When the good people at Phones 4u gave me the opportunity to get my grubby mits on the new HTC One smartphone, I jumped at the opportunity. As an Android devotee and a loyal HTC customer who has an upgrade due imminently, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. How does the latest HTC handset cope as a full-on comms device? Can it really compete with Samsung’s Galaxy S4? And can it revive the ailing company’s fortunes? Let’s find out…
The HTC One is fast. Very fast. But more on that in a moment.
The first thing you notice about the One is its looks. Encased in cool aluminium and as slim as a post-detox Victoria Beckham, it really is a beautiful device. The second thing you notice when you turn it on is how bright and crystal sharp the screen is. It makes any other screen I’ve seen on a mobile look positively dull.
As I say, the One is an extremely fast and smooth mobile. Turn it on and it boots and syncs in seconds. And there’s not a hint of lag when opening or operating apps. The likes of Feedly, Zite, Evernote and Carbon work superbly, and even Facebook’s notoriously clunky mobile app is almost a joy to use. Almost. Syncing with and downloading from Dropbox is seamless and, furthermore, Google+ makes complete sense on a device like this, and sets the standard by which all mobile apps should measure themselves.
Transitions between apps and screens are almost suave on the One thanks to the Sense 5 interface, and it interprets Android Jelly Bean beautifully. Apps are downloaded, installed and updated in super-quick time and, furthermore, the speed is consistent whenever the device is in use. The One is as smooth and elegant as Sean Connery wrapped in a velvet jacket.
One of the things that immediately concerned me when I first got my hands on the One was the lack of access to the battery as the case is sealed. I’ve made a habit of carrying a spare battery with me over the last couple of years if I know I’m going to be out and using my mobile a lot, and a handset that dies before the end of the day is a deal-breaker. I needn’t have worried. The battery will easily last a full day on moderately heavy use, and in one test I carried out, it went well over two full days on light use without needing to be charged. Mighty impressive.
At the risk of repeating myself, both the camera and the voice interface on this device are fantastic. The camera takes crystal clear, detailed pictures that look fantastic when put through the filters in Pixlr-o-matic, while the One is the first smartphone I’ve used that truly makes sense of voice commands. In combination with this device, Maluuba blows Siri completely out of the water.
As with all HTC handsets, some of the Sense features make the One standout from the likes of the Galaxy. The customisable BlinkFeed news stream and the Zoe gallery display are great additions that integrate the best of the Windows 8 devices out there, and even the Car app makes great sense in-situ.
In truth, I really struggle to find any fault in the HTC One. If I had to be really picky, the lack of an SD card may cause storage issues for some, although with great apps like Dropbox and Spotify out there, this is increasingly irrelevant. Being even more picky, the One is limited to only five customisable screens, which may limit the number of information-rich Android widgets you can use. But that really is about it.
The HTC One is an awesome smartphone and a wonderful comms device. My last two mobiles have both been HTC devices; the Hero and the Sensation respectively. Both widely top-rated at the time of their release, HTC has since dropped the ball and been usurped by Samsung with the Galaxy S3 and then S4. Innovation dried up and revenues dropped. But with the One, HTC is firmly back at the cutting edge of smartphone design.
With the styling and smoothness of an iPhone, the great flexibility and feature set of an Android, and the tiled interface of a Windows 8 device, the HTC One really is all things to all men.
Disclosure: I was sent an HTC One smartphone for review. No payment was received for this post. All reviews are 100% honest.
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Posted by Paul Sutton