For the past week and a half our own Brian Klug has been hard at work on his review of HTC’s new flagship smartphone, the One. These things take time and Brian’s review, at least what I’ve seen of it, is nothing short of the reference piece we’ve come to expect from him.

In the same period of time I’ve been playing around with a retail HTC One and felt compelled to share my thoughts on the device. It’s rare that I’m so moved by a device to chime in outside of the official review, but the One is a definite exception. By no means is this a full review, and I defer to Brian for the complete story on the One - something we should be getting here in the not too distant future.

I’m not a financial analyst, but HTC hasn’t been doing all that well over the past few quarters. There’s a general feeling that the aptly named One is HTC’s last chance at survival. Good product doesn’t always translate into market dominance, but it’s a necessary component when you’re an underdog. Luckily for HTC, the One is great.


Over the past two years HTC has really come into its own as far as design is concerned. The difference between the HTC One X and the plethora of flagships that came before it was remarkable. Moving to the One, the difference is just as striking.

I don’t seem to mind plastic phones as much as everyone else, but the One is in an appreciably different league compared to its peers. It’s the type of device that you just want to look at and touch. Given how much you do end up looking at and touching your smartphone, HTC’s efforts here seem well placed.

The One looks and feels great. The proportions are a little awkward in my hands, but I fully concede that’s going to vary from person to person. Despite the heavy use of aluminum, I don't feel overly worried about scratching/damaging the finish.

The challenge with any smartphone is to build something that looks distinct in a sea of black rectangles on a wall in a store. With the One (and arguably the One X before it), HTC does a good job of balancing the need to be seen with the need to be subtle. Elegant is the right word here.

While I’m sure there will be comparisons to the iPhone, the fact of the matter is that the design cycle on these smartphones falls somewhere in the 12 - 24 month range. With something as sophisticated as the One, you’re looking at the longer end of that spectrum. For what it’s worth, if I had to estimate I’d say design work on the One probably started before the iPhone 4S came out.

Smartphone Spec Comparison
  Apple iPhone 5 HTC One Samsung Galaxy S 3 Samsung Galaxy S 4
SoC Apple A6 1.3GHz Snapdragon 600 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz Exynos 5 Octa (1.6/1.2GHz) or Snapdragon 600 1.9GHz
DRAM/NAND/Expansion 1GB LPDDR2, 16/32/64GB NAND 2GB LPDDR2, 32/64GB NAND 2GB LPDDR2, 16/32GB NAND, microSD 2GB LPDDR3, 16/32/64GB NAND, microSD
Display 4.0-inch 1136 x 640 LCD 4.7-inch SLCD3 1080p, 468 ppi 4.8-inch Super AMOLED 720p, 306 ppi 5-inch Super AMOLED 1080p, 441 ppi
Network 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 2G / 3G / 4G LTE Cat 3 (depending on region)
Dimensions 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm 137.4mm x 68.2mm x 4mm - 9.3mm 136.6mm x 70.6mm 8.6mm 136.6mm x 69.8mm x 7.9mm
Weight 112g 143g 133g 130g
Rear Camera 8MP 4MP w/ 2µm pixels 8MP 13MP
Front Camera 1.2MP 2.1MP 1.9MP 2MP
Battery Internal 5.45 Wh Internal 8.74 Wh Removable 7.98 Wh Removable 9.88 Wh
OS iOS 6.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Android 4.2.2
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, USB 2.0, GPS/GNSS 802.11ac/a/b/g/n + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, IR LED, MHL, DLNA, NFC 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, USB 2.0, NFC, GPS/GNSS, MHL 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (HT80) + BT 4.0, USB 2.0 NFC, GPS/GNSS, IR LED, MHL 2.0


The Camera
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  • acky2lum - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    You mean your picture frames actually have a usb sticking out from the frame? You know the usb flash drive is actually a sd card with a different case right? But sd cards and usb have seperate uses, u can't replace everything with a usb drive.

    Just because u are so used to not using a sd card and pay more for extra storage, doesn't mean you can discredit / bash the usage of sd card. The only reason nexus 4 have no sd card slot is because they need to compensate for the cheap price of the phone itself, not because sd card is not important.
  • jayseeks - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link

    Yes, my digital frame has a USB port in the back where you can't see it. Because only the most incompetent manufacturers would place a USB port on the side. Most digital frames actually come with memory so that all you have to do is transfer the pictures, usually with a USB cable. I've used SD cards for a long time, they are extremely inconvenient and even the new ones aren't must faster. On top of that, if you don't properly eject them all the time, your SD card can actually get damaged over time, a major inconvenience if you plan on constantly switching them up. The SD card really isn't an important feature to me, and in my experience, most people. Even the IT guys I know don't care for SD storage. The only people that I knew that really emphasized microSD were the Blackberry people.
  • DEECEE - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    This dude must work for HTC or something, if so, Jayseeks, go back and tell your boss to put replaceable battery and SD cards in the next One, and shut everyone up already, sheesh. It's a completely stupid move after the misstep that is the OneX, you'd think HTC would learn from that. Or create two versions, similar cases, one with the replaceable battery and SD card, one without, it's the total volume that generates revenue right, not stick to a design principal that is completely subjective to different individuals. Stupid, stupid move on the part of HTC.
    You know what, if Apple put replaceable battery and SD card in their phone, i'd make the iphone a much better phone, but they Apple loses on gauging its customers. HTC on the other hand does not have a monopoly on Android phones, it's simply stupid to leave out major features when you bigger competitor have them.
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Below suckyface tells us how experienced he is and addicted to SD cards, he actually loses his own argument and solidifies my points.
    Not like tardobrain will notice.
    People like the SD card, they don't want to rewrite and overwrite, and the SD card usually has a lock on it, unlike the USB thumb.

    The usb thumb sticks out of their laptop and breaks off, NOT the sd card, slides in flush or worse case barely not flush( some HP's for instance).

    Dummy lost and lost badly, as is the case, always.

  • eebrah - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link

    To know for sure if a feature is a "deal breaker" you need to compare a device that has that feature with a similar device lacking said feature. When it comes to the comparison between Samsung Galaxy S and iPhone, there is a lot different than whether or not it has a removable battery or SD card slot
  • DEECEE - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    Exactly, so why would HTC even leave the door open for that comparison to be in favor of Samsung by not having Replaceable battery and SD card? Stupid. It'd would be such a quick decision for so many people deciding between the two phone if the One has everything S4 does and with a more beautiful design, but no HTC pushes customer to decide between the outward appearance and the practicality of having replaceable batteries and SD cards, why??
  • othercents - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    I never said that they would use them. Marketing and sales is not about features you will use, but more about features that are nice to have. If you have two phones side by side that look and feel the same then features like removable battery and SD card slots become the deciding factor. However in reality it is going to be brand recognition that gets the masses to purchase the S4 over the HTC One. Samsung had a massive marketing campaign against the iPhone 5 which could be the deciding factor. This is especially true given that the HTC One and S4 are both supposed to be available at the end of April.
  • eebrah - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link

    I think not. Quite a few people find the removable battery and expandable storage to be desired features that influence their decision to purchase a device, amongst other factors.

    To dismiss it so casually out of hand, when the most popular Android device has both and when the entire Android space is taken as a whole, a majority of devices have this features, seem to just be arrogant.

    I am very familiar with the North American and European markets but in the places with the highest rates of Smart-phone growth, those features are essential and even in North America and Europe, a whole lot of people are buying and android phone with removable battery and expandable storage when they have other similarly priced options.

    You may not like the idea of removable batteries and expandable storage [ your opinions and choices ] but please stop dismissing them without much evidence to back your claims.

    Keep in mind that even if only 10% of the market wanted a feature, it is still significant enough for a manufacturer to include it in their flagship... and cheaper too, rather than created a similar device with/without those features for different markets.

    You do not like a device? vote with your wallet and DON'T buy it, let others make their own choices
  • eebrah - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link

    Edit: I am *not* very familiar with the North American and European Markets
  • othercents - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Out of the 30 million S3 phones sold last year I would bet that less than 10% of the people have ever removed the batteries or installed an SD card. This makes it a nice to have feature that some people find necessary, however for the masses it is not critical. "Quite a few people..." does not equal a requirement for everyone (maybe to just you and your friends). While the SD and replaceable battery are not critical the S4 will still outsell the HTC One due to the brand recognition of Samsung vs HTC and due to the fact that when placing the handsets side by side some people will decide function (SD and Battery) over form regardless if they will use it or not.

    My original point is still the same. Marketing wins before anything else. Function over form due to fear of loss (IE. not getting something you might need later on).

    Side note, people keep complaining about 16GB without SD vs 16GB with SD however the truth is you should be comparing a 32GB without SD vs a 16GB with SD since they should be similarly priced. For me since I only load apps on my phone and don't bog it down with videos or music then the 32GB or even 64GB without SD works great. The 16GB with SD is good for someone who wants to carry their music and video library around with them.

    I find it interesting that someone would be arguing for the S4 and replaceable battery when I clearly stated twice that the S4 would outsell the HTC One.

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