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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Nice to know 27 million android phones never locked up once.

    Good for you idiot.
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Another extremely stupid and actually clueless spew by dumb dumb:
    " The 16GB with SD is good for someone who wants to carry their music and video library around with them. "

    EVERYONE wants to do that, stupido, but the problem is 16 is not enough for music files only for most, and forget about it for video.

    But then, that's the stupid crap you had to argue, so that 16 is enough in a sealed tard iphone or equivalent.
  • DEECEE - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    I wonder, why HTC even leave this on the table. Slap a replaceable battery and a SD slot in, and the argument is over, Samsung will have to work much harder to push those S4's, and a lot more Ones would be sold. Why leave these features out?
    HTC is not Apple, they can't count on repeat buyers and built-in obsolescence to boost sales when so many competitor plays in the Android eco-system, especially better known, more cash rich competitors like Samsung? I think it's a complete bone headed decision for HTC to leave these features out, and Samsung will laugh all the way to the bank.
  • phillyry - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - link

    Expanding markets are not considering the S4 and the One, so it's a moot point.

    For people I the developed world or wealthy people in the developing world, form facto will matter and making a device with a removable battery will affect the form factor, especially with regards to its perceived finish and lustre.

    Cheap phones with SD card upgrades have been the bane of many a friend of mine. They come to me saying, "My phone's out of storage and it will only let me install apps on the internal memory!" This is likely because SD cards are slow and use a different interface. These phones are sold as 'expandable' but really they're just expendable.
    I'd take a well-built HTC One over cheap feeling S4 that's gonna fall apart when I drop it and look like crap whenever I look at its washed out screen.
    I'm not denying that there are people out there for whom SD cards are a real feature, I just think that they get blown out of proportion. I'd take 32GB base internal storage over 16GB plus expansion any day. Different kind of NAND.
    Really, the question does come down to marketing, familiarity, and feel.
    While I'd personally prefer the hardware of the One, the S4 is an easy sell. People know it because of the S3's prolific sales and marketing. The OS is more inviting and has more saleable features (than previous Sense, at least). The One will feel super-premium, I'm sure, but I'm also concerned that it might cost a premium, when compared to its real competition - the S4. If you look at the last round, although the S3 was priced at $199 on contract, you could often pick it up for $0.01.
    So, the S4's cheapness will be its biggest strength. Samsung will be able to offload it in boatloads to carriers who can give it away on sales, once it's mid-term, and they will sell like hotcakes. Also, since you're selling to cheap people (most people when it comes to smartphones), they will be happy to have cheap storage and battery replacement/enhancement options.
    The camera will also be a tough sell. Are the sales reps gonna demo them both in store? I think not. People will just see 4MP and 13MP and the inevitable Samsung commercials highlighting the features (gimmicks?) that the phone has and will flock to it. They know the brand, they know the predecessor, and they know that 13>4 (even if they don't know that nomenclature).
    I'd, personally, love to see HTC destroy this round, but somehow have my doubts. Time will tell but cheap sells.
  • DEECEE - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    While I disagree with you on your assessment on the cheap phone with cheap SD card sh-pew, you've got a perfect prediction on samsung's low cost sales pitch because they chose to go low cost on a plastic shell and cheaper screen, but try to grab people with features like replaceable batteries and SD. If you analysis is correct, I am just baffled WHY or WHY HTC will leave the sales of their FLAGSHIP, HAILMARY model that is the ONE in the wind by not designing in key features that will put a majority of their potential customer's mind to ease. I don't care if people actual replace their battery or SD card in their phone or not, it gets people concerned about not having them, why leave their concern and decision out for the buying public? Why not nip it in the bud and win the feature comparison against the S4? By going the machined aluminum route they are already not going to win the "low cost" war, why not win the "premium" war without reservation?
  • tommo123 - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link

    well i use the SD card option (64GB mSD) and on vacation, the spare battery is very useful.

    with a portable battery charger i could do without the removable batteries but not expandable storage. phones still come with 16GB versions which are 10 or less in reality. install 2 games and most of that is gone.

    then add your pics and videos - where are they meant to go? the cloud? that would be fine if i had unlimited data, at a min of about 25mbit/sec and never ever ever lost signal even on a plane, or underground. since that's not going to happen in the near future i need my extra storage.

    google wants to do away with the cards to make people use their google drive and then pay for extra space. simple
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    LOL - nice point tommo123 that's a first - google up that dropbox data charge....

    No problem, the know it alls have the deepest and widest pockets of space in their skulls...

    ROFL - Nice SMACKDOWN, I note the crybabies have no response, but wait for it, the responses will stream in at an extraordinary rate once the charges become an issue for the sealed tarded crew of fools.

    I don't like options, I don't like expandabilty, I don't like to be free, I can't make my own choices, I am techborg, the ultratard liar, I am spew, I am thoughtless, I am a liar, and I am legion.
  • DEECEE - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    I don't understand why people insist on "majority of people don't use replaceable battery and SD card" or "majority of people have to have replaceable battery and SD card". My concern is for myself, and I am hating HTC for not putting replaceable battery and SD card in because if they did, it's made my choice completely simple for my next phone, it would be the HTC One. But now, I have a HTC Sensation 4G as a personal phone and a OneX as a work phone, and I am not sure I want to live with the loss of replaceable battery and SD card and is seriously considering buying the Samsung S4 as a result.
    It is COMPLETELY STUPID for HTC to leave that excuse on the table, oh... the camera is great, the screen is nice, and case looks great, but... NO REPLACEABLE BATTERY AND SD CARD, too bad.. Why did HTC leave that on the table while HTC could put Samsung S4 out of its misery by simply having a better physical design and more feature? Stupid decision, I'd have the phone a bit thicker to have a replaceable larger battery and SD card slot, it's already thicker than the OneX, being super think didn't help selling that the OneX, why repeat the same mistake?!
  • Rits - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    In my 5 years of time with modern smartphones, I haven't met one person who carried a spare/extra battery. Many carry power banks in their bags but I've yet to see someone with a spare battery. SD cards, yes, those mattered, but only until phones started getting 32 GB onboard memory. Pretty much nobody cares about SD cards/expandable memory if the phone has more than 16 GB memory.
  • sirelk - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    But no one cares about diminishing battery performance after one year? For all of us that have to make this phone work for 2-3 years, it sure matters. The option of expanding the memory (maybe I suddenly decide to carry my entire MP3 library on a microSD for a long trip or every episode of Seinfeld) or easily giving the phone extended life with a new battery is far too advantageous.

    If you are OK with losing hours of battery life as early as 8-12 months after purchasing your stylish-no-options-phone, then sure, there's no benefit for you.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now