- Beautiful build
- Outstanding display
- Extremely powerful hardware
- A little too large
- Zoe not that impressive
- BlinkFeed, while useful, definitely apes WP tiles/Flipboard
The HTC One is both stylish and powerful, making it one of the top flagship Android handsets to be announced this year.
The HTC One is in good company, going toe-to-toe with the other Android flagships that have been introduced so far this year, including the Sony Xperia Z, the LG Optimus G Pro, and, of course, the Samsung Galaxy S IV. The device, which will go for $200 with a new two-year contract, will be available on April 19 on Sprint and AT&T, with the T-Mobile launch coming soon after (it’s a bit of a strike against the handset that it won’t be released on Verizon, at least initially).
We won’t bother trying to keep you in suspense over whether or not the One is a good smartphone, because with all the buzz that’s been going around, you probably already know that it is. So let’s cut to the chase and get down to the specifics.
Editor’s Note: This review is for the U.S. Version of the HTC One. For our review of the international version, click here.
Build and Design
Quite a bit of noise has been made about the design and aesthetics of the One, and with good reason. The unibody casing is made from aluminum, giving the device both a quality feel and a cool, futuristic look. The metallic body also fights fingerprints and smudges well, which is more than can be said for many other smartphones with shiny plastic finishes (or, in the case of the Sony Xperia Z, glass).
The phone has some heft to it, but not enough to make it feel uncomfortable in the user’s hand. With a weight of 143 grams and a thickness of only 9.3 mm, it’s still, in the grand scheme of things, a sleek phone. It has a nice shape to it too, as the back also has a slight curve to it, allowing the One to be cradled comfortably in the palm.
The ergonomics aren’t perfect, however, as the One is a little too wide and too long. Being overwhelmed by the phone’s size is to be expected given its 4.7-inch display, but we occasionally found ourselves struggling to reach from top to bottom or from one side of the phone to the other.
It was especially difficult to access the notifications menu, which requires you to pull down from the very top edge of the screen to see it, and push up from the very bottom to put it away, no exceptions. Reaching both extremes with one’s thumb on a phone this large is uncomfortable; in some cases, we would have to slide the phone further up in our hand when we needed to swipe the menu away, just to avoid curling our thumb at such an uncomfortable angle. We took issue with this, given that accessing notifications is a relatively common task. Being inconvenienced by the phone’s somewhat unwieldy size on a regular basis was not appealing.
The full HD display (1920 x 180) of the One blew us away. As we mentioned in our review of the international version of the One, it has an unprecedented pixel density of 469 ppi given that the only other full HD smartphones on the market today sport 5-inch displays; with the same resolution on a smaller screen, the density is greater on the One. While the difference may be difficult to discern with the naked eye, there’s no questioning that it looks incredibly sharp.
The sheen from the Gorilla Glass 2 coating on the display is also a welcome feature, as is the remarkably wide viewing angle. In fact, just about everything we typically check for when evaluating displays passed muster and then some: color saturation was great, the contrast was sharp, and the brightness — when cranked up as high as it can go — is enough to make your eyes water.
The power/standby switch of the One is situated on the left side of the top edge and, in a clever design choice, doubles as the smartphone’s IR blaster. Though we don’t mind the placement of the button itself, we do wish that it was raised a little more as it can be difficult to press at times. The only other feature on the top edge is the 3.5mm headphone jack.
On the right side, there is the stylish, lightly textured volume rocker, while the micro USB charging port (with MHL) is on the bottom edge. That just leaves the SIM card slot, which is found on the upper left side of the phone and requires a pin to pop open.
As part of HTC’s “BoomSound” feature, the One also has dual front-facing speakers, which are located above and below the screen. Directly above the bottom speaker are the phone’s capacitive navigation buttons. It’s worth noting that there are only two, back and home, with HTC forgoing the menu button. Above the screen, directly to the right of the top speaker, is the phone’s 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera.