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HTC One – A split personality franken-phone?

Andrew Williams by

HTC One
HTC One

HTC has just unveiled its next flagship phone, the HTC One. The Samsung Galaxy S4 may be waiting in the wings to steal its thunder, but this is a very important phone, make no mistake.

However, there was something we noticed after stumbling out of the launch of the phone, which was packed with more sweaty bodies than a Wetherspoon’s in mid-summer – no flagship can pass by without pomp these days, it seems. What we noticed was how much the HTC One is an amalgamation of styles and ideas we’ve already seen from other manufacturers. Is this phone not as original as HTC hoped?

We wouldn’t go as far as to say HTC has pilfered its ideas, but someone else well might.

Exhibit One: The aluminium unibody-style design

Source: iPhone 5

With a different screen aspect and a much larger display, the HTC One is a different hardware prospect entirely from an iPhone 5. However, a number of the design methodologies are very familiar.

The all-aluminium body, the bevelled edges of the phone and the relatively severe edges are clearly indebted to the iPhone 5. A look at the HTC One from its front reveals that HTC’s designers must have read a page or two from the Apple design bible, 2012 edition.

Plus, let’s not forget the iPhone-like design choices HTC has adopted in its last few waves of devices. Once upon a time, almost every Android device has expandable memory. There’s no sign of a card slot on the HTC One. This will not please the geeks.

In HTC’s defence, the BlackBerry Z10’s lines are intensely iPhone 5-like, although BlackBerry didn’t go quite as far as using the same construction materials too.

Exhibit Two: Blink Feed UI

Source: Windows Phone 8

The Blink Feed UI is the top-billing feature of Sense 5, the HTC-made user interface that was introduced alongside the HTC One. It makes the home screens of the phone look uncannily like Live Tiles screens of Windows Phone 8.

Blink Feed UI features sharp blocks that relay all sorts of content, from RSS feed articles to Twitter/Facebook updates and emails. HTC says it can incorporate over 1,000 different sources.

Of course, this is not how Windows Phone 8 actually works. Your home screens there aren’t flowing content waterfalls with Microsoft’s mobile OS, but once again the design ideals, and the feel of the implementation in part, are the same.

HTC also seems to be moving towards a vertically-scrolling style throughout Sense 5, as the plain app menu also uses this style.

Exhibit Three: UltraPixel camera

Source: Nokia PureView

Until the HTC One, HTC was largely playing along with the renaissance of the megapixel war. The last generation of phones had 8-megapixel cameras, before that 5-megapixel cameras. The HTC One, on the other hand, has a 4.3-megapixel sensor.

Has HTC just done the timewarp back to 2005?

Not quite. Although the resolution of the HTC One seems desperately low, it’s actually as photo-centric a the Nokia PureView camera seen in the 808 PureView. Its sensor size is actually pretty standard, but the pixels used are much, much larger – the size of a very good compact camera. That’s why it can only fit in a 4.3-megapixel sensor.

Just like Nokia PureView, the HTC One UltraPixel camera wants to derail the trend for more megapixels with every generation. It’s something to applaud, but if HTC wants to take credit for starting this movement, it’s going a bit too far.

What Does it All Mean?

It might seem like we’re suggesting the HTC One is a mis-mash of re-hashed ideas, but we’re not.

It’s more like this – where the Samsung Galaxy series is all about packing every feature under the sun into a flexible and geek-friendly body, HTC seems to want to streamline its favourite bits from every phone ecosystem to make a “dreamphone”.

Of course, for all that to pan out, all the bits we’ve looked at have to work a treat. If the UltraPixel camera is nothing special, the phone may end up as damp a squib next to the next iPhone and Samsung Galaxy as the HTC One X was last year.

What do you think of the HTC One?

Go to comments

paul comigo

February 20, 2013, 2:46 am

You are wrong for Exhibit one. The HTC Sensation had an aluminium body long before the iPhone 5 came along.

Figment x

February 20, 2013, 3:02 am

I think the whole branding of HTC One is confusing. I have an HTC One. The iPhone and Galaxy S series at least have monikers of the next model. ie S4 or iPhone 5.

stiev isceng novembre

February 20, 2013, 6:20 am

I disagree from your first point, the aluminium unibody-style design. It’s definitely not from Apple design bible, 2012 edition.
Back to 2010, HTC launched their first aluminium unibody-style design phone, HTC Legend. Actually you can see how similar HTC Legend and iPhone 5 are (back side) through you can remove Legend battery cover but iPhone 5.

Mark Leavesley

February 20, 2013, 6:53 am

The Desire HD is also carved from a single block of aluminium, albeit it had plastic panels for the battery, SD, etc.

BarnabasBumble

February 20, 2013, 8:22 am

Ignoring the errors about the metal body, this is a really daft article. The phone is just an evolution, which is how technology works and progresses. So Blink Feed is a bit like Windows 8, but no-one has done something similar on Android - why do I get the feeling that if Samsung has done this is would be viewed as groundbreaking?

toboev

February 20, 2013, 9:56 am

What is the premise of this article? That "Not Invented Here" is a good reason not to implement something? That good ideas should only get a single outing? That no company should follow and build on what is going on in the industry and market at large?

Or is it just fodder for the acolytes of the various originators you (sometimes mistakenly) identify.

Good job you don't write for a car magazine, or you would forever be sniping at the widespread uptake of seat belts, crumple zones, side impact bars, ABS, airbags etc beyond their original marques.

Liang Chen

February 20, 2013, 10:34 am

Just another hater of HTC, just another piece of crab. The HTC One of last year is as good if not better than Galaxy 3(for me personally it's way better than G3). The only reason G3 sold more than HTC One was simply because the marketing budget Samsung had - everywhere you went, every place you looked at, within five yards you'd see an ad of Galaxy 3, the whole Olympic sponsorship helped immensely, not that Samsung had a better product. HTC was too reliant on carriers to promote One. To me, Samsung is just a pure copier with a deep pocket - they are making s**t lots of money from Apple products to finance their G3 marketing.

Also you just don't get the UltraPixel at all! It's nothing like PureView, actually there are on the opposite sides of spectrum - one is going for extreme high res, the other is going for imaging quality. What good does a superhigh res image do if it is of low quality? 4.3megapixels is more than enough for most occasions - 1080HD screen only need 2.1megapixels, 4.3megapixels will allow you to print a 7.6x5.7inch photo at 300dpi.

Andrew_TR

February 20, 2013, 11:59 am

But crab's pretty tasty, right? I wouldn't overstate how much this article is meant as a "criticism" as such. We could just as easily criticise the Samsung Galaxy S3 as being a toybox full of gimmicks. It's more an observation, as coming out with a definitive judgement on the fortunes of a phone five minutes after it is launched would be a bit hasty!

Incidentally, we'll be back with an article looking at PureView against UltraPixel later today.

Liang Chen

February 21, 2013, 2:40 pm

Crab's pretty tasty? You argue your case really well then. I don't know what planet you live on, but for me, crab's crab, crab can only mean worthlessness, low or no value. It's cool to be opinionated, it's great in fact, but at least get your facts right. (Just a disclaimer, I never have owned a HTC, though I have used one for a short while, but I did own a Samsung one before, and the experience was pretty crab - NOT tasty. Currently I have a Nexus 4.)

By the way, since you said, I am looking forward to your critics on G4 once launched.

Andrew_TR

February 21, 2013, 3:32 pm

Don't you mean crap? I thought you had made a typo! A crab is a crustacean that lives by the sea.

We'll have more phone reviews up as soon as possible :)

Fabio Lima

February 22, 2013, 10:40 pm

I believe that the phone will be a sucess with this mash of great things.

Robert K

April 20, 2013, 7:20 pm

So far,

Positive: The camera is 200 times better then the EVO 4G in low light or with the flash. very fast camera start-up and the images are better quality because they are not as grainy. It loads programs faster. The transfer content app is included and works well even though the instructions are not as clear as they should be. The sound is twice as loud, clear, stereo and surprising there is a little bass.

Negative: I do not like not being able to add/remove a memory card or battery, it is hard to add or change the home screens and you are stuck with the blinkfeed. The option to create folders is gone as well, there are apps organizers that will do the job but I liked the old way.

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