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HTC One review

Ultrapixels, Zoes, Blinkfeed and more: HTC is going all out

Our Verdict

The Galaxy S4 is sleeker, the iPhone is, well, Apple-ier, and the Nexus 5 is cheaper. But for the overall package of smartphone design and functionality, the HTC One stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Product features

  • Rear Camera Resolution : 4 Megapixel
  • Screen Resolution : 1920 x 1080
  • Processor Core : Quad-core (4 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Great design
  • Sleek Sense
  • Innovative camera

Against

  • No memory card slot
  • Zoes fill up storage
  • Alarm too simple

Media on the HTC One is a game that's hard to typify as the handset is clearly set up for such an activity, and yet it makes it quite hard to use at times. The first thing we'll deal with is BoomSound - and not just because it reminds us of this every time we say the word.

BoomSound is the combination of the two front facing speakers and the inbuilt amp to help boost the sound through your headphones - and both chuck out fantastic sound. The latter really does boost the volume levels to a give as more even tone to your tunes, while the former is simply amazing when you're showing off videos to friends and loved ones. As you always do, you bore, you.

HTC One review

Actually, that was one of our biggest criticisms of BoomSound and the two front-facing speakers - we didn't think many people would ask others to crowd around a phone screen that often, thus rendering the technology pointless unless you're alone in a hotel room and want to make the sound of the female actress you're watching sound all the more accurate.

But in just a few days we found ourselves showing off the quality of the front speakers on a number of occasions - be it the newest version of Gallon Smashing, or a particularly dead-horse-flogging Harlem Shake video - and each time, the bass and clarity of the music was so impressive, unlike anything we've heard coming from a mobile phone.

Also, with the addition of HTC Zoe video highlight reels, you'll find that showing off your work at splicing together pictures is used a lot more often too, and the sound quality really adds to the show. So while it's perhaps not the most important thing in the world to have on a smartphone, BoomSound works.

Music

The music ability of the HTC One is something not to be sniffed at, and is easily the equal of anything else out there. The music hub has been dropped in favour of a pre-loaded folder with all your music and media bits in one place, which leads to the lovely and confusing Music and Google Music, both apps denoted by a headphones icon, living side by side.

HTC One review

The former is just the onboard music player, the latter the new service from the search giant that lets you upload your tunes to one place and stream them back down again.

Both offer high quality sound, and more importantly, both can run on the lock screen. However, Google Music, for all its power, still needs a data connection at all times, so unless you're on an unlimited plan its worth staying away.

HTC One review

HTC Music doesn't have the cool SoundHound integration that we're used to, although the app is present on the phone. But what it does bring is new visuals and lyrics to songs if they're available (providing the song information is correct and GraceNote can access it).

It's a fun feature for when you're trying to work out the real words (turns out it wasn't 'wipe in the Vaseline') but unless you've got aspirations of making it BIG on the professional karaoke circuit, this isn't going to be a lot of use. Good when combined with the BoomSound speakers though.

The size of the internal memory means you'll be OK for space for a fairly decent-sized music collection, although if you're partial to making Zoes all over the place you might want to keep an eye out for the 64GB version of the phone, as we can see a critical storage error cropping up quickly when you want to lob a decent-sized chunk of music on there.

Why no slot?

HTC One review

So, let's address the elephant in the room here - the lack of the expandable memory slot. We spoke to SanDisk about this problem, and the flash memory maker - which maintained neutrality on the issue of memory card slots as it provides the flash memory either way - and it confirmed that HTC has missed out on the slot again to preserve the design of the HTC One.

SanDisk also said that while it didn't think the card slot was needed for a lot of people, it's still one of the most important things for consumers look for when buying a top end smartphone, and as such, could be seen as a big omission.

We agree to a point - the need for a memory card slot is definitely decreasing, but there's no doubt the HTC One couldn't have benefitted as there's no place to get rid of your Zoes to. You can upload them as movies to Dropbox, for instance, and you can save the video highlights as MP4 files and store them on YouTube, but in reality, most people will just leave them on their phone until space fills up.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is going to pack a memory card slot, the Sony Xperia Z manages to do so - so come on HTC, what gives? You can make the case that people don't need it, but when a video package is so easy to create yet munches 0.5GB of the addressable memory (which is already lower than the 32GB advertised thanks to the OS) and you can see a problem coming. Please don't let's see a repeat of the situation where apps can't be installed due to storage size.

It's even more annoying that HTC has outed versions of the One in China and Japan with a removable backplate, and the HTC One Max has the trick too - showing that the aluminium design can stay (albeit not as sleek) while bringing the microSD expandable memory.

Video

One of the key features of any Full HD phones these days has to be the performance of the video player, and to that end, most are successful. The Sony Xperia Z1 uses the Bravia Engine 2 to bring clear, crisp images; the LG G2 offers bonkers levels of clarity, brightness and colour saturation. And of course Samsung is going to continue with the like it or hate it HD Super AMOLED screen.

HTC One review

So why does the HTC One, with a perfectly bright and capable screen, not manage to play movies back very well?

We downloaded The Amazing Spiderman from its HTC Watch service to check it out in HD, and we were disappointed by the results. The screen was too dark in automatic brightness mode, and when turned up full, sucked the battery at a horrendously fast rate.

There was also a big issue with the sound falling out of sync quickly on the Watch video, but that's more to do with the quality of that service than anything else - if you're looking for movies, Google's Play Store is a better bet, but doesn't have the same depth of catalogue.

Also, while the range of codecs you can use is impressive on the HTC One, including AVI (but not DivX) there's actually no obvious way to play them. Really - unless you want to dive through the HTC TV app or the Google Play Movies function, you'll have to download a dedicated player to achieve your goals. The videos don't even show normally in the Gallery - and all this despite HTC telling us that it will be bringing the ability to play back your own clips through the Watch app.

It's like the Taiwanese firm doesn't want you watching videos on the HTC One.

If you've got a bright enough scene on show, the HTC One can play it back smoothly and crisply. However, take it down a notch in brightness and suddenly you're struggling - it's not a deal breaker, but really, we expected better from a flagship phone.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, GPRS, HSPA+
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyOne
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 1800, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution4 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameHTC
Screen Size11.9 cm (4.7")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)143 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), Instant Messaging, Email, MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service)
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCall Log, Call Waiting, Call Holding, Call Timer, Caller ID, Conference Call
Pixel Density468 ppi
Height137.4 mm
Width68.2 mm
Depth9.3 mm
Radio TunerYes
ManufacturerHigh Tech Computer Corp
Product NameOne Smartphone
Processor Speed1.70 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Product LineOne
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor
Manufacturer Part Number99HTT009-00
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.europe.htc.com
Marketing InformationWith a sleek aluminum body, a live home screen that streams all of your favorite content, a photo gallery that comes to life, and dual frontal stereo speakers, the New HTC One is ready to reshape your smartphone experience.

HTC Zoe™ Your photo gallery brought to life.
Capturing a moment takes more than one image. That's why the new HTC One includes the HTC UltraPixel Camera. Press the shutter and the HTC One automatically captures up to 20 photos and a 3-second video-a picture that's alive. So your entire photo album becomes a living, breathing gallery.

HTC BoomSound™ Sharper, richer, louder.
On the average smartphone, sharing music or a video with friends is a frustrating experience. A tiny speaker will tame even the most ferocious track. But the new HTC One's BoomSound™ changes all that. Dual frontal stereo speakers powered by built-in amplifiers deliver bigger sound with less distortion and more detail.

HTC BlinkFeed™ Your live home screen.
With HTC BlinkFeed™, simply pick the social networks, news and feeds you want to stay updated on and they'll all stream live to your home screen. The pulse of your world is in the palm of your hand.

Refined design. Rugged build. Inspired results.
Full metal body. Zero gap construction. And tapered edges that offer a slim but satisfying grip. The new HTC One is phone design that doesn't compromise.

Your interactive TV guide.
Tired of remotes taking up valuable couch space? The new HTC One is ready to help you channel surf. With Sense TV, all it takes is a few simple steps and you'll be able to select TV channels, access program guides, adjust audio and more with your HTC One. Find your favorite shows, and it will notify you when they're on. Take control of your TV experience with your phone.

Sense Voice: Call clarity-even in a crowd.
The world doesn't include a volume knob. So talking on the phone in any loud, crowded environment can be a challenge. The new HTC One solves that problem with Sense Voice. It includes dual built-in microphones that detect loud ambient noise and will then dynamically boost the in-call voice to compensate. Hurrah for clarity.

Get 25 GB of Dropbox space free for two years*
With Dropbox integrated into HTC Sense, you can automatically save all your photos and videos to Dropbox - and access and share all your pictures directly from the Gallery. Dropbox also makes it easy to edit and share files while you are on the go, so you never have to email yourself a document again. To discover all that Dropbox can do, sign-up or log-in to Dropbox on your HTC phone and receive 25 GB of Dropbox space free for two years.
Limited Warranty1 Year