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HTC One Packs a Punch into a Small Package

The HTC One is arguably the best smartphone HTC has made to date, and we might argue that it might be the best smartphone made. The only reason we won’t give the HTC One that honor is that there are a few minor, and one major, design flaw that keeps it out of the running for “best of the best.” And now, on to the review!

 

Nuts & Bolts

The Processor

Under the hood, the HTC One has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, which is a quad-core 1.7GHz processor. It is more than beefy enough to handle the latest Android games, while still conserving power to keep you talking and playing for hours between charges.

 

The Battery

The HTC One might not have the strongest battery in the smartphone market, but its 2,300-mAh lithium-polymer battery gives us talk time of up to 18 hours on a 3G network. HTC claims the phone has a standby time of up to 500 hours on 3G, but who can ignore their phone for 500 hours when it’s as useful and beautiful as the HTC One?

 

The Screen

The HTC One’s screen is a 4.7” 1080p Full HD display that cranks in 486 pixels per inch. Compare this with the iPhone 5s, whose famed Retina display only outputs 326 ppi. HTC has truly created a marvel of a screen here, as the stunningly beautiful contrast and color reproduction are almost second to none.

 

While the screen is a whopping 4.7 inches of beauty, do not think this larger screen size means a huge, bulky phone. HTC has worked hard to reduce the metal and plastic surrounding the screen, so the HTC One’s screen almost stretches from edge to edge. Overall, a very nicely designed screen gives you plenty of screen real estate while still helping the phone to sit comfortably in the palm of your hand.

 

The Camera

The HTC One features HTC’s 4MP Ultra Pixel Camera with an f2.0 aperture and 28mm lens. While the phone only has four megapixels, these are made up of Ultra Pixels. Ultra Pixels are much larger photosites than the traditional megapixels, so they can collect more light and produce better-looking photos than many of the HTC One’s rivals. The camera also features optical image stabilization and smart flash, which automatically chooses from among five levels of flash to produce the best flash photography possible. This rear camera is also capable of recording 1080p Full HD video recording with HDR Video.

 

HTC has also implemented a feature called HTC Zoe, which records video and a burst of 20 still images at the touch of a button. This is a very handy feature for when you want both video and still images from the same scene. One downside to this particular feature is that frequent use of it can quickly fill up the onboard storage on the phone.

 

The HTC One also has a 2.1 MP front camera with an 88º wide-angle lens. The photography from this camera is not as stunning as the rear-facing camera, but it is still useful for taking self-shots and doing Skype video chat.

 

The Buttons

The volume button on the HTC One is the same beautiful polished metal as the phone’s back and contrasts nicely with the rubber and plastic of the phone’s sides. Our only real complaint was that the volume button seemed to wiggle from side to side a bit more than we would have expected, detracting from the overall premium feel of the phone.

 

The phone’s power button lives at the top of the phone and doubles as an infrared sensor and transmitter. It is a nice idea, but we still aren’t crazy about the placement of the button. Even though the phone is small and compact, accessing the power button with one hand required us to shuffle the phone around in the palm of our hand and then crane our fingers around to press the power button.

 

The other problem with the placement of the buttons comes in tandem with a drawback of an aluminum body on your phone: slipperiness. We found ourselves sliding the phone around quite a bit more than we would on something with a bit more texture to it, so quite often button presses got missed simply because we pushed the phone out of the way trying to press the buttons.

 

Memory

The HTC One is available with either 32GB or 64GB of storage, but the only way you can get the 64GB model as of this writing is by going with AT&T. Using HTC’s Zoe feature could fill up the onboard memory quickly, and not having a way to upgrade the memory short of buying a new phone is frustrating when we’re limited to choosing between 32GB and 64GB (or not having that choice, if we don’t want to use AT&T).

 

We were sad to see that HTC has opted not to include a memory card slot for adding more memory. This is a common complaint about the iPhone and one that most Android phone manufacturers are quick to point out when they try explaining why their phones are so much better than the iPhone, so it gives us pause to see a manufacturer leaving that feature out.

 

Nice Features

The nicest feature of the HTC One is the HTC Sense UI with HTC BlinkFeed. HTC has thought deeply about the best way to combine all of your informational needs on the screen, and they’ve come up with a UI design that is slick, sleek and useful.

 

Summary

The HTC One is a beautiful phone, and HTC has obviously put a lot of thought and design planning into the phone. It holds together nicely, boasts a beautifully crisp and colorful screen, and almost all hints that this phone has Android under the hood are hidden by the gorgeous HTC Sense UI.

 

Unfortunately, there is a major drawback to any phone with the aluminum unibody chassis that HTC used here: it is slippery. We found ourselves coming dangerously close to throwing our beautiful phone Wii-mote style, which is quite frightening when you consider the fact that the HTC One cost is exponentially higher than a simple Wii-mote.

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