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HTC One deep-dive review: A smartphone that flirts with perfection

JR Raphael | April 15, 2013
With its high-quality hardware and stunning design, the HTC One is one of the best smartphones you can buy today -- but it isn't without its drawbacks.

The Favorites Tray at the bottom of the home screen is even more vexing: You can't drag and drop a shortcut directly from the home screen into the Favorites Tray, and you can't drag and drop a shortcut from the app drawer into the Favorites Tray using the process described above, either. The only way to get a shortcut into the Favorites Tray is to drag it from the app drawer down onto the Tray's space. Good luck figuring that out.

Widgets, meanwhile, exist in a separate area -- a home screen customization tool -- that's accessible via the phone's main settings menu. And they appear in unalphabetized, random order. Oh, and you can also get to your apps from that tool. Sheesh -- it gives me a headache just trying to describe all of this.

HTC made several other puzzling UI decisions with the One, such as a permanent clock and weather widget at the top of the app drawer, a persistent notification for "Power Saver" that can't be disabled, a custom Share menu that's uglier and harder to use than the stock Android version and a configuration in which the old and outdated Android browser is set to be the default Web browsing tool instead of the superior (and actively maintained) Chrome for Android application.

At a Glance

HTC One

HTCPrice: $200 (32GB w/two-year contract at Sprint or AT&T), $300 (64GB w/two-year contract at AT&T)Pros: Premium, metal-centric build; striking design; stunning 1080p display; superb performance; excellent front-facing stereo speakers; outstanding low-light camera capabilitiesCons: Messy and needlessly convoluted user interface; dated and problematic button configuration; camera not designed for detailed high-resolution images; no SD card support; nonremovable battery

Between HTC and the carriers, the One also has a mess of bloatware, ranging from apps like Lookout and SoundHound to -- on the Sprint device -- the ever-popular Sprint Zone and Sprint TV. (Some of these will obviously vary from one carrier to the next.) Several of the apps can be hidden and disabled, while others are set to remain permanently in place.

Bottom line

The HTC One is one of the best made smartphones you can buy today. The phone has high-quality hardware and a beautiful, premium build. It has a stunning 1080p display, great-sounding stereo speakers, and a camera with outstanding low-light capabilities and interesting (if somewhat overwhelming) software features. If all of that's not enough, it's also one of the fastest devices around, with top-notch performance that won't let you down.

The One does, however, have some drawbacks. Its camera isn't designed for detailed high-resolution images, its button configuration is far from ideal and elements of its user interface are needlessly convoluted and confusing.

 

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