HTC One review: First look
The HTC One, HTC's 2013 flagship and a beautifully designed smartphone - here's our first look
It's no secret; HTC has had a rough 2012. What makes it even rougher is the fact that it churned out some fantastic hardware throughout the year.
The HTC One X and HTC One S were announced at Mobile World Congress last year, almost as two flagships given the quality of both. Unsurprisingly, they're still two of our top smartphone choices.
Later in the year, the HTC Desire X and HTC One X+ injected fresh blood into HTC's portfolio, both top quality phones across two very different price-points.
But HTC still lost money, and at the end of the day it all boils down to the bottom line.
In a bid to rejuvenate the brand in 2013, HTC is adopting a new tactic.
Pulling out of MWC, HTC is holding one launch event, releasing one phone, seemingly putting all its eggs in one basket.
It's little wonder it named its intended saviour the HTC One.
HTC One: Design
Anodised aluminium meets bevelled edges and HTC's reliably fantastic attention to design detail; the HTC One makes for a sensational first impression.
It feels like it's bordering on a precious object, though it without double sided glass, doesn't come across as overly delicate.
The fascia is framed up at the top and bottom with micro drilled holes highlighting the front facing stereo speakers.
The 4.7-inch screen shines beautifully between these bookends and two capacitive buttons sit at its base, with a centred HTC insignia in between them.
At the top left is a power button that doubles up as an IR port - we'll come onto that later. The 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top right.
The right side houses a volume rocker. It's metal and is detailed with a spiral effect pattern - attention to detail is immaculate.
The microUSB port is thankfully on the bottom end of the HTC One, unlike the side-mounted HTC One X USB port. One thing they do have in common though is MHL functionality for output to an HD TV.
The sides are tapered in, sort of like the HTC One SV. That's where the comparisons end with HTC's mid-range offering, with the HTC One looking infinitely more premium than any HTC before it.
Being 4.7-inches and relatively bezel free either side of the display, the HTC One delivers a very comfortable in hand experience. It's smaller than its main competition, the Sony Xperia Z and more ergonomic with its curvaceous back.
Weighing 143g, it's naturally heavier than the feather weight 112g iPhone 5, though doesn't feels well weighted, packing a reassuring presence.
HTC One: Screen
The SLCD 3 display is incredibly crisp with its full HD, 1080x1920 pixel resolution. The fact it's the smallest full HD phone out there means that its pixel density, measured in pixels per inch is a jaw dropping 463.
If Apple coined the term retina display for its iPhone 4, at this pixel density, the HTC One takes it to the next level.
And if super small pixels are what they're doing with their screen tech, their camera tech is going the other way.
HTC One: Sense 5
Evolving the UI with simpler iconography and a condensed version of the Roboto typeface, Sense 5 takes the HTC One in a very new direction thanks to BlinkFeed.
This aggregator has become your main homescreen. It's comprised of your Twitter and Facebook feeds as well as news from a curated list.
Swipe right for a standard Android screen set-up, meaning there are just two screens by default.
This all sits on top of Android 4.1, updateable to 4.2 in the near future. While a drastic change in terms of homescreen look and feel, the HTC One still feels like a distinctly Android offering, and gives you full access to the Google Play Store.
HTC One: Camera
The HTC One packs a sensor that's is about the same size as the competition. Each individual pixel however Is significantly larger than a pixel in a standard camera phone. How does the One achieve these larger pixels? By putting less of them in. In other words, the HTC One has a resolution of about 4-megapixels.
Now before you stop reading and cast off the One as a downgrade from your current cameraphone, hear HTC's logic out; it's sound.
Four million, large, UltraPixels, sit inside the HTC One's sensor.
That's in contrast to, say, eight million smaller pixels in the 5-megapixel iPhone 5 sensor or thirteen million micro pixels found in the 13-megapixels Sony Xperia Z.
With each pixel in HTC's phone being physically bigger, it captures more light, thus producing a better overall image, in spite of the resolution drop. That's the theory anyway - and as we said, it's sound.
Both an f/2 lens and optical image stabilisation also sits on board the HTC One camera suggesting that as far as low light performance goes, the HTC One may well be the best out there - we'll let you know if that's the case when we do.
The entertainment doesn't stop there though. First off, HTC has introduced something called Zoe on their One.
This is a camera mode that simultaneous takes a 3.6 second video clip and a burst of 20 full resolution photo with a single press of the on screen shutter.
HTC's approach is that technology has moved beyond the confines of a still image, and Zoe, from the word zoetrope embodies that.
As with BlackBerry's Story Maker, Zoes can then be composited to a montage video automatically, richly commemorating an event.
The final multimedia highlight of the HTC One sits in the power button located at the top left. It doubles up as an infrared port which is convenient, given the HTC TV app on board the One.
HTC One: TV
Rather than just being a remote control, the app shows you the shows that are currently on, complete with thumbnail and defined by category. It then lets you simply select a program and it automatically punches in the channel to your TV or set top box.
HTC One: Specs
Remaining specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 600 clocked at 1.7GHz as well as 2GB of RAM powers everything along.
The HTC One also offers 32GB of non-expandable memory, as well as 25GB of Dropbox storage for two years. Battery is a sizeable 2330mAh, the same as on the Sony Xperia Z and with any luck, will deliver a full day's use from a single charge.
We like it so far. It looks good, it's ergonomic, it's edgy, it's got a stunning screen, interesting, albeit heavy UI and is powerful to boot. Is it enough to swing HTC's fortunes in a profitable direction? Who's to say. But we'll be sure to tell you if it's a competitive phone in our full review coming soon.