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HTC One review

Andrew Williams




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Our Score:



  • Excellent build and ergonomics
  • Fab screen
  • Sense 5 is visually slick
  • Great performance


  • Non-expandable memory
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Keyboard needs a visual refresh

Key Features

  • 1080 x 1920 pixel, 4.7in display
  • 4MP camera with OIS and Ultrapixel
  • 9mm thick aluminium chassis
  • 1.7GHz quad core processor
  • 2300mAh battery
  • Android 4.1 with HTC Sense 5
  • Manufacturer: HTC
  • Review Price: £549.99

HTC One long-term test

Read the review of the HTC One M8

The HTC One has now been out for a year. Since we originally reviewed the phone, it has been crowned our phone of the year 2013, beating the Google Nexus 5, iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S4.

As you might have guessed – we still like it. In fact we still think the HTC One is one of the best mobile phones on the market even though it's not quite as fast as some of the newer competitors.

However, it now has a rival from its own family. The HTC One M8 has launched and it's a very good phone indeed. It offers an improved camera, a tweaked design and a slightly larger screen.

Since our original review, a few different versions of the HTC One phone have been released, other than the standard silver type we initially looked at. The Google Play HTC One edition has vanilla Android rather than the HTC Sense software used in the original. However, it is not available in the UK – a real shame.

A few new colours have also been outed, and these are a bit easier to get hold of here. There’s a deep red, a striking blue, a gold shade and a near-black dark grey.

Here are a few pictures to see how they compare to the version seen in the review below.

Related: HTC 10 review

HTC One Colours

HTC One: What has changed?

In the year since the HTC One’s launch we’ve seen its processor go from cutting edge to being a slight ‘has been’. The Snapdragon 600 processor of the phone is no longer used in new mobiles, discarded in favour of the Snapdragon 800, which allows for faster clock speeds and has an updated graphics processor.

However, it’s not something we notice much in actual use. The HTC One can play pretty much every game the newer top-end phones can handle (that we’ve tried) and sequential updates have only improved the performance of the phone.

The phone’s superlative features remain top of their game too. The HTC One is still the phone that feels best in-hand out of all the top-end Androids, and it has better internal speakers than any of its big-name rivals.

HTC One 9HTC One – never been topped

What is also interesting – and a bit sad – is that HTC has not quite managed to recreate the spark of genius that resulted in the HTC One in its subsequent phones. There have been two other One-series phones in the range, the HTC One Mini and the HTC One Max, but neither has been quite as good. Unlike the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and Xperia Z Ultra it’s not quite a case of a bigger and smaller version of the HTC One.

Part of this is down to the way the phones are made. The HTC One has an aluminium frame with plastic inlays, but the Mini and Max look and feel more like plastic phones with some aluminium plates grafted onto them. They are not as classy or immaculate as the phone that inspired them, the HTC One. The One Max in particular looks like a bit of a mess next to it.

HTC One vs One Max

The HTC One is much better-looking than the One Max

HTC One Software

Since the HTC One’s launch there have been a few little software changes too. First of all, the Deals app no longer works – the service has been discontinued. This makes being unable to install it even more annoying, but it was never an asset in the first place so at least we haven’t lost out on anything.

The latest build of the HTC One software also comes with a new app, KeyVPN. This lets you securely connect to your work computer with your phone – it was a very easy way for HTC to make the phone more Enterprise-friendly. Other than that, you still get everything we talk about in the software section of this review.

One neat little improvement is that HTC now lets you get rid of the BlinkFeed widget if you like - one of the most common criticisms of the phone when it launched. However, one obvious niggle remains. It sounds tiny, but it's irritating. It's far too easy to switch the keyboard into a different language when typing, and we recommend switching to a third-party keyboard as soon as you get hold of the phone.

Carry on reading for our full review of the HTC One.

Originally reviewed March 2013


HTC has had a bit of a rough time in the mobile market over the last two years. Odd decisions and disappointing flagship phones have seen Samsung sail past HTC, where once it was a fierce rival for the title of King of Android. HTC wants to change all that with the HTC One, a powerful, advanced and mostly seriously impressive Android phone.

HTC One - Video review

HTC One - Design

One thing HTC has been pretty good at over the last few phone generations is in experimenting with different phone constructions. We’ve seen mobiles made of plastic, ceramic and metal – often within the same range.

HTC One 18

The HTC One opts for a mix of aluminium and white plastic. It’s a plastic-metal sandwich. The meat of the phone is aluminium, with just thin strips of white plastic running along the edges. Some have reported that these plastic parts are prone to cracking, but we didn't experience any such issues.

HTC One 6

These aluminium plates give the phone the cool, hard feel that you get with an iPhone 5. If anything, though, the HTC One is ergonomically superior. Its rear is smoothly curved to hug your hand and its edges are bevelled to remove any sharp bits. Although its look may be a little severe, the feel of it is anything but.

This is certainly one of the most attractive phones availale, with a more striking, cohesive look than either the Sony Xperia Z or the Samsung Galaxy S4. It's only the slightly aggressive styling that makes this feel like an HTC-designed device, rather than the one that could have slipped out of Apple's labs.

The HTC One’s roll-call of attention grabbing elements is fairly long. We have the dual front speaker grilles, the oversized camera housing, the concentric circles texture of the volume rocker, and the high-contrast look of the front camera, light sensor and power button up top. HTC One 16

The HTC One is a looker, and a phone that’s easy to recognise in the ever-expanding sea of mobiles. It's far more interesting to look at than its top rival the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Build quality is excellent too. The seams between the HTC One’s plastic and aluminium layers are tight aside from a tiny gap on the top edge of our review sample, and there’s none of the flex you’d see in a plastic-bodied phone. In-hand it feels much more expensive than the top Sony and Samsung phones.

HTC One 8

The cost of such immaculate design is that the innards of the HTC One are inaccessible unless you get out your Dremel and saw the thing in half. You have no access to the battery here, and there is no memory card slot, which you do get with the Sony Xperia Z. The phone also lacks that handset’s waterproofing, although this means you don’t have to deal with any irritating rubber-sealed flaps – used in ruggedised phones to keep water out of sockets.

The HTC One’s body also won’t appreciate rough treatment much. Aluminium feels great on the fingers, but it’s a relatively soft metal that will eventually get scratched by loose change and your car keys. However, after using the phone for weeks without masses of care, its bodywork is still looking good, with only the shiny sides of the body bearing particularly visible scratches.

The white plastic of the silver edition is a terrible dirt magnet, though – it’ll be fine one minute and covered in dark smudges the next. Unless your personal hygiene is much better than ours, of course.

HTC One 14

Like any phone this size, one of the trickiest bits to get used to is how large the screen is. It’s smaller than some – at 4.7 inches across when many new phones rock 5-inch displays – but reaching to the opposite end of the screen with a thumb is a real stretch. For right-handers, the power button also requires a stretch.

It’s one to add to the growing list of first-world problems – having a phone so big you need two hands to operate it.

However, the HTC One disappears into pockets easily enough, thanks to its fairly slim body. Its ergonomic curves ensure it’s not aggressively thin at 9.3mm thick, but we’d rather have a comfy phone than one whose figurative ribs poke through into your palm.

HTC One 15

The HTC Phone’s two soft touch nav keys are easy enough to operate one-handed too, handling “back” and “Home” functions. They’re lit-up with swish-looking cool blue light when operated.

HTC One – Connectivity

With no removable backplate and no memory card slot, the HTC One keeps its on-body features simple. Offset from the centre of the phone’s bottom edge is the microUSB slot, which is used not only to charge the battery and transfer data, but can also transmit video and audio to an HDMI-equipped TV. This is because it’s MHL-compliant, giving it similar skills to a microHDMI connection. The required cable isn't supplied with the phone, mind.

HTC One 10

The only other connector socket you get with the HTC One is the obligatory 3.5mm headphone jack on the top edge.

Much like an iPhone 4S or a Nokia Lumia 720, the HTC One has a discreet microSIM tray that needs to be popped-out with the help of a paperclip – or the tool HTC supplies in the box.

Wireless connectivity is far more comprehensive than the old fashioned wired kind. Connections like GPS, HSPA and Bluetooth go without saying, and the HTC One also features NFC and – most interesting of the lot – an IR blaster. This is integrated into the power button up top, which helps to explain why it’s translucent black rather than more congruent matt white plastic. We’ll cover exactly what this is capable of when we talk about Sense TV later.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


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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