HTC One Review – The Understated Champion

http://www.i-am-geek.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/HTC-ProductDetail-Hero-slide-04.pnghttp://www.i-am-geek.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/HTC-ProductDetail-Hero-slide-04.pnghttp://www.i-am-geek.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/HTC-ProductDetail-Hero-slide-04.pngHTC One Review – The Understated Champion

Well hello my geeky friends!  Many apologies for my delay between posts I have been playing with my new toy: the brand spanking new HTC One.

There has been intense debate over this phone and the Samsung Galaxy S4 as to which is superior, so I’m going to give you a few details on the HTC then give my opinion on Samsung’s offering to hopefully help you make a decision.

So let us begin….

I had been in the market for a new smartphone for quite some time, my trust Samsung Galaxy S2 has been glued to my side for quite some time and has earnt its stripes without a doubt.  But I’m afraid I am easily bored and always hunger with the latest and greatest in technology so started looking for an upgrade.  As I mentioned earlier there is an awful lot of talk about this phone and the S4 which can make things difficult when it comes to parting with your hard earned cash.  So first off, without any more hesitation, allow me to introduce the HTC One:

I know, beautiful right?  Hands down guys this is THE most beautiful phone you will find on the market to date.  It’s uni-body aluminium design really gives a premium feel that is fantastic in the hand (although a little slippery at times) and this is one area where HTC have trounced the S4 which still has a horribly flimsy plastic cover that I have never been a fan of.  The trade off is that there is no removable battery or SD card slot on the One but both are present on the Galaxy S4.

Under The Hood

  • CPU - Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 600, quad-core, 1.7GHz
  • Platform – Android with HTC Sense 5 (including Blinkfeed – more on that later)
  • Memory – 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • Storage – 32GB/64GB (have not seen this available anywhere yet)
  • Network – LTE/4G capable
  • Connectivity – WiFi  802.11 a/ac/b/g/n / Bluetooth 4.0 / NFC / DLNA for wireless media streaming / Micro-USB 2.0 / HTC Connect
  • Sound – Beats Audio with HTC Boomsound™
  • Camera - HTC 4 UltraPixel camera / 1080p HD video / HTC Zoe™
  • Battery – 2300mAh

So quite an impressive feature set then but granted there may be words in there that you don’t recognise like ‘Blinkfeed’ or ‘Zoe’ but fret not, I will cover those just a bit later.  Let’s take this phone on one category at a time and finish with our geek rating:

Aesthetics

The HTC One is a stunner, the finish is premium and guaranteed to attract attention from friends and strangers!  It features a uni-body design of aluminium and molded plastic, even the volume rockers are made of metal and sit nicely on the right side of the device.  They are quite flush to the side of the body but still provide good enough feedback and again enhance the premium feel.  There have been some reports of random gaps in the case design but I haven’t experienced anything like this.  My only niggle aesthetically was that the headphone port on the top of the phone looks like it might have been drilled slightly hastily, but this is barely noticeable.  One point I will make though is the placement of the power which for the life of me I can’t figure out why they positioned on the top of the phone as this makes it notoriously difficult to wake the device as there are no other physical hardware buttons.  Still I am sure I will adjust in time.

Software

The HTC One is shipping with Android Jellybean version 4.1.2 so not quite the latest 4.2.2 that its rival possesses.  However, the difference is negligible save lock screen widgets and a few stability improvements and HTC has announced they will be releasing an update to 4.2.2 in the near future.  The real ace in the hole is HTC’s Sense 5 UI which is simply stunning.  Sense has always been that sort of marmite interface, you either love it or you don’t but Sense 5 is the first to just get out its own way and bring everything back to basics.  Thanks to the quad-core processor, this OS runs lightning fast, I have yet to find any major slowdown or freezes.  Furthermore, HTC’s own messaging, email and browser apps are simple and elegant in their design, no bright colours or bizarre custom displays, just a straightforward user experience presented in slick white and black.  If you haven’t gathered already from reading this, I am a huge fan of Sense 5 then, and this is coming from a guy who was rooted before running the latest and greatest CyanogenMod 10.1 OS.  Big thumbs up HTC, just don’t change too much and ruin it!

Blinkfeed™

HTC-ProductDetail-360-24

This is HTC’s new homescreen design, it aggregates information from your social networks and news sites into one simple Flipboard-like interface.  Unfortunately for some it can’t actually be turned off only moved a few homescreens over which to be honest was fine for me and I haven’t noticed it draining a significant portion of battery either.

Some of the services it includes are:

- Facebook

- Twitter

- Engadget

- CNET

- Reuters and many more!

It really is useful if like me you want to keep track of several sources at once but I can understand why it has annoyed some due to it’s ‘always on’ status!

HTC Zoe™

This is incorporated into the gallery app on the One and is quite a nifty little feature, by toggling the Zoe button within the camera app and pressing the shutter, the UltraPixel camera takes a 3-second video which then becomes a living part to your album.  So all the pictures you took can be grouped into one event with the Zoe video and played back like a living collage, pretty cool.  It was labelled as a bit of a gimmick at first but as time moves on I think this particular feature has started to grow on users.

Camera

HTC-ProductDetail-Hero-slide-05The 4 UltraPixel camera of the HTC One allows for more light to enter by providing a larger aperture, this yields phenomenally impressive results in low-light situations when compared to the competition.  I have used it to snap a few shots when out and about and have been generally happy with it, the colours are not over-saturated but still maintain their vibrance.  The ‘Highlights’ feature works with your normal pics and Zoe snaps to create dynamic slideshows which will automatically generate their own little soundtrack.  Worth noting that there have been some bugs with this when it comes to editing your ‘events’ but this is a known issue and due to be fixed soon.

Battery Life

Ah the all important question eh?  Although the 2300 mAh battery of the HTC One is not the largest on the market, it still provides decent performance.  I am a fairly heavy user, pulling in around three email accounts regularly, using Blinkfeed and social networks with a few medium length calls daily and I find I can get a good 15 hours plus on this phone.  Once the power gets low, the battery saving mode automatically kicks in which lowers the brightness, conserves CPU usage and turns off the vibration feedback.  Also top tip, please please make sure you have the ‘Sleep Mode’ enabled under Power settings, this turns off your data connection after long periods of inactivity which is an absolute must in my opinion.

FYI: There is a constant Power saver notification enabled on this phone, this has been annoying to some so if bothers you just follow these steps:

Pull down notification menu – Long press ‘power saver off’ – Press ‘App info’ – Press ‘Force stop’

This will disable it until you next restart your phone, voila!

General Performance

m_htc-one_boomsound_480x290 This phone performs brilliantly, the quad-core processor lets the operating system just fly, as mentioned earlier I have noticed no major slowdown, freezing or crashing, something I struggled with on my previous phone.  Despite having older DDR2 RAM compared to the DDR3 offered on the S4, you just couldn’t fault this device on speed.  It is smooth as silk.  The Sense UI is not quite as customisable as stock Android but still good enough for your average user and in my opinion, the stock HTC messaging and Email apps are second to none.

The screen pumps out a beautiful full HD resolution and has the highest pixel density on the market, HTC has opted for cooler, natural colours on their displays which suits me down to the ground after using Samsung devices.  Of course what is a screen without excellent audio to go with it?  Enter HTC’s Boomsound™ featuring Beats Audio for richer bass and front facing speakers so sound is always coming right at you.  It seems obvious to put the speakers here and to be honest I don’t understand why no other phone has done it and continues to place them on the back?!  Honestly this phone is so loud it has actually made me jump at times, I never turn it up past half way!  So if you like watching YouTube videos on your phone or listening to your music catalogue, this little gem of a phone is bound to put a smile on your face.

The Competition

So the moment has come to discuss the HTC One’s main competition, the one everyone is talking about…The Samsung Galaxy S4.

I won’t go over detailed specs or anything now just highlight a few areas where one phone may be better than another depending what your needs are:

  • S4 offers expandable memory with a micro SD card slot & features a removable battery.
  • S4 looks good on hardware specs with a slightly faster processor and memory.
  • It ships with the latest and greatest version of Android 4.2.2 (lock screen widgets ahoy!).
  • Better camera performance outdoors with the S4 and more features.

Really the list is almost endless, but the above points highlight the main areas of difference.  I fancied a change from Samsung after years of using their devices, but like its predecessors the Samsung Galaxy S4 is an amazing phone.  It is probably the most feature packed device on the market, sporting the best hardware, but a new phone is a matter of personal preference.  What you want from a phone dictates which one you will eventually choose so if you don’t care about having the fastest processor or the highest megapixel camera then the HTC One might be for you.

The Verdict

I really love this phone, there a few idiosyncrasies here and there that I need to get used to but overall this device totally blows me away.  It is flying in the face of incredibly stiff competition from the Samsung Galaxy S4 but has still managed to send heads spinning as to which one occupies the top spot.  Sense 5 is in my opinion the best iteration of the UI to date, providing a minimal and clean interface without piling on the extraneous features.  While on the subject of features though..front facing speakers = master stroke, these are phenomenal and I’m not sure I’ll ever want a phone without them again.  The sound is rich and clear and loud enough to wake your mother!  If you are used to an iPhone display as well then you might be more drawn to the HTC One over the S4 as it provides more natural colours, making it easier to use for long periods of time.  But really the most standout point to make here is build quality and looks, it just looks so sexy…and you get that nice cold, metal feeling when you pick the phone up in the morning.  It just convinces you time and time again that you have bought a premium device, because you know what?  You have.  And if you haven’t then go get one and just borrow your mate’s S4 now and then :P  Thank you HTC for this, it’s a treasure.

GEEK RATING: 9.5 / 10 OUTSTANDING

Please share your thoughts on the HTC One and Galaxy S4 below, tell us which one you prefer.

 

Author Description

James Charlton

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