HTC One Review

When we talk about flagship devices, we expect them to carry the brand forward, change the landscape, and woo the people into buying them. The HTC One both succeeded and failed in these aspects. It wooed the people, changed the landscape, but failed to translate to sales. Some industry pundits even added that company execs are leaving here and there, but that's another story entirely. All that said, the device itself is one to look out for.

The HTC One is one of the most finely-constructed Android devices I've held. It looks awesome at any angle, it performs wonderfully, and man do I love everything about it. If you're looking for your next smartphone, I urge you to stop for a moment and take some time to read my story. Here's my HTC One review.

Design

The HTC One, like I mentioned above, is one of the most finely-constructed Android devices I set my eyes upon. Never had display, sound output and input, looked so pretty together sitting in a face of a device. Add in an aluminum unibody and you've got to be spoiling me. I make sure to hold it with care everytime I lift it, because I fully realize that one bad drop can make this device lose its glamour immediately.

HTC One Review Front

The front of HTC One is composed of the gorgeous 4.7-inch display, two stereo speakers, a notification LED hidden in the top stereo speaker, a receiver hidden in the bottom stereo speaker, a couple of sensors, and a secondary 2.1-megapixel front facing camera. The device also sports a unique touch button configuration, since it only carries a back and home button, in between of which lies the HTC logo.

HTC One Review Back

The back of the device meanwhile, sports two white lines (or black, in the black HTC One), the UltraPixel camera with flash, a metallized HTC logo dead center, and a printed Beats Audio logo. The cleanliness of the HTC One's rear is very pleasurable to the eyes. As a side note, it was shown on Reddit that the Beats Audio logo can be removed via a cloth and a rubbing compound.

Located at the top of the device is the double purpose sleep/wake button/IR blaster and a 3.5mm audio jack; the microSIM slot is located at the top left side of the device; the right side carries a rather unique volume rocker; the bottom of the device is where you can find the microUSB port/charger. Surrounding the HTC One is a white plastic material sandwiched in between by the metal parts of the device.

Button placement on the smartphone is good. One thing I found confusing though is the 2-soft touch button configuration of the One, especially when going back and forth BlinkFeed, the app drawer, and the home display. To my defense, I adjusted fairly quickly with this setting.


Handling the HTC One could bring out the careful freak in a person. I for one can attest to that. The aluminum unibody—though having a very good build quality—is moderately slippery and a slight slip from the hands might cause a bad dent, or even worse, break the device altogether. Drop tests showed that the speaker covers of the device tend to pop-off (they just look glued on) while the white plastic material cracked from a bad fall.

All that said, the HTC One is very nice to hold. The smooth metal back, the 4.7-inch fit, you can just feel the premium aura emanating from it, like you don't want to let it out of your sight. This device wins owns the design category amongst its contemporaries in my book.

Display

The HTC One sports a 4.7-inch Full HD Super LCD 3 multi-touch capacitive display at 1080 x 1920 resolution and ~469 ppi, with the glass being a Gorilla Glass 2 (as compared to the Samsung Galaxy S4's Gorilla Glass 3).

HTC One Review Display

The HTC One's display is in itself a sight to behold. Everything being shown at the 4.7-inch screen is color-rich and vivid, animations are fluid and smooth, there's absolutely no pixelation. Viewing angles and outdoor visibility should pose no problem to the One, based on my personal experience. Such a premium experience can only be delivered by a flagship.

The HTC One employs the Sense 5 UI, the successor to what you've probably seen in the One X series (Sense 4). It features a more minimalistic, more streamlined Sense look without losing touch of Jelly Bean.


First usage of the UI may cause a little confusion (then again, all UI's are confusing for unfamiliar users, in this case me), but the learning curve is pretty short. I was using it like I was an owner for months in just a short span of time.

Elements of Sense 4 are still present in the Sense 5 UI, but to a lesser degree.

The display is very responsive, but only supports up to 3-touchpoints—that is, until you disable HTC Gestures (Go to Settings then Display, gestures & buttons. It's enabled by default). After this, the screen maxes out at 10 touchpoints.

Performance

The HTC One runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on a Qualcomm APQ8064T Snapdragon 600 processor (1.7 GHz quad-core Krait 300 CPU, Adreno 320 GPU) and 2GB RAM. Of course, the only thing that's higher than the Snapdragon 600 at this point is the Snapdragon 800, which we have yet to see in a smartphone (clue: LG). But I digress. Let's look at the benchmark results the device gathered.

HTC One Review Antutu Benchmark

The HTC One clocked in at 24019 at the AnTuTu benchmark I ran, just 2000+ from the chart-topping Samsung Galaxy S4. But it isn't really that big a deal since it was established early on that the latter was currently the "most powerful" smartphone on the planet.

HTC One Review Quadrant Standard

Quadrant Standard gives the One an impressive 12158 (vs the Samsung Galaxy S4's 12546). As a disclaimer, the benchmark app is pretty much dead at this point, since its last update was around this time last year, nonetheless it still works and reflects scores at an acceptable range.

Now this is where it gets interesting. I ran the HTC One in five benchmarks, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 only topped two. Now normally this would be a "the HTC One won 3/5!" situation, but there are too many factors at play, and thus we cannot say definitively why or how the HTC One trumped Samsung's flagship at the remaining benchmarks, other than saying the Taiwanese company's flagship looks and feels way better.

HTC One Review Qualcomm Vellamo Benchmark

The HTC One scored a 2435/776 on the Qualcomm Vellamo HTML5 and Metal test respectively (vs the Samsung Galaxy S4's 2048/723). This benchmark tests the HTML5 and Javascript performance of a given device, which was handily won by the One.

HTC One Review Passmark Benchmark

The One scores a 3433 at the Passmark benchmark app (vs the Samsung Galaxy S4's 3310) at the overall category. It's important to note that the S4's CPU performance at this particular benchmark was a league ahead of the former.

HTC One Review Nenamark

Lastly, the Nenamark 2.0 benchmark. The HTC One clocked in at 61.6 fps (vs the Samsung Galaxy S4's 60.2 fps; both the One and S4 has the same GL vendor and renderer). It's amazing how smooth the app runs through its course in the One. Definitely among the top 3 smoothest I've ever seen.

Although this is not a HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S4 post, it's hard not to compare two flagships for the numbers, though the point is moot and could be lost in translation. Users won't be even able to notice the difference between the said devices performance-wise. Bottom-line, what matters the most is user experience, and the HTC One gave me an absolutely wonderful time.

Considering the power of this machine, the HTC One would run anything you throw at it, akin to a smoldering Japanese katana slicing through melted butter, and I'm not even kidding.

HTC One Review Stock Browser

With regards to the device's stock browser, it's highly appreciable to be able to run it without encountering problems you would normally encounter on other stocks. For what it's worth, you can even run Flash in it, no additional plugins needed.

Audio and Video

With the HTC One, the good just keeps getting better and better, and the audio and video department aren't excluded.

The device's impressive high resolution display didn't fail to make me smile. It's arguable that there are better contemporary smartphone displays out there, but the One is the one for me, pun intended. Seriously though, it's at the same time ridiculous and sad that we're going higher and higher with PPIs without our eyes being able to objectively see the difference.

HTC One Review Video Viewing

High definition videos really show when viewing movies, trailers, and the like. Fast transitions are are consistent and pixelation and ghosting are zero. Color reproduction and contrast ratios are also both true and fantastic.

Shifting away from video, the HTC BoomSound is something that should've been made sooner annd something that is totally necessary to future devices. It's not an exaggeration to say that it obviously and definitely adds value to the device's audio experience. Now I'm wondering why smartphone speakers are located at the back to begin with.

HTC One Review Front Speaker 1 HTC One Review Front Speaker 2

The HTC One's front stereo speakers will definitely spoil you. Right from the getgo, as soon as you watch that new movie trailer, that shiny game, that latest album from your favorite band, you'll immediately notice the difference. Highs, mids, and lows intertwine wonderfully and are a pleasure to the ears. The sound is coming towards you, facing your direction, not emanating from the back. The BoomSound ain't definitely no high-end cinema audio (and its insane to compare it to that), but for a smartphone, it's nothing short of amazing.

The HTC Beats enable/disable feature apparently changes equalizer settings that results in a lower dB rating but with better listening enjoyment.


The stock HTC headphones that come with the device look like regular Beats Audio headphones since they come in a red and black theme, but that's where it ends. It's no Beats, but a result of the partnership of Beats and HTC. The headphones in question have good sound, good isolation, and even feature an anti-tangle cord, great for on-the-go listening. Internationally branded stock headphones have definitely come a long way.

Conversations from calls come whole and audible.

Gaming

As with most high-tier devices nowadays, the HTC One will run even the most graphics-intensive of games and fast. It loads EA's Real Racer 3 in an enough manner and will run races without stuttering. Directional sensors run properly from left to right vice-versa. Dungeon Hunter 4 also posed no threat to the device.

HTC One Review Gaming EA Real Racer 3

HTC One Review Dungeon Hunter 4

The only issue I had with the HTC One while gaming is how fast the device heats up. It gets somewhat uncomfortable after a while, but it's not enough to burn you. That said, I'll gladly overlook the heating issue for a shot to play with the HTC One any time.

Camera

The HTC One sports a 4-megapixel "UltraPixel" rear camera at 2688x1520 with AF, LED flash, OIS, an ambitious F/2.0 system, and simultaneous HD video and image recording. The front camera meanwhile sports a 2.1-megapixel camera with 1080@30fps and HDR.

HTC One Review UltraPixel Camera

The One's camera UI have changed slightly, with the preview now filling the screen rather than having a space at the edge. If you're new to the One, you'll think you're doing fine snapping photos. When you're already viewing snapped images, there's a chance that all your photos are oriented to the left, and that's because of the preview spread. Everything else is pretty much self-explanatory, just like the photo modes and other toggles.

HTC One Review Front Camera

The stills captured using the HTC One's UltraPixel camera look good, though there's this hazy texture with images taken indoors with fluorescent light. Sample images below:

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In the beef rice bowl above, notice how the beef in front center look detailed while the rice at the side become an indistinguishable smudge, probably due to an effort to reduce noise. In other images, portions veering to the far left or right tend to have softness. This is due to the OIS system compensating for angle movement.

Another big feature of the One is probably the HTC Zoe. The HTC Zoe, simply put, is like Vine or Instagram Video where you can choose which images are to appear in your Zoe, but better, with a plethora of additional options and filters. The great thing about it is that these Zoe captures are all images just parsed together and that you can take them off your device, and you can share them too to major social media channels. The "Zoe-ning" process just takes a while to master but after that, you're great.

HTC One Review Zoe
Image via knowyourmobile.com
More background music, filters, and cut options are reportedly going to be added by HTC in the near future.

Battery Life

The HTC One is equipped with a non-removable (due to the unibody design) 2300mAh Li-Po battery.

Regular usage of the HTC One (casual bouts of gaming, WiFi/Data on the whole day even if idle, web browsing, all at medium brightness, playing music on the BoomSound) gives off at least 11 hours of usage. Not bad, though again, the battery heats up fairly quickly.

HTC One Review Rear 1 HTC One Review Rear 2

The HTC One gets fully charged from 0 to 100 in about 3 hours, so it's another hour extra than what I'm used to.

The question here is, if you're not a fairly fast smartphone changer, what would the non-removable battery's performance like after 2 years?

Other Features

HTC BlinkFeed is your go-to for everything that you need to be updated on in the internet. You waiting for your friends to upload those vacation photos on Facebook? No need to go to the application itself, the HTC BlinkFeed will queue it up for you. Same goes for Twitter. It'll show you everything that's happened in your registered services. Sadly, HTC only allows pre-selected channels on the BlinkFeed. If a great service is not on the BlinkFeed list, too bad. It's totally a bummer since I can't read Reddit updates on the spot while I'm checking out my Twitter and Facebook. On a side note, if you want the closest thing to the HTC BlinkFeed outside of the One, get the News Republic app from Android. They're also the ones powering the HTC BlinkFeed.

HTC One Review BlinkFeed

Other more minor features include the HTC One's Zoodles Kid Mode and the 7digital store. I haven't tried the Zoodles application since A) I don't have a kid and B) even if I did, I won't entrust such a high-end device in the care of one. I suggest you don't too. The 7digital store meanwhile boasts over 20 million high quality songs. You initially get free music, although I don't know anyone from the free list.

HTC One Review Zoodles HTC One Review 7digital Store

Like the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One sports an IR Blaster, which is more obvious because it also serves as the sleep/wake button. It would ideally work on electronics that need IR input, and if you really learn to know how to use it, your HTC One would not be just a glorified remote control. Then again, it would be hard since I don't know if program schedules and show recommendations really work here in the Philippines.

As a bonus, the HTC One includes a free 25GB cloud storage courtesy of Dropbox for 24 months.

Verdict

What defines a flagship? The amount of shiny new hardware? The value-adding expanded software? The features that cannot be found anywhere else? Among other things, yes, but no matter what these companies put, it's going to be about innovation and user experience, which, fortunately, the HTC One has, at least in my eyes.

The HTC One is this year's oddball: It has a metal unibody (which isn't unique to HTC by the way), a 4-megapixel camera, and front-facing speakers, all of which are a brave undertaking, especially for a company that's said to be losing market share every single day.

The build quality of the device is astounding. It sports an overall unique design while still maintaining that HTC look. I visualized the company putting all their love in one huge silo and pouring it all in the One. And obviously, the results paid off. The HTC One is now one of the world's greatest smartphones, at least for the time being, and it will be for the months to come.

Globe HTC One Review Philippines

On the software side, I believe the HTC One properly executed and delivered almost everything correctly. Sure there are some roughs here and there, but the Sense 5, the BlinkFeed, the Zoe, plus a host of other features, I won't trade them for a vanilla Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience.

I'd personally recommend the HTC One for novice and intermediate Android users because it simply brings the best out of both the OS and the manufacturer in one awesome device. If I had the money to spend, I'll definitely buy One in a heartbeat (and no, that's not a typo).

HTC One Availability and Price in the Philippines

The HTC One is exclusively carried by Globe Telecom and is available for P1,699 under the company's best ever MySuperPlan.

HTC One Specifications

OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with HTC Sense 5
Processor: Qualcomm APQ8064T Snapdragon 600, quad-core 1.7GHz Krait 300, Adreno 320 GPU
Memory: 2GB RAM, 32/64GB internal storage, no microSD option
Display: 4.7-inch Super LCD3 capacitive touchscreen, 1080x1920 resolution, ~469 ppi, 10-point multitouch, Gorilla Glass 2
Camera: 4-megapixel rear UltraPixel camera (2688x1520 pixels) with AF, OIS, and LED flash, 1080p@30fps, 720p@60fps, HDR, stereo sound recording; 2.1-megapixel secondary front camera
Connectivity: EDGE, HSPA+, LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Infrared port, microUSB 2.0
Battery: 2300mAh non-removable Li-Po battery
Dimensions: 137.4x68.2x9.3mm, 143 g
Colors: Glacial Silver, Stealth Black, Red
Features: Micro-SIM, LTE-enabled, and free 25GB Dropbox storage for 24 months

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