While HTC established a strong following with their excellent (at the time they were any way!) Windows Mobile devices it was when Google selected them to manufacture the first publicly available Android phone, the HTC Dream (widely known as the T-Mobile G1) that they started to get noticed by your average mobile phone user. A string of very capable handsets such as the HTC Hero and HTC Desire cemented their place as a top mobile manufacturer but despite more recent phones such as the HTC Sensation and One X being neither bad phones or total commercial failures, things haven’t been going quite so smoothly for HTC in recent times.
The HTC One X was a great phone but with extremely strong competition from the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 it didn’t manage to achieve anywhere near the kind of reception HTC hoped for. Even now the One X is still a top handset and in some ways it was only personal preference that could help you choose between the One X, S3 and iPhone 5, the second you hold the new HTC One in your hand however this instantly feels like HTC’s competition have a lot more to worry about this time around.
I’ll admit when I first saw the HTC One is wasn’t massively impressed, for the past couple of years it feels like phones haven’t really improved that much. They have more RAM, faster processors and bigger, higher resolution screens but when I’m actually using them they don’t really feel any better than the older model they replaced. After spending a bit more time with the HTC One though I began to realise that all those little improvements have added up and as a result this is an absolutely fantastic device.
Visually the One seems a little plain at first but the switch from a plastic body on the One X to the metal body on the One makes a massive difference. This phone looks expensive and it feels it too, leaving the plastic body behind means the One weighs more than the One X but it’s certainly not too heavy and it actually means this looks and feels like a much more high-end phone. In terms of styling the One resembles most Apple products more closely than the iPhone does, or at least the silver version does. The combination of aluminium body and black bezel around the screen make the One look like the phone version of an Apple MacBook Pro and that’s no bad thing.
The One is more powerful than the One X which is to be expected, a 1.7Ghz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM make this one of the most powerful phones ever and performance is great. Whether you’re watching videos, browsing the web or playing games the HTC One is more than up to the task even though it has to power a 1080p screen. Speaking of the screen, this is one of the best on any phone at 4.7″ it’s nice and big but never really feels too massive and while 720p was good enough 1080p is even better. The size and resolution are great but the quality of the screen is absolutely top notch, this is a Super LCD 3 and colours and viewing angle are both great.
With many phones having large, high definition screens viewing video on your mobile is better than ever and while a decent set of headphones can give you great audio to match, generally speaking the speakers on phones are far from impressive. The word impressive however may be an understatement when it comes to the speakers on the HTC One, while they’re never going to compete with your home audio system plenty of laptop speakers sound very poor compared to the HTC One. With a speaker above and below the screen, or either side when in landscape, the stereo sound on the HTC One really surprised me. Not only are the speakers loud but considering how small they are they sound absolutely fantastic.
The hardware is great but in another step forward the HTC Sense themed version of Android has seen a huge improvement. While many will still prefer the untouched Android found on phones like the Nexus 4 the alterations made by HTC are better than ever before and while the new BlinkFeed home screen isn’t to everyone’s taste you can always set your home screen to a different panel and forget all about it. The other big addition is the TV app which doesn’t just show you what’s on the box but thanks to an IR blaster that doubles up as the power button you can actually control your TV using your phone, of course your TV probably came with a remote so you’re unlikely to find this feature incredibly exciting but it’s a nice addition any way.
Many have complained about the HTC One only having a 4MP camera but the images it produces are on par with other high-end phones and in low-light situations it performs incredibly well. The 2MP front-facing camera takes great quality video too, especially useful for things like Skype. There’s no micro SD card slot but 32GB of on-board memory should be enough for the vast majority of users.
All things considered this may just be the best phone on the market right now and although it’ll be tough to choose between this and the Samsung Galaxy S4 the superior design and higher quality materials will make the HTC One very hard to beat. At least there is an Android handset which is at least as stylish and well built as the iPhone, perhaps even better. The HTC One is available right now and if it’s time for you to upgrade definitely consider getting yourself an HTC One.