Brad’s HTC One Reviews Part Two

, posted: 17-May-2013 10:38

I started my series of posts on the HTC One with a brief post with my initial impressions. I’m following that up with a more in depth look at the various aspects of the device.

Design

The HTC One is gorgeous. It has a premium look and feel that is matched by very few other smartphones. Of course comparisons with the Samsung Galaxy S4 are prevalent but that phone’s plastic body cannot compare in looks and styling to the One, with its aesthetically far superior aluminium chassis. The very stylish looking Sony Xperia Z with its excessive amounts of glass also can’t compete with simplicity of the One. The Apple iPhone 5 would come the closest, but its design is beginning to get somewhat dated now.

I’ve had many people see me using the phone while out and about and come up to me ask if it was in fact the new HTC One. Most also commented on how much better it looked than the Galaxy S3/S4 or iPhone, an excellent reflection on the hard work HTC have done in making this a truly great looking phone.

The one drawback to the design is that it doesn’t allow for a replaceable battery but both HTC and Qualcomm have taken steps to ensure maximum battery longevity.

The HTC One has weight of 143g and surprisingly, considering its aluminium body, it does not feel too heavy and sits very nicely in the hand. It is also very well balanced and doesn’t feel like it could slip easily from your grasp.

There is also the widely reported manufacturing issue where the speaker grills on the top front of the phone aren’t flush with the top which then throws out the placement of the screen glass and the bottom speaker grill. This has been fixed with the most recent production runs according to HTC, but if you are buying one of these phones, make sure to inspect the unit before handing over your money just in case.

Android and Sense

The One ships with the Sense 5 skin for Android which is a dramatic improvement over previous versions and I have to say that it is really the first OEM Android skin I like. It looks great and nowhere is this more apparent than navigating through the various settings menus.

HTC have toned down the excessive gradients and garish icons from previous versions and settled for something a little more refined. There is a lot more colour than stock Android which in my opinion is too black and too plain. This strikes a happy medium.

There are a few little bugs, like popup dialogs having the stock Android look and some of them don’t look right since HTC haven’t used the stock fonts and sizes. Hopefully this is something that will be addressed in the upcoming 4.2.2 update.

I touched on Blinkfeed in my previous post. It is a very nice aggregator of many of the services I use. It is no longer my default homescreen but I find myself checking it many times throughout the day, saving me the time of reading through multiple apps. There are plenty of customisation options and 100’s of sources to pick from but I would like to see the ability to add your own choice of RSS feeds to it.

Blinkfeed is what Facebook Home should have been.

With Sense 5 HTC have reduced the number of widgets on the default home screen. Other than the Blinkfeed screen, by default there is only a single home screen with the sole widget on that screen being a Google search box. You can add all the widgets you want, but this is a departure from HTC’s strategy in the past and it is a lot cleaner.

I was disappointed that the One only shipped with Android 4.1.2 and not 4.2.2 given that 4.2 has been available since November, making at this point 4.1 nearly a year old. However HTC sources have said a 4.2 update should be available by the end of May.

The one thing lacking from previous HTC devices and as a former Samsung owner is toggles in the notification drawer. These can be replaced by various apps or the homescreen widgets but it can by a bit annoying to have to leave your app to adjust settings. This will be fixed when we see the 4.2 update with its quick settings panel.

Also one other thing that needs repeating from my previous is the menu softkey that appears in apps that have no menu overflow button (looking at you Facebook). This an annoyance but knowing that HTC have planned a fix for it with the 4.2 update makes it much easier to deal with.

Overall I am very happy and pleasantly surprised with Sense 5, seeing that after previous versions I did not have high hopes. HTC have put in a lot of work and come out with an excellent product which has enhanced the Android experience and taken nothing away from it. For the first time since acquiring an Android device I have no desire to look into an AOSP based ROM as I feel I would lose out on the many refinements and useful features Sense provides. If I had to give the user experience a rating it would score 8.5/10.

Specs and Performance

The HTC One is one of the highest spec’d devices to date and shows it in everyday tasks.
  • Network: GSM/WCDMA/LTE (to be enabled by Telecom New Zealand in a future update)
  • OS:Android 4.1 with Sense
  • CPU:1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600
  • Screen:4.7-inch 1920x1080 Super LCD 3 (468PPI)
  • RAM:2GB
  • Storage:32GB
  • Camera:4MP rear ("UltraPixel")/ 2.1MP front
  • Battery: 2300 mAh Li-Ion
Thanks to the fast Snapdragon 600 SoC, the UI frame rate is incredibly smooth. I have never seen the system lag or hang on anything and moving through homescreens loaded with widgets is smooth. The overall experience is very polished and very fast which is more than can be said for the One’s rival the Galaxy S4.

I am not a huge mobile gamer, having a high end PC and PS3 for that, but I did install a few games like Temple Run 2 to try out. Again there was no stuttering or lag in any of the games, the One took everything I threw at it and didn’t skip a beat. If you’re a mobile gamer then there will be no cause for disappointment here. In fact the HTC One has come out ahead of the Galaxy S4 in gaming benchmarks.

The One has been criticised for its lack of removable storage but I have found the 32GB to be more than ample. HTC have also integrated cloud support (Dropbox and Flickr) very well. Obviously this is an area where everyone will have a different opinion due to their specific needs for storage. But for myself I find those 32GB to be plenty for music and photos.

Battery Life

Given the large screen and quad-core processor and the relatively average battery size, I was not overly optimistic about battery life. After two weeks of some fairly heavy usage I have been thoroughly impressed.

My daily usage can vary but I frequently send and receive a large number of emails, read and post to forums, stream music and I’m also heavy Viber user.

On average I have been seeing battery life of between 24 hours (6 hours screen time) and 30 hours (4 hours screen time). Compared to previous devices I’ve owned (mostly Galaxy’s) this is far ahead of what I would have expected and is more than satisfactory.

After a little over two weeks with the HTC One, I am more firmly convinced that it is the best smartphone we’ve ever seen. It is not without its small issues but none of those cannot be fixed with a software update.

My next post will look at the excellent camera and HTC Zoe.

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 New Zealand
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New Zealand


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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