Channel 5

HTC One

Wednesday 13 March 2013

G-Rating

Rating of 5

The basics

This is it. The HTC One, the smartphone the Taiwanese gadget company is hoping can restore it to its former glory, before Samsung’s Galaxy S series ate its lunch. Not to be confused with last year’s One X or One S, the HTC One is a metal beauty running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and toting a full HD screen as well as an all-new type of mobile camera. Does it live up to the hype? We find out.

Read our full Sony Xperia Z review here

Five ways Android can super charge Chrome OS

The good

We always thought that HTC’s One X was cruelly overlooked - its beautiful curved unibody was far better looking than the cheapish Samsung Galaxy S3. HTC’s designers have excelled themselves again this year: the HTC One is gorgeous. A lovingly crafted metal slab almost identical in size to its predecessor, it’s cool to the touch, rock solid, and lies smoothly on a tablet, since the camera doesn’t jut out this time.

Those speaker grilles on the top and bottom hide one of the One’s secret weapons: phenomenal sound quality. We’ve simply never heard anything as loud or full from a mobile before - just try not to inflict your tunes on others on public transport. Then there’s the display: it’s sensational. Like the Sony Xperia Z’s panel, it’s a full HD 1920x1080 number that’s incredibly sharp - but it boasts wider viewing angles too.

The One’s chassis also packs in one more surprise: infra-red so you can boss your TV around. It figured out our Sony TV’s controls instantly, and we were up and about changing channels - we can’t wait to see where HTC takes TV integration in the future.

Android 4.1 itself is blazingly fast, courtesy of a quad-core 1.7GHz processor, and the HTC One chewed through all the latest games. Let’s talk about the “UltraPixel” camera though, as HTC’s tried to do something completely different with it. It’s a mere four megapixel sensor - compare that to the Xperia Z’s 13 - but here’s the twist: all the pixels collecting light inside it are much bigger than ever before. The result is an incredibly fast shutter speed (seriously) and lots of detail in images, even in low light situations where most camera phones fails miserably - we’re looking at you, BlackBerry Z10.

Frankly, the results are superb. The HTC One always delivered (though the low resolution makes zooming difficult), with crisp, noise free shots every bit as good as those from the Xperia Z, if not better. The one downside to this: you won’t be able to blow your snaps up to quite the same size as you would on the Xperia Z - but how often do you really print off your camera snaps anyway?

The bad

As cool as the HTC One looks, there are a few design flaws its creators should be kicking themselves over. HTC’s decision to remove one of the standard control buttons (the multi-tasking tab) to make way for its logo below the screen is an odd one that’ll surprise longtime Android users - instead, you double tap the home button to switch apps.

This, you get used to. More frustrating is HTC’s decision to plonk the power/lock button on top of a giant phone once again. Unless you’re an NBA player, you’ll struggle to reach this every time you use the HTC One one-handed. All it would take is HTC to admit that Samsung got it right with the Galaxy S3 by putting it on the side of the phone - instead, you’ll have to stretch, every single day.

As phenomenal, fast and app-packed as Android 4.1 is (Though the HTC One lacks 4.2, you can bet this will be first in line for an update), we’re also not sure HTC’s software improves on Google’s good work. For one, you’ll find HTC’s own browser and keyboard on-board by default, neither of which are very good. You’d do well to switch to Google Chrome and a keyboard like SwiftKey straight away.

The HTC One sports the company’s Sense 5 user interface - and it’s a big break from what came before. The standard homescreen for apps and widgets is to the side, and instead, you get what HTC is calling BlinkFeed, a steady, image heavy stream of news that you can tailor from lots of different websites in every conceivable category.

It’s a nice idea, but in practice, it’s no more helpful than installing a reader like the Pulse news app, Flipboard or Google Currents - especially since you can’t add your own RSS feeds, just publications that have partnered with HTC on it.

The same can be said for HTC’s Zoe social network, er, thing, which lets you share short three second video clips. No, you’re not wrong, Twitter’s six-second video sensation Vine will render this completely obsolete as soon as it hits Android - especially since HTC won’t store the Zoes you film permanently anyway, a decision that reveals a baffling lack of foresight on the company’s part.

Lastly, there’s the battery life: while there’s a bigger 2,300mAh battery inside the One than the charger in last year’s One X (1,800mAh), all those extra pixels it’s powering take their toll: we struggled to make it to 8pm on a charge, with emails flowing in, lots of web surfing and a few YouTube clips. That’s pretty par for the course these days, mind - if you want anything better, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and its giant battery are your only option.

Is this the best budget smartphone ever?

Windows Phone has arrived: Five amazing games now on Microsoft mobiles

The bottom line

Is the HTC One really the one? Quite possibly. The HTC One is a mighty smartphone, and well worthy of its name. It’s stupendously fast and slick, and packs a phenomenal camera, though we’re not sure that HTC’s Sense software adds to the experience otherwise.

It’s not about being an iPhone beater anymore - you probably already know where you stand on that one - as all Android phones of this size are so different they make the comparison pointless. All you need to know: HTC has delivered with the One. Can it stand the might of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and its huge marketing budget though? That’s another question entirely.

Currys Top Products

HTC One is tagged with HTC, One and Android. Select a tag (HTC, for example) to find everything on The Gadget Show about the subject.

User comments (5)

Leave a comment

Hilmi

The HTC one is the one in every area and is the best worldwide. You guys should get your reviews sorted on phones, face the facts IPhone is outdated and finished.

Report as inappropriate

This comment has been removed.

jane ripley

hi,can yu tell me where you purchased the htc one for only £414.99, as quoted in the show,thank you for your time.

Report as inappropriate
jane ripley

hi, could you tell me where l can purchase the htc one for £414.99 as quoted in the show, thank you for your time.

Report as inappropriate
ChrisCyster

To be honest I hate the buttons at the bottom, I was always accidentally either asked for the camera or search on my sensation so now I am happy with the lack of the extra button at the bottom of the screen. This phone is brilliant. I have 16 GB with EE, 30 GB Dropbox plus the 32 GB on the phone. How much more space do I need

Report as inappropriate

Join Channel 5

Creating an account is free, will only take a few moments and will allow you to enjoy the full benefits of 5FWD and Channel 5:

  • Create lists of your most wanted and owned products
  • Leave article comments without having to re-enter your login details
  • Get updated with all the latest gadget and car news

Leave a comment

Please note that we will not expose your email, but we might use it to email you back. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.
* mandatory field

  • Samsung Gear 2

    Samsung's back with its brand new Gear 2 smartwatch, the successor to the fatally flawed original…

  • LG 55EA980W

    Curved TVs are said to be the next big thing in television tech for your living room, but do they…

  • Bissell Vac & Steam 1132E

    Meet the Bissell Vac & Steam 1132E, the final contender in our steam mop showdown with an integrated…

  • Vax S86-SF-P

    The Vax S86-SF-P makes up the third choice in our steam mop showdown, but is it worthy of wearing…

  • Lakeland Steam Mop

    Which steam mop is the top choice for your spring cleaning? We put four to the test, including the…

  • Russell Hobbs Steam & Clean

    We’ve got a steam mop showdown on the show this week, and we headed to the SS Great Britain in…

  • Beats by Dre Studio Wireless

    When you think of headphones these days, you probably immediately think of the monster brand that is…

  • Samsung Galaxy S5

    The Samsung Galaxy S5, the latest and greatest flagship phone from the South Korean electronics…

  • NetGear VueZone VZSX2800

    The NetGear VueZone VZSX2800 could be the ideal home security system, with a couple of wireless…

  • PhoneJoy game controller

    Physical controllers on Android may not be a massive deal anymore, but there's always room for new…