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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  • Mook1e - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Read back one page and you'll see one person who used those features in the last two weeks. Me.
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    So, stop bringing it up.

    Let sleeping dogs lie.
  • half_duplex - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Many of you are missing a very important factor. The HTC One will compete not only with Samsung, but also Apple.

    I don't feel there are very many Apple users who look at the Galaxy line as a serious option, they are too far apart. Apple users are accustomed to top of the line fit and finish, Samsumg users expect the top spot on the specs chart and the largest screen.

    I am an iPhone 4 user who's waiting on an Android device for the first time. I'm getting a more powerful device, a larger (not too large) screen, but I don't have to take a step back in build quality.

    I don't mind the camera issues, but it would be nice to see this thing launch with the latest Android.
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

  • krumme - Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - link

    Well you should have no problem as you are used to a smaller screen in a big, heavy and fragile chassis and old software
  • DEECEE - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    But you're saying you don't have the imagination to see that you could use replaceable battery and SD slots? I am just saying HTC really goofed on omitting those, having those would win them a ton of customers given the higher build quality of the HTC ONE.
  • brandensilva - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Well I certainly plan on getting this phone in the next couple of weeks due to its impeccable housing body and performance. I'm willing to sacrifice the battery and SD storage to be honest. That's hard to say as a techy but I've come to find those features to be unnecessary even for me after I went that route last time. I know I can root this and throw whatever OS I want on it, so sense 5 is a non-issue; although I may give this sense a try as its slimmer.

    I got tired of changing batteries and losing track of which one was charged and which one was not. I got tired of swapping around SD cards too. I just want a phone that works well, looks good (since I have to stare at the thing often) and can do what I need it to do. Speed, OS customization, and functionality are far more important to me these days.

    I think most people don't care about batteries and additional SD slots. It's easy to see that today. Nexus line = no sd card. HTC is going the same route. The iPhone has already been there since its inception. Other handsets following suit or already gone that way.

    I did the family test and I'm the only one in my extended family out of 50 or so smartphone users who has ever bought more batteries and sd cards. Half the family uses iphones, the other android. I'm sure if more people in my family were techies, those odds would go up for these features but people just need to stop arguing that these are critical features for the majority of users; they are not and they never be.

    With that said, I know there is a small market for these features and I'm sure Samsung will be more than happy to cater to that.
  • brandensilva - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    I forgot to add the co-worker test. When I worked at a tech company with a group of 18 or so techies, over half of us had additional sd cards and batteries. It's clear, that the I.T industry loves more space (or pr0n I'm not sure) and juice. But then again, it could have just been a "my wang is bigger than yours" statement kind of thing too. I see the trend dying off more and more as internal space progresses.

    I also witnessed two iphone switch overs and they were content not worrying about the storage/battery stuff anymore. I'm at the same point myself but I just can't bring myself to the iPhone as I got my iPad for my iOS needs.
  • DEECEE - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    I am glad you can let go, but why do you have to let go? I'd love to buy the ONE, but why would a product force you to let go? SD card with 64GB internal storage may not be needed, OK, I can tolerate that, but no replaceable battery? I don't need a spare to carry around, but I know one day that battery will die and I don't want to throw away my device just for a replaceable part, especially if I actually like the ONE. I still have my StarTac's, and with a new battery, they work perfectly well.
  • superflex - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    It would be nice if the comments were devoid of fanboi bravado and would focus on the device at hand.
    Just imagine if the One had an AMD based GPU. Cerise would have an aneurysm and the comments would have expanded to 100 pages with his trolling.
    As soon as this becomes available, I'm buying one and shelving the OG EVO.

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