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HTC One Review

htc one review

When HTC announced the One all the way back in February, we couldn’t help but think that this might actually be their savior. With a premium build quality not seen in any phone outside of the iPhone, a new set of gimmicks software features to market, and an underdog attitude, HTC seemed poised to come back in 2013 like fire. Unfortunately for the One, manufacturing delays have left it out of the hands of those interested, leaving open the opportunity for Samsung to swoop in and steal their attention with the Galaxy S4, a device that should arrive in the U.S. around the same time. Is it too little too late for HTC? Probably, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t released a really great Android phone. Or have they? Boy am I split on this one. Let’s talk about it.

The Good

Hardware

Oh hardware, where do we begin with you? From a specs standpoint, the HTC One enters the game as what I would consider the best phone in the business. Again, from a specs standpoint. We’re talking the newest processor (Snapdragon 600 quad-core), 4G LTE, 2GB RAM, a 4.7″ 1080p display with 468ppi, 2300mAh battery, and a body made of aluminum. Hell, it even has an IR blaster so that you can use the phone as a entertainment and TV controller. And for those who care about technology being “future proof,” the One also has  802.11ac, which will eventually become the new WiFi standard. There are no other phones on the planet that match the One in overall quality and completeness when it comes to hardware. If you want next-gen everything, which includes a glorified 4MP camera, the One has it all.

htc one review pretty

Design

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m torn on the design of the HTC One. I know that every other media personality on the planet is claiming this to be designed by some religious figure, but I’m just not fully feeling it. On one hand, it’s aluminum zero-gap unibody frame is stunning to look at. I have to give credit where it’s due – HTC has made the most premium Android phone ever, in both looks and materials used. The white and silver color scheme, mixed with a pitch black display, subtle metallic HTC logo, and soft chamfered edge, are something quite extraordinary.

On the other hand, I find the device to be too tall and also do not find it to feel all that pleasing in hand when compared to phones like the Nexus 4 or even last year’s HTC One X. Call me a metal phone hater or a plastic lover, but a metallic object in my hand hundreds of times per day is…eww. It’s slippery more often then I’d like, is constantly in need of adjusting while using one hand (something I wasn’t expecting from a 4.7″ phone), and is a pain to navigate thanks to a minimal Home and Back button navigation setup, which I’ll get to later.

I’m fully aware that I am in the minority here, so that’s why I’m still leaving design in the “good” section. HTC really has done something remarkable here, that we can only hope will be an inspiration to other phone manufacturers. For me personally, it’s just not my cup of tea, but I would imagine that most of you will love it.

Display

The 4.7″ FHD LCD (1080p, 1920×1080, 468ppi) display on the One is a great display. At that high of a resolution, you’ll never see a pixel (except on the photos it takes, which isn’t the display’s fault) and the tiniest of details will become your specialty should you stare at it for long enough periods of time. The colors are accurate, blacks are black enough, and the viewing angles are top tier. I do have one complaint though, and that’s HTC’s extra dim auto-brightness tendencies. I eventually had to take off auto-brightness and manually set it because the display was never showing enough light for my liking in any situation. I personally prefer the LCD on my Nexus 4 to this, even at a lower resolution, and am incredibly excited to spend some quality time with the FHD Super AMOLED on the Galaxy S4. Still, the LCD used on the One has little flaws, if any, especially if you are looking for a much more realistic and natural representation of colors in general.

Macro shot for fun.

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Full resolution

Battery Life

Battery life on the One, for me, has been better than I expected from a phone with a quad-core processor, 1080p display, and 2300mAh battery. If I spent a day hammering on the phone using data only, no WiFi, I was able to see around 8 hours of use before I hit the 15% warning. On a typical low usage or “normal” day, I was easily hitting anywhere from 12 to 16 hours before I was in the red. That may not be day-and-a-half-life like you’ll see with the RAZR MAXX HD, but seeing as the specs on the One trump that phone in every conceivable way other than the battery, I’ll take it any day. As I mentioned previously, I found myself having to uncheck the auto-brightness box to get the device to levels that my eyes found more appealing, so this obviously took its toll on battery life. Still, I rarely felt as if I was about to run to the nearest charger.

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On a related note, the One takes forever to fully charge. I’m not sure why that is, but no matter what charger I seemed to grab when needing some juice, I found myself checking the status of the battery meter far more often than on other phones in my possession.

Camera Software (Zoe, Highlights, and other Software)

*Note – I had initially planned to do a fairly thorough camera comparison of the HTC One to a variety of devices including the Nexus 4 and Galaxy S3. Unfortunately, my HTC One became worthless over the last 24 hours as the display’s digitizer appears to have died. The phone is almost useless as it constantly registered screen touches if I try to accomplish any task. So consider these camera thoughts my pre-in-depth view. Assuming I can quickly get a replacement, I will update this section with my final thoughts.

The camera of the HTC One is clearly going to be one of HTC’s focuses when marketing this device to customers. With a freshly minted “UltraPixel” marketing term attached and a set of tricks up its sleeve, the camera is certainly worth talking about. From my first moments with the One, all I wanted to do was snap photos, create Zoes (mini 3-second clips), and then find ways to combine shots, utilize on-device editing tools, and share with friends and family. While I’ve definitely grown fond of the flexibility that a Zoe can provide, especially in terms of creating HTC Highlight videos, the camera itself has left me unsatisfied at times. I’ll get to that in the section below, but for now, I want to focus on the good things.

The One’s camera is somewhat of a winner in my book simply for the fact that it offers features that no other device has really even imagined. In fact, the amount of camera settings is so robust, that after two weeks with the phone, I haven’t even had a chance to explore them all yet. Photos can be manipulated in more ways than most photo editors allow you to, and yet this is a smartphone.

As my note suggested, I’m hoping to give you more in this section once I get a replacement device. For now, here is a Highlight created from stills and Zoes that were captured at a recent Portland Timbers match.

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4MP Camera (UltraPixel)

*Update (4/23) – My HTC One is still currently broken, but I was able to put it to work against the Samsung Galaxy S4. After seeing pretty favorable results against that phone, I can’t help but move this section into the “Good” as it is more than capable of being your everyday mobile camera. Couple the sensor, which destroys any other phone in the dark, with a suite of software enhancements not found on any other device, and you have a winner in my book. This section has been slightly tweaked from its original state.

htc ultrapixel

The camera on the HTC One, as I have said many times, is essentially a glorified 4MP camera. HTC is calling it the “UltraPixel” because it takes photos with 2.0 micron pixels, which are much larger than the norm of today which sits around 1.1-1.4 micron pixels. With a bigger pixel, the camera can let in more light, thus the sales pitch of “Our camera takes great low-light shots!” But for me, as someone who takes a minimal amount of low-light shots, this can be somewhat of a downside. You see, at 4MP, you have images with a smaller resolution, that when blown up, aren’t going to have the amount of detail you are used to from any modern day camera. There are less pixels (and bigger ones at that) after all. I work everyday on an iMac that has a pretty high-resolution display, so when I open up a picture from the HTC One, I immediately go, “Is that an oil painting?” And I don’t expect those comments to stop with just my PC, as mobile device screen resolutions continue to climb as well.

It’s definitely not all bad, though. In fact, I’ve changed my mind quite a bit on the One’s camera over the last few weeks. As I mentioned above, the camera software on the One has some nice tricks up its sleeves. I would also argue that it takes photos that have much more realistic light than other smartphone cameras. For example, below I have a comparison of a shot I was able to take today with the Nexus 4 and One. While in the full-res images, you will see some of that “oil painting” effect on the One image with less crisp lines, the lighting trumps the blue-ish hue to the Nexus 4 shot.

Nexus 4 (left) – HTC One (right)

nexus 4 sampleone sample1

Full resolution:  Nexus 4 | One

one vs gs4 dark

Overall, the One’s camera isn’t the worst and actually has some upsides that have made me like it more and more each day. If you need to take a lot of pictures in darker situations, this phone will dominate all other phones. The picture may look like a mushy mess up close, but you’ll at least be able to make out the objects when other cameras may not be able to produce a shot at all. It’s also the start to something bigger, assuming HTC can figure out a way to carry over similar technology to say an 8MP sensor, which I believe to be the sweet spot on mobile phones.

Also on a positive note, with 4MP stills, you get much more manageable photos in terms of size that can be easily shared through your favorite social networks, a point I’m sure HTC will make at some point.

Here are a bunch of real-world samples. These are a mix of still shots and some pulled from frames of Zoes. Some are OK, others aren’t great.

sample8sample7sample6sample5

sample4sample3sample2sample1

Full resolution: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

sample pano

BoomSound

Dual amplified front facing speakers – why did it take so long for someone to include these in a phone? The speakers on the HTC One are easily one of my top 3 or 4 favorite features. HTC refers to them as “BoomSound,” which yes, is one of the most ridiculously named items on the phone. But trust me, once you hear them you won’t care if the name is actually BoomBoomRoom. I’m constantly having to keep the volume on the phone at under the half-bar mark or it’s just too damn loud (and that’s not a bad thing).

With the phone lying back-down on your desk, like most people set their phones, you’ll never miss a call or notification. While consuming video, you no longer have to employ the hand-cup method in order to force sound back towards your face from behind the device. With BoomSound, you actually do feel sort of immersed in whatever you are watching, in part thanks to the beautiful display, but mostly because of the incredible sound experience. If you need a spurt-of-the-moment speaker for situations that call upon your favorite musical playlist, the One could stand alone and impress a crowd.

Seriously, folks, the speaker experience isn’t something we typically talk about when doing phone reviews, but with the One, you can’t avoid it.

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Performance

Thanks to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz and 2GB of RAM, you won’t find many stutters when cruising around the UI of the One. Transitions are snappy, app switching happens in a flash, and running processor intensive tasks through spots like the camera are hiccup-free. This is the most powerful smartphone on the planet for the time being. If you are into benchmarks, yes, it wins them all. If you are into gaming, yes, it plays them all well – even the graphically intensive ones. HTC and Qualcomm appear to have worked some magic here when it comes to balancing performance and battery life.

Hackability

HTC released a developer edition of the One for those of us who like to tinker with our phones and not feel restrained by carriers. The dev edition runs $650, but also comes with 64GB of internal storage. It’s not often that we get developer editions, especially at the same time we see carrier versions of the same phone launch. HTC definitely got this move right, something we wish Samsung would learn from.

Price

At $199 for the 32GB version of the HTC One on 2-year contract, the phone is priced where you would expect it to be. Actually, in some cases, it’s cheaper than what we would have seen were it released last year. For example, the Galaxy S3 was priced at $199 on almost every carrier last year, yet only came equipped with 16GB of internal storage. So if you take the One’s 32GB and set of impressive specs, one could argue that it’s priced under the standard.

On a related note, the unlocked version of the HTC One that HTC sells directly through their online shop, can be had for $575 without a contract. Most high-end unlocked phones sell for well above $600, so consider this a steal to those of you in the unlocked phone game. As an unlocked device, the One works on AT&T HSPA+, T-Mobile’s 1900MHz HSPA+ band, and should also work on T-Mobile’s LTE once it rolls out to more cities.

The Not-so-Good

HTC Sense

When HTC first announced the One in February, one of the first things I mentioned was that their new Sense 5.0 was terrible. After spending two weeks with the phone, I still feel the exact same way. In my opinion, HTC does everything in its power to turn simple standard Android tasks into some of the most difficult things on the planet. I could rattle off close to 50 examples, but will stick to a few that came up time and time again for me.

The first has to do with expandable notifications. On the HTC One, all notifications start out collapsed and can only be expanded with a two-finger swipe. On stock Android, your most recent notifications tend to always be expanded by default, while older ones will slowly start to collapse on you. Should you want to expand them, a single finger swipe will do the trick. With HTC forcing you to use two fingers, dealing with notifications went from being an amazing new experience, to completely painful.

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The second Sense annoyance that I wanted to point out involves the app drawer and dock. On any other Android device, the app dock is a separate entity from the app drawer. What I mean by that, is you can drag and drop items to and from it with ease. There are no tricks. On the HTC One, you can only add or remove items from the dock when you have the app drawer opened up. Then, once you add an app to the dock, it is removed from your app drawer. Should you want to remove one from the dock, you have to manually open the app drawer back up and drop it inside. I’ve tried to find a reason for this, but have come up empty for two weeks now. Talk about taking a simple task and turning it into something far too difficult.

The third has to do with something as simple as changing a wallpaper. HTC decided long ago that the simple long-press-to-wallpaper-change on a home screen wasn’t intuitive and killed it off. Instead, they decided to embed a “Personalize” menu in the device’s settings section which includes ringtone, wallpaper, and theme edits. Organizing all of those things into one area isn’t a bad idea, but forcing users to enter settings and then navigate through a separate Personalize menu seems like far too much to me to change a wallpaper.

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The fourth involves the Gallery application. There is absolutely nothing good about HTC’s work when it comes to managing and navigating through photos. The initial gallery menu includes sections for My Photos, Friends (assuming you attached social networks), and Camera Shots. If you tap on My Photos, you get into any number of views for Events, Albums or Locations. Why there are two separate sections between My Photos, Camera, Friends and then Events, Albums and Locations is beyond me. It’s an extra level of navigation that is completely unnecessary. But beyond navigation, try sharing multiple photos on any HTC device. They killed off the simple long-press-to-multi-select that comes with almost every other Android device, and instead ask that you press a share button, choose a service to share to, and then return back to the gallery to decide which photos you want to share. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

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Last, their contact management continues to be a disaster after all these years. HTC fully understands that you have multiple accounts plus a SIM card that may contain contact information and have done their best to try and manage them all. Unfortunately, it’s a task they haven’t yet figured out. From recommendations to link this account with that account, to deciding which accounts should even be included in your contact list, are beyond confusing.

And again, those are only a few of the issues I have with Sense. I didn’t even mention the constant and non-removable ongoing notification reminder for Power Saver mode, the fact that BlinkFeed exists, and holding volume down until your phone silences goes straight to vibrate first, but then asks you to press volume up to go to silent mode. Ugh, Sense. Go away.

Old Android

The HTC One will hit stores running Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean). That seems like a decent achievement, since the newest version of Android is 4.2.2, however, as someone who came from a Nexus 4 with stock Android, the difference is pretty significant. Simple things like the lack of quick toggles in the notification pulldown have driven me nuts. But beyond the little things, the big picture here is that Google is likely going to release a new version of Android in a month from now, or a few weeks after the One hits stores, so it’ll be at least two versions behind whatever is current.

If you look back at history, HTC hasn’t necessarily led the charge in updating devices in a timely manner, so should you buy this device, understand that it’ll likely be behind other flagships from the beginning and on through til the end. For example, Samsung has managed to release the Galaxy S4 at the same time as the One with Android 4.2.2 (the most current version).

Navigation Button Setup

HTC appears to be confused about how Android navigation should work. Last year, they went with Home, Back, and Multi-task buttons on their One series of phones, since Google decided to kill off the hardware menu button. I was a fan of the move, but thanks to slow developers who couldn’t code their apps properly, the move seemed to backfire a bit on HTC. So this year, they went a different route altogether and are only utilizing Back and Home buttons. You won’t find a Menu or Multi-task button anywhere on this phone. It’s…interesting.

You don’t get the interactivity of on-screen buttons since HTC continues to use hardware soft keys, so you are instead forced into long-pressing or double tapping to achieve simple tasks. A double tap on Home takes you into your recently used apps list, while a long press on that same button will get you into Google Now. I rarely found long-pressing of Home to work on the first try and instantly became frustrated with the setup. You also can’t map the keys to do any sort of custom actions (like mapping Back to also be Menu with a long-press), so you are stuck with HTC’s confusing vision. With only Home and Back, be prepared to re-learn navigating around an Android device. I’m two weeks in and still tap the wrong button more often than I’d care to.

htc one buttons

No Verizon

From what we understand, HTC wanted the One on Verizon, but Big Red decided to pass for the time being. That’s unfortunate for customers and HTC, as Verizon more than likely would have sold more of them than almost any carrier. They also have the largest LTE network in the U.S. that would have been a great companion to this device. It’s a pity really, because the One is one heck of an overall smartphone package that we wish everyone, no matter what carrier they are attached to, had a chance to play with and even consider as their next phone.

Top Lock Switch

When designing the One, HTC decided to turn the power/lock switch into an IR blaster that could be used to turn your phone into a TV remote. It’s a neat idea, aside from the placement of the button being in the worst possible position on any phone in the history of phones. The button is situated at the top left of the One when it’s facing you, making it impossible to press without completely adjusting the phone in your hand. In fact, I gave up on one-handed operation of the One’s power button from the beginning and opted to use two for the most part. The button also sits mostly flush to the phone, so there are times when you feel like two or three presses have gone by without the phone reacting.

This isn’t new for HTC, though, they have long been fans of the top lock/power switch. In fact, I’m not sure they have ever released a phone without one.

No Wireless Charging

During most of 2012, we saw phone after phone introduced with built-in wireless charging. We thought for sure that we would see that trend continue in 2013, however, HTC decided that they weren’t going to include it in the One. This was an odd move, especially after seeing them include wireless charging in both the DROID DNA and Incredible 4G LTE. When we asked an HTC rep about the lack of the feature at the device’s launch event, he mentioned that Verizon was the driving force behind wireless charging, not them. Whatever the reason, it seems like a missed opportunity.

Other Notes

  • Dead Digitizer:  The digitizer on my device appears to have died. I can’t tell if this is isolated to me or if this is an issue that others are running into as well. Hopefully it’s just me, as the last thing HTC needs is a hardware problem. I’ll get a replacement and report back should it happen again.
  • Camera:  Again, apologies for the short camera review, but I just can’t do anything with the device in the state it sits. Once I get a replacement, I’ll try to come back and fully review the camera.
  • Blinkfeed:  I mostly avoid Blinkfeed in my review and that’s because I found little use from it. With that said, it could be an interesting news feed or reader for novice Android users. You can set up content from a variety of sources, attach social networks, and even see calendar notifications through it. It’s one of those features that I wouldn’t be surprised to see catch on, simply because it’s easy to set up and cannot be removed. You are almost forced into using it. Assuming HTC can add some polish and more features, it may not be a bad thing.
  • TV app:  The TV app that works with the IR blaster is actually a lot more robust than I had imagined. Within minutes of setting it up, I was able to control my home entertainment center, Blu-ray player, and TV.
  • NFC:  The device has NFC, but holy hell is it difficult to find the sweet spot on it. I tried to share a YouTube clip between the One and my Nexus 4 and had to try 8 times before I could get both of their sweet spots together. Just a note, not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Internal Storage Only:  As you may or may not know, the HTC One only has internal storage and no additional microSD slot for extra storage. Normally, this doesn’t bother me, but after taking Zoes, simple clips, and processing a few highlights over my two week period, I was able to create 2.5GB worth of media. That’s a lot for such a short amount of time. Storage constraints could happen, so consider the 64GB version, however, only AT&T is selling it.
  • Non-removable Battery:  The 2300mAh battery is non-removable. This doesn’t matter to me, but I know it can be a deal breaker for some.

Videos

Unboxing

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Initial Software Tour

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HTC One vs. Galaxy S3 vs. Nexus 4 vs. RAZR HD vs. Galaxy Note 2 

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20+ Tips and Tricks for New Users of the One

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The Verdict

I mentioned in the beginning that I’m torn on the HTC One. And after running through that entire review of mostly positive things with a few nitpicked quirks here and there, you are probably confused. Rightfully so. It’s an amazing phone. The hardware is unmatched, the design is beyond beautiful for a smartphone, battery life is acceptable, the display is stunning, speakers are mindbogglingly good, and the camera has enough features that it can overcome its own downfalls. There really is so much to like with the One and so very little to be worried or complain about. But for me personally, the size of the device, metallic texture, and functionality of HTC’s Sense 5.0 are not for me. With that said, I know for a fact that this could easily be the phone for so many of you. Should you have a new phone in your near future, you need to consider the HTC One.

  • cancerous_it

    It’s great that Google will finally showing their hand in Moto phones. However, I’m big on SD card and removable battery. It’s highly doubtful that Moto phones will have either since Google is not in favor of those two things. I can live without SD, but removable battery is a must.

  • jamie stevens

    i want it so bad but currently have 4.2.2 i will wait unit the update is avail.

  • bakdroid

    The review could have been just that the digitizer died after 2 weeks. That is all you need to know about HTC build quality. Next review….the plastic turd.

  • MatthewSimmons

    Where you at Verizon? C’mon I WANT to give you my money and you don’t want it. Get this phone!

  • jcampbell474

    No mention of the notification light only blinking for 5mins, per HTC’s policy? I know it sounds petty, but this is a deal breaker for me. You condition yourself to turn the screen on all the time to check for notifications because the LED cannot be trusted. This runs the (non-removable) battery down faster. HTC, for some reason, thinks that they have the recipe for success with an overwhelming UI (Sense), LED limitation(s), non removable battery and storage, etc… Guess they’ll keep making handsets that are very similiar to their last release and expect a different result. How’s that working out for you, HTC?

    • gtg465x

      Install LightFlow. Done. This is Android after all.

      • jcampbell474

        Doesn’t work well, if at all on non rooted HTC’s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.noel.5055 Michael Noel

    Kind of hard to read the entire review when it seems that there are so many things you don’t like about it…I love this phone, worked with it last weekend hands on for nearly two hours at AT&T and this thing is fantastic. And the design which seems to not suit you, well it’s simply the most beautiful handset I’ve ever seen. I’ve been in the design field for over 30 years and this HTC One is gorgeous. I’m coming from iOS as well, love the iPhone 5 but decided to place my order for the One two weeks ago. People will come around however once they get a chance to see this and figure out that it’s clearly the best out there.

    • Kevin McDole

      Thank you for expressing what I feel in a kind manner.

  • Ben Johnson

    He had the Nexus 4 back glass crack on him within a few days

    • Austin Warren

      This is different.

  • BulletTooth_Tony

    Too bad you used Zoe… the thundering sound of the Army would’ve been more impressive.

  • http://twitter.com/djstarion Francisco Rodriguez

    Really solid review, Kellen. Probably one of the best ones I’ve seen on the web. Judging by the camera shots, it’s not nearly as bad as I thought, nor did I realize the camera on the N4 was that good too. Also, very jealous of being at the Timbers game. Best time of my life last year. RCTID.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30814337 Brian Rokosz

    I loved my Incredible (up until the last few months when it kept dying, rebooting, freezing, and stuttering..but that was after my upgrade hit and I was waiting on the S3…rooting solved the problems)…so far the fiance’s Incredible 2 has been great (but of course she’s due for an upgrade now so the phone is doing the same thing my Inc did) which leaves 4 Verizon HTC phones: The Thunderbolt (horrible), Incredible 4G (disappointing), Rezound (actually pretty good but nowhere near the Nexus), and DNA, which is one of the best Android phones I’ve ever used…minus the SUPER heavy SENSE interface on it….It’s really a tough call between the S4 (I love my S3) and the ONE….but if the ONE ever hits Verizon I’d take it, just for the speakers….the call loudness and speaker quality are pretty mediocre on the S3 and I hear they didn’t really do much about that downside for the S4

  • http://www.lovesicklives.com Curtis Fox

    I typically run Nova Launcher, which I think would’ve helped with a couple of your issues – specifically the app drawer and the dock.

  • Rickerbilly

    My last two HTC devices, Touch Pro 2 and DINC. Both were crap. My GS3 and Note 2 are stellar. Sorry HTC, Samsung has you beat.

    • dgarra

      That’s sort of an unfair comparison, most Android products during the Touch Pro 2 and DINC era were pretty bad, and you’re comparing it to two of the modern day high end devices. Just be glad you skipped the Samsung Charge,

      Though in all honesty I had no problem with the DINC outside of short battery life.

      • Rickerbilly

        The battery on the Dinc was the issue, and it was bad. I was getting 5 to 6 hours. I traded it in for my first DX and that was what got me started in rooting and ROMing. In all honesty I’d try HTC again, maybe as a second device for kicks. We’ll see what developers come up with for the One.

        • dgarra

          Yeah, first thing I did with my Dinc was buy an extended battery, that thing worked pretty well for a couple years.

  • PhoenixPath

    Waiting for Moto, it seems. I am underwhelmed here and am desperately hoping Moto follows Google’s lead on the on-screen nav keys.

    • tomn1ce

      ….hey, they use onscreen keys with the razr hd line and the atrix hd….I just hope they continue using them…

      • PhoenixPath

        That’s a tidbit I did not know. Thanks! You’ve raised my hopes.

        (Darth)
        ..Pray you did not raise them falsely…
        (/Darth)

        • Guest

          with some soft keys -_-

        • Guest

          This some soft keys…. -_-

  • Mallahet

    Mad respect for going to a Timbers game. I’d like to catch one at some point!

  • jaw_shoe_uh

    The best part of this review was your stealth use of the sleazy PDX strip joint the Boom Boom Room…

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Was wondering if someone would catch that. :)

  • jnt

    I just have a hard time believing ANY phone with a 1080p screen can get decent battery life with anything less than 3000mah – it’s simply too much power being used by the screen for all those pixels. In this review you stated that on a “low usage” day you would go 12-16 hours before hitting the red. Then you compared it to the Maxx HD. Honestly, that doesn’t compare to any of the current top-tier phones for a low usage day. Obviously, “low usage” is subjective, but still…

    • gtg465x

      He also said he only gets a day and a half with low usage on the Maxx HD. I think his idea of low is actually not so much. The One actually gets better battery life than just about any Android phone barring the Galaxy Note II and Maxx HD.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30814337 Brian Rokosz

    I guess its the same as what I thought originally: Watch a lot of media, have a great design, and like Sense’s interface, go with ONE….want a sweet camera, newer android out of the box, removable storage, and removable battery, S4….I use cloud storage and 32GB is enough so it’s down to awesome speakers or awesome camera….I think the fiance’ should get the camera and I should get the speakers and we’ll be set

  • JetBlue

    Kellex on the Note 2 you have to use two fingers to expand notifications so it’s not only the One.

    • Matthew Merrick

      Yeah, AFAIK the one finger expanded notifications is a 4.2 feature.

  • Kidd_Funkadelic

    So does no Verizon mean that I can’t buy the dev edition out of pocket and then enable on my Verizon account, or just that they won’t offer subsidized versions w/ contract renewals?

    • BulletTooth_Tony

      No Verizon means no Verizon. They’re still a CDMA carrier at their roots, and any phone without their stamp of approval is a no-go.

  • Ian

    That would be a good poll. Regardless it would show (based on what we know) if what has been released to the market (HTC One, soon to be S4) is good enough to interest people or is the intrigue of whats to come got people holding out.

  • niuguy

    Coming from a Note II this device will not feel small *to me* and with Nova launcher will eliminate at least most of the issues with Sense. Most of my photos are taken with my friends and that means nightlife so I’m cool with low resolution but high low light performance.

    I can’t wait to get this phone!

    • Lactose_the_Intolerant

      What is making you leave the Note 2? I’m with VZW and have been thinking about picking one up (or maybe S3 as those will be dirt cheap soon and I need to buy an off contract device in order to preserve my unlimited account)

      • niuguy

        My job provides me an AT&T phone free and I want to save the 90 bucks a month and cancel my Verizon service. I’ll be selling my Note 2, actually.

        • Lactose_the_Intolerant

          Ahh I see… I have a work cell phone option but since employers are allowed access to their equipment I prefer to keep work and personal usage separated.

  • chris125

    HTC always seems to have hardware issues with their devices. Every HTC I have owned I had to get it replaced for one reason or another. Seems like just poor QC

  • kjhkjhk

    this phone…is amazing, dont let the personal quirks of some other guy dictate your buying choice ever, even when they are as well informed and (try to be) objective as Kellex

  • ceejw

    So is there any chance that this is going to come to Verizon?

  • TheWenger

    I’m tending to like the 5″ screen size a little more. So it’s GS4 or whatever Moto’s doing (hopefully) for me. Or I might feel ballsy and go with Note 3 if it isn’t too massive.

  • skinja99

    Kellex,
    Can you talk about the Developer Edition vs the unlocked full price version and which Freq Bands they work on.

    Thanks

    • htowngtr

      Look at HTC’s webpage, bro. Are you talking about unlocked sim vs developer? If so, there’s no difference in radios except that the dev is bootloader unlocked.

  • triangle8

    Kellex, based on your initial impressions of the S4, which device would you prefer to use?

  • BTLS

    I still want the note 3 wayyyy more than this… even the note 2 over this… for me anyway

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30814337 Brian Rokosz

      I’d take that too…the Note 2 is one of my favorite phones right now. If it was the same price as the DNA it would be a no-brainer but for videos and web browsing the DNA wins..and i work at a verizon digital store (sell comcast and directv too) so I do these fun comparison reviews all day. The only ridiculously idiotic thing about the Verizon version of the Note 2 is no customizing the apps in the S-Pen dual-view drawer.

      • Matthew Merrick

        And the fact that they took away our wireless charging pins :(

  • gtg465x

    A couple notes…

    You forgot to mention that the unlocked version selling for $575 also supports AT&T LTE.

    The issues you had with expandable notifications have to do with the Android version, not with Sense. You couldn’t expand notifications with a single finger until Android 4.2, etc. So that should be remedied when the One is updated to Android 4.2, and hopefully quick toggles will come with that update as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001874922537 Will Frame

    So. it’s clear that you don’t like Sense. The problem is, that seems to cloud your entire review. I would hope that most people who purchase an HTC phone WANT Sense, or at least are okay with it. I wouldn’t buy a Mac and then complain about OSX and look to immediately install Linux.

    I’m really not sure how you can find the Contact management to be confusing, either. I find Sense to have the best contact management. It’s clean and intuitive. HTC has my favorite implementation of contacts to date and what I have seen on Sense 5 only improves that.

    I read in other reviews/blogs that you can map the back button to be menu, but you’re saying that’s not the case? I wonder if the developer version will have that option.

  • bionicwaffle

    I wouldn’t make Samsung the example for updating in a timely fashion. The Galaxy S phones (before the GS2 that were all terrible with non-working GPS) took forever to get updates if they even did. The GS3 took forever to get 4.1 – it was delayed months and the Razr HD had it first. Samsung actually has a pretty bad update record and with all the custom features they add to the UI it probably will not get much better.

    I thought the two finger slide to expand notifications was standard – I know it’s not an HTC thing.

  • Granted

    I just cannot believe that you leave memory allocation out of this or any review. I know with my HTC Rezound, the single feature that makes me want to boil HTC developers in a pot of hot oil. Is the ultra-retarded fact that they partition the internal memory! I am sure that other braindead manufacturers do this as well, but there is nothing more that I will ever despise besides this idiotic idea.

    I am assuming that like so many new, idiotic, greed-driven phones. That this new phone does not have removable storage, or probably a removabke battery for that matter. But when I was buying a new phone. I would not purchase anything that did not have both removable storage and battery. But, to my gigantic dismay, when I finally got my Rezound home. I found that HTC had taken the internal storage and split it into two seperate partitions, and that I could not use my 32GD SD card for a damn thing besides storing media and other files. But if I wanted to backup the huge amount of apps that I like to install on my devices, to my SD card. Well, HTC in their mentally retarded wisdom, made it so that this isn’t possible at all!

    So, that basically leaves me with internal storage only, as far as my applications are concerned, and my SD card just goes to waste. They take the 16GB of onboard memory and split it down the middle. Used to be with phones like my older Droid X, I had the 16GB of internal memory, and then I had whatever sized external SD card that I could use for whatever the heck that I wanted to. Want to back up every single app that allows it to my huge SD card, no problem! And even today, there are still a very large amount of developers who make it so that their apps are App2SD capable. The partitioning of internal memory on new phones, is the most idiotic and retarded move that HTC or any device manufactuerer has ever made. I truly wish that I could kick whomever came up with mongoloid-ian idea, straight in the testicles with a pair of spiked, steel-toed boots, and then curbstomp their face into dust.

    If I ever have to replace my Rezound (which of course I am not ever going to buy subsidized and lose my Verizon Unlimited plan), well, I will probably be purchasing an older phone that has both removable storage and battery, and most importantly, does not partition the internal storage. I could not care less about having the most recent and “best” specs and operating system. Having those features that I mentioned, is way more important to me.

    • ceejw

      HTC stopped partitioning the storage of their phones. You have access to the full 32/64GB on the One.

      • Granted

        Seriously?! That is the best smartphone news that I’ve heard, literally. If that is true, I’m very grateful to you for the information. Man, now if we could just get manufacturers to stop being greedy, disgusting pigs, and put back removable storage and batteries, well crap, things would actually go back to being like they used to be in the old, awesome glory days of Android smartphones. But, greed is such a powerful force in the lives of humans, i don’t see that dream ever coming true.

        But, I really do appreciate you letting me know about this. Maybe all hope is not lost for me being able to buy a “new” smartphone in the future. If I can just find one that doesn’t partition internal memory, allows App2SD, and has removable storage and battery, well, yeah, fairy tales are fun, aren’t they? It’s sad how Android has evovled to me.

  • gtg465x

    Doesn’t every product have a few defective units? I fail to see your logic.

    • Prime7

      Because it’s a common issue with HTC devices. I work in an environment, where we have a lot of phones from various manufacturers, and some of our HTC devices–and only our HTC devices–have broken digitizers.

  • https://www.facebook.com/aaron.williams.125 Champion1229

    I had the same exact problem with my Thunderbolt and I actually went through about 3-4 devices (of the same model) before Asurion finally upgraded me to the Rezound which didn’t seem to have a problem.

  • mustbepbs

    I like your purse, Kellen.

    • Ian

      Murse* (Man-purse)

  • milanyc

    Isn’t the phone for ya? Send it my way :D

  • ceejw

    I had that happen to two of my Motorola Droids a few years ago. It’s not a problem thats limited to HTC phones.

  • TSY87

    wow, that picture taken comparing the nexus 4 and the one… the one really shines! I know this isnt a photography site… but im really impressed with the dynamic range the camera can capture. 4 MP from a phone is really enough IMHO considering 99.9999% of phone pictures end up on instagram, twitter, or facebook.

  • dgarra

    I’m not sure Moto is really a big mystery, while they had some minor component issues with the Razr line, I think they’ve sort of proven their worth with the Razr Maxx and the Razr HD Maxx. Their skin was so close to stock I didn’t see the point of it, though I did like some of their apps (including Smart Actions).

    Sure their phones have been ugly but the build quality on them has been fantastic (imo the best on Android). Throw in an otterbox and the thing still feels invincible.

  • EC8CH

    I wonder if a lot of people are holding out on these two just to see what Moto brings, or does nobody really care about Moto phone’s anymore?

    • Steve Benson

      Everybody cares about what’s coming next from Moto. If they say otherwise they’re lying. All eyes are on Moto right now to be Android’s savior from OEM’s bastardization of the O.S. and bizarre hardware configurations.

      • EC8CH

        That’s basically where I’m at, but I’m curious how many other feel the same way.

        Samsung is Samsung. They love their home button and touchwiz.

        HTC is desperate and going batshit crazy trying to stay alive and in the process making some weird and stupid decisions (ie button layout)

        LG is a second hand copy of whatever Samsung does.

        All the other manufactures are nowhere to be found in the US and especially on VZW.

        I really hope Moto brings some top quality hardware with stock android and makes it widely available.

      • cb2000a

        I am also waiting to see what Moto does. As for launchers I always root and put on my own anyways (using Nova on my Note thanks to Droidlife’s survey).

      • angermeans

        Umm no not everyone. I can care less what Motorola brings to the market. They will need to change that. After being burned by the droid 2, droid x, and Xoom I won’t be buying anything made by Moto. I know that it is owned by Google and people have high hopes for that but I think they will continue to be ran by two completely different companies. So much so that I’m willing to bet what’s in my bank acct that we won’t see unlocked boot loaders. People are expecting a Nexus made by Motorola and it won’t happen. The Nexus line will continue as it always has as Google cannot alienate their OEM partners and have said it many many times.

        Anyways, I do agree a little that it is interesting and I won’t ever count any phone on any platform out as I am open to innovation and love using all platforms, but along with Samsung if there is one company that is and has not been in my good graces it is Motorola. It’s not just the little things either it is Motorolas constant bad choices such as their industry worst displays, and horrid build quality. I know most wont agree with me and think that build is one of Motos strong points. I disagree. Yes, the original droid was well before its time and this is the benchmark that most on this sit

        • angermeans

          Base their love of Motorola on, but every phone since the droid has been ugly as all sin. I’m just not a fan of their industrial design. Then there is the constant bugs and Blur. I’m happy to hear that the newer phones will run vanilla android and that is excellent news but I still think Motorpla is out to sell to wireless companies and not consumers. It makes a huge difference and you know we will continue to be left wanting more.

          So like I said I’ll be watching, but I’m not holding my breath. This is still a bunch of the same team (minus Sanjay) that refused to innovate and cut way to many corners to meet the average consumer and I don’t think Motorola will ever be in the good graces of the original android enthusiasts that love to tinker with their phones.

        • http://www.baldypal.com/ BaldyPal

          Burned by moto? I had and still use 2 of those devices: Xoom and Droid X. I love them. How do you consider these “a burn”?

      • jaclyngeffroy

        Love my job, since I’ve been bringing in $82h… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I’m making it online,, — Gig60.cℴm

    • Jillxz

      Moto will be a smaller phone. Google has said that it will not make a phablet type phone with a very large display.

  • GawkerRedesignSucks

    I want this phone so bad…SO bad, but I just can’t do a non-removable battery. I bought the spare battery charger for my G-Nex so now I have a fresh battery at all times. I’ve become spoiled by that and when I see my wife’s iPhone 5 battery dying at 4 in the afternoon, I get a little sick to my stomach thinking that could be me with an HTC One. I can’t let that happen.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Google drops something amazing at I/O (with a removable battery)

    • Bionicman

      thus the reason i will NEVER again buy a phone with a battery that wont last me a day or more with medium to heavy usage. Going from the VZW GNex to a Note II just spoiled the heck out of me.

    • http://www.standupforkids.org blackroseMD1

      I thought the same thing, but then remembered that I’ve got an Anker external battery charger. I’ll throw that in my car and not have to worry.

    • LionStone

      i5 = 1400 mAh
      One = 2300 mAh The One should do much better than the i5.

      • GawkerRedesignSucks

        I’m not taking any chances. I’m buying my next phone off contract so I refuse to spend $600+ on something that doesn’t have every single feature I want. A removable battery is non-negotiable.

        • LionStone

          I hear ya, I used to be the same way really, but the technology has gotten very good. I bought my DNA outright and took the chance with my first sealed device and its 2020 mAh battery. I also have Unlimited data so I’m streaming music daily, Netflix, tether, take/share lots of pics/video, Insta-upload pics/videos to G+, sync 2 emails, 9 widgets, low to medium social media, no FB and not much gaming…all on 4G. Its solid on west coast and east coast so I just stay on the network. I initially was going to get a backup battery, since I travel frequently, yet still haven’t needed it. I get 12-18hrs with 2-4 hrs avg screen on time, 20-40 minutes of calls per day. Its been nice not having to carry extra batteries anymore and only having to charge once at night is very welcoming too.

  • http://twitter.com/belogical2 Be Logical

    Agreed, poll it up Kellex!

  • Marco De Paulis

    The soft keys are the biggest turn off to this phone for me. After using my gnex for a year and a half, there’s no way I can switch to softkeys in awkward positions…

    • http://www.facebook.com/bigdaddybesbris Ethan Raphi Besbris

      What we have are soft keys… This phone has capacitive keys.

      • brkshr

        short for soft(ware) keys

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Same here. Not that I’m ever going for a non-Nexus device, but the lack of a dedicated multitasking button alone is something I can’t live with. Why these manufacturers must mess with every single thing in Android they can find just in the name of openness and freedom is beyond me. Damn idiots need to understand some things are better left as default. But no, we must have change for the sake of it. I guess not following that stupid notion is why Apple is so popular with the average consumer, on Android it’s like some thing different with each new phone. -.-

      • EC8CH

        Multitasking button is a must… so nice for jumping between apps. ie I use a checkbook app and Mint, so it’s nice to jump back and forth to mark off transactions that have cleared.

    • EC8CH

      The appeal of an all screen front (no logos or buttons) is huge. At least to me.

    • brkshr

      If you are rooted, there is a very simple hack to get the on-screen keys. Usually, someone posts a flashable zip for you to install right after the device comes out. Some people even mod their capacitive or home buttons to do different things, like open the camera &/or take a picture. There are several mods for the S3 available.

  • http://twitter.com/DannyAree DannyAree ! 

    Waiting on Motorola …

  • http://twitter.com/TheBlackMaou Chaz Edwards

    Good review I am getting one when it is release on T-mobile. Like you said HTC tried to follow google guidelines before and got fried. Probably why they change the button layout. They should’ve made the HTC logo a button for multitasking and keeping home back. But since some developers don’t update their apps they didn’t really know what to do.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      So you know, you’ll still see the black menu bar at the bottoms of apps, so this didn’t necessarily fix that problem.

      • http://twitter.com/TheBlackMaou Chaz Edwards

        Yeah I know the option to map other buttons was removed in the international version. It will probably be back in an update later in the devices life.

        • Steve Benson

          You still don’t get it. Because HTC is stubborn and refuses to either a) add a menu hardware button like Samsung or b) go the software keys, that black bar will always be there.

          • LionStone

            But adding a physical Home button is ok? I’d say Samsung is stubborn and doesn’t ‘get it’.

  • TheCheapGamer

    Remember when this was droid-life, not an.droid-life?..
    Just saying.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001874922537 Will Frame

      I guess sites shouldn’t adapt to changing markets. Because a site that focuses on one product line (composed of a handful of phones) would survive so well today.

      • TheCheapGamer

        The problem is droid-life was supposed to be for the droid series (aka verizon)
        an.droid-life was for everything else.

    • TheCheapGamer

      To all the idiots down voting, let me explain.
      an.droid-life.com
      droid-life.com
      Same site, different markets…but not anymore.

  • http://twitter.com/litobirdy litobirdy

    I want the 64gb developer edition on Verizon with stock 4.2.2 NOWW, oh and 3 navigations keys at least, not 2.

  • Austin Warren

    Depends on who makes the best device and does their best to appeal to customers. A good camera, removable battery, SD slot and 1080p.

    • Steve Benson

      ^ This. If Moto can make a great all around phone that appeals to both the average user AND the Android community, instead of just one, they’ll have a massive winner. Market the F out of it and build some brand recognition. With success Moto can close the gap on Sammy 2-3 years down the road.

      • EC8CH

        I don’t know how firm a grasp Samsung has over the minds of the non tech masses, but it really does seem like Moto has a huge opening to do something big if they release a great phone this year and make it available across all the major carriers.

  • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

    So far, I’m the only person to have apparently experienced this from what I can tell. It was fine up until yesterday afternoon. Not sure if it’s just me and something I did or going to be a bigger problem.

    • Thomas

      I just want to say this was a great review on your part. Probably one of the best reviews/articles you have ever done since I have been a DL reader. Great job :)

  • achilles

    Does it have a micro-sd card slot? Does it have a removeable battery? Sorry, but this just going to be crushed by Samsung.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Neither. Actually, I’m going to add a section about storage.

    • http://twitter.com/DannyAree DannyAree ! 

      No, but its not plastic

    • ceejw

      Samsung is not selling phones because they’re putting sd slots and removable batteries in their phones. I know 5 people who own GS3s. None of them have a second battery and none of have an sd card installed or even know their phone has an sd slot. Samsung is selling phones because they spend significantly more money on marketing than anyone else. They’ve ingrained the word “Galaxy” into peoples mind as that cool phone everyone has that’s not an iPhone. HTC has a huge uphill battle to try and make the “One” brand that ubiquitous.

      • http://twitter.com/TheBlackMaou Chaz Edwards

        I have a samsung galaxy s3 never removed my battery or my 32 gig sdcard even when flashing roms. I never actually filled it. I use google+ for photos and videos under 15 minutes since its unlimited storage or upload to various cloud services. For music spotify, google music, and pandora. The only thing that ever will really fill an android device are tegra games and pretty much gameloft games.

      • dantheman

        thank you @ceejw:disqus someone else finally understands

      • Austin Warren

        Just don’t put a POS 4mp camera in it.

        • Scott Morey

          POS? NOT

      • C-Law

        And I know four people with galaxy s3s and s2s. They are all using sd cards and they are average non computer geek females. I got a 32gb s3 and I’m not using an sd card bc I prefer not to use them. One of them and I also have spare batteries and spare battery chargers. I find it very convenient not to have to tether my phone to the wall to let it recharge. So some people do like those features

      • Tech Pro

        This is so true.

        But the tactics employed by Samsung is called FUD. It has nothing to do with the truth. It just makes ignorant scared.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001874922537 Will Frame

      People really don’t get it. I can understand the removable battery. Especially if you’re a heavy user. But the people complaining about the lack of SD card slot need to just STFU.

      You can’t install apps on the SD card anymore. Period. The only thing it’s good for is music, movies, caches, etc. Personally, I’d rather have a phone with 64 gigs of internal space and NO SD slot than one with 16 gb of internal and an SD card slot. At least I can install as many apps/games as I want and still have space for media.

      • Spoken Word™

        Just because you don’t need expandable storage doesn’t mean that others don’t. And cloud storage doesn’t compare to onboard storage. You can’t view a video/picture in the cloud when your connection is slow/down can you?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001874922537 Will Frame

          Are you daft? We’re talking about a phone that has 32 or 64 gb of internal storage without an expansion slot. Are you saying that’s not enough? Because the maximum you could get with a phone like the GS4 is 80 GB (16 + a 64gb card). Are you saying you need 80GB of space on your phone? If so, that’s fine. Just be aware that only about 12 of that will be available for you to install apps, including games, some of which are up to 2 GB in size.

          • willv

            Do you flash roms? Ever had a faulty phone crash, or have one get wet? Maybe drop one and have it not turn on? If so, you should know the benefit of removable memory. Maybe your flight does not have wifi, and you want to watch a movie, or listen to music. Good luck with cloud storage. Just because you dont see a need, doesnt mean we dont.

    • http://www.facebook.com/shawnp911 Shawn Patterson

      If that’s why phones get crushed, then why hasn’t the iPhone been crushed yet? Most of the average user’s don’t care about that. They care about battery life and storage space.