Hands on: HTC One

HTC One front.jpg

Once the darling of the Android world, HTC has struggled in recent times to compete in the high-end smartphone market. However, even when down it has refused to be out and continued to release new devices to try and win back some of its former glory – and customers – along the way.

The latest attempt to woo the industry comes in the form of the HTC One. The smartphone was unveiled just before this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona but saw one of its first public outings at the trade show, and a chance for us to get a hands-on.

The first noticeable feature of the HTC One is its full aluminium body. It makes the handset stand out from the rows of black casings on the shelves, but it detracts from the design a little, appearing less sleek than its rivals. Whilst the grip is an improvement on the plastic backs of some phones, it feels cold and less tactile as a result.

The screen measures in at 4.7 inches and boasts 1080 x 1920 pixels, giving sharp high definition that is very pleasing to the eye. However, at 9.3mm, the handset itself is relatively thick. This may make it feel sturdier but also a tad hefty for your pocket, as well as again taking away from any sleekness the device may have had.

The inner workings are definitely a plus for the HTC One though, with a quad core 1.7GHz processor sitting beside internal storage of either 32GB or 62GB, and 2GB of RAM.  

HTC One top.jpg

HTC has taken a new approach with the camera introducing its Zoe technology. Rather than squeezing in as many pixels as possible to thinner phones, it uses larger pixels to let in more light for the photo, despite being a smaller sensor. This means the HTC One only has a 4MP camera, but the quality seemed good when we took a few snaps, although by no means breathtaking.

There has also been an update to HTC’s user interface – Sense 5. The firm had faced criticisms over Sense with claims that it slowed the Android experience down with HTC apps clogging up the space on the handset. This new version is said to simplify the experience, removing even some of the excessive Android features.

Maybe it is just because we are used to the various incarnations of Android, but the new UI seemed to go too far the other way. The app screens felt bare and the introduction of scrolling up and down rather than left to right felt very alien.

We did enjoy the other software inclusion though for the HTC One called BlinkFeed. Giving obvious nods to Microsoft’s Windows Phone tiles, it allows the user to personalize their 

HTC One back.jpg

home screen with apps, feeds, social networks or any other channels they choose, making for a busy but informative handset. It was surprisingly easy to use and could win a few business customers over who want everything they need on their handset on the front page.

There are undoubtedly some great new features on the HTC One that make the phone work taking a look at. But the look and feel of handset really take away from the fruitful insides and with an expected price of between £400 and £500, it just doesn’t pull off the high end aesthetic we think a handset at this end of the scale needs. 

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This review is completely at odds with every single other review about the HTC one, which all describe the phone as extremely premium feeling, and either 'the nicest looking phone ever, period' or 'as nice looking as the iPhone 5'. Moreover, at £460 that is cheap for a flagship phone that is quite easily the best phone out in existence, it's the same price as last years cheaply made all-plastic Samsung galaxy s3. Also, the camera technology is being sold as Ultrapixels, not Zoe (a video clip feature app).
All of a sudden, while holding the HTC ONE in my hand (at PHONES4U Oxford Street), I felt all excited about HTC once again. The ALL Aluminium body feel PURE LUXURY and a NO-GAP construction makes it just amazing to look at. with Sense 5, even in it's current slimmed down state, being the most polished UI on Android platform to date. Aesthetically pleasing display with 468 PPI - a humongous 142 PPI more than Retina of APPLE, superb cameras (both front and rear), HTC came bold and brilliant with their new ULTRA PIXEL (not ZOE as the reviewer wrote) technology I believe it's the thing of future. Both front facing speakers and 3.5mm audio out are boosted by additional amplifiers, later will charm audiophiles and rock others. Apt X support for excellent Bluetooth audio (I tested my Creative WP350 and the sound they produced was QUIETLY BRILLIANT). I placed my pre-order before leaving the store. In my opinion HTC produce top devices, it always has been, but no one really knows much about them, the real problem is marketing. HTC just doesn't have the money to match its rivals (Samsung and Apple). And it can only get that money by selling at least a few million handsets (which again require brutal marketing - hence the cycle continues) to get to the place it rightfully deserves.