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HTC One hands-on review

Is it really the 'best smartphone in the world?'
Tue Feb 19 2013, 17:59

THE HTC ONE is "the best smartphone in the world today" according to HTC CEO Peter Chou, who attended HTC's launch event in London today. So we went hands-on with the HTC One handset to put Chou's big claim to the test.

The thing that immediately struck us about the HTC One was its design. HTC claims it's the "most beautiful smartphone ever", and on first impressions it's hard to disagree.

Unlike last year's HTC One X flagship smartphone, the confusingly named HTC One arrives wrapped in a unibody aluminum casing, making the handset feel much more luxurious and expensive than its predecessor.

The HTC One features a unibody aluminum casing

Not only does this casing look good, it is comfortable to hold in the hand - and this is one of the lightest smartphones of this size that we've had the pleasure of holding.

Our only concern is that, like the iPhone 5, the silver and black aluminum casing might be prone to picking up scratches. Of course, we weren't quite brave enough to put this to the test at HTC's event in London today, but we'll be sure to do so for our full review.

Within the handset's casing sits a 4.7in full HD 1080p touchscreen, with a pixel density of 468ppi.

htc-one-hands-on

On first impressions, this screen is just as good as it sounds on paper, displaying crisp and clear text and images. Colours are vibrant too, and the display likely will give that of the Nokia Lumia 920 a run for its money.

This screen comes backed up by a 1.7GHz quad-core processor, which while we're yet to put it through its paces, seemed to keep everything running without any lag.

One of the main talking points of the HTC One is its new user interface, Sense 5.0. The main new feature here is HTC's Blink Feed, which aggregates content from news sources and social networks and places it on the handset's main home screen, sort of like Flipboard.

HTC One comes with HTC Sense 5.0 and Blink Feed

We'll be honest, we weren't expecting to like this feature, but on first impressions it's really good. As well as a welcome change to the usual sluggish Android interfaces, we could see ourselves using this 'widget' daily, as it provides a slick, stylish feed that it's hard not to scroll through.

Our only gripe, however, is its fiddliness. While scrolling through the feed, we found ourselves opening individual items by mistake, which could become increasingly annoying.

Scroll to the left, and the HTC One greets you with a pretty much vanilla version of Google's Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean mobile operating system. This is a welcome change from HTC's overcrowded Sense interface of old, while those who are fans of apps and widgets can spice up the handset as much as they like. We did spot though that HTC has removed its Friendstream widget, and we can honestly say we have never been happier.

HTC's updated Sense user interface also delivers the usual built-in Beats Audio sound technology, which comes paired with Boom Sound, HTC's new dual speaker set up. We were unable to put this to the test in HTC's noisy demo room, but it certainly sounds promising.

Another of the handset's big talking points is its camera. On paper, the 4MP rear-facing camera sounds, quite frankly, rubbish. However, thanks to its Ultrapixel sensor, HTC claims it offers 200 percent better image quality than the camera on its previous flagship smartphone, saying it's on a par with dedicated enthusiast cameras.

We managed to have a quick play with the camera, and we were immediately impressed. Even in the dank, nightclub-like launch venue, the HTC One managed to produce images full of natural colour and crisp, clear objects, while the same can't be said for our iPhone 5.

HTC Zoe, a new software feature that takes images and video simultaneously, is great too, although we can't help but think that most HTC One adopters will struggle to get to grips with it.

Unfortunately we don't have any image samples available, so be sure to check back soon for our full review. µ

 

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