The HTC One is one of the biggest devices of the year and there’s no question HTC has a lot riding on its release. As an underdog in the smartphone race, HTC is going the extra mile with the One, introducing a handful of new innovative hardware features and software. I’ve been very vocal about my feelings towards the HTC One ever since it was announced, seeing it as sort of a rebirth for the manufacturer. After playing with the device for the past week now, I’m finally ready to give our review. Strap on your seat belts because here’s everything you ever wanted to know about the HTC One.
HTC One Design
You don’t need 20/20 vision to see that the HTC One is one of the sexiest Android devices to date. This is just another feather in the hat of HTC who has, since the Nexus One, been raising the bar of smartphone design for years now. The HTC One is thin. Only 9.3mm at its thickest point. While that wont win it any “world’s thinnest” awards (Galaxy S4 is actually 7.9mm thin), because of the way the HTC One tapers along the edges, the phone feels as if it’s 5mm thin. At 5.04oz, it’s also exceptionally light.
Metal vs plastic debate aside, before you even lay hands on the One, you can see the device screams premium build quality. The diamond cut edges, white accents, luxurious aluminum finish — I kid you not, I’ve been stopped in public by people wanting to know more about my phone. This is some seriously sexy tech.
The HTC One comes in 2 color variants — silver/white or black/grey — the former being the more elusive and, in my opinion, a bit more lustworthy. No matter which color you choose, both feature an aluminum finish and while I can’t speak for the black version, the texture of the silver feels near identical to the back of an iPad or Macbook.
Because of the finish, fingerprints and grime have a hard time clinging to the device. The problem with this being the phone can easily slide out of your hand and/or lap if you’re not extra careful. You’ll want to make sure you find a good case for this thing if you plan to take it outside (although I guarantee it will survive a 2-inch drop). In fact, the aluminum speaker grills along the top and bottom can act as a buffer in case of a drop, making screen cracks a lot less likely than with other all-glass devices. The white parts of the device are prone to the dreaded jean-stain, so be on the lookout should you buy a new pair of denim.
While aluminum is, without question, stronger than glass as far as breakage, it also comes with pitfalls all of its own. Aluminum can scratch and where I’ve been able to take a knife to the back of my Nexus 4 without so much as a nick, the aluminum on the One definitely wouldn’t hold up as nice.
That’s not to say it’s not strong in its own right. I spent a full day with the device and my keys in the same pocket and the aluminum still looked as clean as the day FedEx dropped it off. I still worry that if I somehow manage to scratch up the back, it’s going to be incredibly noticeable given the texture and sheen (look at the bottom of anyone’s MacBook to see what I’m talking about).
Also, while 2-inch drops into a cupholder may not crack aluminum, small falls onto something more solid (marble, tile, pavement, Macbook Pro) will leave much more noticeable dings, dents, and scrapes. Lastly, laying the device on a granite counter top, or glass table will make this horrible scraping sound, something that happens when aluminum is laid atop a hard surface.
Still, I’d have to say that the strength of this phone feels unmatched compared to any other Android device to date. There is absolutely no flex along the back of the device, something that’s a rarity in Android devices. This is without a doubt, one of the most solid Android devices I’ve ever held. HTC attributes the One’s build quality to its “zero gap” design, giving it a seamless, unibody-like feel.
In all fairness, the HTC One is more like an Oreo cookie made of plastic and metal. You have a back plate, matte plastic filling, along with the front display and aluminum speaker grills. In my examination of the device, I did find some flaws in the build quality. Let’s explore those next.
HTC One Build Quality
My issue with the One’s build quality had nothing to do with the phone’s rigidness or premium materials and everything to do with quality control and imperfections. Ideally, the One should be gapless — I mean, it’s certainly touted as such. Unfortunately, there are a few noticeable gaps where the top and bottom speaker plates are slightly raised from the middle “plastic filling.” The gap is small, but big enough that I could actually reach my finger nail in between. Not good. This is far more noticeable given the back plate is completely flushed with the plastic and is, true to HTC’s word, 100% gapless.
Click the image for enlarged view
To make matters worst, the entire front of the device — speaker grills and glass — is slightly offset from the the middle, making it look as if the front is slipping off ever so slightly towards the bottom. Because of this, there is a sharp edge from the bottom speaker hanging off that feels almost like a razors edge. This also means there is a tiny plastic ledge left exposed along the top, making that tiny gap we talked about earlier even more apparent. But that’s not all…
I also found that when you drag your finger from the top speaker down over to the glass, the left side of the glass is ever so slightly raised from the metal. The top right and bottom of the glass are completely flushed with the metal, cluing us into how things were supposed to be. I could probably fix both these issues with a rubber mallet and some super glue, but I wonder if got rushed for its launch, and a few imperfect units slipped passed by the quality control assembly line. Keep in mind, that every single One I’ve come in contact with has had these exact same issues, I did notice a friend’s One fixed a few of these issues (razor edged bottom, and raised glass on the corner) while others remained.
Another slight issue I had with the One’s build quality is with the volume rocker and power button. The top of the volume rocker is embedded into the plastic filling, while the bottom volume sticks out ever so slightly. When feeling around, it’s easy to locate the bottom, but impossible to feel with your finger where the top ends and the plastic begins. Same goes with the power button. I guarantee you’ll be fingering around the top of the device for a few seconds before you find the power button. Happens to me all the time. Not only that, both the volume and power button need to be pressed extra hard given they’re almost inside the plastic. Small complaint, but one I felt like mentioning.
Finally, let’s talk about those dang capacitive buttons and no, I don’t have a problem with their placement. Sure, it’s weird getting used to the 2-button layout at first, but like anything else, you will get used to ’em and it will become second nature. My issue with the capacitive buttons is that in previous HTC devices, the entire bottom area was capacitive. With the One, things are much different. Now, there is only a very small target area underneath the icons that will register touch. This means more than a few times — just like the volume and power button — you’ll miss the capacitive button a few times before you actually land a direct hit. You can see why this is a teensy bit frustrating, although I’ll admit, very nitpicky.
HTC One Hardware
The HTC One comes with the usual assortment of standard ports. On the device you’ll find a micro USB/MHL port, 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as NFC (near field communications), Bluetooth 4.0, and even infrared, giving the One universal remote functionality. Also worth pointing out: the One supports USB on-the-go straight out of the box, no root necessary (something I found severely lacking from the Nexus 4).
HTC One Processor & Benchmarks
When it comes to performance, the One is equipped with a nicely clocked 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T) quad-core processor and Adreno 320 GPU. Honestly, I didn’t think the processor would be much of an improvement over the HTC Droid DNA’s Snapdragon S4 Pro, but there was a noticeable difference in speed between the 2. Yes, much of that could have something to do with software, but in terms of benchmarks, let’s see how the HTC One stacked up.
As you can see just from these benchmarks, the HTC One is fast. Really fast. Of course, we all know benchmarks can’t really tell us what the speed an end user will experience when navigating around the UX and opening apps. As someone who has owned all the greats (Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Nexus 4, and HTC Droid DNA) I can assure you that the HTC One is not only able to keep up, but can beat the best of them. Now, this hasn’t always been the case with HTC. When comparing the HTC Droid DNA with the Nexus 4 — 2 devices with the same amount of RAM, running the same exact processor — the Nexus 4 felt much more snappy. I want to assure you that is not the case with the HTC One. The HTC One with its Snapdragon 600 processor and 2GB of RAM is hands-down, the fastest, most responsive smartphone I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. It’s been an absolute joy to use, and the new standard I’ll measure other smartphones by.
HTC One Storage
Those looking to stash all their media and digital boxes-o-pr0n, the HTC One comes in 2 storage options: 32GB and 64GB versions. In the real world, after the loading of the OS, users will find around 25GB and 57GB that are usable for the installation of apps and media. While there will always be those that demand an SD card slot from their Android devices, I find the argument (for me anyway) slowly dying. This is due to all the cloud storage options users now have at our disposal.
The only real real I’d need space is for the caching of my music from Rdio or taking a handful of pictures and video from the camera. I mean, we’re no longer talking about 8GB and 16GB devices anymore (cough, Nexus 4, cough). With 32GB and 64GB storage options, I feel like Android users can finally begin to let go of the argument for expandable storage. Sure, I wouldn’t mind having the option, but I’m not going to completely dismiss a device based solely on that. Not anymore.
HTC One Display
I’ve mentioned it plenty of times before but I am a total display whore. At one point I didn’t think anything would pull me away from Samsung’s AMOLED. Then one day I got a good look at the SLCD2 on the HTC One X and I was sold. With the One, HTC really only had to outdo themselves and that’s exactly what they did.
The One comes with a 4.7-inch 1920×1080 full HD SLCD3 display, giving it a eye-bleeding 469ppi. If you’re looking for the brightest, clearest, most crisp high-def screen on the market, look no further. Every viewing angle is flawless, images appear as if they’re floating on the glass. It’s that good. For those wondering about strength, the HTC One’s display is made out of fortified Gorilla Glass 2 — unfortunately, not the 3rd generation Gorilla Glass coming with the GS4. That being said, I spent a full day with the One in my pocket, accompanied by some loose change and keys. At the end of the day, the display emerged unscathed.
HTC One Camera
There was no way we were going to review up the One and not talk about the camera. Since the beginning, HTC has touted the One as having one of the best smartphone cameras in the world, thanks to its 4MP — er, “UltraPixel” camera capable of capturing 300% more light than your average sensor. This sensor is capable of shooting 2688×1520 resolution images and is accompanied by a smaller 2.1MP wide-angle front facing camera for selfies and video chat.
The camera software is a definite bump in terms of features and design from the Sense 4 version. The usual filters and flash settings are present, along with the digital zoom (seriously, don’t ever use this) and other options. The part that I found frustrating was the swiping from the bezel to switch between rear and front facing cameras. I think a button would have sufficed. In the camera settings users can adjust everything from wide or normal angle crop, exposure, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and ISO. Face detection, auto smile capture and HDR mode were also added, though in my tests, HDR did very little to help image quality (more than often just messing things up). I did find the sweeping panorama function a nice addition, however.
Alright, let’s talk image quality. The 4MP UltraPixel sensor on the HTC One takes pictures like… well, like a smartphone. That’s probably because it is a smartphone. Brightly lit, daytime shots look fantastic. Of course, just about every smartphone camera in the world excels in this category. I did find slightly more details (flowers that were wilted looked alive in other cameras, while the One picked up the subtlety in colors).
Where the UltraPixel sensor really shines is in low light. Quite simply, there are dimly lit scenes you just wouldn’t be able to capture with any other Android smartphone. This makes the HTC One’s camera a much more versatile, jack-of-all-trades. It does great in daylight, amazing in low light. Yes, images in low light will be a tad grainy, but they’re still bright and visible. For those posting pics to Facebook or Instagram, the HTC One camera will be their new best friend. Of course, there’s still room for improvement and I’d like to see HTC further focus on the camera software, fine tuning it to make it a bit more consistent (white balance trips out on me from time to time).
From left to right: HTC One, Galaxy Note 2, HTC Droid DNA (click for larger image)
New for the One and Sense 5 is an all new feature HTC is calling “Zoe.” A Zoe is a short, 3-second video. No pausing, no stopping. The difference between a Zoe and a regular video is that while you’re recording video, Zoe is also taking 20 full resolution images in the back ground. This allows users to go back and view a Zoe, picking out specific moments in the video with a full resolution image. I know, it sounds weird, but it’s probably the most unique — and difficult — part about HTC’s camera software (and we haven’t even gotten to the Gallery yet). What’s really weird is Zoe starts recording 1 second before you ever press the shutter button. I think it goes without saying that, with all Zoe’s got going on, it can eat up a lot of battery. Zoe’s are most certainly fun, just make sure to use them sparingly.
Video quality is where the HTC Droid DNA really shined. I simply can’t remember another smartphone taking such amazing video and high quality, stereo audio. My only complaint is lack of 24fps shooting option, something that I think should introduce for the One to help it stand out from the rest. This would give videos a nice, cinematic feel to them and I’d probably end up using the device to shoot trade shows and events.
“BoomSound” Front Facing Speakers
With all the great hardware on the HTC One I think “BoomSound” is my undisputed favorite. I think this might have something to do with the initial wow factor. Something I’ve been screaming for smartphone manufacturers to incorporate forever now, the HTC One is now the first Android phone to give people what simply makes sense for a media consumption device: stereo front facing speakers. And we’re not just talking about crappy quality audio.
The crystal clear audio that flows from the device is pure magic. What’s more — I already know I’m going to get sh*t for this — Beats actually does improve things drastically. Yes, I said it. When Beats is turned off, the stereo speakers sound small and tinny. Pretty much like your standard smartphone speaker. When you enable Beats, you hear much fuller sound with mids and lows, normally inaudible in your average smartphone speaker. And it’s not just music.
If you play games on your smartphone you’ll be completely blown away by how much immersive games can be when you hear them in beautiful stereo sound. The stereo speakers really pull you in. Also, speaker phone calls, watching YouTube videos, and Google Maps navigation are all greatly enhanced, making other smartphones look like they’re still in the stone age. Even the FM radio tuner application supports the speakers (the included headphones are still required to act as an antenna). I really can’t say enough about BoomSound. For me, it really is one of the biggest perks in owning an HTC One.
HTC One Battery Life
Back in the HTC EVO days, it’s true, HTC was known as having some of the quickest dying Androids in the biz. With the HTC One, it’s time we let the past go. HTC sure did. The problem when measuring battery life is it will never be the same for any 2 people. That being said, the One comes with a nice sized 2,300mAh battery and depending on usage, apps installed on the phone, reception, etc., you could get anywhere between 10 – 16 hours. Yes, there was a day when I barely scraped by with 7 hours before hitting yellow, but that’s when I had my display at full brightness, taking pics and video, streaming, downloading apps, playing games — essentially going hog wild and throwing caution to the wind.
When I was a little more mindful of my battery, turning on auto-brightness and staying away from streaming YouTube videos and 3D intensive gaming, I easily squeezed out 16 hours+. This kinda goes back to the processor. When you use it, it goes hard in the paint. When you don’t, it could standby an almost full 24 hour day. In any case, if you’re really worried about your device lasting 12+ hours there are options like portable battery charger (HTC’s official Double Charge pack pictured above). I’ve found these to be my best friend when I’m out and about, regardless of the Android device.
To help further prolong battery life, HTC also included a handy Power Saver mode that appears in both the Settings and as an ongoing notification, ready to be flipped on in a moment’s notice. Should you find that you’re going to be away from a power outlet for a longer than usual period of time, power saver mode is a great way to squeeze out even more juice from the battery. It works by slowing down the CPU, reducing display brightness, turning off vibration, and disconnecting your data connection when the phone is asleep. All very handy and could definitely help if you’re stuck in the middle of the desert somewhere.
One thing I noticed from my own usage was the amount of battery HTC Sense sucked up. It wasn’t too bad, but even at 14%, that’s about 100 extra minutes (almost 2 hours) I could have spent perusing Instagram for #thighgaps. Let’s hope HTC can do something to help minimize this impact in a future update (honestly, what’s Sense even doing?).
HTC One Software: Sense 5
The HTC One ships with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and the all new and overhauled Sense 5 (software version 1.26.502.6 at time of writing). Because it’s not the absolute latest version of Android, it’s already at a slight disadvantage when pitted against upcoming devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4. For some, the features missing in 4.1.2 are miniscule. For others, they’ll still see the .1 increase as something they’re missing out on (even if they can’t name a specific feature). Then again, none of this permanent. HTC is already planning to update the One to 4.2.2 in the near future, carriers willing. This is actually another reason why I opted for the Developer Edition of the device to circumvent carriers altogether.
When it comes to Sense 5, some are already asking, “Is it really that much difference or improvement from Sense 4?” To that I say, “Hells yes.” It’s only been a year since Sense 4 came onto the scene promising a “lighter” UI (and in some ways it was, but only in ease of use). Like all Sense’s before it, Sense 4 was still faced with the UI’s ever present lag issue. Sense has always been pretty, but like my ex-girlfiend, it also carried with it a boat load of baggage.
If you’ve been a self-proclaimed Sense hater, let me stop you right there. This is not the old Sense you’ve come to know. For Sense 5, HTC has gone back to the drawing board, revamping not only the entire UX, but optimizing it for speed, stability, and user friendliness. With Sense 5, HTC has managed to create a custom user interface that’s sleek, immediately identifiable, and little piece of Android they can call their own. I’ve never had a problem with manufacturer UI’s. I get why manufacturers do it, there’s just some I hate less than others and with Sense 5… I actually kinda like it. Let’s not forget with all the apps in the Google Play Store at our disposal, it’s easy to customize your phone to your liking, changing the SMS app, homescreen, lockscreen, and whatever else tickles your fancy.
In past versions of Sense, the lockscreen used to be customizable with whatever shortcut to apps you liked. Somewhere along the way, HTC tied the lockscreen shortcuts to the homescreen dock. I can’t tell you how much I hate this and in Sense 5 — absolutely nothings changed. HTC did manage to spiff up the UI a bit, making it a lot more minimal, while still allowing for the customization of different lockscreens in the Personalize settings. Without touching the lockscreen, there really aren’t any visual cues on what to do but swiping up anywhere on the lockscreen will unlock the phone, doing the same with the icons will launch the respective app. Pretty self explanatory.
The launcher is probably the biggest change in Sense since ever. Never has Sense behaved in such an un-Androidly way. While some of it isn’t all that bad (I will admit, I’m a creature of habit), others left me scratching my head. First off, let’s get this whole BlinkFeed thing out of the way. Swiping to the left will pull it HTC’s all new RSS feed service dubbed BlinkFeed. It not only shows you news (this can only be customized with a predetermined list of websites), it shows you the goings on of your friends from Facebook and Twitter. I don’t hate BlinkFeed. The fact that it’s always a few swipes away is nice given I like to stay up-to-date on my current events.
For those that hate it, you’ll just have to ignore it. This isn’t hard to do and nobody is really forcing you to use it. In fact, it doesn’t even eat up battery when set to manual refresh. The part I find funny is everyone seems to have such a strong opinion on BlinkFeed when, chances are, they’ll simply run out and install Nova Launcher right off the bat. This isn’t the iPhone — you have that option.
For those that stick around with the stock Sense 5 launcher, it can be a bit daunting. The weirdest part without a doubt is the dock and app drawer. Traditionally in Android, the dock is the same as anywhere else on the homescreen. The only difference is that it follows you no matter which screen you’re swiping to. Makes sense. In Sense 5, the dock is treated as an extension of the app drawer. This means you can drag app icons out of the drawer and onto the dock, but they’ll disappear from your app drawer. Try to stay with me. When dragging an app out of the dock, and onto the homescreen, it’ll create a duplicate (just as if you dragged it out of the app drawer). It’s kinda overly confusing and in some weird way it makes HTC sense, just not Android sense.
Your app drawer can be customized in a variety of different ways (this part I love). If you like, you can enable folders in the app drawer, moving icons around in whatever order you like. Or, you can go the traditional route and simply keep everything visible and in alphabetical order. No matter what you do, that dang weather widget will be there. HTC really likes that weather widget. But never mind that.
Placing icons on your homescreen from the app drawer involves the arduous task of dragging the icon to a small area that appears at the top of the app drawer labeled “shortcut.” From there you can drag and drop the icon anywhere on the homescreen. I can’t even begin to describe how frustrating this is. I understand the extra step is included for when the user is in custom app drawer mode, but it shouldn’t be there when the app drawer is set to alphabetical. That’s all I have to say.
Notification pull down/shade/area is the same as it’s ever been and for me, that’s the problem. In this day and age, I can’t for the life of me figure out why HTC is avoiding quick toggles. This is especially baffling given, at one point, they embraced them (see Sense on the HTC EVO Shift). They’re found in every single manufacturer UI on the planet and even finally made their way to stock Android. I can only hope HTC gets on the ball whenever they update the One to Android 4.2.2. In fact, I’m begging them. The other issue is that Jelly Bean notifications aren’t expanded by default, instead they have to be 2-finger swiped to expand. Not sure why this is the case, but it definitely bothers me.
There’s a lot of new Sense apps to replace the stock Android Jelly Bean versions, things like Clock, Calendar, and Calculator. Pretty standard with manufacturer UI’s and no different in Sense 5. There are those that have a little more to offer, so let’s cover those next.
On one hand, the Gallery app in Sense 5 is pure genius. On the other hand — it’s a complete and total disaster. Upon opening, it feels like a living, breathing scrapbook filled with memories and precious moments. Thumbnails will randomly play (if they’re video or Zoe’s) and the top of every event there’s a tile that can transform your pictures and videos into a nice little video montage. All the user has to do is click play.
The main issue I have with the Gallery app is in its user friendliness or ease of use. I consider myself a pretty techie person, navigating around even the most complicated of UI’s and even I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on with the gallery app. When you first open it up, you’ll see a nice tile interface with specific categories: My photos, Friends, Camera shots, and recent pictures from random friends on Facebook. Scrolling down will show you photos your friends recently posted to Facebook. Clicking on My Photos will take your albums, the normal way of browsing galleries on your smartphone. Clicking on Camera shots, will open the last photos you’ve taken in filmstrip view. Confusing? A bit. But that’s not even the half of it.
Now when viewing albums, you can do so in the traditional Android way via “Album” view, or by Events. If you switch to Events view, all the photos on your phone will be sorted by date and album folder. Click an event, and you’ll be able to view the pictures and images from that date or event. At the top, there’s a big tile marked with a play button that will transform all your photos and videos from that event into a video montage dubbed Zoe Share. It’s kinda like a slideshow, only a lot more flashy and in MP4 format. It’s actually pretty sweet how it’s all done automagically, and with little-to-no effort.
Zoe Shares can be saved as a video onto your phone in a album named “Highlights” or uploaded to HTC’s Zoe Share site where it will sit for 180 days, allowing you to send the link to friends and family via email, SMS, or via social networks. You can customize the music before uploading or publishing, but that’s about it.
The real problem with Zoe Shares is that they’re a pain to customize when you only want to include specific pictures and videos while excluding others. Zoe Share will often include pictures and/or video that you never selected from an event and trust me, I pulled my hair out trying to get it all just right. What makes it even more of a pain is the simple fact that Zoes aren’t marked in anyway. Unlike videos, which have a little play button in the middle, Zoes are marked the same way as an image: with nothing. Essentially they’re both, pictures and video. I get it. But a Zoe icon would make customizing a Zoe Share a million times easier. Get to it, HTC.
Of course when you do get it right, Zoe Shares can be truly touching, share-worthy material for your friends and family. In fact, I can say that I will be using it frequently whenever I want to share birthday parties, beach outings, church activities, etc. with friends and family.
The keyboard in the HTC One deserves a special mention simply because of how damn good it is. Typing is accurate and fast. I’d even go as far as saying it’s one of the fastest keyboards I’ve ever used (and I’ve tried ’em all). Auto correct is near flawless (no next word prediction however), and for those that prefer to swipe their text, there’s the option to use HTC’s “Trace keyboard” as well. The gesture typing even works better than other 3rd party solutions like Flow Through Space, and although it wont knock Swipe off its pedestal, it’s plenty accurate for everyday use.
To take advantage of the all new infrared blaster found on the One, HTC has teamed up with the boys at Peel and together, they’ve managed to put together a TVGuide-like television app with universal remote capabilities. The app allows users to set up specific rooms and store every remote from your stereo, to your television, and even your.. VCR? Setup is super easy. Simply choose your manufacturer, point the One at the device you’re emulating and boom. You’re on your way. The best part is you no longer have to search for the remote under your couch. It’s always with you, stored inside your One along with schedules and showtimes from your favorite shows.
Sense 4 vs Sense 5
Yes, folks. Android’s stock intents are finally back. This is huge for HTC as previous flagships like the HTC One X and HTC One S were severely hindered after and Apple lawsuit forced HTC to change the way Android handled links in their devices. Pre-lawsuit, you’d click a link inside an SMS or another app and you’d be presented with a popup of options (for instance, which browser you’d like to open up the link with when multiple browsers were installed). The HTC One X and One S handled this with an option in Sense that allowed you to choose only one specific app to handle intents ahead of time — and that was it.. It was frustrating and quite frankly, pretty lame. Now, the stock intents are back and are just another way Sense 5 has changed things up for the better since the previous version.
The dreaded menu bar is back in the HTC One and just as horrible as ever. When you open some apps with the HTC One, if the developer never got around to updating their application to follow Google’s app guidelines, you’ll notice a hideous 3-dot black bar along the bottom of the app. All developers should, by now, updated their apps so this no longer appears.
The problem is a lot them haven’t. Because HTC is (somewhat) following Android’s new 3 button interface — back, home, and multitasking albeit, in a 2-button form — the menu bar will occasionally rear its ugly head inside a few apps. HTC dealt with this problem a long time ago by allowing users in Sense 4 (HTC One X, HTC One S) to map their capacitive buttons according to their taste. Unfortunately, this awesome feature died with those devices (never even made it to the HTC Droid DNA) once again summoning that retched menu bar.
Since this is a carrier device, the mandatory pack of AT&T “bloatware” has made it’s way to the device. HTC was nice enough to place all of them inside their own little folder, out of the way of other apps. If you’d like, the handful of apps can even be disabled in Settings > Apps, at which point they’ll disappear from your app drawer, never to be seen again. And because they’re disabled, you also wont have to worry about them opening at random times, sucking up precious RAM. Of course, if you feel any of the apps are helpful, just carry on.
- Best display on the market — hands down
- BoomSound stereo front facing speakers
- 4MP UltraPixel camera takes superior low-light pictures
- Great battery life
- Premium aluminum build quality
- Sense 5 UX is revamped and kicky fast
- Inconsistent build quality in our review model
- Sense 5 homescreen, gallery, and Zoe Share are not user friendly
- Inconsistent camera software (HDR specifically)
- 2-button layout and lack of remapping option (menu bar)
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5
HTC really hit it out of the ballpark with the HTC One. I’m sure the Samsung and Nexus fanboys will chime in and really, no matter your feelings on the HTC One, you’ll still reap the benefits from its game changing hardware. To put it simply, the HTC One has raised the bar in terms of smartphone hardware and in order to 1-up it, every major smartphone release from here on out will only be better because of it. I can’t imagine it will be too much longer before we start seeing more devices with front facing speakers, better quality displays, and rock solid build quality. As you read in my review, the HTC One isn’t perfect by any means, but for the time being, it is the undisputed king of Android and without equal. I recommend everyone check it out.