HTC One cover Image

Considering HTC’s woeful business performance over the last year, it might be easy to dismiss any product produced by HTC as being somehow inferior. However, this is far from the truth in the case of the HTC One. When the One was release it was put head-to-head with the mighty Samsung Galaxy S4 and all of the marketing muscle behind Samsung. In comparison to Samsung, HTC’s marketing campaign for the HTC One was a disaster.

This was a pity as the HTC device was found to be the preferred device by many high profile mobile device reviewers. The HTC was lauded for it’s fantastic display quality, the great sound produced by the dual speakers on the face of the device, and the construction quality of the chassis. The HTC One was lauded as the most beautiful smartphone available at the time, and in my opinion it still is.

I chose to pick up a HTC One as my daily driver over a two year period as I loved android, but was fed-up with the poor construction quality and laggy performance of the Samsung Galaxy series, having owned the Galaxy S, S2, and S3. I loved the display on the Galaxy S4, but was highly unimpressed with the gimmicks Samsung had started to introduce with Touchwiz and again was disappointed in the glossy plastic construction they went for with the Galaxy S4. So having lived with the HTC One for nearly 6 months now what are my impressions.

Build Quality

The HTC One’s build quality is fantastic. I love the look and feel of the aluminium chassis, and I feel like the phone will easily hold up over the period of the two year contract. However as my previous phone (Galaxy S3) screen cracked quite easily and also scratched surprisingly easily, I felt it was important to take better care of the HTC One. For this reason I bought a cheap plastic case from Amazon, which came with some plastic screen protectors, which I also used. While the plastic screen has probably saved the screen from a few scuffs, it also makes the display looked scratched, when in fact it is only the plastic coating that has been scratched.

 

HTC One with TeckNet Silicon Case

HTC One with TeckNet Silicon Case

There are however a couple of minor concerns with build quality. Firstly the chamfered aluminium edges can be damaged if you do not use a case. I found this out to my own expense after dropping the phone on a night out. However, this is to be expected with aluminium, with scratched edges also being a problem with aluminium iPhones. For this reason I decided to go with a small plastic case as I will try to sell this phone when my contract comes to an end, and I want the device to be in as god condition as possible. One final minor note on build quality, is that if I squeeze the bottom of the phone near the bottom of the display, I can hear a squeeking sound. 99.9% of the time I never notice this, but when it does happen it bothers me.

HTC One with scuffed chamfered edges

HTC One with scuffed chamfered edges

Overall, I feel that the build quality of the HTC One is fantastic, and having used it for nearly 6 months, I would say that the build quality alone is nearly enough for me to recommend the device to anyone.

Camera

From my own experience showing off a new smartphone to friends and family the first thing they tend to ask about is the camera quality. HTC decided to take a new approach with the HTC One’s camera. Focusing on larger pixel size to allow in more light, but reducing the size of the sensor to 4 mega pixels. I refuse to buy into how HTC one markets the camera as Ultra Pixels, but I am quite happy with the results the camera gives.

Overall I think the quality is fine, but I would like for sharper images with more detail. While the camera takes good photos, with better than average photos in door, or in poor lighting conditions, I still feel the 4 mega pixel camera can be a bit of a let down when trying to zoom in to take a photo. Below are a selection of photos taken in different lighting conditions.

Camera Handles Uneven Lighting Well

Camera Handles Uneven Lighting Well

Landscape pictures look well with nice color reproduction

Landscape pictures look well with nice color reproduction

Zooming in in low light conditions produces mixed results

Zooming in in low light conditions produces mixed results

Operating System

This is one area in which I feel the HTC One really excels. While I believe that a stock Google Android experience will give you the best android experience. The Sense Skin that HTC put on the One is unobtrusive. I have never experienced lag when using this phone, Apps have never randomly crashed on me, I never have to restart the phone if it starts acting crazy. This is the complete opposite of all my previous experience with Samsung phones. Every Galaxy device I owned proved to be an incredibly frustrating experience, with the experience getting noticeably worse of the life span of the phone. For this reason alone, I would be hesitant to move away from a HTC device in the future.

The quality of the operating system is the single most important aspect of a smartphone which will dictate the quality of the user experience. While HTC has added some extras such as Blink Feed, I will admit that I simply don’t use it. I played with the IR blaster when I first got the HTC, but ultimately I preferred using the dedicated remote for my TV. In fact, I can’t think of any other aspects of HTC Sense which I use frequently on the HTC One. I think this is a great compliment for HTC sense. I just want the OS to get out of the way of using the phone. In this regard, I find that HTC sense to be excellent.

Overall Impressions

I love my HTC One. I really do, while it has it foibles, such as occasionally fuzzy photos, and slightly sensitive aluminium chamfered edges, overall I find that it is an excellent companion for my personal and professional life. Call quality is excellent, the camera works really quickly, the quality of the microphone is fantastic when recording meetings, the OS is snappy, the sound from the stereo speakers is fantastic, the display is fantastic, and the standard 32GB of memory should be more than enough for the vast majority of people. The battery life is on par with other smartphones (average of a days usage before needing to charge). I love the look and feel of the phone. It is reassuringly weighty, giving that feeling that the phone is built to last. I would recommend buying a case for the phone, but that is just to ensure it remains in pristine condition for when the day comes to sell it, but I would make the same recommendation for any smartphone. In my opinion the HTC One is still the best smartphone available. From a mix of build quality, performance, and value I think the HTC One is still the smartphone to buy, and if you decide to go for one, you won’t be disappointed.

What do you think? Do you like the look of the HTC One? Do you prefer Samsung smartphones? Would you ever use an Android phone?

Leave a comment!

By Fred Creedon [button color=”blue” size=”small” link=”https://twitter.com/FredLikesTech” target=”blank” ]Fred’s Twitter[/button]

 

  • Lester Combs

    Awesome review….. This is a very accurate review……. I love my HTC One which I purchased June 1st, don’t really see anything in the market that comes close.

    • Fred Creedon

      Great to hear Lester. I would love to be running a HTC with stock Android, but at the same time I think HTC sense is not too intrusive. This is the first smartphone I’ve owned where I don’t find myself dying for my next upgrade :-D. Would you like the HTC One Max? Or are you happy with the size of the HTC One?

  • Pingback: Why the HTC One Max is a Missed Opportunity for HTC - GadgetGuruHD()