So I’ve been tirelessly playing with the new HTC One (Sprint). For the most part the experience has been great. But my official “Yay” or “Nay” will have to wait (fyi- things are less mysterious by post’s end). That will come with this week’s review. Still, last week you got the unboxing and some cool pics of the device. Today I want to run down some my first impressions, in list form.
We’re taking our time with this one. Yet in doing so we’re making a few pit stops along the way and you’re invited for each one. This is undoubtedly the device on which the company is relying heavily. HTC is fighting for a comeback. But it’s hard to discern this from the aesthetics, build quality and performance the One puts forth–which brings me to…
1. Design and Construction
As you can tell from the video above HTC has gone to great lengths to carve something alluring and of beauty using a meticulous aluminum body construction. I love the look of the this phone while on or off. Companies are left with few new paths to tread when it comes to original bar shaped phone designs. But HTC was able to craft something that stands out. The phone design and construction are immaculate. The zero-gap aluminum styling yields a phone with heft , that is pleasantly solid in-hand while maintaining a lightweight 143 grams (0.32lbs) across its super slim 9.3mm waistline. The tapered edges help with the slim look while offering pleasant grip. The display is vibrant and colorful with design that offers an illusion similar to an edge-to-edge monitor, where display content seems suspended in your hand.
I set the new BlinkFeed feature as my main home screen. You get 3 homescreens by default. But you can add more and customize them–same with most other Android devices. Yet BlinkFeed is a marvel this time out. I’ve never digested more news on a phone, than with the HTC One. After selecting my news sources and topics, it was ready to go. Now the homescreen is populated with live tiles similar to Windows 8. Yet nearly all are rich images pulled from news headlines, your included social networking favorites and more. Click one and it opens the full article in a bland background with a link to the original story. It makes consuming news (and browsing stories for work) an absolute breeze. Pull the homescreen down and release to update the news feeds. Of course you can share them right from the BlinkFeed across your social networks.
3. New UltraPixel Camera
HTC has provided an update to address some of the camera issues early adopters were plagued with. We received our unit after said update and never really saw what the fuss was about. The main front and rear facing cameras are not the highest in MP density. The new lens system also captures more light than a standard 13mp camera. This is thanks to is a small army of tech working behind the scenes to stabilize your image, sharpen it, add clarity and the proper lighting with 5-levels of flash. These levels are set automatically by distance. More on that in the review. Suffice it to say it’s easier to take great looking photos on the One than with many other phones.
4. HTC Share/HTC Zoe
These two are extensions to the camera. HTC Zoe is a cool feature for amateur photographers or anyone shooting quick shots on the go. While enabled, a simple click of the shutter will capture 20 pictures and a 3-second video. You can then choose the one you prefer. The 3-second video is also handy to show transitions between photos and providing clarity in a fast moving scene where a still shot might provide too much blur and distortion. There’s a massive difference…having a 3-sec video clip of a scene versus a still photo.
HTC Share allows you to package your various photos and short clips into a mini presentation to be shared via email, text message or across your favorite social networking platforms. You can play with it to produce some cool effects, add music and more. But by default it will compile your captured photos and video and create a cool little piece of memorabilia with family and friends. Click the link and see how the One will convert your HTC Zoe images into an elegant living gallery.
5. Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core CPU
Wether you’re editing or playing, this thing is damn fast. I’m still undecided just how viable benchmarks are to today’s garden variety smartphone customer. Maybe you all can weigh in on that below. Regardless, one of the first things anyone will notice about the HTC One–after the dapper good looks–is the speed as responsiveness at which this thing performs. The browser and internet are sufficiently peppy, with no complaints from us. Yet it’s general navigation through the menus and apps that really shows some of the processing power. Everything opens, is registered and responds with urgency. I love it.
6. Dual Sound and Beats Audio
The speaker placement and design is great. You’re hit with the true sound of your audio and not what results from it bouncing off surfaces after its emitted from a down-facing speaker. There is a built-in amp enhancing the already-accomplished Beats Audio performance. Simply put, music and movies sound better than ever–especially over a meaty set of speakers or headphones.
7. Getting Under My “Skin”
I know this is just a 1st impression piece. But it’s not all roses in HTC One-country. There’s a lot to love, but I wish HTC Sense–their reskinned Android interface–held a bit more customization. I want to move some things around that you can’t be moved, like the audio player overlay that rests at the bottom of the lock screen, if audio is playing. I would love to move this up toward the middle. I would also like to resize widget icons. I know that sounds unheard of, but it would be a welcomed feature. The notification pull-down, seen in other Android devices works well enough. But there’s no 1-click accessible side bar/panel where I can see all the apps running at a glance. There is such a function but it’s a multi-step affair and not as swift. It’s a very minor niggling gripe but, it is one of my first impressions.
Much more to save for the full review! In the interim, let me know your thoughts on our first impressions. Or share your own if you’re lucky enough to own the HTC One.
Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for GameRevolution.com. More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.