HTC One with it’s aluminium unibody is a solid, premium-looking alternative. It’s not flashy, But it’s simple and elegant. Even if you don’t love it at first glance, You’re not going to hate it. The black phone apparently shows scuffs and scratches easily, But that hasn’t been an issue with the silver One I have here. There are white polycarbonate strips all around the side and on the back of the phone. They add to the design, But also help the internal antennae work properly. The One has a large 4.7 inch display, But I can hold it comfortably in one hand. I wouldn’t be able to do everything one handed on it though. I’d need both hands to access menus and things. In length and width, The One is very similar to the 5 inch display Sony Xperia Z and Samsung Galaxy S4. But bear in mind that the HTC One has a smaller 4.7 inch display. It’s also 1.4 mm thicker than both these phones. The extra thickness is in the centre of the back where it curves, But I find it sits better in the hand because of this compared to the thin, slab-like Xperia Z. Weight-wise the One is actually 3g lighter than the Xperia Z, Not a noticeable difference, But the One does feel amazingly light to hold. The front of the One is all glass and metal. The 4.7 inch display sits behind a panel of Gorilla Glass that stretches from one side of the phone to the other. HTC have gone for capacitive keys on the One, But with a slight change. There’s only the home and back keys below the display. So if you’re used to the third menu key, Then you’re going to miss it on the One, at least initially. The Home key is to the right, and not in the centre. There’s a logo there instead, Just taking up space. It took me a while to get used to this placement. I kept automatically tapping the logo, Assuming it was the home key. Above the display there’s the 2.1 MP front facing camera on one side, And ambient light and proximity sensors on the other. The earpiece is behind the neatly drilled top grille, Along with an LED indicator and front-facing speakers. The One actually has dual stereo speakers placed above and below the display, As you can see from the similar grille along the bottom. I’ll be testing out the sound quality of these speakers later in this review. The power button is at the top of the phone, Along with the 3.5mm headphone jack. Having the power button right at the top makes it awkward to reach on a large display phone, I’d have much preferred it if it was on the side. It’s also quite flat and flush with the phone body, Which makes it harder to press, But it is responsive. The One’s power button has a neat trick up it’s sleeve. It can send out infra-red signals, And with the help of a pre-loaded app, The HTC One can act as a remote for your TV or stereo system. The volume rocker on the right hand side is metal, And also quite flat and flush with the sides. It’s responsive, But difficult to feel out and press. On the left there’s a microSIM tray. There’s no microSD card slot, So you’re entirely dependent on internal storage with the One. This is usually 32GB. There is a 64GB version, but it seems hard to get hold off. However, you do get 25GB dropbox space free for two years with the One. On the bottom of the phone is the microUSB data and charging port, And the primary microphone. The back of the phone has a 4MP or ‘ultrapixel’ camera and LED flash. There’s a secondary noise cancelling microphone on the top white strip. It also has what HTC calls ‘Sense Voice’. It detects loud background noise when you’re making a phone call, And boosts your in-call audio to compensate so that the person on the other end can still hear you clearly. Finally, the back of the phone is non-removable, So the 2300 mAh battery inside is not swappable. We’ll take a look at how well the battery lasts, later in this review. DISPLAY Interestingly, HTC haven’t tried to match phones like Sony’s Xperia Z by going for a 5 inch display. They’ve kept the One’s display at a comparatively modest 4.7 inches. But, it is 1080p, true HD, And it also manages to pack in an incredibly sharp pixel density of 468ppi. Let’s see how good the display actually is. This is the phone in really bright sunlight, And the display’s at maximum brightness for this test. You can see what the homescreen and icons look like as well. The One does reasonably well for visibility. I can see some detail, But it’s probably not a great way to watch a good movie. If it becomes very cloudy, Screen visibility actually worsens. In more normal sunlight, Visibility is a bit better. There’s more contrast on the One’s display. Let’s check out the One’s colour accuracy now. These comparisons were done indoors, At maximum display brightness. The HTC One does very well for colour. I like how it manages to show images close to the original. The detail is also very good. You can see that in this close-up of the butterfly’s wings. And overall, the picture is nice and bright. Some phone displays tend to lose detail in dark areas, But the One manages to show a nice, detailed, and crisp image even if it’s dark. I think the One’s display is great for watching movies, Given that it’s so bright and the colours are shown so well. It’s 4.7 inch size is also a definite bonus here. This is text in bright sunlight with display at maximum brightness. If you read a lot outdoors, then this will be important. The contrast isn’t as good as it could be. The words aren’t standing out very well. In normal sunlight, the words are more visible. But if it starts to get cloudy overhead, Then reading on the phone display becomes harder. Next I want to take a look at how it does for reading indoors. And again, the display is at maximum brightness for this test. Even though the One has the highest ppi of all the phones shown, It doesn’t make much difference when it comes to reading ebooks. All three phones show sharp text, And the contrast is similar. An advantage for the One, though Is it’s large display size. PERFORMANCE Going by specs alone, The HTC One is a real powerhouse. It runs on Qualcomm’s new quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, With a clock speed of 1.7 GHz and 2GB RAM. The One just powered through all the benchmark tests I did, And it comfortably beat many of last years top phones. If you’d like to see the comparisons, There’s a benchmark chart of Uoobe.com, And the link to that is in the description. I had the same experience in my day-to-day use, There was no lag at all. Scrolling through screens and loading different apps was incredibly smooth. Games with 3D graphics played really well. As far as performance is concerned, I had no issues with the HTC One. For connectivity, the HTC One has all the necessary options like wi-fi, bluetooth, NFC and Android beam, as well as 4G-LTE support. The microUSB port also supports HDMI output with the right adaptor. GPS has the now more or less standard assisted-GPS and GLONASS support. It worked well during my use. So I have no complaints about it. And you can see from this comparison test, That the One’s GPS is on par with the Nexus 4’s. INTERFACE The One has Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, with HTC’s custom Sense 5 user interface layered on top. HTC has made some changes to Sense, An unmissable one is ‘Blinkfeed’. It’s very much like ‘Flipboard’, if you’ve used that app before. Blinkfeed is a news aggregator that brings you updates from different news websites. Headlines are arranged as tiles, And taping on a tile takes you to the full article. There are different categories to choose from, But it only links to websites chosen by HTC. You can’t add any website of your choice to it. It also lets you connect to some of your social sites like facebook and twitter. The trouble with Blinkfeed is that it’s permanently there on the phone’s homescreen. When you first turn on the One, the default homescreen is Blinkfeed. You can add up to four more, And you can choose to set one of these as the new default homescreen, But Blinkfeed will always be there on the left. Another change on the HTC One is the loss of a dedicated menu key. So in places like Blinkfeed and the app drawer, You’ll need to swipe down to reveal the menu bar. The task manager is accessed by double tapping the home button. The screen shows nine of your most recently opened apps, And to close any of them you need to swipe up on its thumbnail. Other things like settings are similar to what you’d find in stock Android. Sense 5 seems more refined than previous versions of Sense. I found it to be smooth and lag-free. But if you’re not a huge fan of features like Blinkfeed, Then you might want to give third party interfaces like ‘Nova Launcher’ a try. AUDIO I had no issues with call reception on the HTC One, It picks up signals very reliably. The next thing is in-call quality, And to give you an idea of that, Here’s a quote from H. Jackson Brown Jr. Twenty years from now, You’ll be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do Than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. And here’s an example of how the speaker sounds. I’m comparing it to the Nokia Lumia 920. Both are at maximum volume. Music…. The two front-mounted speakers produce what HTC calls Boomsound. Audio is loud and still pleasant to listen to. The Beats audio amplifier also adds nice depth to the music. For phone speakers, HTC have done very well with the One. If you’d like to hear how the One’s in-call and speaker audio compares to phones like the Galaxy S3, There are some samples you can listen to on Uoobe.com The links in the description below. BATTERY The HTC One’s 2300 mAh battery packs a lot of power. But then the phone is a power-hog with its full HD display and the latest quad-core processor. I tested it out with a day of use at 50 percent display brightness and wi-fi on, And I managed to get 9 hours 45 minutes from it. I was using everything from wi-fi and GPS to playing games and watching movies. The One takes around 2hours and 40 minutes to fully charge. So now let’s take a look at how the One performs for individual tasks. These are my 10 minute tests done at 50 percent brightness and with all connections turned off. Compared to the similar spec’d Xperia Z, The HTC One does better for things like using the camera and playing games. And if you’d like to see comparisons for the other phones, There’s a battery performance chart on Uoobe.com WRAP-UP There’s a lot to like about the HTC One, But a few not so good points also. The size is probably going to be the main issue for some people. But now that there are so many 4.5 to 5 inch display phones available, And of course the phablets at more than 5 inches, I think that issue isn’t as big as it used to be a year or so ago. The other thing is interface. You may or may not get much use out of Blinkfeed, And if you really don’t like HTC’s Sense, Then you’ll probably find yourself using Nova Launcher or something similar. But at least you have the choice to swap it if you want. Really though, For performance, looks, and display, The HTC One stands tall against many other phones. It’s one of those phones that if you pick it up You’ll have a hard time putting it down again. It’s just beautiful. Well, that’s it for this review. I’ll be uploading a separate camera review for the HTC One in a few days time, so don’t forget to check that out.
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