For the past week and a half our own Brian Klug has been hard at work on his review of HTC’s new flagship smartphone, the One. These things take time and Brian’s review, at least what I’ve seen of it, is nothing short of the reference piece we’ve come to expect from him.

In the same period of time I’ve been playing around with a retail HTC One and felt compelled to share my thoughts on the device. It’s rare that I’m so moved by a device to chime in outside of the official review, but the One is a definite exception. By no means is this a full review, and I defer to Brian for the complete story on the One - something we should be getting here in the not too distant future.

I’m not a financial analyst, but HTC hasn’t been doing all that well over the past few quarters. There’s a general feeling that the aptly named One is HTC’s last chance at survival. Good product doesn’t always translate into market dominance, but it’s a necessary component when you’re an underdog. Luckily for HTC, the One is great.


Over the past two years HTC has really come into its own as far as design is concerned. The difference between the HTC One X and the plethora of flagships that came before it was remarkable. Moving to the One, the difference is just as striking.

I don’t seem to mind plastic phones as much as everyone else, but the One is in an appreciably different league compared to its peers. It’s the type of device that you just want to look at and touch. Given how much you do end up looking at and touching your smartphone, HTC’s efforts here seem well placed.

The One looks and feels great. The proportions are a little awkward in my hands, but I fully concede that’s going to vary from person to person. Despite the heavy use of aluminum, I don't feel overly worried about scratching/damaging the finish.

The challenge with any smartphone is to build something that looks distinct in a sea of black rectangles on a wall in a store. With the One (and arguably the One X before it), HTC does a good job of balancing the need to be seen with the need to be subtle. Elegant is the right word here.

While I’m sure there will be comparisons to the iPhone, the fact of the matter is that the design cycle on these smartphones falls somewhere in the 12 - 24 month range. With something as sophisticated as the One, you’re looking at the longer end of that spectrum. For what it’s worth, if I had to estimate I’d say design work on the One probably started before the iPhone 4S came out.

Smartphone Spec Comparison
  Apple iPhone 5 HTC One Samsung Galaxy S 3 Samsung Galaxy S 4
SoC Apple A6 1.3GHz Snapdragon 600 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz Exynos 5 Octa (1.6/1.2GHz) or Snapdragon 600 1.9GHz
DRAM/NAND/Expansion 1GB LPDDR2, 16/32/64GB NAND 2GB LPDDR2, 32/64GB NAND 2GB LPDDR2, 16/32GB NAND, microSD 2GB LPDDR3, 16/32/64GB NAND, microSD
Display 4.0-inch 1136 x 640 LCD 4.7-inch SLCD3 1080p, 468 ppi 4.8-inch Super AMOLED 720p, 306 ppi 5-inch Super AMOLED 1080p, 441 ppi
Network 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 (depending on region)
Dimensions 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm 137.4mm x 68.2mm x 4mm - 9.3mm 136.6mm x 70.6mm 8.6mm 136.6mm x 69.8mm x 7.9mm
Weight 112g 143g 133g 130g
Rear Camera 8MP 4MP w/ 2µm pixels 8MP 13MP
Front Camera 1.2MP 2.1MP 1.9MP 2MP
Battery Internal 5.45 Wh Internal 8.74 Wh Removable 7.98 Wh Removable 9.88 Wh
OS iOS 6.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Android 4.2.2
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, USB 2.0, GPS/GNSS 802.11ac/a/b/g/n + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, IR LED, MHL, DLNA, NFC 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, USB 2.0, NFC, GPS/GNSS, MHL 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (HT80) + BT 4.0, USB 2.0 NFC, GPS/GNSS, IR LED, MHL 2.0


The Camera
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  • piroroadkill - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - link

    A bit odd, since I've owned a Desire HD for years, and the back looks the same as the day it was made, and it always felt really nice. Dropped plenty of times..
  • crimson117 - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Can the HTC One be updated to Android 4.2.2?

    One thing I preefr about iPhone is that, in general, all models get the latest iOS upgrades, even if a few features remain disabled (eg Siri), at least for a year or two.
  • Despoiler - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Not until HTC releases the update. There will however be lots of ROMs for the hardware.
  • The0ne - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Anand is entitle to his opinion about removable battery and SD card support but these are very important features that a lot of people look for, myself included. I plan to use the phone for a long while not change it every two years, thus a removable battery is a great option. What if I want a larger capacity battery for business travels?

    SD card is just useful for storing more of anything. Heck go up to 128GB on my Note 2 if I wanted but 64 is holding up ok.

    Why a professional person like Anand giving review would make these kinds of remarks is ludicrous not to mention incredulous. Might as well use the same line for every other reviews that's been done. I've learn to live with OC on CPU's now, I've learn to live without...

    Sorry but that's just moronic for a professional reviewer to say.
  • jayseeks - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Says the guy who probably just signed up for an account and is in all likelihood a paid Samsung shill like the rest of the Samsung supporters on here.
  • evonitzer - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    We give up on things all the time! Laptops are getting sealed batteries to save size and stuff in a bigger battery, memory soldered onto the motherboard, 16x9 displays, etc.

    This is especially true with features that aren't unanimously loved, like removable backs and sd cards. All he can do as a reviewer is note that he doesn't really care, and move on. Me, I don't really care. If it's a big enough internal storage, that's enough. I store things long term on my desktop and don't need to carry around massive files on my phone.

    But if you want to be like all the inflammatory commenters and act like every freaking review calls into question the last 16 years of this website's excellence, then be my guest and read some other site with views that fit into your staunch opinion of how cell phones should be.
  • groundhogdaze - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link

    Anand made a personal statement in the comment section suggesting he's okay with not having those features. He did not disparage the features in the review itself. He has an opinion, it counts, but you don't have to take it. Just take the arrow to the knee and stop while you are ahead.
  • Hrel - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    I don't care so terribly about a removable battery, assuming it lasts all day and always will. Since that's never the case it does hurt. But the lack of a micro-sd card makes it useless for me. Very saddening since otherwise it's my idea of the perfect phone. Especially like the camera.
  • dotroy - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    @For what it’s worth, if I had to estimate I’d say design work on the One probably started before the iPhone 4S came out. - Yes's so hard to admit that they copied apple design. In-fact even though they made it look 100% same as iPhone, you will still find some other excuse......very charming
  • Crazy1 - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    I agree with Brian that 4.3" screen is the sweet spot for smart phones. I would like to see a premium android phone come out with similar dimensions as the RAZR M. If a company could cram all of the One's features with a 720p 4.3" screen into a phone that size I would immediately go buy it. I'm just not sure a quad-core SoC, 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of NAND would currently fit with all of the other components and leave room for a decent sized battery.

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