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HTC One - Android 4.3, Sense 5 and BlinkFeed

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams


  • Recommended by TR


Our Score


User Score

Review Price £549.99

HTC One – Android 4.3 and HTC Sense 5

The HTC One uses Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, with the HTC Sense 5 UI laid on top. Sense has been around since 2009, and this is the biggest update the interface has seen in quite some time.

The look of Sense has been completely redesigned, to make it seem slicker, more serious and more grown-up than the old version. Heading-up this re-design are the monochrome clock widget and BlinkFeed, which make up the HTC One’s default home screen.


HTC has also changed the look of the apps menu. Now, the stark monochrome clock widget features at the top of the screen, and the app icons are given plenty of space to luxuriate, with just three packed into each row.

However, you can switch this to the standard 4 x 4 icon layout if you prefer a more traditional look. Getting rid of BlinkFeed and the standard clock widget need a little more effort. HTC One 19

Long-standing HTC Sense fans will be glad to hear that while the HTC Flip clock widget of old has now been usurped, it’s still there within the phone’s widget locker. With a few minutes of fiddling, you can get HTC Sense 5 looking a lot like the HTC Sense of previous generations.

HTC One – BlinkFeed

However, we think not everyong will want to retreat to the past because HTC Sense 5 does look pretty snazzy. And the star of the show BlinkFeed is worth checking out.

BlinkFeed is a quick and easy way to consume the latest digital updates from social networks and popular RSS feeds – it’s a vertically-scrolling update reel that arranges news stories, Tweets and Facebook updates as variously-sized tiles.

HTC One 1

The visual style of BlinkFeed sits somewhere between that of Windows Phone 8 and Flipboard, which is a popular newsreader app that performs a similar news-aggregating function. We found that BlinkFeed is more useful as a new source than as a social networking tool, because it’s not particularly space-efficient and changes the way you consume social data in a manner that takes a bit of getting used too.

Rather than employing a smoothly-scrolling feed, the HTC One’s BlinkFeed arranges content into pages, forcing your eyes down the phone screen’s length rather than letting your eyes stay lazy and let your thumb do the legwork. Consequently, while BlinkFeed looks pretty great, we found it felt slightly awkward and overblown as a way to relay tweets.

HTC One 2

You can select the kind of data it displays directly from the HTC One’s homescreen. And in a software update, HTC added the ability to turn off BlinkFeed if you don't like it at all.

HTC One - Kid Mode

Another neat interface tweak of HTC Sense 5 is Kid Mode. This is an app that creates a kid-friendly zone where you can pick and choose which apps are accessible.

Rather than simple creating a cut-down version of the standard HTC One Sense environment, Kid Mode has a completely different feel – one that treats the phone more like a teeny tablet than a mobile. For one, it switches to landscape screen mode, which is naturally more friendly for those kid-sized hands with a phone this size.

HTC One 4

It arranges your approved apps and kiddie video clips from the web along a conveyor belt, and also offers tabs that give access to a simple drawing app, digital storybooks, video messages and stored favourites. The story book section is particularly interesting, as it lets parents record their own readings of stories using the HTC One’s front-facing camera.

With kids’ TV style cheesy voice prompts and a cartoony style, Kid Mode is clearly only suitable for younger kids, but then every sapling over the age of 10 seems to own a phone more expensive than most people’s first cars these days. Sigh.

The inclusion of Kid Mode isn’t entirely altruistic, though. To unlock its full functionality you need to start paying a few dollars a month.

HTC One – Apps and Games

Given the fairly dramatic visual makeover HTC Sense 5 gives Android, HTC doesn’t actually try that hard to bung-in too many HTC apps.

HTC staples like the HTC flashlight and Weather are there, but are nestled into folders within the apps menu so are refreshingly easy to ignore. The only ones given the honour of a place on the apps menu proper are Sense TV, Kid Mode and the in-car UI.

The Car app provides an ultra-simplified interface that’s designed to be easy to use while you’re on the road. It uses oversized square icons for obvious features like Google Navigation, the dialler and voice control – and naturally the HTC Sense 5 clock widget sits up top to let you know the time and weather. You can also add extra jumbo links to any app you fancy including.

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February 19, 2013, 5:15 pm

and still HTC continues their stupid and uneccesary decision to neglect an SD card slot!


February 19, 2013, 5:46 pm

In fairness, it does allow for the chassis to be made slimmer/lighter/etc. Though I'm not sure anyone cares about those factors these days.


February 19, 2013, 9:11 pm

Just to give readers a perspective of pixel size:

I5, S3, L920 - 1.4 µm
Nokia n8 - 1.75 µm
HTC One - 2.0 µm
Fujifilm X10 - 2.2 µm
Canon PS G12 - 2.70 µm
808 PW 8mp - 3.17 µm
808 PW 5mp - 4.01 µm
Canon EOS 60D - 4.30 µm
Canon EOS 1D Mark III - 7.20 µm


February 19, 2013, 9:44 pm

To be honest users actually never did. The whole slim design was purely manufacturing decision. What upsets me the most is how out of touch these designers are in spite of free and existing social media at their disposal.

HTC still refuses to offer large and replaceable battery with their phones. Ask anyone trapped in recent storms in USA and see how many of HTC owners wished they had spare batteries to get them through the power cuts. Nothing beats spare batteries in practice, portable batteries are only second best.


February 20, 2013, 2:28 pm

and this is why I'm unsubscribing from Trusted Reviews: a hands-on described as a review. This is not a review. This website is a shadow of its former self.


February 20, 2013, 9:54 pm

Apart from the fact it's not described as a review anywhere. It says preview in the top tab, first look on the front page promo and clearly states throughout that it's not a definitive review. The only point to concede is the URL does use review, but that's just a quirk of the way the site works.


February 21, 2013, 2:59 am

"There’s no microSD slot or
removable battery but with a 64GB option storage shouldn’t be an issue"

Still an issue for me.

Firstly I want to be able to switch the microSD card with all my media between my phone and my tablet.

Secondly, how many 64GB models have you seen actually make it to the UK?

With the S3 I had to order it from Germany just to get the 32GB version, as I didn't want a Vodafone contract. WIth the size of some modern games most of that 32GB has gone. The 64GB S3 never made it to the UK at all.

Thirdly I want options. I want to have as much storage as I'm prepared to pay for; with my S3 I can carry as many 64GB microSD cards as I like; they're not exactly heavy and only around £40 a pop..

Fourthly I guarantee you that if the 64GB version makes it over here that extra 32GB will cost a helluva lot more than a 32GB microSD card.

So the HTC One is a no for me. Shame, as I like most of what they've done with it.


February 21, 2013, 10:05 pm

Wrong. Look at the RSS feed title: "HTC One Phone Review".

Benjamin Mark

February 27, 2013, 4:31 pm

This is an amazing phone. I can see a great market in india of HTC follows the same pattern like in UK. The UK price of £69 upfront and £34 monthly, roughly cones to 4000 rupees upfront and 2000 rupees monthly for India.

If such plan is brought to India, I can see HTC will be of highest sale in India.

Nate Ebner

March 1, 2013, 1:31 am

An SD card and replaceable battery would be nice. Also I am sure most users would happily get a slightly bigger phone to get it, as you said, especially if it makes room to include a bigger battery.

Nate Ebner

March 15, 2013, 1:37 am

Thanks for the review.

Can I ask for some battery life clarification? Did you find it would last from being unplugged in the morning, until getting back home lets say late in the evening with moderate use?

I don't really care if it lasts two days, just want a day out of it consistently, and I have a couple of 2000mAh external batteries, which I can use to charge it in my bag etc if needed for heavy use and/or boosting the stamina for an evening out.

Also given that I will keep using swiftkey for the keyboard, that hardly seems like a major problem for any vaguely tech savy user. Non-removable batteries and no SD card are bigger issues, but not a real issue for me, as it is basically similar to how I use my current phone, just bigger and better.


March 15, 2013, 9:41 am

I couldn't care less whether it says review, preview, hand-on, anything. I know that I'm getting a more fair view from this site than any other. It seems like they're still updating anyway -- it was 9/10 yesterday, and now it's 8/10 (I think)

This is the only tech review site I bother with.


March 15, 2013, 9:44 am

If it wasn't £549.99.....

I mean, the Oppo Find 5 is even cheaper, and I think could even beat this. Does anyone know how the stats stack up?

For me, I want to buy a phone without a contract. £270 for a Nexus 4 is just too irresistible, and that's the only thing that'll hold this phone back


March 15, 2013, 12:09 pm

I've often found contract's when you add them up, usually work out better than buying outright. Here is an example -> I ordered the HTC One, 2 years, £32 per month, (unlimited Txt/Voice 1Gig data), with £150 cash-back, free Dre headphones & case. Total outlay over 2 years = £618. If I had bought the phone outright for similar data/voice/txt £510 + 24*£15(GifGaf sim) = £870. In fact if I bought the Nexus 4 -> £270+(24*£15) = £630. So be careful when buying outright, these smart phone require data, and people often forget you still need to buy a sim.

Laurent Grimal

March 15, 2013, 12:59 pm

I think the battery performance should be measured at equal brightness versus competitors, not at maximum brightness. Only then do you know if the device is energy efficient!.

For example S3 has 225cd/m² display, so if you reduced maximum brightness on the One to that level you would experience superior battery levels on the One. Compared at equal brightness vs. competing devices, there is no doubt that the One is particularly energy efficient. And it is good to know that when more brightness is needed (outdoor) you can still get it from this device.

As a customer I have a choice to make the One have better battery performance than competing devices. I don't like it when manufacturers don't give me a choice and reduce my maximum screen brightness just to look good in the battery benchmarks like Samsung does. It should be up to me...

PS. It is not the number of pixels that matters most in battery performance, it is the actual size of the screen and how bright it is overall...Those new chips can handle more pixels and still be as energy efficient as the old pu

Laurent Grimal

March 15, 2013, 1:09 pm

Google and Apple both recommend to discontinue the use of MicroSD. MicroSD Cards are not secure storage. In 2013, there are much better options than SDCards for extra storage:
- Dropbox (especially now with LTE)
- MicroUSD OTG Flash drives (up to 128GB) - why go for lower capacity MicroSD when you can have more?

Also: give it a minute. The device has barely been announced. S4 is scheduled to ship only at the end of April, and iPhone 5S has not even been unveiled...I bet you 64 version will become available before the main competitors hit the shelves!

Laurent Grimal

March 15, 2013, 1:12 pm

Hmm, not sure about fair. Unbiased probably but not entirely fair For example, they measure battery at maximum brightness, therefore putting the bright devices at a disadvantage! They measure the One at higher brightness than competing devices and then wonder why the results are not that great...At least they should mention that compared to dimmer devices, the One has battery life reserves in the form of reduceable brightness.

Laurent Grimal

March 15, 2013, 1:14 pm

Google recommend to discontinue the use of MicroSD. MicroSD Cards compromise OS security. In 2013, there are much better options than SDCards for extra storage:
- Additional internal storage, most manufacturers offer you a choice
- Dropbox (especially now with LTE)
- MicroUSB OTG Flash drives (up to 128GB!) - why go for lower capacity MicroSD when you can have more? Flashdrives are very compact.
- Own video/music server (e.g. NAS)

Nate Ebner

March 15, 2013, 1:58 pm

I would like one ideally, and would be happy if the phone didn't allow system software on it. Then I could store my music and videos on cards, and have unlimited capacity if I could switch them out without turning off the phone.
That wouldn't leave any security issues, but bolsters its value as a music and video playing device.
As the user, I choose what I want on which cards, and flip them if necessary. And that only comes into play when 40 gig isn't enough.

Nate Ebner

March 15, 2013, 1:59 pm

And you know that how?

Nate Ebner

March 15, 2013, 2:01 pm

In fairness, that was a comment before the review was up, on the preview available on the tab at the top. You're right though it is still nitpicky.

Can a TRer, preferably Andrew the author, confirm whether it was originally given a 9. And if so, why the drop?


March 15, 2013, 2:01 pm

Apple never used microSD, and not for security reasons.

I agree that Google's trying to move away from them. That's because it's hard to manage multi-user security on them. However MU is far more useful for tablets than for phones, so why cripple phones for the sake of it?

I honestly don't need secure storage for my music, videos or even my pictures (I'm not going to keep dodgy photos on my phone, secure or not).

Dropbox is ok if you're on wifi; not so good on the move, especially on the underground or even overground trains. Same with all cloud storage.

Having a flash drive dangling from the phone is do-able but slotting in a microSD card is far nicer. Also not all Android phones and tablets support OTG drives; as I understand it the HTC One X doesn't unless you flash a custom kernel. Are you sure the HTC One does?

Nate Ebner

March 15, 2013, 2:07 pm

Data charges for cloud storage
Non of those external storage options fits in the phone, so it still looks like just a phone, except MicroSD cards.
If you are a power user, with a lot of apps you can eat up a fair bit of space, but even still 32GB and especially 64Gig is fine, unless you are either an audiophile, or a video fan, or both.
A big music collection, in a quality encoding format, will eat up room quickly, and any HD video will obliterate it in no time.

As for security, can be negated by design. Only allow the MicroSD card to store files for playback, music, pictures and video, and documents.
Have a system that makes clear when photos/videos you take with device go, and then allow them to be safely ejected when the phone is on, and keep any remotely sensitive data on the device.

Nate Ebner

March 15, 2013, 2:09 pm

Thanks for the points.
I am interested in any TR rebuttal to this, and or thoughts. Your new supremo wanted to increase the community aspect of the sight, and it would be nice if the authors kept up with polite questions and discussion here, and shared their views. That is a huge value add to the reviews.


March 15, 2013, 2:11 pm

I agree they should pick a standard brightness and do testing for all phones at that brightness, the way Anandtech does.

However I tend to use TR reviews for the consumer viewpoint and AT for the techie viewpoint; the two reviews combined usually tell me all I need to know. Unfortunately AT tends to take a long time to get its review out.

High-res screens generally need a stronger backlight as there are more inter-pixel gaps that block the light. So pixels do cost power even if you discount the additional processing power required. One interesting exception is RGBW pentile screens, but they seem to have died a death.

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