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HTC One is the Android phone to beat

Armando Rodriguez | April 9, 2013
HTC knows how to make good-looking hardware. I loved the white ceramic body of the HTC One X and Nokia could learn a thing or two about making Windows phones by taking a closer look at the HTC Windows Phone 8X. The company's latest offering, the HTC One, is a paragon of industrial design: Its chiseled chamfers, rounded edges, and chrome accents are sure to turn more than a few heads when you whip out the phone in public. But the One is more than just a pretty face: HTC packed a lot of power under the phone's hood, and the handset's camera benefits from numerous software and hardware tweaks that should excite fans of mobile photography.

HTC knows how to make good-looking hardware. I loved the white ceramic body of the HTC One X and Nokia could learn a thing or two about making Windows phones by taking a closer look at the HTC Windows Phone 8X. The company's latest offering, the HTC One, is a paragon of industrial design: Its chiseled chamfers, rounded edges, and chrome accents are sure to turn more than a few heads when you whip out the phone in public. But the One is more than just a pretty face: HTC packed a lot of power under the phone's hood, and the handset's camera benefits from numerous software and hardware tweaks that should excite fans of mobile photography.

A feast for the eyes

The first thing you'll notice when holding the One is how well it sits in your hand. At 5.4 by 2.7 by 0.4 inches, the phone is larger than Apple's iPhone 5 but smaller than HTC's previous handset, the Droid DNA. Though the phone comes with a 4.7-inch display (shades of the Samsung Galaxy S III), the One's aluminum unibody design and gentle curves compare favorably to the S III's primarily plastic body. That slick exterior does come at a price, however: The One's power and volume buttons sit flush with the phone's chassis--which makes them difficult to press--and the 2300mAh battery is nonremovable. The phone also lacks a microSD card slot, meaning that you're stuck using the supplied 32GB (or 64GB, if you buy the larger model) of on-board memory to store your photos, apps, music, and movies.

The absence of expandable storage is lamentable, especially since in other respects HTC designed the One to function as a multimedia powerhouse. The One's 1920-by-1080-pixel display packs 468 pixels per inch, which makes viewing HD content a feast for the eyes. Bordering that gorgeous display are two large, front-facing stereo speakers, which pump out surprisingly loud, clear audio. One big advantage of positioning the speakers on the front of the device rather than on the back is that audio doesn't get muffled when you set the phone down on a flat surface. I did notice an occasional pop at higher volumes, but the speakers' sound quality was more than acceptable overall.

If you tend to mislay your TV remote, you'll appreciate the One's built-in IR blaster, which lets you use the phone as a universal remote control. The phone has a TV app with a setup wizard that simplifies the task of programming the One to work with your TV, cable box, and home theater. The app also pulls listing information from Peel, showing which TV shows and movies are currently playing. You can arrange for the phone to remind you when your favorite shows are on and to provide a brief synopsis of specific episodes. I tested the remote functionality of the phone with an LG TV and a Motorola cable box in our office and was surprised at how well the combination worked. Though I was 13 feet away from the cable box, I noticed little or no delay when I changed channels or browsed through the guide. The app is so well made that I almost wish I subscribed to cable...almost.

 

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