For the past week and a half our own Brian Klug has been hard at work on his review of HTC’s new flagship smartphone, the One. These things take time and Brian’s review, at least what I’ve seen of it, is nothing short of the reference piece we’ve come to expect from him.

In the same period of time I’ve been playing around with a retail HTC One and felt compelled to share my thoughts on the device. It’s rare that I’m so moved by a device to chime in outside of the official review, but the One is a definite exception. By no means is this a full review, and I defer to Brian for the complete story on the One - something we should be getting here in the not too distant future.

I’m not a financial analyst, but HTC hasn’t been doing all that well over the past few quarters. There’s a general feeling that the aptly named One is HTC’s last chance at survival. Good product doesn’t always translate into market dominance, but it’s a necessary component when you’re an underdog. Luckily for HTC, the One is great.

Design

Over the past two years HTC has really come into its own as far as design is concerned. The difference between the HTC One X and the plethora of flagships that came before it was remarkable. Moving to the One, the difference is just as striking.

I don’t seem to mind plastic phones as much as everyone else, but the One is in an appreciably different league compared to its peers. It’s the type of device that you just want to look at and touch. Given how much you do end up looking at and touching your smartphone, HTC’s efforts here seem well placed.

The One looks and feels great. The proportions are a little awkward in my hands, but I fully concede that’s going to vary from person to person. Despite the heavy use of aluminum, I don't feel overly worried about scratching/damaging the finish.

The challenge with any smartphone is to build something that looks distinct in a sea of black rectangles on a wall in a store. With the One (and arguably the One X before it), HTC does a good job of balancing the need to be seen with the need to be subtle. Elegant is the right word here.

While I’m sure there will be comparisons to the iPhone, the fact of the matter is that the design cycle on these smartphones falls somewhere in the 12 - 24 month range. With something as sophisticated as the One, you’re looking at the longer end of that spectrum. For what it’s worth, if I had to estimate I’d say design work on the One probably started before the iPhone 4S came out.

Smartphone Spec Comparison
  Apple iPhone 5 HTC One Samsung Galaxy S 3 Samsung Galaxy S 4
SoC Apple A6 1.3GHz Snapdragon 600 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz Exynos 5 Octa (1.6/1.2GHz) or Snapdragon 600 1.9GHz
DRAM/NAND/Expansion 1GB LPDDR2, 16/32/64GB NAND 2GB LPDDR2, 32/64GB NAND 2GB LPDDR2, 16/32GB NAND, microSD 2GB LPDDR3, 16/32/64GB NAND, microSD
Display 4.0-inch 1136 x 640 LCD 4.7-inch SLCD3 1080p, 468 ppi 4.8-inch Super AMOLED 720p, 306 ppi 5-inch Super AMOLED 1080p, 441 ppi
Network 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 (depending on region)
Dimensions 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm 137.4mm x 68.2mm x 4mm - 9.3mm 136.6mm x 70.6mm 8.6mm 136.6mm x 69.8mm x 7.9mm
Weight 112g 143g 133g 130g
Rear Camera 8MP 4MP w/ 2µm pixels 8MP 13MP
Front Camera 1.2MP 2.1MP 1.9MP 2MP
Battery Internal 5.45 Wh Internal 8.74 Wh Removable 7.98 Wh Removable 9.88 Wh
OS iOS 6.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Android 4.2.2
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, USB 2.0, GPS/GNSS 802.11ac/a/b/g/n + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, IR LED, MHL, DLNA, NFC 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, USB 2.0, NFC, GPS/GNSS, MHL 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (HT80) + BT 4.0, USB 2.0 NFC, GPS/GNSS, IR LED, MHL 2.0

 

The Camera
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    I gave up removable batteries a while ago. Same thing on the lack of micro SD card slots :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    Why do we need to give up any features? GS4 still offers replaceable battery, packs larger (and personally better) display in much thinner and lighter case. Reply
  • Muyoso - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    Pentile AMOLED is a better display to you? Wow. Reply
  • SodaAnt - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    I don't think pentile really matters when you have a 5" 1080P screen. The real issue with pentile is that it lowers the effective resolution of the screen, but once you get to the level of DPI that we're seeing it hardly makes a difference. Reply
  • metafor - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    People said that about the Galaxy S3's 4.8" 720p screen as well; that you can't notice the pentile matrix. I own one and while it's not terribly distracting, holding it side-by-side with the OneX's LCD is night and day. I don't know how true that is at 1080p and 5" though. Reply
  • nerd1 - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    GS3 has 306ppi for green and ~200ppi for red and blue, which are not that terrible but still noticeable. On the other hand GS4 has ~300ppi even for red and blue, which should be almost as good as iPhone's retina screen. Reply
  • danbob999 - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    It is much better than the iPhone screen. It's the total number of pixels that count, not the density. Reply
  • darwinosx - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    That is incorrect, Reply
  • robinthakur - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Actually that's not true in the slightest. I own a Glaaxy S3 and would happily give up the extra screen size if I could see it in sunlight, if the edges of text didn't look all fuzzy due to the pentile AMOLED, if the colours were anywhere near accurate (greens and blues look odd no matter whether you set it to natural or not) and if the refresh rate was better. We've had retina displays since the iPhone 4 in 2009. The fact that it is touted as "720p" is a complete joke when the screen itself is of such poor quality, but I suppose it fools those that simply look at specs sheets. Next to the One X and the iPhone 5 (a display with both accurate colour and retina quality) the difference is astonishing. What is more astonishing is that Samsung make decent displays, they just choose not to put them on the S3 because most people don't know what a decent display looks like. Reply
  • danbob999 - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Color accuracy and sunlight visibility is something else. However when strickly speaking about resolution, the S3 display is much better than the iPhone's. You can fit more readable content in the S3 than in the iPhone without having to scroll. Try it if you don't beleive me. Reply

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