HTC One: A Marvel of Industrial Design

December 13, 2013 by

At a Glance

Look and Feel
With its sleek aluminum finish, 4.7-inch display, and dual front speakers, the HTC One might be the most attractive smartphone out there.

Defining Features
A brilliant 468 ppi display, BlinkFeed messaging and social media stream, Videopic camera features, Beats Audio.

Core Functionality
Clean and easy-to-use Android interface. Decent camera. But unfortunately: sub-par battery life.

Recommended For
Multimedia users, news junkies, Android fans, those who prefer a larger form factor.

Editor’s Rating
**** (out of 5 stars)

Surprisingly Lower Sales for A Cool Phone

Released in March 2013, the HTC One was greeted with widespread praise and favorable reviews. Global sales, however, weren’t great: 5 million units sold in its first month (still a record for HTC) pales in comparison to the Galaxy S4’s launch (10 million in its first month) or the iPhone 5’s (5 million in its first three days).

    Relatively low sales suprised me, for such a cool device.
Shipping delays were said to slow initial sales, but, even anecdotally, I don’t know many HTC One users compared to S4 and iPhone 5 users. Could be a question of different marketing budgets or marketing strategy (HTC’s Robert Downey Jr. campaign was weird at best), but for whatever reason, the One was never as popular as its intended rivals.

It surprises me because this phone is really cool.

Using It

Look and Feel

The HTC One is a marvel of industrial design. Its unibody aluminum frame is gorgeous and feels great in your hands. It also has a really clean and unique look, with its 4.7-inch screen reaching all the way to its outer vertical edges.
The HTC One is a marvel of industrial design.

The device also has dual front Beats Audio speakers (see above photo), a distinct advantage over the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S4 speakers, which are located on the bottom and the back of those phones, respectively.

Defining Features

A Brilliant Display

At 468ppi, the HTC One has arguably the best smartphone screen on the market. For comparison’s sake, the Nexus 5 has 445ppi; Galaxy S4 has 441 ppi; iPhone 5 line have 326ppi (Retina display). Photos and videos are incredibly clear and the user interface graphics really shine.

There is of course a tradeoff for this magnificent viewing experience: The HTC One has notoriously poor battery life. (See below for more details.)
I really liked the BlinkFeed feature when I tested it out. I’m a bit of a news junkie to begin with so a phone that automatically populates a feed of news and social media content is definitely appealing (see above photo). It looks and feels kind of like Flipboard on your tablet. It wasn’t perfect though. If I were to customize it, I would prefer it to add text messages to that feed, as well as email.

Too bad for Canadian users: BlinkFeed has limited Canadian news options.

And for Canadian users, the available media types appear limited. For example, I wanted to add The Globe and Mail and CBC News to my BlinkFeed but wasn’t able to do so.

Videopic Camera Features
Videopic is unique to the HTC One. It lets you capture hi-res photos while shooting video and also grab lower-res photos from a video you’ve already shot. These are cool features and I found them really easy to use.

Apparently the iPhone 5 line will also let you capture photos while shooting video, but the photos are of lesser quality than if taken by the camera alone. The Galaxy S4 has a whole bevy of camera features, but more isn’t necessarily better. The HTC One’s Videopic features are simple and useful.

Core Functionality


Aside from the aforementioned Videopic features, I would only consider the HTC One camera to be satisfactory. It took clear photos, however, when compared with the same photos taken with the iPhone 5, they lacked the bright punch of colour of the latter, especially in low-light conditions. (See examples below.)

The HTC One photos are also significantly narrower (top to bottom). You’ll notice the pictures are quite thin, compared not only iPhone 5 photos, but also compared to Galaxy S4 photos. This is likely because the photos are set to fit each phone’s display, but when put side-by-side, the difference is remarkable (but admittedly, a point of preference).

Performance and Battery Life
The HTC One’s quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor performed superbly during testing. Navigation was fast and smooth, multitasking was a breeze, and finding and locating apps was very easy to do.

Battery life is the HTC One's achilles heel.

Battery life is the HTC One’s primary weakness. Reviewers across the board have made it known. I was only able to test the phone out for a few hours when I used it, but my buddy that has an HTC One says the battery life is his only gripe about the device.
Even worse, he says, the phone takes a long time to charge. He’s made a few power saving adjustments – like turning the brightness down, and turning off some of the added extraneous features (always-on widgets, Google network options, etc.) – just to get him through the work day.

OS and Available Apps
The HTC One is a great way of experiencing the Android operating system. The interface is seamless and user friendly and BlinkFeed is unobtrusive. A friend of mine is a graphic designer and he prefers the One’s "raw and edgy” interface over the Galaxy S4’s "colorful, playful and bubbly” UI.

The speakers on this phone are awesome. I can rock out to tunes in my kitchen and turn dish washing into dish ROCKIN.
- Kyle Schmitz, iQmetrix Developer

One of my developer buddies, however, has complained about the One being more difficult to customize than the Galaxy S4, but he would be a power Android user when compared to the average consumer.

Recommended for

Overall, the HTC One is a great Android phone and a viable alternative to the other high-end smartphones on the market. Its design and hardware make it a big draw for multimedia users prone to reading news, watching video and listening to music on their phones.

The Bottom Line

The HTC One is a truly beautiful device with an amazingly brilliant screen, a great user experience and some unique features like BlinkFeed. However, with a mediocre camera and poor battery life, it becomes evident that smartphone beauty is more than skin deep.

iQmetrix Editor's Rating:

**** (out of 5 stars)

Posted in: Google/Android, HTC, Product Reviews