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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  • phillyry - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - link

    Ya. I have disagreed with this but there is some truth here. Having good internal and the expansion without reliance on cloud would be nice.

    But...big BUT...would that not also sacrifice form factor? (And potentially build quality?)
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    No it wouldn't.
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Just fry out your wallet with data up and down, no SD, no problem.
    It's good because jaysucks and dimwitOsx said so.
  • ChoadNamath - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    When I had phones with removable batteries, the only time I ever removed them was to do a hard reset of the phone. Most people don't want to carry around extra batteries, and even if they do, a USB battery pack is easier to carry around than a bare battery.

    Most people also don't carry around spare memory cards, either. I can understand why someone might be worried about not being able to add additional storage space to a phone that only comes with 8 or even 16GB of storage, but do you really expect the average user to run out of space in a phone that comes with up to 64GB of flash? My desktop PC has only a 64GB SSD right now! Especially in the age of streaming media, memory cards are increasingly unnecessary in smartphones.

    Would removable batteries and memory cards be nice to have? Sure, but they're hardly essential anymore for the vast majority of use cases.
  • danbob999 - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    The thing is that you can bet the 64GB model will be far too expensive. So most people will end up buying the cheapest version. If they ever need more storage, even temporarily (say on a trip), they can't.
    As for the battery, depending on usage you might want to replace it after 2-4 years. It would be sad to throw a perfectly working phone to the bin only because it no longer holds its charge. Even if you replace your phone before that, you old phone could still have a resale value or could be used by your grand mother who doesn't need to have the latest toy.
  • SuBoX - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    just plug in a usb stick with an usb otg cable or even better some companies already are starting to make usb sticks with micro usb and normal usb so you can connect it to your pc to put a movie on it and just plug it in your phone to watch the movie. The removable storage on the S4 is only used for media anyway can just aswell use an usb stick for the same things on a plane or in your hotel room to transfer your photos.
  • nerd1 - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    That requires you a) large internal memory b) copying the stuff twice c) carrying extra thing
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Suddenly a gankly dongle is better than a tiny sd card even in a tiny plastic container... then when you're not dongled up, you don't have to worry about how to set it or hold it, or ripping apart your charging port...

    The stench of dark iphone powers is thick, I hear SJ cackling wildly from beyond the grave.
  • eebrah - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link

    I still do not get why carrying around extra and bulky( ier ) kit is better than having as SD card slot or removable battery.

    If including a removable battery or SB card slot compromised "the experience" as much as an OTG cable + USB thumb drive or External USB battery pack then I would take those arguments but as for me, I would rather a phone that is "compromised" by having removable battery and expandable storage than one where I have to connect such externally.

    Still a matter of personal preference
  • phillyry - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - link

    Why has this entire discussion turned to storage and battery.

    Aren't there many other points to consider / discuss with regards to this phone: camera, build quality, market survivability (chance)?

    Let's not forget feel and engagement.

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