A former iPhone user’s thoughts on key HTC One features

Rob has loyally covered iOS topics for several years at iSource.com, but with the HTC One in hand and a smile on his face, he is welcomed to Phandroid as a brand new Android enthusiast.

HTC One front homescreen

A few weeks ago I made the leap and bought my first Android phone after previously only owning iPhones.  This week I decided to focus on a few more of the main selling points of the HTC One–the camera, BlinkFeed, and BoomSound, and my experience with them.

HTC One camera

So much has been made of the HTC UltraPixel camera, and the decision to go with 4 megapixels instead of following the trend of increasing camera megapixels with each new iteration.  I’m not going to get into the technical aspects of why HTC chose this route.  Rather, I’m going to share my experience with the UltraPixel camera and my everyday experiences with it.

UltraPixel-grasshopper

One of the biggest selling points of the UltraPixel camera is the ability to take low light pictures — and boy does it excel in this area.  For my day job I work outside, in Florida, often on a boat, and I take a lot of pictures.  Some of the pictures are for work, but most for my personal collection.  It has been my experience that with very bright outdoor pictures, the UltraPixel camera on the One has a tendency to washout the sky more often than not.

You can tweak the settings, and tap on different areas of the view to force a change in the focal point, and I’m sure results will vary.  However, with low light scenes that I often experience with heavy tree canopy, or in the early morning hours, performance is better than I imagined it could be.

UltraPixel_deep-creek

I am still experimenting with Zoe’s, but what I’ve seen so far I’ve liked.  It’s a great feature  to have on your phone if you have kids or animals and you don’t want to miss that perfect picture.  Plus, I love how HTC automatically creates a short movie from all the pictures taken during the day and adds music to it–nice touch, and sharable, too.

The camera has a lot more settings than I’m used to compared to the stock camera of the iPhone 5, and I’m finding more and more little things I can do if I dig down into the settings far enough. This is great for the tinkerer, but there is a little learning curve on discoverability.

HTC One BlinkFeed

Advertised as one of the “big” selling points for the HTC One, BlinkFeed is the forgotten feature in a feature rich phone.  I really thought I’d use BlinkFeed… I really did.  When I first set it up I made the mistake of adding too many social feeds to it, and it became cumbersome, and overlapped too much with my go-to social app — Twitter.

I’ve set up my Twitter feed in a way that I feel works well for me, and I send articles I don’t have time to read off to a news aggregator app to read at a later time.  I have no need to duplicate this process.  In my opinion, BlinkFeed is a visually stimulating feature that loses its usefulness fairly quickly.

htc-one-black-featured-LARGE

On day one I decided to change the location of BlinkFeed from my home screen to the first screen to the left.  Then, I forgot it was even there for two weeks.  A friend happened to ask me how I liked using it, and I perked up, remembering that I hadn’t even used it in a while.  So I decided to give it another try.

I think the magic with BlinkFeed happens when you can keep the content small and focused on a specific group, or topic.  So far so good, but I still only remember to open BlinkFeed once or twice a week.  Perhaps I would get better use of it if I once again made it my home screen?

HTC One BoomSound

Now this is how a smart phone speaker is suppose to sound!  Designed around dual front stereo speakers with built in amplifiers this is the best sounding smart phone I have ever used.  HTC’s decision to put the speakers on the front of the phone, instead of the bottom or back, was huge.  You can listen to movies, music or share a moment with a friend and everyone can actually hear what’s coming over the phone for once.

HTC BoomSound thumb

Now, having said that, one thing that has bothered me from some of the reviews and opinions I’ve read is that the One is too loud.  Huh?  Some have gone so far as to say that they have to turn it down at times because notifications are too obnoxious.  To that I say” meh.”  I don’t buy it.  Personally, I wouldn’t mind if it was a little louder.  Maybe in an office setting it could be a problem, but in everyday use for me a louder phone would be just fine.  What has your experience been with BoomSound — is it as loud as you thought it would be, or could it be louder still?

Conclusion

The HTC One continues to impress me even three weeks after my purchase.  I’m still getting used to the complexities of the camera and Android in general — more on that later.  Having said that, I’m happy with my decision to give the HTC One and Android a try.

The hardest part for me with switching phones and platforms has been the notion of starting fresh and not to try and make my new phone look and operate like my iPhone.  This will take some getting used to.  I plan on being in this for the long haul, so for now, I have found common ground that works for me, but also gives me plenty of room to experiment and try new ways of doing things along the way.

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  • blest

    Phandroid is supremely trolling now.

  • blest

    Wait I take it back. This is a nice article lol.

    • Renkman

      Glad you changed your mind–thanks!

      • NIGHTSCOUT

        Rob, good read, but I wanted to ask you: now that you’ve sat at the Android camp fire, what are your thoughts about iOS?

  • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

    Seriously. That bug picture is giving me the creepy crawlies. *shudders*

    About BoomSound being too loud, I feel like for notifications, it’s startling when you’re using the device because the sound waves are hurling at your ear holes.

    Really though, it’s not THAT loud of a speaker, there’s just 2 of ‘em which makes it appear louder, and because they’re facing you, it fools people.

    Honestly, I’d love it if they were even louder. There’s been a few instances where I was trying to watch a YouTube video in a noisy environment (in HD, thanks to LTE) and couldn’t hear the vid. I was saddened :/

    • Renkman

      I agree, I would be happy with louder, too. I hadn’t thought about notifications when you had the device in front of you, I can see where that could be starting. I was thinking more along the lines of when it was in your pocket.

      • Joshua Hill

        What’s the deal with the alleged built in amplifier? Don’t all phones need some sort of amplification to drive their speakers? Is it a separate amp for the one? where other phones have it built into the main chipset?

        I honestly don’t know why HTC are using this as a selling point, if somebody could explain I would he most interested.

        • shonangreg

          Maybe the same people at HTC who hyped Beats Audio were working on this phone. Next they’ll try selling a phone whose camera “has a lens” or whose bluetooth “has a transceiver”.

    • Renkman

      I was proud of that grass hopper–hes harmless enough.

      • NIGHTSCOUT

        this “grasshopper” looks like he needs to be holding a flaming pitchfork.

    • William Zoller

      Honestly, low level YouTube audio has been the bane of its existence for a long time. I was hoping Boomsound would fix that (or at least work around it). For me, if Boomsound can’t fix low YouTube audio, then I will go with the GS4. I don’t listen to music on my phone. Nor do I watch Netflix or stream anything but YouTube videos. Come July 27th I will be switching to AT&T and getting the GS4.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

      “Seriously. That bug picture is giving me the creepy crawlies. *shudders*”

      You are such a girl sometimes!

  • Simon Lind

    Welcome to android =) nice to see you like it…

    • Renkman

      Thanks, Simon.

  • http://www.mikestenger.com/ Mike Stenger

    Not sure why it took so long for a smartphone to have front-facing speakers. Always seemed a bit backward for them to be rear-facing. For people who complain about notifications being too loud, it’s pretty easy to adjust the volume :-)

    • Renkman

      Agree with everthing you just said.

    • Zigazigah

      The Pantech Discover 4G has had this for some time now. A massively underrated phone.

    • MLo

      I own the HTC One and even in the lowest volume setting, it is sometimes too loud in a quiet room. Would be nice to have an update and make the lowest volume setting 10dB quieter.

    • feztheforeigner

      Exactly, how can a phone be too loud? If you think the volume is set too high, turn it down…

  • dreadnatty08

    Welcome to Phandroid, Rob!
    Glad you’re enjoying your HTC One.

  • drspikes

    Don’t forget the HDR photo and video feature. It really works well and prevents a lot of the washout you mentioned. (Autocorrect fail!)

  • Lactose_the_Intolerant

    Glad you are enjoying the phone — I’m still holding on to the hope that it will make its way to Verizon.

    Good article & welcome to Android!

  • Ahhk

    About the notifications being too loud…..

    Call me crazy, but why not just TURN DOWN THE NOTIFICATION VOLUME?!?!

    Next, they’ll probably complain about the screen being too bright….

    • Alan Shearer

      Or the phone to fast, or the memory too much making them have too many apps installed, or the vibrate too strong (oh la la :P )

      People will always find something to complain about, in anything. If God were to appear tomorrow, some may complain that his hair is too long or to short, etc. Can’t make everyone happy.

    • Alexei Watson

      this, you don’t buy a home theatre system, and then listen to it on full volume. Full volume is loud by design..

  • androidscales

    iphone5 is a pos compared to HTC One

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

      Compared to any Android device that released after the Nexus 4

      • Pkmmte

        Even the S3 and One X crap all over the iPhone 5.

      • ari_free

        yes but many iphone users want a nice designed phone and I think this One is a good fit for them.

    • RealTechTalk

      iPhone 5 and HTC One are both POSs. Windows Phone and Blackberry are the best platforms.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

        lol

  • dtblair24

    Glad you are impressed. Since the birth of Android, this had been the one phone that gets lots of compliments and curiosity from iPhone users.
    I guess they are used to visually appealing devices so naturally it catches their eye. They are amazed how good the screen looks and with the front facing speakers and the fact that it utilizes ‘beatsaudio’ technology.

    • endinyal

      So basically, you’re saying that they like the HTC One because it looks like an iPhone?

      • dtblair24

        Well it clearly does not look like an iPhone. But it is a very good looking device. Consensus is that the iPhone is a pretty good looking device as well.

        I personally have heard a lot of iPhone users I know get a little turned off by some of the plastic devices. And also in the past android devices were clunky and some very ugly. But even the S4 gets looks. Yes it is plastic, but it is very thin and light. Feels good in the hand and that large screen really catches folks eyes.

  • No_Nickname90

    HTC released an update to lower the sound. I’m running a ROM that boost the sound back to it’s original level. Oh yea, that phone can get loud. LoL!!

    But I just use BlinkFeed for articles. So when I’m bored I’ll scroll over there and just start reading. But I don’t use it, so it’s the screen to my left as well.

  • TechGuy22

    OMG, im beginning the site this site. seriously, slow news day.

  • Joshua Hill

    What’s the deal with the alleged built in amplifier? Don’t all phones need some sort of amplification to drive their speakers? Is it a separate amp for the one? where other phones have it built into the main chipset?
    I honestly don’t know why HTC are using this as a selling point, if somebody could explain I would be most interested.

  • Darek Slaby

    After a month with my HTC One I decided to go back to my iPhone 5. It may be a great looking phone but some things really annoy me. Ill be keeping a close eye on this blog, hopefully things will change. Good luck with your handset!

  • BustaArmov

    At least with Android, you have the option of making it look and operate like an iPhone. No shame in customizing it the way you want, in fact that’s the whole appeal of Android.

  • calvin smith

    Apple should take note, I too switched to HTC one after 6 years with the iPhone.

  • ryanthered

    I’ve switched to the One from my iPhone 5 as a daily driver as well and am very impressed with the phone. I had a Nexus 4 previously and the turn offs from that phone are excellent features on this one (speakers, camera, LTE). Loaded CleanROM to get rid of the AT&T bloat and a few minor quirks and I couldn’t be happier!

  • nianji49

    tinyurl.com/cnaff79

  • Milteer

    I’ll probably stay with the Samsung Sunburst for now.

  • Royland

    Welcome to your new world.