ONE phone to rule them all, OK, not really, but it sure can make an argument for it.
The following are just my thoughts on this phone, it is not a full technical review highlighting it’s feature set. It’s just an overview of my personal experience on my new toy. Phonescoop, Engadget, etc., has full reviews of the One, so check them out for a full fledged technical look at this device.
As a birthday gift to myself, I recently purchased HTC‘s current flagship smartphone, the One, and as after spending about a week or so with it, I can safely say it is the best smartphone I have owned/used.
Sure that statement can be made every time a new device comes out, but with my last 2 smartphones being lackluster at best, It can’t be claimed all the time. Let’s take a closer look at why I think HTC’s One is quite the beast that it is. I know a lot has been said about this phone already, as it’s been out since April of this year. BUT VZW just got around to releasing it.
With its unibody all steel design, it’s easily the most comfortable device I have ever held in my quite massive hands. The curved back fits nicely on my hand, and the girth itself is just near perfect for me to swipe, type, and operate the device. The screen size a 4.7″ SLCD is just right, without it being overly huge. The front edge has a nice mirror edged finish that frames the phone nicely, and the boom speakers on the top and bottom of the phone rounds off the front. The non-functional HTC logo, with the back and home button flanking it are the only symbols. Front sensors and front facing camera flank the top speaker, and fills in the rest of the phone’s front face.
The side edges of the phone is compromised of injected plastic, with the volume rockers on the left side (screen facing you), bottom of the phone is where one of the mic holes reside, and the Micro USB port is located. Up top, the power button/IR blaster and 3.5mm headphone jack is located. Lastly, the right side houses the sim card tray, and another Mic. In the back, the 4 ultra pixel camera and the LED flash takes center stage. A secondary mic also can be found in the back, for noise cancellation purposes. Thin white plastic strips break up the monotony of the steel slab, and also doubles as a place where radio signals can pass through. Down bottom is your obligatory logo area. Not crazy about the power button up top, as well as the headphone jack, but it’s a personal preference rather than a deal breaker.
Overall, the phone feels solid, and it feels good to hold. Not since my old Blackberry Storm have I felt comfortable holding a smartphone. I think it’s the edged face, and the curved back, or the maybe a combination of both that makes it feel at home in my hands. My 2 previous smartphones, the Motorola Droid Bionic, and Samsung Galaxy Nexus, is roughly the same size, but it just didn’t feel as secure in my hands.
The phone itself is quite pleasing to look at, but the Full HD screen is another sight to behold. Every time I take a look at HTC phones, I’ve always been blown away by their screens. From my old Droid Incredible, to the HTC One X, Droid DNA, and even the Rezound, It never fails, as soon as I look at it, my eyes tear with joy at how good and crisp it looks. The One’s SLCD screen continues this trend. With Corning’s Gorilla Glass protecting it, it’s sharp, clear, and contrasty, with really deep blacks, and white whites, and vivid colours, watching YouTube videos, to anything you can get your hands on looks stunning in HD. Heck looking at anything just looks great on this screen. Crushing candies never looked so good.
Sound quality on the phone end is as clear as it can be. I never make much phone calls, but the few I have made came through clear, and it seems that the person on the other end didn’t have any problems hearing me. I had some issues with my Galaxy Nexus with phone calls, but again, I never make actual calls much, so, I cannot really make too many comments. The one highlight of this phone is it’s boom speakers. 2 front facing speakers that fill the ears quite nicely. You can now enjoy some music by your lonesome without having to plug into external speakers. Don’t get me wrong, it will not replace external speakers, but in a pinch, it can be quite handy. Beats audio, a staple in HTC phones, is also included.
The HTC One uses an unconventional camera, It uses a 4 Ultrapixel camera. (I won’t dive deep into it, so here is an explanation by Gizmodo http://gizmodo.com/5985348/what-is-an-ultrapixel). For what it is, I like it. I have 2 DSLR’s and a pretty spiffy point and shoot in the Canon S95, I have more than enough camera’s to use for my pro affairs. From the shots I’ve taken with it, it performs very well, good enough to share on Facebook and Instagram. I’m not going to use it to shoot weddings, or what not, so. It’s quite fast, and it offers some filters, and what not. It also has a gimmick called Zoe, which is somewhat neat. It captures a quick movie snip, a couple of seconds. It really just makes your gallery look cool, other than the first few times I used it, I never had the need to re-use it again. Low light shots are better than how my Galaxy Nexus did, but, again good enough for those quick snap shot moments. Front facing camera is up to par with everyone’s selfie shooting needs, so I wont comment on this at all. I might add that both camera’s have a very wide angle. This will just be for quick snaps of anything at a moments notice when I do not have my cameras. Take a look at the gallery below for a quick look see at how the shots look.
It holds up quite well. It also holds 4G signals better than the Galaxy Nexus, and the Droid Bionic. Even while in the tunnel during my commute, it keeps 4G signals, as well as when I’m at Newark Penn Station, which for some reason my previous 2 phones has problems getting a signal, but the HTC One doesn’t seem to have any issues at all. It switches between 3G and 4g really good too, so no lost transmission when switching.
This was almost a deal breaker for me, the fact that it does not have a removable battery, but all the positives outweigh this, with it’s gorgeous screen, and sleek body, I overlooked this one major drawback. Aside for the Blackberry Storm, I’ve always had multiple batteries for my devices. I’m sure everyone know’s how much juice these devices drink up. Anyway, the fact that there are multiple portable recharging solutions made this non-removable battery situation easier to swallow. After a week of normal to me usage, I have to say, I am blown away by it’s power consumption, or lack there of. As of now, my phone has been on for 16 hours, and 12 minutes with 9% left. Outside of my heavily modded HTC Droid Incredible, this it the longest i’ve had a smartphone on battery. My Galaxy Nexus and Droid Bionic would’ve needed at least 2 recharges up to this point. Even spending the day at my in-law’s house which has bad signal reception, usually drains my previous 2 phones to single digits, but the One manages to get out w/ just a bit under 45% left. All in all, I am extremely impressed with this things power management.
Making Sense of it:
The 5th iteration of HTC’s Sense sits on top of Android 4.2.2 on this Verizon One, and it’s quite nice to see it’s not as obtrusive as it was. I still like it more compared to the other UI’s on other handsets, and it’s quite close to being Vanilla. It has it’s own quirks, and nuances, but nothing I can’t get used to. I still would rather have Vanilla Android, and I am hoping that the Google Play Edition ROM for this version of the One gets released. I kind of like it’s blink feed feature. It allows me to quickly take a glance at news stories that has happened on the sites I specify, and just tap on anything interesting. I don’t like how it handles creating folders, and moving icons, adding widgets and what not. It’s not as intuitive as it is on Vanilla version, but it will have to do for now. Overall, it’s slick, it’s speedy, and it’s fairly transparent.
I was really interested in this phone once HTC broke the news on this, and loved it once I actually got to see and hold it. It was released at around the same time as the Galaxy S4, to much less fanfare, and I have to say, the GS4 actually was a bit of a disappointment. It felt cheap, and it wasn’t a big leap from its predecessor. Samsung didn’t intend it to be though, so I can’t fault it for that. The build quality, Samsung’s gimmicky software additions, and TouchWiz ultimately pushed me towards the HTC One. It is a sleek and sturdy feeling phone and quite possibly, the best looking screen out on the market, and the best sounding also. I think HTC hit it out of the park with the One, and I would not hesitate on recommending this phone to anyone. Verizon took about 4 months more to release their One, but it was well worth the wait. It’s the only One right now that has Jelly Bean 4.2.2, and they seem to have fixed some quirks that the 4.1.2 version had. How much do I love this phone? Well I paid full price for this. Not the 2-year contract price of $199.99, but the full off contract price of $599.99. (yes, sounds crazy, but I will not let go of my grandfathered unlimited data, and I do have an explanation to my madness, maybe I will explain in another post)
Gallery of shots:
MKBHD reviews the Google Edition HTC One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNt-QXLp6YI&feature=share&list=PLBsP89CPrMeNm71T5gYC6jebm9vPbLBiP
MKBHD reviews the HTC One ATT Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KF75-HPdUfY&feature=share&list=PLBsP89CPrMeNm71T5gYC6jebm9vPbLBiP
MKBHD explains Ultrapixel: http://youtu.be/ul3lgaU_lbY