I don't usually write reviews of hardware... but I was tweeting the other day about my new commuter case for my phone from Otterbox (which is awesome by the way). The phone in question was unsurprisingly the subject of this review a HTC One. When HTC's marketing team saw my tweets we started a fun little dialogue which started with phone love, lead to haiku and ended up with me saying I'd write a blog post. So this is it, my review of the HTC One.
Appearance and features
The phone looks gorgeous. I'll be honest I think this above anything else helped me pick this phone over its main competition, the Samsung Galaxy S4 *. The casing is smooth aluminum making the phone feel robust and desirable at the same time.
The screen is 4.7", offering 1080p HD playback and for those of you that care (web designers / developers in particular) has a 468 pixel per inch (ppi) density. If you're unfamiliar with ppi it simply means that the clever people at HTC have a screen the crams in a lot of pixels into a small space, as a result images and text can be sharper than ever before. As someone who cares about how things look on digital devices, I was blown away by the quality.
On the front of the phone are the two (yes, two) grills for the stereo speakers, which can pump the sound out at an incredibly loud volume thanks to HTC Boomsound. There is no other phone out there that is as loud as this... In fact, I'm not sure there are any tablets as loud as this. Playback of music and tv shows are unrivaled when paired with the awesome screen.
On the back is the Ultrapixel camera with a sensor so sensitive it absorbs 300% more light, ask any photographer they will tell you that more light is better. Software for the camera means that you can capture 20 photos at a time and when using continuous shooting mode enables you to review your snaps then pick the best one. I'll be honest this is the one part of the camera that I am still getting used to and finding out what works best. Results so far have been mixed but with obviously better results than my previous phone - a Samsung Galaxy S2. On the front is the 2.1 megapixel camera for video chats which having tried is surprisingly good quality.
Power and memory
Inside the HTC One is a meaty Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, 2gb ram and in my version of the phone 32gb of 'space'. Having had the phone for a month now I can tell you, it is fast and I have had a hard job finding any website or application that makes it struggle. All that power does come at a cost though, like all smartphones constant use makes it run a little hot but to be fair constant use like I am describing is rare amongst users.
As long as you don't run super intensive applications like the excellent game Neuroshima Hex for long periods of time the phone will last a long time without needing a charge. I also use my phone as a work tool (for testing responsive website designs) and as it stands I get a solid full day of use out of it.
Operating system and interface
The phone runs on Android's Jelly Bean and is enhanced using HTC Sense. Being used to TouchWiz (Samsung's enhanced version of Android) it took me a few days to get used to Sense but now I don't notice the difference. The only thing I would like would be an easier way to stop all applications running in the background that aren't needed (minor gripe - to which there may be a solution too). A nice feature of HTC Sense is HTC Blinkfeed which changes the homescreen of the phone from a dull lifeless list of apps to a stream of activity from you and your friends.
If you want to find out more about the phone click here to get the full specification from the HTC website. Better still, go and look at one in the flesh and be mesmerised by its beauty.
I love the phone, I've been able to compare it to an S4 in the office for testing and from using that I'm glad I picked the HTC One. The phone is slightly smaller than the S4 but it is still big in its own right which makes badly designed apps and websites hard to navigate as some of the controls are physically out of reach on the screen. If the soon to arrive HTC One Mini (which we'd love to get our hands on (or the rumoured phablet) - hint hint) has the same specifications as it's bigger brother in a smaller frame that will be a seriously popular phone. It feels stronger than the S4 which feels too light and looks much slicker. I don't mean to be so critical of Samsung who have done an amazing job pushing technologies and competing (read that as fighting Apple) but they definitely dropped the ball with the S4 which felt for me a missed opportunity.
* I should point out I was never going to be looking at an Apple iPhone because personally I like to choose my phone not be limited to a single option which is basically what you get when you choose Apple.