HTC One Review
The HTC One is a real game changer
Reviewed by Charlotte Kertrestel
The much anticipated HTC One has finally made its way into our hands after the device’s launch date was pushed back by two weeks. And to be honest, I have never been so excited unwrapping the packaging of HTC’s latest offering.
So will the phone live up to our extremely high expectations after previewing it at this year’s MWC?
When looking at the phone for the first time, it immediately stands out from all other Androids currently on the market. With a 4.7 inch screen which spreads across the whole of the phone’s fascia, you can really make the most of the HTC One’s amazing display.
And as details of the Samsung Galaxy S4’s screen emerged last month, I didn’t think anyone could top it, but it looks like the HTC One’s 469ppi density trumps Samsung’s Galaxy S4’s 441ppi without question.
The build of the device itself is incredibly high quality; with an all-aluminium casing, the phone feels light, smooth and incredibly sturdy, and is somewhat reminiscent of the iPhone’s build. At 9.3mm thick, the HTC One isn’t the slimmest phone on the market, but because of HTC’s clever design, this is something that you would simply never realise. The back casing on the device is slightly curved, meaning that the central part of the phone is the thickest part, so when you are holding the device, it feels and looks slimmer than it really is.
And again, when it comes to dimensions, the HTC One isn’t winning any awards for being the lightest phone of 2013, either. At 143g, though, no-one can argue that it’s a bulky device, even though it comes in at slightly heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 130g and the iPhone 5’s 112g.
Where the phone does stand out, however, is in its originality in appearance. Although there are no physical buttons on the fascia, there are two permanent icons, to return or to go to the home screen, on either side of the HTC logo. At either end of the device sit the HTC One’s two BoomSound frontal speakers, which essentially turns your phone into a portable stereo. It seems an obvious thing to do, but it is so rare that phone manufacturers actually design speakers to be on the front of the device, and this makes a real difference to the HTC One.
What’s also interesting is HTC’s attention to detail on the One; even the volume controls have been given consideration, and compliment the phone’s aluminium casing with a textured aluminium effect.
Finally, the back casing of the device, as you would expect from HTC by now, is not removable, though with an impressive battery and the option of a 32 or 64GB internal memory, this really isn’t a huge problem.
Phone Set Up
Whilst the HTC One is an Android-powered handset, its set up is far from an ordinary Google operated device.
Firstly, the One sports HTC Sense, a live home screen which updates with all of your social media statuses, news stories and emails in real time. You even have the option of selecting exactly what displays on your live home screen, making it entirely customisable.
The aim of HTC Sense is to avoid having to manually open and close particular apps each time you want to, say, read the news, see your photos, or check what’s going down on Facebook, as it’s all laid out there on your phone’s main screen.
However, if you are completely used to your usual Android set up of various screens of apps and widgets, the HTC One has this too. Simply scroll to the left to view the whole selection of apps that are installed. Also, I liked the fact that you can organise your ordinary screens into alphabetical, custom or order of most used, like the Sony Xperia Z, which makes it easier than ever to make your phone work for you.
The HTC One is also pre-installed with all of the popular apps you’d need immediately, such as Facebook, Twitter and TuneIn radio, whilst other apps are already grouped into organised folders, such as the Productivity folder, which contains all office-appropriate apps, or the Google Tools folder, which houses the Gmail, Chrome and Google+ applications.
As for the HTC One’s actual specs, the phone is powered by a Quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait processor, making it super powerful and completely capable of operating such a power-consuming device. The phone is also pre-installed with Android version 4.1.2, though is upgradable to 4.2.2v.
So as far as the HTC One’s set up goes, it certainly gets the big thumbs up!
When it comes to audio, HTC didn’t simply stop at moving the speakers to the front of the phone; HTC has also equipped the One with BoomSound, the name of its best audio technology yet. As well as Beats Audio which you might be more familiar with HTC devices, the HTC One’s audio quality is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
When listening to audio with or without headphones, the One turned into a portable stereo, playing rich music without sounding tinny, crackly or distorted in any way.
The HTC One also features a new application which hasn’t been seen before, in the form of HTC Zoe. HTC Zoe makes up 100 of the 300 additional features fuelled into the HTC One, and makes the phone’s camera one of the best features of the device.
Amongst other things, HTC Zoe automatically puts all of your photographs and videos taken on a certain day into a 30 second movie with sound. Take a look at one that I made on a day out in Warwickshire this weekend:
Although there are so many movie-making apps that do similar things, the HTC One is the first phone to actually offer this feature as a built-in application which makes the short movies without having to be manually created.
There are two functions on the HTC One’s camera- Normal and Zoe- and with HTC Zoe, each time you press down the shutter to take a still shot, the One automatically takes a 3 second video with audio. This instantly makes your gallery much more interactive and interesting, with moving images that makes you feel like you’re in a scene of Harry Potter.
Yet another new and exciting feature of the HTC One is HTC Sense TV. HTC designers have decided to go old school by making use of infra-red technology and turning your phone into a TV remote.
Not only can you link your HTC One device to your TV, cable and home surround sound systems to change channels and volumes, you can even use the phone’s built-in app to keep track of all of your favourite TV programs and films.
For instance, after selecting what TV package you subscribe to, the HTC One allows you to choose your favourite programs, like Top Gear, Celebrity Juice and Man Vs Food etc. You then have the option of setting a reminder when any of these favourite shows are airing on TV to ensure that you never miss an episode again!
Furthermore, the app works like an ordinary TV guide by showing you what is airing on TV now, next and later, as well as displaying all recommended films, shows and episodes based on your favourite programs.
What’s more, if you particularly love a certain episode of, say Homeland, why not share it with your friends via social media sites? You can even see what your friends are watching to pick up on any hints as to what you might also enjoy.
Kid mode and parent dashboard
So much thought has gone into the HTC One, and this even includes designing the device for an audience of all ages. While the Nokia Lumia range has developed a variety of bespoke apps for children, the HTC One goes one step further by actually child-proofing your phone.
Kid Mode lets you to protect yourself and your child whilst allowing them to make the most of this high-quality piece of tech. Simply create your child’s profile by inserting their name, age and photo, and the HTC One will take you to their own personal area where they can play on games, read books and get creative with paint, all tailored to their age. Because of the phone’s child lock, you needn’t be worried about them accessing your messages, files or photos either, making it ultra-safe for children of all ages.
The app even allows you to record your own books, so if you cannot be there at bed time, it doesn’t mean your child has to go without their parents reading them their favourite bedtime tale.
Camera & Video
The HTC One camera, as already touched upon above, is simply one of the most impressive features I have seen on a smartphone. Apart from HTC Zoe already mentioned, the camera itself, as well as the pre and post editing features, makes the HTC One a camera to watch out for.
On normal mode, you can take photos easily using the touchscreen icon on the main screen, switching to the video as easily as most other phones. However, that’s where the similarities with other camera phones end.
By selecting Smile Capture, the HTC One takes a photo automatically when it senses that the object is smiling, which is great for avoiding miserable-looking shots. You can also select from various lenses, including normal, night, HDR, sweep panorama and continuous shooting.
As mentioned above, by switching the camera to HTC Zoe, you can record 3 second videos with audio each time you press down the shutter, which makes for a really interesting gallery which truly captures the moment. The HTC One’s image gallery also allows you to play the photos back as a slideshow with your favourite music, without having to insert it into a video or laboriously scroll through all of your images when reviewing an album.
What’s great about the HTC One’s camera is that there are tens of filters that can be applied to the images before and after taking them, which is unusual for many smartphones that only allow you to apply effects to photos after they have been saved. And with the HTC One being an Android, it means that you have twice as many options when it comes to editing your images, as you can easily download programs like Instagram in addition to using your well-stocked built in editing suite.
And what has shocked the world about the HTC One’s camera is the fact that, instead of going along the lines of bigger is better, the One sports a 4 MP camera. You may be confused as to why HTC would choose to equip its best phone yet with only a 4 MP camera, but with HTC’s Ultrapixel lens, it means that the One’s photographs emerge clear, sharp and beautiful. Let’s take a look at the evidence…
Whilst a smartphone’s battery power might not be a make-it-or-break-it feature when purchasing a handset, it certainly is a consideration. And with the multitude of new features and functions of the HTC One, I expected that this would be the one department where the HTC One would fall down.
However, I was nicely surprised.
The phone automatically came with the power saving mode switched on, which I didn’t realise until I came to question just why I had so much juice remaining compared to other smartphones I have road tested.
And with me playing around with the HTC One’s live screen, apps, music features and above all its camera, the battery still didn’t require a recharge until 5 days later! And unlike other phones, such as the Sony Xperia Z’s Stamina Mode, even when the HTC One’s power saver feature was enacted, the device’s brightness, display and apps all worked like normal.