HTC One Review - The Good, Bad, and Ugly

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The HTC One... Where do I start? I’ve waited to get my mitts on this device for close to two months. The day it came out on AT&T I ran over and bought one. So far there have been some major hiccups, though.

 

1. Battery life

The battery life on the HTC One is just short of terrible. I could get through a whole day with minimal use, but just barely. Any amount of use of the device and it’d quickly go dead. Perhaps this was an issue with the device I had, but I was very unimpressed. Once it hits 20% expect it to go dead within the hour, without being used, sitting in your pocket.

 

2. Display

The 1080p display on this device is quite stunning. At a 4.7” form factor, it has a pixel density that the human eye can’t even try to see (even with a magnifying glass). The display is coined Super LCD3, which means nothing.That being said, the displays blacks look like grays and the bezel on the sides is a little too much. They could have done a little better on this end of the device, as even the iPhone 5’s low resolution (by todays standard) “retina” display has better color reproduction on deeper colors.

 

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3. Boom Sound

Reading and hearing are two separate things. On paper, Boom Sound “sounds” just like a gimmick, to be honest it sort of is. But the sound quality was stunning. Playing games in landscape sounded incredible. However in portrait you lose the stereo effect and it’s just loud. Bass reproduction on the speaker is better than any other phone, but I can’t shake the feeling it could have been better. A simple EQ download later, and yes, I was able to get the bass to drop. With the risk of damaging my device, I had a much more enjoyable experience with bass turned all the way up.

 

4. Build quality

The device definitely speaks a lot of the same design language of the iPhone 5 as far as materials used. My unit had some severe build quality issues, but that could be just this device. The speaker grills on the front were not perfectly in line with the rest of the phone, and on the power dimple side it had a small gap, just big enough for a fingernail to rest into. The speaker grills on the front don’t seem to be made of the same aluminium as on the back of the device, and are scratch prone. As far as durability of the device, I feel like having the plastic spacers on the sides and the aluminium speaker grills adds some protection from drops, however like any smartphone if it hits face first, expect to be making a trip to your nearest repair store.

 

HTC One Review

 

5. Camera

The camera on this device implements a new camera technology developed just last year. It’s coined “ultra-pixels”. However this would be an incorrect terminology as to what ultra pixels are. An ultra pixel by HTC’s definition is 3 different 4MP sensors stacked with 2 NM pixels on the sensors. This is then flattened into a higher quality image. While it does work well and produces great photos, I was consistently let down by what I saw in the camera and photo results. Often times from when I took the photo and it ending up in the gallery I lost a lot of the color/clarity. I believe this is due to a software glitch on the phone. (rumors have it on the 4.2.2 update soon to come out this bug IS FIXED) Another issue is the actual size of the photo. I understand the concept of a 4 “Ultra Pixel” camera, however any amount of zooming or cropping done to a photo and it looks extraordinarily pixilated. The front facing camera on this device was stunning, though. Even in lower light situations I was able to take clear photos and send them to friends. The wide angle lens makes for great group photos as well.

 

(To learn more about Ultra-Pixel technology, read our soon to come blog post about it!)

 

6. Software

The software that comes on this device is already outdated. 4.1 Jellybean is a great software, but yet again as with most smartphones it comes out of the box already outdated. Sense 5 brings some beautiful minimalistic design elements, and is far less intrusive than Sense 3, or 4. Two features very well advertized are Zoe and BlinkFeed, both of which I think are useless and I could easily live without. Often times I found myself only using Zoe to find a good photo, since it takes a total of 90 full size photos. (most of which are motion blurred.) The “Personlization” software on the device felt very dry and dull. You are only able to customize the wallpaper, ringtones, and app drawer/widget setup. Where as on other versions of Sense UI You were able to change very complex design elements of the device.

 

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7. Performance

I would more times than not be holding a phone capable of melting the polar ice caps. Meaning the phone gets hot, and it gets hot quickly. As to be expected from a quad core 1.7 GHZ processor. (Which is faster than most laptops these days) The phone features 2GB of ram, but expect to only be able to use 800MB on a GREAT day. Often times I only had access to 400-700MB of RAM, which is enough, but why does a mobile operating system use 1.3GB of RAM? On the Nexus 4 I had at least 1.5GB of RAM available, and the note II around 1.3GB available. Surely HTC can go in and trim the fat to allow access to more memory for users. At the end of the day, Quadrant average score was about 12,000. ANTUTU average score was 23,000, for those wondering.

 

8. Summary

The phone is a smashing hit, HTC went all out in an attempt to redeem themselves as android “Kings” in a hard market they did much better than their competitors (Xperia Z, Optimus, Nexus) But with Samsung dominating the android market and the S4 overshadowing this phones release, It’s looking dark and gloomy for the HTC One sales.

 

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