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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

A big change on the HTC One is the camera: it's 'only' a 4MP sensor. It should be put into context though: the camera has a smaller sensor but much larger pixels to allow in more light, and therefore more data, to make your pictures look that much better on the go.

The Ultrapixel method is one to be applauded, as it's pushing back on the 13MP image sensors that are being crammed into ever-thinner phones these days. HTC has published a blog detailing how this process was conceived, if you're after a bit more Ultrapixel info directly from the horse's mouth.

But what does that mean in reality? Well, you're getting a faster sensor for one thing, and that means you can take more snaps on the go. In fact, it's so fast that we didn't notice that it had fired on the odd occasion, although at other times it would have a bit of a think before saving your picture.

HTC One review

The same range of HTC gizmos are on offer here as seen in the HTC One X - so you can alter the ISO levels, change exposure, contrast and sharpness and also enable HDR mode through the onscreen menu.

With Android 4.3 you can change the orientation of the panorama camera, so like the iPhone you can take the wider pics in landscape as well as portrait - it's a nice touch and the interface is really simple to keep you in line.

HTC One review

HTC clearly wants you to use the front facing camera too - it's been given a spec bump to 2.1MP, making it close in power to the rear of the phone (without all the Ultrapixel jiggery-pokery) and as such takes great snaps.

You simply slide your finger up and down the screen to jump between the two cameras as well as enabling the countdown timer if you so wish - it's not a strongly advertised feature, but when you find it, it's really impressive.

The interface for the camera isn't the easiest to use at times, simply thanks to the fact the buttons to hit are so small and there's a great deal of scrolling to alter the effects. There's no intelligent shot mode like that found on the Sony Xperia Z1 and LG G2, but it doesn't matter in many situations.

HTC One review

But if you want to fire the text mode (which alters the contrast of the picture) or get a little closer up to stuff using macro, you'll have to scoot through a few menu options.

It's also annoying that you can't use HDR (high dynamic range, where multiple exposures are captured of the same photo and stitched together) mode when shootings Zoes (more on that in a separate section) as this really improves the pictures no end.

Given you can use video HDR mode as well on the HTC One, we're not sure why it's not an option. HDR is a much better option than it used to be on older HTC phones, as it can manage to process in no time at all now. In fact, we wish it could be enabled by default rather than having to switch it on each time.

So onto the good stuff: is the HTC One camera actually any good given the bold move made on the camera front? The simple answer is yes, photos taken in a variety of scenes look pretty darn nice.

HTC One review

There's a lot of noise thanks to the lower pixel count at times, but the range of light levels you get to shoot in compared to other camera phones is excellent. We were surprised how trigger happy the flash was in auto mode given this ability. The HTC One DESTROYS the Galaxy S3 at low-light ability, as you'll see in the photos below.

It's a bit closer now the competition has caught up - the Galaxy S4, LG G2 and iPhone 5S all excel in this area too, plus the Nokia Lumia 1020 is in a league of its own when it comes to cameraphone-ability.

And the photos we took looked stunning at times on the phone screen, which HTC says is where most of them stay - which we agree with to a degree. However, on the computer screen things are oddly different, with higher exposure and some loss of detail.

You probably won't look at many photos this way, but if you're thinking of uploading them to Facebook, you probably will get some people checking out your efforts at a larger size.

We've noted some criticism of the HTC Ultrapixel system already, and yes, if you really care about photos on the go, working hard on scene composition all the time and fiddling with the exposure chances are you won't want this phone. Ultrapixels work well enough, but there's definitely a lot more to come from the technology.

Another 'failing' some perceive for the HTC One is that, by default, the phone shoots in 16:9 size, rather than the traditional 4:3. Well, again, if the photos are only ever going to be viewed on the screen on on a social networking site, then it makes sense that they should fill the display. We know there are many good reasons to have photos in the 4:3 format, but the user base of the HTC One is less likely to be bothered by those.

However, for most people they'll be overjoyed with the photo quality on the HTC One. The combination of fast shooting, accurate focus, sharp continuous shooting and a nippy HDR mode, combined with photos that look good on the phone screen, will impress many.

And let's be honest, that's the reason we buy a phone with a camera on it, right?

HTC One review
Although low-res, the 4MP camera picks out detail well

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HTC One review
This is shot using the LG Optimus G Pro, at 10MP

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HTC One review
The HTC One doesn't give much away in detail

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HTC One review
A dark shot with the Samsung Galaxy S3

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HTC One review
The HTC One might lose detail, but it really can work in low light

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HTC One review
In darker scenes, the Galaxy S3 cannot even begin to show detail

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HTC One review
Yet once again, the HTC One shows its power

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HTC One review
This shot is taken with the backlight mode engaged

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HTC One review
And this with it switched off

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HTC One review
Compare that to HDR mode, and you'll wonder why backlight mode would ever be used

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HTC One review
You can fix the exposure levels using an on-screen tap; here is the rail in focus

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HTC One review
And here, the distance. The contrast is impressive

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HTC One review
This photo looks great on the phone, but even with HDR mode looks over-exposed on screen

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HTC One review
The detail levels close up are strong

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HTC One review
Colours and detail are well represented

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HTC One review
The macro mode can yield good results, although this took a few attempts to focus correctly

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HTC One review
You can easily apply filters to your shots on the HTC One, and they really can enhance

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HTC One review
Yeah. Filters. Arty.

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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