " why is such and such always wasting money on such frivolous things?'...well Im that guy. I am the one who buys into the latest and greatest because I see the value that these items bring to everyday life. When I got the first iPhone, my friends and family who owned Motorola Razrs told me they can check their email from home and there was no need to be connected to email 24/7. Well those people, all of them, now own iPhones (lol). I was just as excited as any Apple fan boy when the iPhone 5 came out and it was nice to have the larger screen, but ultimately the hardware is seeing diminishing returns on its coolness factor. Still without a doubt, the iPhone is a fantastic phone and I love it. Yet, those droid phones and their large HD screens with cool features...
So I went to a brick and mortar and picked up a Galaxy S4 because of all of the features that samsung developed that the iPhone lacked and it had a larger screen. First, hardware wise, the S4 is amazing thin and light. But it's made of plastic and it feels cheap. Most people would think to themselves, as did I, who cares about design and feel because it is all about function. Boy was I wrong...imagine a flat rectangular piece of plastic that is large so you must hold it with your fingers rather than let it sit in the palm of your hand. It is flat so it doesn't sit in your palm. One of the reasons Apple has stuck to small phones is because you can do everything with one hand. Because of the S4's shape you need to do everything with two hands. Yes I am a normal sized male with normal sized hands...it became rather frustrating when I could not text with one hand let alone do all of the other tasks with the phone I normally do with one hand. But most importantly, it is very uncomfortable to hold. It makes typing emails painful. Another super cool feature of the S4 I liked was that I could expand the memory with a micro sd card. Who would't want to add an extra 64gb of memory so you could store thousands of pictures without syncing the phone with your computer? Well that feature is fantastic, but when I removed the back, plastic, cover it was about the cheapest thing I have felt in ages. The back cover snaps off and cracks and creaks and you just wish Samsung would put a little effort into the design. Another downside to Samsing's screen is it's SUPER AMOLED screen. Colors are too saturated and are cartoonish which gets annoying rather quickly. It's almost as if they are the extreme opposite to Apple and think function over design...but in this day and age, you would expect everyone to realize people really want the best of both worlds.
Welcome to the HTC ONE...It has a bigger screen( than the iPhone but smaller than the S4), higher resolution screen, beautiful design, AWESOME SPEAKERS, and a very ergonomic design. The screen is better than both the iPhone 5 and Galxy s4 and it is noticeable to me rather easily. Almost every review will tell you that the resolution between all three phones is insignificant, which it absolutely is if you are looking for individual pixels. But for someone who used a Retina display since the iPhone 4s came out, I can tell you that the HTC One sets the new standard for the best phone screen available. The S4's screen isnt even worth comparing because it is so bad. I personally use my speaker on my phones quite often, mostly for speaker phone or movies and music. Every portable device I have ever owned I always wished that the sound didnt sound so tinny and weak. The HTC one is AMAZING when it comes to sound. Not only is it loud but it is really clear. I love using the speakers and on top of that I never have my ringer on full volume simply because it is too loud. I have missed my ringer on my iPhone countless times, but the HTC One is so loud I can hear the ringer in the loudest of situations in normal daily life. Now to ergonomics...I can use the phone with one hand and it sits in my palm. I couldn't appreciate that detail until the S4 made me realize how important it was to have. Ergonomics on a phone matter more than most give it credit for. Last but not least, the design; the phone is simply the best designed phone I have ever seen. When the iPhone 1 came out it was beautiful and stunning. That's what I think of the HTC One and now I think the iPhone 5 seems like the iPhone old...Also the iPhone 5 is made of aluminum but mine scratched rather easily and chipped as well. I was even accused by Apple of dropping my phone because it was so scratched up. I put a case on it to prevent further scratching...who expects aluminum to scratch? Well not HTC because the One is made from aluminum and it doesn't scratch. Think macbook pro, macbook air type aluminum. All around this is the best phone I have put my hands on in ages and Apple is playing catch up to this device.
Android - This software isn't for everyone. Yes one of it's best qualities is that you can customize it to the way you want. But his is also one of its worst qualities. You can install lots of free apps that advertise bloat ware...that's a small example. It takes some time getting used to but those flaws are more of Google's problems rather than HTC.
Anyways, I never thought I would like a non Apple phone better than the iPhone, but the day has come. The HTC One is the best phone on the market. I am no programmer or hacker...I use my phone like the other 99% of the majority. For the majority of people this is the phone to get. You won't regret it.
5/14/2013 - Battery life on all three phones is roughly the same in my opinion. I use my phone to text, talk maybe 10-30 minutes a day, play an hour of video games, browse the web and listen to Spotify for a good hour at the gym everyday. In terms of real world purposes, none of these phones really give us what we want in terms of battery life. They can all get us through one day of normal usage but still won't get us through two full days with normal usage. So for all three phones you can use them everyday and will need to charge them every night.
After a few days of usage, I am still loving the One more and more. The iPhone 5 after a few days of use was already picking up scratches whereas the One doesn't even show a hint of picking up scratches. I always carry my phones in my left pocket with no other items and somehow my iPhone managed to get scratched.
And one more thing, after using Apple for a few years now, I have become used to having many choices of accessories to chose from with the iPhone. As for the HTC one, it's almost laughable at how little attention the device gets from third party vendors. So if you like having a stylish case or other weird accessories likes lens attachments, don't keep your hopes up if you switch to a non Apple device.
What is there to say about this phone? If I just write about it, I'm just going to ramble on and on. So to save everyone some grief, here are bullet points (my direct comparisons are to the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Note 2, but mainly to the Galaxy S4):
1) THE SCREEN: If there was such a better screen on a phone, I have not yet seen it. The iPhone 5 is lauded for its excellent screen, but at its current resolution, it trails behind the One's screen by far. Everything just POPS out at you. Even in direct sunlight, everything is CLEAR and BRIGHT. I really loved the Droid DNA/HTC Butterfly's screen, but once again HTC has outdone itself and given us a true masterpiece in 4.7" 1080p(468ppi) form. This is THE BEST screen on the planet right now - WOW!!!
2) THE DESIGN/HARDWARE: Why do most reviewers laud the iPhone 5's aluminum construction so much, when it chips and nicks so easily?? If you want a true masterpiece in design and craftsmanship, look no further. The One feels THICK and TOUGH. I don't have to worry about carrying this around case-less(except from drops, which is a whole other case). I will not be worried about this phone nicking and scraping like the iPhone 5. Personally, it may not have the flair of some of the Sony and Nokia phone of the past, but in totality the One has the best combination of design and craftsmanship. It oozes style and sophistication(*cough*Samsung*ahem*).
3) THE DUAL FRONT-FACING SPEAKERS: We have all been desensitized to the modern smartphones nowadays with their crappy, tinny, mono speaker. I remember the days of the Nokia n95 and n84 with their stereo speakers - whatever happened to phones after that? Whoever agreed to a mono/solo speaker with all the smartphones thereafter?? FINALLY, someone has the senses to come back to reality - thank you, HTC!. Trust me, your ears will thank you and you will realize all phones should have been made like this. Especially when you use ringtones/alerts that were specifically created for this phone, the sound is loud, immersive, expansive, and POPs into your ears. It's simply a re-revolution.
4) THE CAMERA: I don't use my phone camera to make prints from photos, I have my dedicated cameras for that. So to me, the paramount function of phone cameras is the convenience/accessibility - it has to be able to capture what I want quickly and clearly, with decent enough quality to post online. Therefore, the 4MP size in the One's camera does not bother me at all. Who cares if the camera isn't THE BEST phone camera ever? Because it is not, but it is a GREAT low-light shooter, and to me that's more important than pixel count. The sensors in the camera are bigger than other phone cameras, therefore, it can capture a lot more light, which in laymen's terms it can give you better photos in more situations than other phone cameras can. Also, the touch spot focus is almost instantaneous - this camera is quick, quick, quick!
5) For a near 5-incher, it's quite svelte, at least at the girth. It's easier to hold in the hand than the Samsung Galaxy S3/S4, and for sure a heckuva lot better than the Note 2. It fits in your hands nicely and securely, with just the right combination of size, weight, and balance.
6) The UI and software design is now very minimal and simplistic. For better or for worse, if you are used to the old Sense UI's, you will need some readjusting. Personally, I like this new one better. If you're a casual news reader, then you'll like new default home screen which displays a gathering of news sources - some of its own partners, some for your Facebook and Twitter, etc. - to form a Flipboard style of news reader. Personally, I'm a huge Pulse news reader fan, so I only use that.
The Bad and Ugly:
1) The battery is only 2300mAh - I wish it was bigger because I'm one of those paranoid people who always needs my phone at fully charged, just in case, of you know, something. But so far it's been holding steady at about 40% at the end of the day(from 9am-6pm). I check emails, read the news, text, Facebook, etc. throughout the day - I would say that I'm a moderate to heavy user. Another bad thing that I've noticed is it charges slower than most other phones.
2) Comparing features with the Samsung S4, the One is lacking. It's not a deal breaker, but for those who like fancy functions, the One will not make you as happy. The HTC One is very simple in its feature set. The one feature I miss most from the new Samsung phones is Smart Stay, where the phone can sense that you're looking at the screen, and won't dim/turn off the screen - that was a HUGE convenience for when you're watching a movie or reading the news.
3) Like I wrote earlier, the size is both good and bad, and it's also heavier than most similar phones. It's taller than the S4, and with the power button up on top, it's almost impossible to do one-hand phone operations without shifting your hand up and down to accommodate both the screen gestures and buttons. The buttons(power and volume) don't protrude enough to make it easy to press them.
All in all, I feel the combination of the One's screen, design/craftsmanship, and audio experience trumps over the Samsung S4's fancy functions. The S4's screen is almost just as good - AMOLED screens are known for their deep blacks and saturation, while the One's is much better in direct light. The S4 has a higher MP camera, therefore able to take better photos in broad daylight, while the One's camera is more versatile and MUCH better in low light conditions. The One has a much better audio experience, while the S4 gives you better convenience with its features - userability goes to the S4 for sure.
But in the end, considering the totality of things, I feel the HTC One provides me the best TOTAL experience, and is the king of the smartphones right now.
on April 27, 2013
Ten days now and no problems to speak of, but I did find that some intensive games will make the phone heat up, not to the point you can't hold it, but it gets pretty warm. Simpler games have no effect. Everything else is great, I am really getting into Blinkfeed; my music sounds great through the speakers and even better through headphones. My next project is to explore the camera.
As I said before, I like to keep up on tech stuff. There is an article published on 04/30 that indicated the 16GB Galaxy S4 actually has only 8.8GB free for the consumer to use! And, that is not because of carrier bloat-ware, the test was done on an unlocked, sim-free device. A carrier-specific phone was also tested and guess what? 8.8GB too! That means Samsung has locked away 7.2GB for its own OS and features, as well as any carrier's installations, and none of that is accessible to the user, even if, say, only 5GB are actually needed. The ONE uses about 5GB for the OS, HTC's features, and the carrier's "stuff." So the pricing difference mentioned in the original post is even more dramatic: Samsung must really expect its customers will just bend over and say "Thank you Sir! May I have another?"
There are other recent articles providing more in-depth comparisons of the ONE vs the S4; see if you can guess the outcome of the majority of the tests. I found it interesting that the only time the S4 seems to come out ahead is when there are a number of "ties" and the author chooses the Samsung as the winner.
I like to keep up on tech developments, so I was intrigued about the "M7" from HTC I began reading about in December. We all know that phone is now the ONE. I pre-ordered a 64GB ONE and have had it for just over a week now. There are some really great personal reviews here on Amazon that discuss all of the features of the phone, as well as dozens of professional reviews out there (and an amazing thesis by Brian Klug that HTC should adopt as its owners manual; look for the pull-down at the end of the first page then make a sandwich and sit back, the entire review is literally 93 pages including photos and charts. EVERYTHING you want to know about this phone is contained in his article at [...] I agree with them 100% and there is really nothing I can add that has not already been said. So, I am not going to address all of the features and capabilities of the ONE, as that would be redundant in light of all the other reviews. Instead I want to focus on why you should buy this phone over all the others available, and on the differences in the specs. (I will add to this review over the next few days so check back.)
First and foremost is the appearance; in a sea of bland sameness, the ONE can be spotted a mile away. Some argue it looks like the iPhone, the Z10, or any other rectangular phone. Well, there are only so many useable shapes, so, yeah, I guess it is geometrically similar. The real test then would be to lay down a dozen similarly shaped phones, devoid of any labeling, in a grid pattern and see how long it would take to pick it out from the rest. Once anyone has seen this phone in person, it would be a matter of seconds before your eyes would spot it in the crowd. It is simply that beautiful and unique.
The feel of the phone in your hand is also something so different it is really hard to explain. It is almost sensual (not to be confused with sexual, I am making a point here). It is like gripping a very well designed steering wheel in a sports car (think BMW M3) as opposed to an everyday driver; or holding a well balanced carving knife with an ergonomic handle, compared to something you might buy on sale at Wal Mart; or putting your hand into a seasoned baseball glove, compared to a new, stiff, vinyl glove. The shape, the texture, the heft, the coolness of the metal..it all just FEELS right. It is something you can't put on paper, you have to experience it for yourself. Other phones feel like a cheap kid's toy whereas the ONE feels expensive. It feels special in comparison.
The features of the ONE are actually very well thought out and I understand HTC spent quite some time learning how people use their phones. Take Blinkfeed, for example. Many reviewers have stated they see no need for it and I was skeptical at first, but after a week I find it very useful. If your home computer has Yahoo or MSN homepage and you watch it for news, sports, business updates, you will absolutely love Blinkfeed. Unlike your computer homepage, HTC allows you to choose the sources of your information so you get the updates you are interested in and nothing else. How useful is that?
Sense 5 has changed the look of typical Android a bit, but nothing that won't become second nature to you in the first couple of days using the ONE. Those of you new to Android, there is nothing to worry about as you won't know the difference anyway. And we are talking minor changes, nothing quite as drastic as, say, going from Windows 7 to 8. Other companies will try to point out that these changes ruined the phone. To them I say, get over it! Things and people change every day and we all survive; swiping up in the app tray instead of sideways is not life-changing, I think I'll live through it.
Speaking of Android, the ONE uses 4.1, the most recent version is 4.2. The only difference is about a half dozen features that I won't go into here. You can search 4.1 vs 4.2 for an exact understanding. However, I will say that every reviewer that has commented on the fact the the ONE ships with 4.1 and the GS4 ships with 4.2 has said that the difference in the OS is so small that is doesen't matter, in addition to which Sense 5 itself makes up for some of the differences. Other reviewers have stated they actually like 4.1 better and will not upgrade their personal devices until KLP is released. Google was expected to release KLP in May but now apparently it is going to be held back a couple of months. The reason is irrelevant to this discussion; but the point is there is a very good likelihood HTC will skip the 4.2 upgrade for the ONE and go directly to KLP. When will that happen; who knows?
The camera is perhaps the most controversial feature. If you don't already know, the megapixal race is a sham, more just means more, and it doesn't really cost the manufacturers that much to jam more in for bragging rights. I love to hear owners, especially the smug ones, talk about their 8, 13, 21...MP cameraphones; they wouldn't know an MP from an M&M. Any photographer will tell you that all multiple MPs are really good for is enlarging a photo for the purpose of either cropping or a poster sized print, without losing detail. I am willing to wager the vast majority (90+%) of you reading this have never done either with a picture taken from your phones.
Most of us use the camera on our phone because it is convenient, not because of the great shots they produce. How many wedding photographers use a cell phone as their camera? Would you hire one that did? Most of the shots we take are indoors and all of the comparison tests have shown the ONE is the best camera for that purpose. Outdoor shots are just fine as well, but admittedly, there are some phones that are better suited for outdoors, but only in daylight. For night shots, the ONE is again the winner. The bottom line here is to remember you are buying a smartphone that by its very nature has many, many purposes. If you are buying a smartphone because you need a great camera, your priorities are screwed up: go buy a DSLR.
Next is the sound quality, specifically, Boomsound; great feature, lousy name. The sound this device puts out will rival any personal speaker system on the market. The only thing it won't do is replace a speaker system designed for parties (think Beats Box portable bluetooth speaker). In a room with just a few people, the phone is all you need and even then you may need to turn it down. The sound quality is simply great, not tinny, weak or buzzy, like the sound coming from every other phone on the market, bar none. In fact, I like to play the live version of U2's "God Part II", or Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" just to see the expession on the face of my friends. Try that with whatever you are currently using or any of the competition and you will just get laughs, not an "Oh, WOW!"
And speaking of "Oh, wow," Samsung has added some really interesting "gee-wiz" features, that I don't see anyone ever using after the first week. Waving at the screen instead of touching it, tilting the phone up or down to scroll...I mean, really? You have to hold the thing in your hand, how hard would it be to do it the "old-fashioned" way and actually put your finger on the screen and swipe? Your movements cannot be subtle or they won't be read. Do you really want to look like some fool nodding and gesturing at your phone in public? In addition, some of the features only work on Samsung apps. For example, looking away pauses videos, but not on You Tube, so even if you wanted to buy the GS4 for that purpose, it won't work! Samsung loaded the GS4 with features because it could, not because they are something anyone wants, needs, or would use; and yet they are some of the major selling points. Features for the sake of features means nothing; make them useful.
Two other points that should be set straight are events in the news. Most recently, Nokia announced they had won an injunction against HTC selling the ONE in Holland, over the use of microphones designed by Nokia (which, by the way are fantastic in making the phone calls clear as can be in very noisy environments and also allow for recording songs at live concerts so you can play them back and hear the song clearly - thank you Nokia). The truth, however, is the injunction was against the company that manufactured the microphones for Nokia, and is not to sell them to any other company for six months. The manufacture and sale of the ONE are not affected by the injunction outside of Holland, except that HTC will have to get another supplier for the microphones after their current stockpile runs out.
The other point has to do with the predatory marketing by Samsung of the GS4. It is a fact that Samsung was caught indirectly paying students in Taiwan (home of HTC) to write false blogs and negative comments slamming the ONE and HTC, and at the same time promoting the qualities of the GS4 and Samsung. They did not even try to deny it, they just apologised like it was nothing. Samsung is now the largest cell phone manufacturer in the world; it makes me wonder exactly how they got that way. So let's see: their products are good, but not world beating; their advertising budget is larger than the GNP of some nations; they have an immense customer base which is very loyal, and will close-mindedly shout down any challenger that dares to produce a superior product. Wait a minute, why would people do that? What Samsung did in Taiwan couldn't happen here...could it? Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice...
HTC went above and beyond to design and engineer a fantastic phone and it definitely deserves your consideration. The GS4, however, is just a reiteration of the GS3, improved - yes, but really just more of the same. The ONE and the GS4 have excellent and similar/same specs, so the real difference is the physical appearance and two characteristics: expandable memory and removable batteries. As you know, Apple has neither, and yet there are millions of iPhones out there so it evidently is a matter of choice, not necessity. The ONE is $199 for 32GB and the GS4 is $249 with 32GB (add a 32GB SDXC micro card and you are up to $299). For that price you can have a 64GB ONE [all pricing is per AT&T; Amazon pricing is definitely better and can vary day-to-day].
As for the battery life, in the week I have owned my ONE I have recharged it four out of seven nights, the lowest the battery ever got was to 18% after two days. Normally I don't charge every night unless I am going to be out running around in the morning. I have/use a charger at home, in the office and in my car; I also have a 3000mAh portable battery bank that can dump 50% of its charge into another device in well less than an hour and fully charge an 1850mAh battery in about 90 minutes. I wonder about those who post comments about their swapping out batteries midday. Just what are they doing with their phones, and if they really need that much battery life why don't they already own a Razor MAXX?
Let's break this down: demanding a replaceable battery means you have already resigned yourself to buying a second battery for your brand new phone (at least $45 because we know you aren't going to buy generic) and a seperate battery charger (at least another $45 because someone like you doesn't have the time to recharge both batteries in-phone). With tax, we'll call it an even $100. So, no matter what replaceable-battery-phone you buy, EVERY time you buy, you can count on paying an additional $100 over the price of the phone itself, because God knows, no manufacturer of a replaceable-battery-phone is going to use the battery/charging system from the previous model. The obvious financial solution to this particular problem would be the one-tme purchase of a portable battery bank that plugs into any device with a micro-USB charging port. You are already planning on carrying that extra batery, a battery bank isn't that much larger. But, you say, "my way I can swap the batteries and forget it." Ok, so you are saying your phone never sits in your pocket, purse, briefcase, desk drawer, etc, for 45-90 minutes untouched (and even then, I can use my phone with the bank plugged in or unplug it if I absolutly need to)? You don't use a bluetooth device? You have to handle your phone on a constant basis, LITERALLY? Well, then I guess I can't help you. But if I made my point, then a replaceable battery is not really a deal breaker. Pick up the ONE.
The ONE is without a doubt the best smartphone that has ever been built. I cannot recommend it highly enough. You really don't need to look any further or at any other phone. This is the ONE!!
Is HTC on the verge a splashing comeback? HTC reminds me of Apple in mid 90s when they were struggling. People had ruled out HTC but they have come back with a bang! I upgraded one of my family phones to HTC One. I have a Galaxy Note 2, and recently used S4 for an extensive period. So at places I may compare with what I have experienced.
HTC One build is excellent, smartphone design absolutely amazing, and a delight to hold. Aluminum is used for the backplate and sides, making it an all-aluminum body. It certainly feels better than Samsung phones in some areas. The ergonomics and looks of HTC One are stunning. The screen size is certainly smaller than Note 2 and even S4.
4.7 in screen with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. Full HD 469 ppi (Corning Gorilla Glass 2, Gorilla Glass is the alkali-aluminosilicate sheet toughened glass manufactured by glassmaker Corning. Version 2 of Glass was introduced in 2012). The phone is thin and light. I highly recommend you to try it at a nearby store. Reading reviews do no justice to the phone; once you experience it, you will drool. I am happy there is a stiff competition between phone vendors. I don't have attachment to any one vendor. I am open to trying all vendors.
HTC One runs Jellybean Android 4.1.2, using HTC's Sense user interface, not sure if it will be upgradeable to version 5.0 "Key Lime Pie". We may see 4.2.2, or 4.3 version of JellyBean rumored for Google I/O in May 15-17 2013, just a week away as I write this review.
* Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor running at 1.7GHz with 2GB of RAM
* 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac support future proof for now. Note the support of "ac"
* GPS, NFC, gyro, accelerometer, proximity, ambient light
AWESOME speakers. Per HTC, stereo speakers come with amplifiers, and Beats Audio technology for deeper bass. HTC one also has 2 microphones for reducing noise.
* Camera is awesome; don't let the 4 MP fool you. It is the old photographer's adage. It is the not the megapixel, it's the sensor that matters! This camera is very light sensitive, and I was able to get great photos in low light situations.
* micro-USB port for battery charging supports MHL, so if you buy an adapter you can use HDMI. Lot of people are not aware of MHL and not widely popularized. Basically you can make your smartphone into a giant computer. Connect smartphones to HDMI monitors or HDTVs, use Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and control smartphone. Per Wikipedia "Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) is an industry standard for a mobile audio/video interface that allows consumers to connect mobile phones, tablets and other portable consumer electronics (CE) devices to high-definition televisions (HDTVs) and audio receivers. The MHL standard supports up to 1080p/60 high-definition (HD) video and 7.1 surround sound audio while simultaneously charging the connected device." DLNA Support is also included. These are awesome features indeed, and not noted much.
* Just like the Samsung Galaxy feature, HTC One also works as an infrared sensor for controlling the consumer devices
* 32 GB/64 GB models , but Lack of microSD card support may come as an issue for some
* Battery cannot be removed (Li-Po 2300 mAh battery)
* microSIM card is released by punching a paper clip. Just like iphones. As battery is not removable, this design is adopted by HTC
* To Note: unlike international version, the Chinese models feature a removable back cover, featuring a Micro SD slot for storage expansion and dual SIM card slots. Dual SIMs are very popular in Asia not in US.
* Crapware/Bloatware. Why do the phone manufacturers think they are adding value by adding software like Blinkfeed which cannot be removed. HTC advertises as a feature, I view it as a nuisance. There are no alternatives except vanilla Google Nexus phones. ASUS adds its own extra software, Samsung has its own. I feel they at least make provisions to remove these crapware. Remember windows PC in late 90s loaded with all kinds of stuffs which no one ever used
I have tried following apps from my Play library and they just worked awesome.
Amazon Kindle (very sharp for quick reading, I use black background white text)
Angry Birds (Space/Seasons)
Amazon App Store
Car Maintenance Reminder Pro
NAVIGON (from Garmin - offline maps), was AWESOME!
Google Currents (nice way to read News)
Google Music (I have over 10,000 songs/podcasts) and it is free!
Tapatalk (awesome forum browsing app)
OverDrive Media Console: Library eBooks & Audiobooks (public library consumption of media)
Microsoft One Note (legacy docs, skydrive of 25 GB is good)
Subsonic Music Streamer
Terminal Emulator (still need to use vi, yes this is it)
TweetCaster Pro for Android (excellent twitter client)
Plenty of Widgets - BatteryPro, SwitchPro
Please ask questions. I like when people ask questions as I get more chance to review and poke into! I will be glad to answer any questions.
on June 8, 2013
This phone has been fantastic. I upgraded from the original Samsung Galaxy, and definitely wanted to get away from Samsung. My old Galaxy seemed to be exemplary of what you get from Samsung - a product that is initially great but quickly begins to slow down and wear out. My guess is that Samsung uses a lot of cheaper components in their phones, which makes them cheaper to manufacture and to satisfy demands. That might be great for the customer who wants to turn over their phone every year or so, but I like to stick with my tech for a while, at least until something significantly better comes around.
Overall I love this phone, and have been using it for several months now. I guess I'll describe the features of the phone in a bit more detail below. As of right now, I can't name any specific complaints with the phone.
This phone is gorgeous. I wasn't sure how I would adapt to having such a huge screen, but I can now say that it was really easy to get used to it. The screen is ample and the resolution and color fidelity is impressive. The aluminum body gives the whole phone a feeling that makes you recognize just how care and thought went into the design and fabrication of the phone. It also matches my MacBook Pro really well, which is just a fun little bonus for me.
I couldn't bring myself to put a case on my phone. I'm a very careful person, especially with things of high value like a smartphone, so I think I'll be okay. After a few months of regular usage there are little to no scratches on the body, and I still get to enjoy having all my friends drool over the phone when I take it out.
Probably the first thing that just really impressed me about the phone was the very loud and nice sounding speakers. I'm very picky about sound and audio quality, so I'm not comparing them to the great sound you get from things like Swan, Klipsch, etc. That being said, these speakers hold their own compared to built-in laptop speakers and blow other phones out of the water. It's really nice for watching videos and listening to music when you don't have a dedicated speaker to connect your phone to.
Keep in mind though, the speakers are LOUD but they can't really compete with ambient noise. To get the most out of listening to the speakers you will need to be in a relatively quiet place that has some decent acoustics so the sound can resonate a bit. For example, they sound great in my bedroom which is a relatively small 11'x10' room but the overall effect diminishes when I play them outside in the courtyard or lawn. This, of course, is to be expected with any sound system so you can't really complain.
I was really excited about the camera for taking low-light pictures in concerts. The first time I tried it though, the camera just totally failed to produce any good images. I know quite a bit about photography, so it seemed to me that the software was trying to compensate for the average low-light by really blowing out the ISO. This would normally work to produce a terribly quality picture that is nonetheless, in focus. Unfortunately, since concerts are generally a blend of extreme darkness off-stage, and VERY bright lights on-stage, this ends up blowing out the stage and the phone can't figure out what to focus on. I basically got a lot of blurry pictures of what looks like glowing humanoids in a dark room.
I was pretty disappointed with the results, especially after comparing photos with my friend's iPhone 4. Knowing the specs of the camera, I feel that this is largely a software issue, and frankly if I had full control over ISO, shutter speed, and aperture I could probably get this to take great pictures.
While there isn't a way to control shutter speed and aperture as far as I can tell, you can control the ISO. So the next concert I went to, I capped the ISO at 100 and voila! The camera was able to distinguish the band, and take really pretty good pictures.
After figuring out what I needed to tinker with to get good pictures, the camera's other software and features really started to shine. The continuous shooting option allows you to take a burst of images and select the best one, which was great for capturing dynamic moments on stage. Another feature I've come to love is the panorama shot (outside of concert-photography of course) and the Zoe.
I originally thought the Zoe was kind of a dumb gimmicky thing, and part of me still does believe that. However, it is really kind of cool to have you gallery of events on your phone, complete with little mini-movies that just makes it easy to feel like you are relieving the moment. Sadly, there are no good ways of getting these files off your phone.
There's a lot of other great tricks as well, which I haven't fully explored. If you're interested there's lots of articles out there on getting the most out of the HTC One's camera, I'd recommend giving them a look.
Really not much to say here besides the fact that the One is just blazing fast. It's fast at everything it does. The only time it isn't fast it's because the data connection is crap, but that happens rarely in Boston.
I kind of thought I wouldn't like this unremovable feature that comes with the One. I definitely changed my homescreen, but I often find mysel fusing Blinkfeed. I'm really, really, really, busy. I'm sure a lot of you are also really busy. For me, at least, this has translated to me being pretty far removed from what's going on in the rest of the world. That's where blinkfeed comes in to provide me with something I didn't have super easy access to before - news! It's all right there, constantly updating a feed of news based on what you're interested in. It's like having an electronic newspaper on hand all the time. For that reason, I've really loved it.
That's about it in terms of the features that immediately come to mind. Hopefully you've found this review helpful. If you're torn between getting the One of the Samsung, I would really recommend the One. I have owned many Samsung products over the years, and have had many friends with their products as well. Overall, they just don't seem to last very long. I feel that Samsung is just under the impression that its customers won't be keeping their products for much longer than a year, so they don't build them to last much longer than that.
If you want a solidly constructed Android phone that will both last you a long time and offer you everything you could want from the top smartphones on the market today, this is your guy.
on July 25, 2013
I began following the HTC since it was first getting leaked that HTC was staging a comeback, and the HTC One was going to be their flagship device. I'm someone that always likes to jump on board with the latest and greatest and so I tried out the HTC One shortly after it came out. Despite my initial excitement and some positive aspects to the device and the software, I ultimately ended up returning it. I've tried to highlight the pros and cons below that led to my decision.
- Fantastic build quality: This is what an Android phone should be built like and it just feels fantastic to the touch. High quality materials all around - save for a few bands of plastic for the cellular and Wifi radios. Holding this in 1 hand and the SGS4 in the other makes it readily apparent which company went the extra mile to build something that feels solid in the hand.
- Excellent screen: The color reproduction is by far the more accurate out of the recent crop of android devices on the market. I regularly use a color-calibration device on my computer monitors, so I pay particular attention to this. The unit I specifically got has a slight red-shift, but nothing that impairs the overall quality. It's definitely got more accurate color reproduction than the Samsung Galaxy S4, but some people might like the "richer" more saturated look that the SGS4 provides. Viewing angles are only about okay, but not a big issue for me since I'm the only one that uses this. The 1080p Resolution makes everything crisp and easy to read.
- Above-average low-light performance: This phone overall does a better job than most other competitors in terms of low-light performance. I wish I could say it stands above the rest, but Nokia takes top honors in low-light and in terms of mixed lighting scenarios I still think the SGS4 is still a step up. See the cons for more information.
- Good camera software: The Zoes feature is pretty cool and is a great way to create little clips or pick out the best image of the lot. It's easy to share and integrates well with existing social networks. It's one of the unique software features HTC offers, and is definitely one of the fun highlights that most people I show really enjoy playing with. I just wish it came with a dedicated camera button to make taking pictures a bit easier.
- Great built-in speakers: The speakers that are built into the phone sound pretty solid if you're holding the phone in the standard portrait mode. It's great for sharing something with a friend when you're in a more public area and most phone speakers give out. Don't expect miracles from phone speakers, but as far as phone speakers go they are a step above the rest. The beats software also does some great synthesizer work when you plug in your headphones, though it's more suitable for current pop and hip-hop music than for other genres.
- Blinkfeed: Blinkfeed sort of integrates all of the news you care about into one convenient sliding panel. I tried it for a bit, and while it's convenient I also feel it was reducing my battery performance (no evidence of this), so I simply chose to ignore it. It's a great option for those of you that want to pull in information from all of your favorite sites into one area. I don't think there is a way to remove blinkfeed entirely, you can only choose to ignore it like I did. Still work trying out though!
- Includes IR integration: This means the HTC can connect and control your TV, which is pretty handy when you can't find the remote. It's pretty basic in terms of the controls you get, but it works well in a pinch.
- Solid wifi performance: I have a Asus AC-1750 802.11ac router and tested speeds on file transfers and media playback with the HTC One and it came through with flying colors. I was easily able to transfer a 1080p MKV movie file of around a few gigs in size in minute or 2. It's not as quick as the external 802.11ac adapters I have, but excellent for a phone.
- The metal build of this phone means that if it gets dropped it will definitely show some serious battle-scars, paint chipping, and dents. The SGS4, though plastic, does have durability going for it. It's a shame to feel like you have to invest in a case since it's such a good looking device, but I just don't feel safe about using this phone outside without one because it's so easy for someone to bump you accidentally and for this phone to get thrashed. The metal also means this thing heats up quite a bit when you're doing things like watching movies/tv or playing a game.
- Camera is just not that great overall: The camera integrates what HTC is calling ultra-pixels, which are basically a smaller number of bigger pixels to capture more light. While this is a fine solution to capture more light and give you better low-light performance, it's not the best choice for when you do have plenty of light or even moderate light. Frankly, I just didn't think the images were that great, and the lack of zoom while working with them on your desktop becomes readily apparent - especially if you like to crop your shots after taking them like I do. I personally think Nokia's implementation of using a ridiculously large megapixel sensor and combining multiple pixels to oversample is the better solution. Take a look at the new Nokia 1020 sample images and compare to see for yourself. If I had to buy a Android phone today and wanted the best overall camera - my nod goes to the SGS4.
- Average battery life: While the capacity seems decent for a phone, because of the higher resolution and larger screen I've been seeing very average to poor battery life results. I've used it mainly on my daily commute, which involves listening to Pandora to and from work, checking gmail very regularly throughout the day, and using the calendar and GPS functions frequently. I do watch a tv show during the afternoon sometimes if I'm on the go, and make about a hour or 2 worth of phone calls a day. Put simply, I've bought a external battery pack and a spare charger with me everyday that I had this phone because if I wanted to go out after work I could not trust the HTC One to make it through. Every HTC device I've tried has had middling battery life, from the HTC Sensation to the HTC One X. It seems HTC hasn't changed much here, and it's a shame because the battery is sealed in, so I'm not at all confident about battery degradation over time.
- No expandable storage: The 32gb that's built into this phone, with a fair amount used up for the HTC software, just isn't enough for power users. I load on a good deal of my own music and I used to just swap out movies and tv shows onto a microSD card slot to take on the go (thanks to data caps ruining the fun of streaming them on the go). I think 32gb will be fine for most people, but not having the option to expand like the SGS4 or Sony models just puts HTC one step below.
- Still some lag: This phone has some really fast internals, and does indeed run very smoothly most of the time. Unfortunately, there are still those moments of slow-down and lag that have plagued Android handsets for a while that I at least still notice. This isn't going to be a 100% smooth experience, but it's not enough to severely impact the daily use of this phone. Just wanted to mention that it still is there for those of you that care.
- Poor button placement: The power button is along the top part of the phone because it's integrated with the IR blaster, meaning it can be pretty hard to reach for those with smaller hands. Moreover, HTC decided to break the Android standard and include only the back and home button with a big non-functional htc logo in the middle. I can't tell you how many times I've pushed the logo expecting to go home, and this is something my friends have done too when playing with the phone. It's just a poor design decision.
Ultimately for me the most important aspects of a phone are camera performance, screen quality, and battery life. In terms of camera-performance the HTC One is just not as good as the competition, and I cannot recommend buying it for the ultra-pixel (4MP) camera when there are better options available today and coming out soon. Screen quality on this phone is probably the best you can get in nearly all regards. And the battery-life is just something that on day-1 isn't good enough for me on what I consider moderate usage. Overall, if I had to own this phone for a few years, I wouldn't feel too happy about it. While the screen quality will hold up over time, the camera performance is already behind the competition and the battery life will only get worse as the battery degrades over time. I'm glad HTC is staging a comeback and this is a great first-step, but it's still got some work to do before I can recommend their devices for long-term ownership and satisfaction.
on May 29, 2013
I've had my HTC One for about a month now and have waited to make a review until I had adequate time with the device incorporated into my daily routine. I wouldn't say that I am someone who uses their mobile device in a frenzied manner all day long, but I do use it quite often for basic stuff like texting, email, keeping track of my daily tasks through the calendar feature, using various apps for sports scores, facebook and the like, and a few gaming sessions here and there when time allows it.
I guess I can start with the NEGATIVES I have found so that I can end on a good note...
Battery Life: If you enjoy long sessions of Candy Crush, Bejeweled, Angry Birds, or any of the other great games out there, this is either not the phone for you or keep a charger handy because games completely obliterate the battery life on this phone. Not sure why, but you can tell the processor jumps into overdrive to run games with how warm the phone gets as you play. I currently have the power saver mode on with screen brightness at approximately 75% and still will eat up about half of my battery life during a marginal sitting of game play.
Touch Sensitivity: I just came over from the iPhone, which I have been an owner of through the last 4 versions spanning about 6 years. I have to say that the one thing I miss greatly about my iPhone is how well the touch interface worked compared to the HTC One. With the screen itself I find that there are times I am pressing my finger on the same icon, especially within the calendar app, without response for ridiculous amounts of time. Not sure if it is me just being spoiled with how well the touch screen worked on iPhone, or if it is a normal occurrence on Android devices, but it is pretty bad. Not all the time though. There are actually moments that it is too sensitive, for instance when scrolling through a page on the web browser or scrolling on facebook and my finger sliding up the screen activates a link instead of continuing the scroll. All in all the touch interface is not up to par with what is on the iPhone in my opinion. Maybe it is something that can be fixed or adjusted with a software update in the near future.
Home/Back Button: This ties in to the previous section about the touch sensitivity. The buttons at the bottom of the screen are very unresponsive at times too. To get into your multitasking page you hit the home button twice..... in theory. I have found that it takes me about 6-8 presses to get to this screen because the home button doesn't register the presses accurately. The back button has the same problems where there are times I am just pressing the buttons at the bottom of my phone time after time.
Keyboard/Typing: This is actually something that is going to show up in my positive section as well with regard to keyboard and texting interface. What I deem a giant negative is the actual typing. Again I will compare it to my iPhone since it is all I have ever known differently than this phone. The typing on this device is terrible to put it plainly. I have all but given up typing on the keyboard and resorted to the swipe feature (positive section) because of how inaccurate and laggy the it is. I have actually eve tried typing as slow as I can and still manage to hit wrong keys therefore making spelling errors, which I know are autocorrected. It's the mere quantity with the inaccuracies that is annoying really. In a given sentenced typed I will have more than half the words spelled wrong when I go back through it to correct them so I can actually send the text forward. I never had any of these issues on my other devices, and that was a WAY smaller screen. Hopefully another item that can be fixed with a software update.
Old Software: This is soon to change obviously, but as it stands right now the HTC One runs on a version of Android that is older than most of its competition, including the Samsung Galaxy S4. The update is rumored to be on the way later this month, but I am told that HTC is a company that is notorious for dragging their feet with keeping their devices up to date with the latest, updated software. A couple things I would like to see would be a better calendar ( the one currently is very basic and lacks anything with regard to features) and a better or updated web browser (maybe i was spoiled with Safari, but the web browser is not what I would deem very good on this device).
AT&T Bloatware: This may be more specific to carriers, but with the AT&T model there are pre-loaded apps that you cannot get rid of unless maybe there is a hacked way of doing it which I will not venture into doing lacking the necessary knowledge. I got the 32g version and found that from the very beginning I had only about 27g of space on it because of all the useless stuff already on it compliments of AT&T. Keep this in mind when making your purchase and choosing which carrier to go with I guess.
Enough bad stuff. On to the POSITIVE...
Under The Hood: Without getting too technical, let's just say this thign packs a punch with some impressive hardware. The actual specs are in the description so there is no point going into that, but this thing loads web pages with ease, plays videos without issue or buffering, downloads quickly, and I have been getting better 4G speeds than my home Wifi that runs on a cable connection at about 25mps is getting me.
Screen: Highest pixel density of any phone out there, and one of the most gorgeous displays you'll find.
Speakers: Don't misconstrue what the whole Beats audio thing is. It is not special speakers. They are merely front facing speakers (what a novel idea right?) that are amplified. And boy do they sound good. There is a setting where you can disable the Beats amplification, but with it the sound is so rich for something coming from such small speakers.
Camera: Much has been made about the camera both positively and negatively. Why people get so caught up in numbers is beyond me really. Megapixels mean nothing to me if the pictures I take come out looking good in whatever lighting I take them in. The whole purpose of the ultrapixels with this device is to take better low light pictures. I find that that is really where I use my phone for pictures anyway. Inside my house snapping a pic of my dogs doing something funny, at an event our outing with some friends, or wherever. Mostly when I am outside I have a camera with me anyway, but even as I have used the camera on this device outside they have come out just as good as any other I have used. Haven't messed around with Zoe too much, but it and the other available features are an amazing and fun addition to play around with.
Blinkfeed: The controversial Blinkfeed!! While this something I originally thought I wouldn't like, it has actually grown on me. It doesn't get in your way if you don't let it and can at times become an afterthought or forgotten about all together. You can set your homescreen as one of your other pages of apps so unless you physically scroll to your Blinkfeed, you won't even know it's there. I find that I use it most when I get up in the morning and sit eating breakfast. I will refresh the feed and just scroll down through the pages of news, reading samples of various articles. It is fully customizable to your interests like gaming, technology, sports, etc., and you can also link it to your facebook and Twitter feeds.
Texting/ Swipe Feature: As I said before I am very new to the Android world, so forgive me if this isn't an HTC One specific item. I did though want to add that the swipe feature with texting is one of the coolest things I have used. With all the problems I have had actually typing, this was my last ditch effort to remedy pulling my hair out with frustration as I typed misspelled word after misspelled word. I use swipe with just about everything. And if it doesn't know a word, simply type it in and choose it as it shows in the suggested column of words and the phone learns it so that you can swipe it next time you need to use it.
Overall this is a fantastic phone with a few minor imperfections. I was nervous to forgo the iPhone 5 in favor of this one and am not sorry I did. I love the fully customizable features of Android's OS and the HTC One greatly enhances those features with a gorgeous display, powerful hardware, and a solid starting off point with regard to software items. The functionality also gets a serious boost with the front facing "Boom" Sound speakers and a camera that I feel holds up quite well to any of the others, and maybe even surpasses them in its own software features.