Brad’s HTC One Reviews Part One: First Impressions

, posted: 6-May-2013 11:09

I have played with a few HTC devices over the years and owned some of the HTC Windows Mobile ones before, but never liked their Android offerings. I found the Sense UI skin to be ugly and the devices to be less than attractive. When I first heard about the HTC One I didn’t have high hopes for it and was more interested in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 which I thought would be a far superior device.

Fast forward to 30 April when the HTC One arrived in my mailbox. I had seen the images of the One around the web but they did not do it justice. It is a beautiful device.

The design evokes thoughts of an Apple device in its high quality build and styling but it is not as plain as I find the iPhone. I can say without a doubt it is the best looking phone I have seen. It has a good solid feel to it but it is not too heavy with the curved back. It feels very nice and fits well in your hand. It doesn’t have the harsh square feeling of the iPhone 5 and doesn’t have the flimsy plastic feeling of the Galaxy series.

Upon turning on the phone it was clear that HTC had made some big changes from stock Android. The setup wizard has been completely revamped:

Once you finish the setup you are presented with HTC’s new home screen, called BlinkFeed. It is a nice social and news feed aggregator in the style of Flipboard. It supports Facebook and Twitter as well as a large variety of news and info sites across a range of categories.

BlinkFeed is set as the default home panel although this can be changed to one of the more traditional style panels for shortcuts and widgets which I have done. I love Blinkfeed and feel it is one of the best implementations I have seen (Facebook take notice) but I also like quick access to my most used apps and have a preference for a cleaner home screen and it is just a swipe away.

One of the other big changes HTC have made is to the app drawer and it has caused a bit of debate. The drawer no longer has horizontal pagination but is now vertical. The clock from Blinkfeed is also firmly positioned at the top of the drawer and options for the layout can be exposed under the clock by pulling the drawer down slightly. The only issue I have with the new layout is the default grid arrangement of 3x4 which makes no sense, it was quickly changed to 4x5.

Another change HTC has made has been to the typical capacitive buttons. There is no menu button, only back and home, which also serves as search (long press) and recent apps (double tap).

As a result, apps like Facebook (shown left) that do not have a quick menu button result in a Nexus style softkey area with just menu appearing at the bottom of the screen. It is not a great implementation and gives an inconsistent feel. Some of the blame must lie with app developers who don’t conform to Google’s standards but this is something HTC needs to resolve.

Pre-release firmware gave users the option to make the back button via long press or double tap act as a menu button. I would like to see the return of this option ASAP.

Upon reflection this is the only drawback to the HTC One I have come across so far.

There is a lot I want to cover in depth, such as the excellent Ultrapixel camera, apps, the revamped UI, audio and connectivity. These will come later in my next blog posts here on TelecomTech.

I will finish off this post by saying that from the three days I have been using the HTC One I am more impressed with it than I have ever been by a mobile device. Usually after getting a new device I will have rooted it flashed a custom kernel or even ROM. Obviously I can’t do this while reviewing this one (to keep it “stock”) but this is the first time I haven’t even had the urge to do it.

Without a doubt the HTC One comes closer to perfection than any device before it. My Galaxy has been permanently replaced and as I told somebody else, my love affair with Samsung is over.

The HTC One is coming to Telecom New Zealand and will be available online and in Telecom stores from 7th May.

About the author

My name is Brad and I’ve been a member of the Geekzone community for nearly nine years including three as a moderator. I was a long time Windows Mobile (yes Windows Mobile, not Windows Phone) user before deciding to try out Android a couple of years ago. I quickly fell in love with the openness and freedom that Android provides and have built and customised my own ROMs from source. I am a web developer, gamer and all round gadget junkie. I hope that my TelecomTech posts will be informative for potential HTC One owners. 

Other related posts:
Technofreak’s HTC One: final thoughts
Brad’s root guide for the HTC One
Brad’s HTC One reviews: camera






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Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

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