We have been planning to write this review for a very long time, but the device is such that you just cannot have enough of it. Every time we wanted to, we just felt there was so much more to the device than we have explored. So, after a good whole month of using it as a primary device, we are here with the review of HTC One.
Before we begin and judge and rate all the parameters of this device, let us clearly state, we have used plenty of Android devices, but no Android device so far has ticked the number of boxes that the HTC One has. No, it is not a perfect device, in fact far from it and it depends on the taste of an individual, but the device really is an all round device that most people seem to appreciate, somewhat similar to the iPhone story.
The saying, making the best product and making the best selling product are two different things, holds perfectly true when it comes to the HTC One. But, let’s not get into the marketing angle on the device and dive into analysing, if this indeed is the device that you would be well advised to pick and carry with you everywhere.
The HTC One is available at pretty much at all the leading Electronic stores across the world and is available on most of the E-Stores at the likes of Flipkart at various price points around the 40K mark in Indian Rupees. You can check out the Silver variant online here. The device is available for 40,622.
However, with a couple of discount coupons or if you have decent bargaining skills, you can pick the device for about 37K. Only 32 GB versions are available in India and those are more than sufficient.
Box and Contents
The device comes in a rectangular shaped thin box with rounded edges. The packaging is minimal and you do not get anything out of the ordinary. There is a standard charger, headphones with a couple of extra ear tips, a SIM removal tool, couple of documentations and a USB Cable along with the device.
The packaging, like we said is minimal and is nothing too huge to report. And letting honesty prevail, we were way too excited to use the device to really pay too much attention to packaging.
Hardware, Look and Feel
This is one category that the HTC One simply hits for a six. There, simple as that, no point beating around the bush or playing with words. The look and hardware of the HTC One is probably the best we have seen at least from an Android device. The phone takes a lot of cues from the iPhone 5, especially the champhered edges and a metallic back.The back of the device has a nice curve to it, making it ergonomically perfect. The front of the device is flat and the dual speakers only add to the hot looks of the device.
The device is definitely a looker and you just need to hold the device once to know that this a premium device
Let’s quickly take a tour of the HTC One now.
The front of the device is dominated by the 4.7 inch Super LCD 3 Display, which is flanked on top and bottom by the two speaker grilles. There is a 2.1 MP secondary camera on the top right hand side of the device, with sensors such as proximity ones on the top left right.
The bottom of the front has two buttons, which is a strange configuration; they are regular capacitive buttons where the left button is the back button while the right one is the home button with the HTC logo in the middle. Most Android devices have three buttons, so this two-button configuration may take a little getting used to. We had no problems with it, but we did accidentally pressed the HTC logo time to time, hoping for some action to happen, though plenty of third party ROMs have added that functionality as well.
The bottom of the device has the USB port for charging and data syncing as well as sports the main microphone.
The back of the device is all-metallic and houses the very debatable, 4 Ultra-Pixel camera and the flash light to the left of it. There is a secondary microphone on the right side of the back the device and there is a beats audio logo and some other FCC stuff. You will notice few grey contour lines running on top of the device and at the bottom, this is primarily where the radios rest in the device and the antennae action takes place. There is obviously HTC branding at the back too.
The top of the device has the power lock and unlock button towards the left hand side. The button is pretty recessed and there were occasions when it did not register the click. Also, placing the button on top of such a huge device meant that unlocking the device with one hand was not possible, we would much rather have the button on either of the sides.
The left of the device is pretty black and just houses the slot for Micro SIM. You need to insert the SIM removal tool to pull the tray out which houses the SIM. Pushing the tray in can be a bit of struggle and we did have issues with it the first time of trying.
The right hand side of the device has volume rockers, which are again metallic or at least feel that way. Other than this, there is no camera shutter button, which we would have perhaps liked.
To cut the story short, the HTC One wins and puts everything right in terms of outside hardware where certain companies get it wrong. It is a breath of fresh air in the era where companies continue to persist with cheap plastic-y build material. This again, does not mean the device is perfect and there are issues with the construction, but are they big and bad enough to re-consider this gorgeous piece of metallic slab, no!
We found ourselves making excuses to touch the device, and the cold Aluminum always sent tingles down the spine early in the morning, however, using the yellow rock cover to protect the device did take away some of that feeling
The curved back meant that every time the device vibrated and was on a table, it really went berserk. Also, there have been issues about gapping in the device where the block of Aluminum meets the other components such as speakers, however, in our unit; we did not really have such issues. Some of the early builds though did have the problem of gapping. To reiterate our point though, you will be hard pressed to find a device as good looking as the One in the market today and only the iPhone 5 comes close, which is a massive compliment to the HTC engineering team.
That Gorgeous Screen
Yes, the HTC One could well easily take the plaudits for sporting the best screen we have used on any smart phone, period. Yes, it is that good. The device comes with a 4.7 inch Super LCD 3 display with a true HD resolution of 1080×1920. This gives the HTC One a staggering PPI of 469.
You would really do very well to locate a pixel on this display. The colors look gorgeous and natural. There is no popping out of any particular color and it is an absolute pleasure watching videos and HQ pictures on the device.
Full Zoom on the HTC One Screen
The viewing angles are good and the outdoor visibility really impressed us.
Things render just so beautifully on this device
Auto-Brightness seemed to work well on the device and if only complain we have to report it may well be the fact that the screen was very bright occasionally in dark places, which made us to tone it down a little manually.
The keyboard on the device is large and typing is a pure pleasure.
What is the Fuss about Ultra Pixels?
The geek inside of us believes, higher the number, better is the performance. However, HTC seems to be challenging that geek with their 4 ultra pixel camera on the HTC One. The thought behind this decision is simple, the fact that we use our smart phones mainly to take pictures to post and share them on social networking sites such as Facebook, twitter or Instagram. These sites, anyway really compress images, which leads to a loss in details. Thus, HTC went ahead with slightly bigger, 2 micrometer to be specific, sized mega pixels on the HTC One.
So what is this Ultra Pixel? Ultra Pixel simply means that the HTC One has slightly bigger pixels than your average smart phone. This enables, better low light imagery as bigger the pixel, bigger the surface area and more light is allowed to enter. The drawback is obviously that the number of mega pixels is less and images can look grainy if really exported on higher resolution display. It is a gamble that HTC have taken with the camera, and a gamble that is pretty much borderline between working and not working.
We personally, do buy HTC’s reasoning, simply because we would much rather have a top phone and a decent camera which the HTC One does have than a plastic phone or one with a software which is not really up to the scratch. Also the fact, I personally do not use my phone Camera too much other than a quick snapshot, things did not bother me much.
You can check out some of the shots we took with the device in various lightening conditions with the HTC One below. All images mind you here are taken on Auto mode, to keep the competition fair with other devices.
The Camera is decent on the device, though yes, in bright sunny outdoors, the lack of details can be very irking. At low light, things are a lot better and the performance of the device really shines. The images reproduce real colors and once again, if you simply use it for social sharing, you will not be disappointed, but if you like details, intricacy and very high quality images the HTC One Camera will not impress you, it is not meant to either as there was noise in several images we clicked.
The Camera app in itself though is very robust and has plenty of options. You can play around with various settings such as ISO, White Balancing, Exposure, Contrast, and Saturation etc. You also have different shooting modes for images as well as videos. For images, some of them available are portrait, landscape, backlight etc for various different situations. You also have the option to take HDR images, which is handy. The device can capture videos in ultra slo-mo, full HD or fast HD in 60 FPS. You can also crop images square right in the Camera module for use on Instagram. The phone records videos in full HD at 1920 x 1080.
Apart from all this fun and options, the HTC One has an interesting feature called Zoe. What it does is basically record a short video, so that you can crop out any particular frame that interests you. This is terrific for shooting action images, so you get a good image without having to worry about distortion.
TL;DR: The lack of Mega Pixels is not all that big a deal, especially if you are a hobby clicker
The Software Story and Performance of HTC One
Another reason why we were bit late with the review is because we really wanted to gauge how the performance of the device changed after the update arrived on our unlocked HTC One to Android 4.2.2.
The HTC One is a really snappy phone, there were little lags to naked eye but if we are to hard pressed then sometimes double tapping to open recent apps did trigger the action after a split second of registering the touch. The animations are smooth and thankfully not jerky on the device. Launching of app drawer, widget addition and folder opening was instant.
Here are some of the benchmark tests and how the device performed in them. To remind you, the HTC One is powered by a Snapdragon 600 SoC, with 1.7 GHz Quad Core Krait CPU. There is Adreno 320 GPU on board and 2 GB RAM to keep things snapping along well.
There were no checker-board pattern while scrolling on the device and things were butter smooth post the 4.2 update, not that they were bad when the phone was on 4.1.
Sense 5 is massive shift for HTC and actually looks far better than Sense 4. It just feels subtle and things are not into your face.
You always felt that maybe HTC did a little too much with Sense 4. Features such as Blinkfeed and a redesigned lockscreen and setting menu are a step in the right direction.
Yes, you cannot turn Blinkfeed off, but we actually liked having Blinkfeed. Hopefully several more features can be added to it, such as adding custom feeds so it can totally replace the now extinct Google Reader
The games on the HTC One looked terrific and the device did not drop frames generally, however, while playing the likes of NOVA 3 which are really graphic intensive, the performance did suffer, especially after the 4.2.2 update which is strange. We were hooked on to the new Stick Cricket partnership and loved our experience. The internals of the device are high end and this does translate into performance as for once, software does compliment the huge numbers. The apps such as Gallery have several good features such as the ability to make a short slideshow of images from a certain event and do a little editing such as adding music and predefined effects to it. This is indeed pretty cool as you can then save the video and then share it across with your friends.
The boomsound on the device is amazing and the stereo speakers work a treat, in fact the HTC One has one of the clearest sounding speakers we have tested in a while, in fact personally for me, only the 808 PureView speakers do a better job than boomsound. The whole Beats thing may just be a software optimization, but it does make music on this device sound good. Kid Mode is another interesting add on, where you can actually boot in and have only selected features/apps of the device available.
Will this Battery last all day?
The answer to this question is always very subjective and one must never really comment, because say if you are playing Temple Run 3 all day along, you will exhaust the battery pretty much within 3 hours, whereas if you do not touch your smart phone, it may well live up to days on end. However, with general usage, i.e about 5-6 hours of 3G, rest on Wi-Fi and data sync on and about 4 hours of on screen time, the HTC One is easily capable of handling that.
The 2300 mAh battery does get you through the day, but you do wonder if once again HTC has been a little miserly in providing this device with juice. What we mean is, if this had been say a 2500mAh, this phone would be already the best thing ever since sliced break, but yes, it still gets the job done but do not expect it to last on a single change for more than a day with moderate to heavy-ish usage.
The battery does heat up a fair bit when playing games or intensive browsing
The heating is perhaps even more noticeable given the metallic chassis of the device and the fact that metals dissipate heat faster. However, put on a nice cover and you wont really feel the temperature rising.
There are several battery optimization toggles built in, such as power saver, which work well as it underclocks your CPU to 1.2 GHz as compared to 1.7. Also, there is a provision to turn off data in case the device is in sleep for a very long time. These little things work really well. If it is not enough for you, there is always greenify.
Call Quality and Network
A phone could be the greatest work of Picasso but it is useless if it cannot make good calls. Thankfully though, the HTC One does make good calls. The secondary microphone works well to cancel background noise and generally the signal stayed loyal to the device. The 3G speeds were decent, but given the hopeless nature of 3G in India and lack of widespread LTE, we would rather not comment on our experience. Wi-Fi reception was generally very good though, in fact the device caught Wi-Fi from ranges where our iPhone failed to.
The dialer is big and bold, no issues with dialing the numbers and you actually have t9 built in so you can easily get to the contact.
However, we did face issues during network switching. Toggling 2G and 3G was a pain and strangely the device acted weird on a couple of times by losing signal completely while on roaming and started dropping battery like crazy. This did fix itself, but it could easily be an issue with the telecom network, so we will not really blame the device for it, not until we face the same issue again.
To sum up feelings, the HTC One is perhaps the most complete phone we have ever had. The screen size is ideal without it looking like a building brick slimmed down in the hand, nor is it too small for it to look miniscule in the era of giants. The performance of the device is really fine and if you are not a Camera Mega Pixel whore, this device will serve you very well.
The Metal chassis and unique design is a refreshing change from all the usual plastic cut copy designs we have seen far too often to our liking. Yes, the device is not perfect, but comes very close to being that one device you would love to be associated for a very long time. In short, if you are willing to spend on an Android device and have a high budget, this is the device you should be targeting, you will simply not regret.
If you have any other questions regarding the HTC One, feel free to ask us in the comments section below, we would love to answer.