A few things stand out about the HTC One.
First is the design. This is, without question, the most beautiful Android phone ever made. Built entirely from aluminium and glass it is in the same class as the iPhone and an in-form Nokia, and an entirely different proposition to the likes of the Galaxy S III with its emphasis on plastic. It’s lighter and thinner than you might expect, and credit goes to HTC for not following the trend of ever increasing screen sizes – this is a phone that feels good in the hand and the pocket.
The screen is the next star feature. The HTC One X pretty much set the standard for phone displays, and the One improves on it further by squeezing in another million or so pixels for full HD viewing. The pixel density of 468ppi is also class leading, and it goes without saying that no matter how hard you look you won’t be able to see any individual pixels.
HTC has been brave in reducing the camera to four megapixels, and this will present a challenge to their marketing team, who will need to sell the camera to consumers who are convinced that the more megapixels the better shots they’ll get. By opting for larger pixels rather than simply more of them the low light performance of the HTC One easily trumps any of its Android rivals – sharp and noiseless images indoors have been the Achilles heel of camera phones for so long, but the One is able to deliver them.
Like all other Android phones from HTC the OS is augmented by HTC’s own Sense skin. Sense 5 is much lighter than it’s been in the past, though. The key feature here is called Blink Feed. This replaces your main home screen panel with a Flipboard-esque app that displays news, social network updates and other context-aware information. It’s an interesting idea and seems like an effective way of giving you a regular stream of content to dip in and out of when you’ve got a few moments spare. But to be honest it seems like the kind of thing I would turn off straight away, so I’ll need to reserve judgement on it until I’ve had the chance to use it for a few days.
There are loads of other details that help lift the HTC One above the rest. As someone who frequently uses his phone while watching TV I love the inclusion of the infrared port, and its nice to see a company mount the speakers on the front for a change.
My hands-on time with the HTC One was overwhelmingly positive. There are a few negatives – the lack of SD card slot is the main one – as well as a few questions to be answered. HTC devices often fall short on battery life, and many times in the past I’ve been given the impression they don’t treat it as a priority. It remains to be seen whether they will have tackled it this time.
The HTC One looks a really appealing device, almost certainly HTC’s best for at least two years, maybe more. Will it be enough to revive the company’s fortunes with the Galaxy S IV likely to appear within the next couple of months? I hope so – it would be great to have them back in the game.
This post comes compliments of Andy Betts, Editor of Android Magazine, which is available now from all good newsagents in the UK and US, as well as in a digital form for all platforms from www.greatdigitalmags.com.