Sexy design; Beautiful 1080p display; Rich and loud front-mounted speakers; Fast camera; Impressive performance
Battery life could be better; Zoe function is gimmicky; Too much AT&T software
Packing a gorgeous display, impressive camera and sleek design, the HTC One is easily one of the best smartphones on the market.
The HTC One has received a good deal of accolades since its debut, and for good reason. This sexy 4.7-inch handset not only packs a full HD display and impressive dual speakers, but an IR blaster to control your TV. Add to that HTC's slick Sense 5.0 Android overlay and AT&T's fast 4G LTE speeds, and you've got a contender for the title of best smartphone around.
From its chamfered edges and spun-metal volume rocker to the etched antennas on the handset's back panel, the HTC One exudes elegance. On the phone's top edge are its combination power button/IR blaster for use with its Sense TV app (more on that later) and 3.5mm headphone jack. The right hosts the aforementioned volume rocker, which was a bit too flush with the chassis for our liking. The left edge has a micro SIM card slot, while the bottom edge houses the phone's microUSB port.Samsung's Galaxy S4 and LG's Optimus G Pro, which feature the traditional Android Back, Home and Menu buttons, the HTC One only offers Back and Home buttons, between which is an HTC logo. Users access menus via in-app buttons, which we prefer to the Galaxy S4's physical menu button. We weren't fans of the One's button setup at first, as we found ourselves pressing the HTC logo to access the One's home screen. But it grew on us over time.
Measuring 5.4 x 2.7 x 0.37 inches and weighing 5.1 ounces, the 4.7-inch HTC One is a bit larger and heavier than the 5-inch Galaxy S4, which measures 5.31 x 2.7 x 0.25 inches and weighs 4.6 ounces. The difference in length between the two handsets is a result of the One's dual front-mounted speakers, while the weight delta comes from HTC's decision to use a metal chassis rather than plastic. The 5.5-inch Optimus G Pro, meanwhile, tips the scales at 6.2 ounces and measures 5.8 x 3 x 0.37 inches.
Video looked equally stunning, as illustrated by a trailer for the film "Pacific Rim." The neon blues and greens comprising the mechanized cockpit of the movie's massive robots nearly seared our retinas, while details like the fine lines between the machines' armor plating were clearly visible.
The One's screen measured an impressive 433 lux on our brightness meter, which means you'll be able to use this smartphone in direct sunlight. By comparison, the smartphone category average is 300 lux, while the Galaxy S4 registered 446 lux. Still, Apple's iPhone 5 dominates with a sky- high brightness rating of 525 lux.
With a pair of front-mounted speakers, which HTC refers to as BoomSound, the One is in a class all its own. While watching the aforementioned "Pacific Rim" trailer, the sound of giant robots and monsters crushing buildings -- and each other -- sounded almost as good coming from the One's speakers as it did our headphones.
While listening to The Smashing Pumpkins' "1979," we were impressed by how crisp Billy Corgan's voice sounded. When we switched on the Beats Audio setting, the audio sounded even richer and much more even.
BlinkFeed's setup wizard lets you choose from a wide range of news sources, including the Associated Press, The Huffington Post, ESPN and Engadget. You can also choose from multiple categories, such as Business, Technology, Politics, etc. Social media options include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Above the news updates, BlinkFeed displays a large clock, your next appointment and the current weather conditions. While the feature is useful, we do wish HTC had included an email widget at the top of the feed.
If BlinkFeed is too much for you, or you just don't want to be bombarded with information as soon as you unlock your phone, you can relegate the feature to a secondary home screen and replace it with a more traditional home screen layout.
Across the bottom of the standard home screen are persistent Phone, Message, Apps Menu, Browser and Camera buttons. Above them are shortcuts to the Mail, Calendar and Play Store apps and AT&T apps folder. The apps menu has a cleaner look than most Android phones, and lets you view apps in either a 3 x 4 or 4 x 5 grid. Unfortunately, the shortcuts for the Play Store and search and settings menus are hidden until you scroll all the way to the top of the apps menu.
The HTC One's notification drawer is fairly spartan when compared with the Samsung Galaxy S4's. Whereas the One's drawer gives you a toggle for the phone's Power Saver function and a Settings shortcut, the S4's lets you control a wide array of functions, including display brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, screen rotate, Multi Window Mode and more.
Where the One trumps the S4 is in how it displays recent apps. Instead of having to scroll through a vertical list, the One lets you see all of your open apps laid out in a 3 x 3 list. You double-press the Home button to open the recent apps menu, and long-pressing the Home button launches Google Now.
Once you're set up, you can browse upcoming shows, search On Demand content and access recorded content on your DVR. You can also learn more about shows and share what you're watching via the options menu, represented by three dots. With the exception of being able to find buttons by feel, the remote feature is just as easy to use as your regular clicker and includes a number pad, channel and volume buttons and even DVR play, pause, fast forward and rewind buttons.
Typing on the HTC One's virtual keyboard felt natural, resulting in just a handful of typos when writing emails or sending text messages. We appreciated the slight amount of haptic feedback, as well as the predictive text function that provides you with suggestions for words just above the keyboard. The One's Trace option lets you drag your finger across letters to spell out entire words and worked well even when trying to type rather quickly.
Under the HTC One's metal chassis is a 1.7-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor and 2GB of RAM, resulting in one of the fastest handsets on the planet. Games such as "Jetpack JoyRide" and "Super Monsters Ate My Condo" ran without so much as a hint of slowdown, and apps opened and closed in the blink of an eye.
On the Quadrant benchmark, which measures a phone's CPU, graphics and I/O performance, the One clocked an impressive score of 12,706. That's far better than the category average of 3,899. The Galaxy S4, with its quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, registered 11,308, while the LG Optimus G Pro scored 12,075.
The One's graphics performance was equally impressive. On the An3DBench graphics test, the One scored 7,716. That's better than the category average of 7,245, as well as the Optimus G Pro's 7,556 and the Galaxy S4's 7,570.
However, other benchmarks paint a murkier picture. On Geekbench, the Galaxy S4's score of 3,242 was nearly 500 points higher than the HTC One's score of 2,771. On the 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, the S4 pulled slightly ahead with a score of 6,765 to the HTC One's 6,251.
Our HTC One came with 32GB of onboard storage for $199 with a two-year contract through AT&T. If that's not enough space for you, though, you can opt for a 64GB version for $299 on contract.
Camera and camcorder
HTC has seemingly exited the megapixel arms race. Instead, the company has introduced its own Ultrapixel camera. Though a marketing term, the camera offers a large image sensor and an f/2.0 aperture lens to capture 300 percent more light, which should help you capture quality images in low-light settings. For instance, a shot indoors of a painting taken in near- darkness came out clear, while the S4's image was barely visible.
A 1080p video shot using the rear-facing camera looked bright and delivered smooth action. Details were easily visible with the video paused. We only noticed a slight hiccup when the camera was trying to focus at the beginning of the video.
The One's 2-megapixel front-facing shooter captured clear images. Details, such as facial wrinkles, were easily visible.
Unfortunately, Zoes didn't always work as advertised. HTC says the feature is supposed to let you create a Sequence shot, which combines all of the images in the Zoe to give you an action shot of an object or person moving across the frame. In our testing, however, the software rarely compiled our images correctly, or it supplied an error message saying there weren't enough frames to make a Sequence shot.
For a feature that's supposed to be social-friendly, Zoe certainly has a lot of limitations. Your friends and family can't view your Zoes on Facebook or Twitter, but instead will have to go to the Zoe website.
AT&T also included its Mobile TV app on the One, which allows you to stream live TV, as well as on-demand movies. Rounding out the selection are the company's AT&T Navigator, AT&T Smart Wi-Fi and AT&T locker apps. Additional third-party apps loaded on the HTC One include Amazon Kindle, SoundHound, TuneIn Radio and YPMobile.
4G LTE and Web browsing
Websites loaded quickly in our first location, with NYTimes.com's mobile site taking 2.8 seconds and ESPN.com's mobile site loading in 3.6 seconds. The image-heavy Laptopmag.com took 12.1 seconds.
The AT&T version of the HTC One's stock browser comes with a toolbar that allows users to share websites to Facebook, like or tweet them or share them via email, text or Bluetooth. We suggest using the cleaner Chrome browser.
Battery life and call quality
When we turned on Power Saver Mode, which throttles the phone's CPU, reduces the display's brightness, turns off haptic feedback and kills its data connection when the display is off, the One's battery life saw a modest increase to 6:20. A similar setting for the Galaxy S4 was only able to increase its battery life to 6:05. Unlike the S4, however, the HTC One's battery is not removable. If you're concerned about battery life, we'd suggest picking up the just-released mophie juice pack case for the One.
Call quality over AT&T's voice network was loud and static-free. Callers using both landlines and cellphones said the One offered a clean voice experience on their ends of the lines.
VerdictGalaxy S4's. We also wish AT&T went lighter on the apps. Overall, though, if you're looking for a new handset, you'll absolutely love the HTC One.
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|Phone Display Size||4.7|
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.1.2|
|Networks||4G LTE Band 4 and 17, 4G HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul, 3G UMTS 850/1900/2100 MHz,GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900MHz|
|CPU||1.7-GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600|
|Processor Family||Qualcomm Snapdragon 600|
|Memory Expansion Type||none|
|Display (main)||4.7 inch Super LCD 3/1920 x 1080|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||2.1MP|
|Camera Resolution||4 MP|
|Audio formats supported||OGG|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||MIDI|
|Audio formats supported||M4A|
|Audio formats supported||AMR|
|Audio formats supported||WMA|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Video formats supported||WMV|
|Video formats supported||MP4|
|Video formats supported||3GP|
|Video formats supported||3G2|
|Talk / Standby Time|
|Size||5.4 x 2.7 x 0.37 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|