Skip to main content

HTC One wows with stunning design, premium parts (hands-on)


In a bold attempt to steal thunder away from other phone makers ahead of Mobile World Congress next week, HTC just announced its HTC One flagship handset. Unveiled simultaneously at two glitzy press events in New York and London, the new HTC One is packed to the rafters with top-notch components and technologies including some of the latest processing gear Qualcomm can muster. The device isn't merely technically advanced, but is lovingly crafted from premium metals, too, leaving no doubt that the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer has placed considerable blood, sweat, and tears into this handset.

Hands-on with the sleek, gorgeous HTC One (pictures)

1-2 of 11
Scroll LeftScroll Right
Design
Rectangular, flat, and extremely thin, the HTC One is practically all screen. Its 4.7-inch (1080p) LCD display uses what the company calls SoLux technology for improved picture quality and generates 468 pixels per inch (ppi). This, says HTC, helps the One's screen to boast the most impressive viewing experience of any phone it has ever created. Since the display is slightly smaller at the same resolution, the One's screen has a denser pixel count than the Droid DNA(5-inch, 440 ppi).Indeed I can verify that the One's display has plenty of impact with vibrant colors, wide viewing angles, and plenty of brightness. Details also look extremely crisp. Just how this device's screen measures up against the best mobile displays from Samsung and Apple, however, remains to be seen.
HTC also makes a big deal about the One's all-aluminum chassis, describing it as using a zero-gap unibody design. Indeed, available in hues of black and silver, the handset feels sturdy, has reassuring heft, and its smooth metallic skin exudes high-end craftsmanship. HTC also took pains to point out that while the thin white trim encircling the silver model I manhandled appears to be plastic, it is in fact metal.
HTC One
The HTC One has an all-aluminum frame.
(Credit: HTC)
In another interesting twist, dual speakers (one on each side of the screen) act in unison to deliver a more lively audio experience whether while watching movies or listening to music. Paired with an onboard amplifier and Beats technology, HTC has given the system the rather unfortunate name BoomSound. It reminds me of the kind of cheesy trademark Philips used to plaster all over its old boom boxes.
Core hardware
A flagship smartphone wouldn’t be worth its weight in salt if it wasn’t backed up by a bevy of screaming components. You’ll be glad to know that the HTC One doesn’t disappoint. Beating inside the heart of this regal machine is a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, fresh off of Qualcomm’s factory floor. It’s the first device I know of to officially feature the new silicon. Because of that I’m sure a lot of smartphone addicts out there will be itching to get their hands all over this gadget.
The HTC One will also ship in two memory configurations, a stock 32GB (internal storage) model and a tricked-out 64GB version. Both devices though will feature a full 2GB complement of RAM.

HTC One in the concept phase (pictures)

1-2 of 7
Scroll LeftScroll Right
An embedded 2,300mAh battery serves as the One’s power source, which I admit doesn’t sound like much on paper, especially compared with phones with ultra-high-capacity batteries such as the Motorola Droid Razr HD Maxx (3,300 mAh). Of course the HTC Droid DNA managed a long 8 hours and 43 minutes on the CNET Labs video battery drain test with a smaller 2,020mAh battery.

HTC One BlinkFeed and new Sense 5.0 features (hands-on)

1-2 of 12
Scroll LeftScroll Right
Software
To match its premium parts, the HTC One has all the power of modern Android Jelly Bean at its disposal. Layered on top of Android is yet another version of HTC's Sense UI. As you may have guessed, this latest version of Sense offers more enhancements you may or may not find useful.
The first is something HTC calls the BlinkFeed, a main home screen that consists of dynamic tiles that display content from a wide variety of news outlets, blogs, and Web sites (including CNET). If you’re familiar with popular news aggregators such as Flipboard and Pulse, then you get the idea.
Gone is HTC's iconic weather clock widget, which has graced its phones since way back in the days of Windows Mobile. You will still find information for time and weather forecasts at the top of the home screen, but displayed in a much more low-key fashion.
Confirming that the line between tablets and smartphones is blurring more everyday, the HTC One also features an IR blaster on its top edge. When used with the HTC Sense TV app, users can command their TVs with the phone plus keep tabs on local programs.
Camera prowess
The HTC One continues the company's strong focus on phone camera capabilities. The new One handset will feature an updated ImageSense system, new ImageChip 2 hardware, along with a revamped light sensor. Called the UltraPixel Sensor, it technically is able to capture a resolution of just 4 megapixels. Still, HTC says, the actual size of the sensor is larger and the pixels it creates much more detailed.
HTC claims the end result is a camera able to capture 300 percent more light than competing camera phones. The proof as they say is in the pudding. I'll have to see first hand how the One snaps pictures in the field. Another interesting twist is that the camera can record short 3-second videos, what HTC has labeled the Zoe (inspired by 19th-century Zoetrope movie machines). The idea is for users to shoot these brief clips, similar to the Vine app for iOS, and share them with friends and loved ones via a special camera mode within the HTC One's camera app.
HTC One
A gutsy move gives the One's camera 4 megapixels instead of 8, but it should let in more light.
Outlook
In the limited time I've spent with the HTC One, I can definitely say it's fast, thin, and flaunts a very sexy design. Of course these words describe a lot of new smartphones. If the phone's screen and camera live up to the hype, however, then HTC may have a big winner on its hands. I have to say I am concerned about the BlinkFeed feature, which may be exciting for Android newbies but doesn't seem extremely useful for smartphone old hands.
I can get the same experience by adding Flipboard or other widgets myself. Worse, the HTC reps I spoke to confirmed that there's no way to shut BlinkFeed off entirely. While you can push it to the side and use a custom home screen, it will apparently always be running in the background. Shooting Zoe videos doesn't thrill me, either, since it's a proprietary file format. For example you'll need to register at the HTC Sense site first in order to convert and share Zoe clips with non-HTC handset owners.
Still eager for an HTC One of your own? Expect the phones to ship in March in the U.S. and be scooped up by T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. The 32GB and 64GB models will cost $199.99 and $299.99, respectively.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Best tech gifts under $100 for Dad

Roku's speedy streamer is the best box yetThe good:The Roku 3's excellent new interface and faster processor makes it feel quicker and more responsive than any other streaming box. More than 750 channels are supported, including Netflix, Amazon Instant, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, MLB.TV, Amazon Cloud Player, and Vudu. It also has cross-platform search that scours several major TV and movie services to find content. And Roku's nifty new remote has a built-in headphone jack that lets you listen without disturbing others. The bad:There's still no official YouTube channel. Some services have an outdated interface on Roku compared to other streamers. The Apple TV still works better within the Apple ecosystem. And the Roku 3 isn't a great option if you're mostly looking to stream your personal digital media collection. The bottom line:The Roku 3 is the best streaming-video box yet, with tons of content sources, lightning-fast performance, and an innovative remote wit…

'Star Trek II' producer talks Ceti Eel, J.J. Abrams, and more (Q&A)

Robert Sallin, producer of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," shares his experience working on the film, looks at the future of "Trek," and dishes on whether that was Ricardo Montalban's real chest.

The release of "Star Trek Into Darkness" has not only spurred interest in the "Trek" world in general, but especially in its film daddy, the original Khan-as-villain movie "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." While the new film takes quite a few detours, it is full of homages to the earlier work. Let's look back to 1982. "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" had been released in 1979 and faced a poor critical reception. Paramount, the film's studio, was gun-shy after the movie nearly doubled its original budget, ending up with a $46 million price tag. Nonetheless, plans for a second movie plodded along. It's 30, 40 years later and we have new audiences. You can't keep dwelling on the old guys and the old things. It has…

Canon videos show off 70D's dual-pixel autofocus technology

It remains to be seen how well it works in the real world, but the new dual-pixel autofocus technology shows promise in Canon's promotional video about its latest SLR.


Canon wants to show off what its new EOS 70D camera can do when it comes to one persistent shortcoming in the digital photography revolution: autofocus. It's posted two videos -- a demonstration video called Handmade and a behind-the-scenes explanatory video about it -- designed to show what the new digital SLR can accomplish with its new Dual Pixel CMOS AF (DPA) technology. Check below to watch the videos. No doubt the autofocus technology won't work as smoothly in the real world as it does in these promotional videos with bright lighting, carefully arranged sets, and plenty of chances to shoot another take if things don't go right at first. But they're worth watching to at least get a flavor of what's possible and to see a reasonably broad selection of the 103 Canon lenses the company says DPA …