- Excellent build and ergonomics
- Fab screen
- Sense 5 is visually slick
- Great performance
- Non-expandable memory
- Mediocre battery life
- Keyboard needs a visual refresh
Review Price £549.99
HTC One - Design and Connectivity
IntroductionHTC 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.
With a metal-topped body, excellent screen and interesting – if not 100 per cent successful – camera, it deserves to become one of the hit phones of 2013.
Update May 2013Having used the phone for weeks, and after comparing it to its arch-rivals the Sony Xperia Z and Samsung Galaxy S4, we have decided to bump the HTC One to 9/10. Although all our criticisms remain valid, their impact dulled after a few weeks of use, while the benefits of the above-average internal speakers and excellent bodywork did not.
HTC One - Video review
HTC One - DesignOne 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.
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.
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.
The HTC One is a looker, we won’t deny, and a phone that’s easy to recognise in the ever-expanding sea of mobiles, but it is a tiny bit busy, visually.
Build quality is excellent, though. 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.
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 and really won’t appreciate being slung into a pocket with loose change and your car keys – it will get scratched. However, after using the phone for three weeks without masses of care, its bodywork was still looking good, with only the shiny sides of the body bearing particularly visible scratches.
The white plastic is also a terrible dirt magnet – it’ll be fine one minute and covered in dark smudges the next. Unless your personal hygiene is much better than ours, of course.
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.
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 – ConnectivityWith no removable backplate and no memory card slot, the HTC One keeps its on-body features simple and spare. 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.
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.
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