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HTC One - Sense TV, Browsing, Keyboard and Audio

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
HTC One

Summary

Our Score:

9

HTC One – HTC Watch and Sense TV

One of the flagship features of HTC Sense 5 is Sense TV. This makes use of the HTC One’s IR blaster, which sits on its top edge, to let you control your TV from your phone, and check out what’s going to be on TV.

Much like any advanced Universal remote, the HTC One’s Sense TV asks you to tell it the brands of your various lounge devices. However, you’ll need the devices actually to hand to “teach” the phone its commands, or will have to try a wide range of possible control commands to identify the right one. It’s not quite as advanced as, for example, the Logitech Harmony range, which is dying a rather rapid death thanks to things like Sense TV.

HTC One 3

Sense TV also supplies EPG information for most of the UK’s popular broadcast TV services, including Freeview, Freesat, Virgin Media and Sky. It’s frankly a great idea, although we feel that it’s a feature that’s likely to be ignored by many.

HTC’s doesn’t miss capitalising on Sense TV either, incorporating On Demand content from its own video store HTC Watch. This is a portal, through its own app on the HTC One, that lets you rent and buy movies. It’s very similar to Google Play Movies with prices set around £3.49 for a rental and £10 for a purchase.

Like several of HTC’s own apps, it’s nestled within a folder by default as is therefore blissfully easy to ignore.

HTC One – Keyboard and Browsing

One HTC feature you can’t ignore so easily is the HTC keyboard. With a 4.7-inch screen to fill out, the HTC Sense keyboard has plenty of room to make keys well-spaced enough for solid accuracy. Gesture typing is supported too – letting you drag a path between letters rather than tapping on them individually.

Our issue with the Sense keyboard is that it doesn’t look very good. Next to the stylish keyboard of the Windows Phone 8-running HTC 8X, it’s positively drab. Of course, a keyboard is largely a functional thing, even if you do spend an inordinate amount of time looking at it.

Switching to gesture-based input, we found typing in web addresses on the HTC One quick and reliable.

The screen is the star of the browser show, though. The extremely high pixel density keeps text looking sharp even when you’re zoomed-out, and the large 4.7-inch screen is easily large enough to make full desktop versions of websites look great, rather than just mobile sites.

HTC One - Performance

We’ve covered a fair amount on what the HTC looks and feels like, but not a great deal on how it runs. The HTC One has a quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait 300 CPU with 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 320 CPU.

It’s likely to be outclassed by the Samsung Galaxy S4, but otherwise this is one of the fastest Android phones available. And despite using a custom user interface, we didn’t notice any significant slow-down in the Android OS. Using Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, it benefits from the Project Butter speed optimisations, and these ensure the phone is about as slick as phones come. HTC One 20

We loaded the phone up with a bunch of third-party apps and performance didn’t appear to be affected.

HTC One – Video and Audio

HTC put a lot of effort into upping the HTC One’s TV cred, with HTC Watch and Sense TV. However, it otherwise doesn’t make any particularly fancy moves with its video player and audio apps. The only video player for your personal videos is Google’s own and, rather confusingly, there are two music player apps – Google’s and HTC’s.

Both are perfectly usable, with HTC’s featuring a slightly simpler, plainer interface. Like any self-respecting Android UI, HTC Sense offers playback controls in the notifications bar and the lock screen while music is playing.

The big news for audio, though, is that it features a Beats Audio processing mode. It does the internal speakers a few favours, as we’ll discuss later, but when using a good pair of headphones, we prefer the sound with it switched off.

HTC One 13

Beats mode is an aural exciter of sorts that uses EQ and DSP trickery to try and increase bass excitement and widen the sound stage a little. It does make music sound a little exuberant, but can cause bass bloating in headphones that are already a little on the bassy side. Whether you’ll prefer it to the standard mode depends on your own cans and you personal taste. However, we do wish there was some control over the Beats mode’s processing – it’s just on or off in the HTC One.

For those with hard-to-drive headphones, Beats mode will come in handy to boost the volume a little, but we were happy with the volume levels without Beat engaged. There’s no extra noise introduced through the headphone output and it provides similar output levels to a dedicated MP3 player.

We’d be happy to use the HTC One as a music player, although any real music fans will be severely put off by the non-expandable memory. 32GB isn’t nearly enough for music obsessives.

The HTC One also has an FM radio, which as ever uses the headphone cable as an antenna, and comes with the popular SoundHound and 7digital apps pre-installed. HTC doesn’t get any points for including these, though, as they’re free downloads.

What HTC doesn’t include is a decent third-party or HTC-made video player. The hidden-away Personal Videos section of the Google Play Movies app can handle some of your own video files, including 1080p MKVs. However, it failed to play around 50 per cent of our test files and the performance with some clips was baffling poor. Our guess is that GPU optimisation hasn’t been fully implemented.

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chaosdefinesorder

February 19, 2013, 5:15 pm

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

Ed

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.

robchan

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

Zebelious

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.

StephenK

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.

Ed

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.

Bugblatter

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.

StephenK

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.

Falcomomo

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.

Falcomomo

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

Keith

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?

Bugblatter

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

Reasons:
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.

Bugblatter

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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