HTC One Google Edition hands-on: A One without Sense isn't a One

HTC One Google Edition hands-on: A One without Sense isn't a One

Summary: HTC and Samsung both rolled out Google Edition devices, but after spending a few days with the HTC One I am even more convinced that the best HTC One has Sense 5 as designed and optimized by HTC.


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  • As you can see in just a few of my posts about the HTC One below, I am a huge fan of this device and still consider it the best smartphone I have ever used. I've been using the HTC One Google Edition for the last few days and have compared it side-by-side to my T-Mobile HTC One with my belief that the HTC One with Sense 5 is still the much better smartphone for many reasons that I will explain below and show in the following screenshots.

    Enthusiasts have been asking for more pure Google experiences on hardware better than what we see on Nexus devices and so far HTC and Samsung have responded. My MoTR podcast co-host, Kevin Tofel, may soon be one of those people buying a Google Edition HTC One. I personally am sticking with my T-Mobile Sense 5 model and cannot wait for the additional features and improvements coming in the Android 4.2.2 update that looks to fill in a few of the holes that the Google Edition revealed.

    The following is a list of the areas I compared on both phones, along with my experience with each area. I show a few screenshots from most of these areas in the gallery, captured from each device.

    • Phone utility: I know many people don't care about making phone calls with their smartphones, but one of the most obvious advantages the Sense 5 version of the One has over the Google Edition is in the dialer and phone utility. The Sense One supports smart dialing, shows related communications with the selected contact, and shows that contact's latest social network status. Smart dialing lets you start to spell someone's name while filtering your contact list. The Google Edition has a basic dialer and basic contact application.
    • Exchange email client: As an Exchange user at my small company I have always loved that HTC has focused on this area and led with an excellent Exchange email client. Google has come far over the years, but HTC still leads with the ability to access all local folders while both Google and Samsung limit your access. You will experience a better user interface, the ability to set peak and off-peak syncing periods, and have access to more specific settings.
    • Calendar: I give the nod to the Google Edition when it comes to the calendar and actually use the Google one on my HTC One. HTC's looks decent, but I don't seem to have as much control over the layout of my calendar.
    • Camera software: While photo sphere is an interesting experiment and I do like the slide around usability of the Google camera app, Sense blows it away. You get the ability to capture 3-second Zoes, experience advanced editing functions, capture HDR video, apply image filters as you line up your shot, and more. The camera is one reason I use my HTC One so much and if imaging is important then you should get the Sense version of the One.
    • Calculator: I know you can get 3rd party calculators, but the advanced one on the Sense One is so much more usable.
    • Lock screen: You can setup a Google widget on the Google Edition, but there are more advanced lock screen options for the Sense One.
    • Media Link HD support: I personally like to share my photos and videos with family and friends on my HD TV using the Media Link HD, but I haven't found any utility to get this working with the Google Edition.
    • BlinkFeed: There is no BlinkFeed support on the Google Edition and this is a utility I actually use many times a day on my HTC One. I thought at first it would be a newbie function, but I enjoy catching up on news in this manner.
    • Task switcher: The HTC Sense model only shows you your nine most recent apps while the Google Edition uses the standard Android task switcher interface with more recent apps available.
    • Backup: I have never had much success with the limited backups supported by Google. HTC has a backup solution that you sync through an HTC account and this has worked very well for me. Only the Sense version supports HTC backup though.

    The settings are quite a bit different on both devices with my preference for the Sense settings. Both have Beats Audio support with a toggle to disable it if you like. There seem to be many more default accounts supported on the Sense One, but as you install apps the list expands too. There are likely other differences I haven't found yet, but these are the ones I was able to discover and test this weekend.

    The HTC One is probably the best smartphone hardware you will ever handle so if you just can't stand Sense then you can pick up the Google Edition for a very reasonable $599. I personally recommend the Sense model that offers you an experience optimized for this device that gives you so much more. With the upcoming 4.2.2 update the Sense model is going to get even better.

    Related ZDNet HTC One articles

  • Phone dialer on Google Edition

Topics: Mobility, Android, HTC, Reviews, Smartphones

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  • email

    Sense has the worst email client I have ever used. I have had Iphone, Windows Phone, HTC One X and Samsung S4

    Here is the deal with email clients Windows Phone slightly better than Iphone then a massive jump down to the Galaxy S4 which is much better IMOP than the email experience on HTC sense.

    Seriously it was really bad. I had many emails get stuck in the outbox. I made changes to appointments on my calendar and it would email updates to the other meeting members with the wrong times. It was just simply awful.

    I remember reading reviews talking up the HTC One X. So I get one and the screen isn't responsive, flaky wifi sometimes it would just disconnect, listening to pandora it can't transition from on wifi to the cell phone network, it got really hot and after a year the screen stopped working and I end up with a refurbished one. Oh and the camera blew out reds so bad that everybody looked like they had lipstick on. Not to mention the battery life was abysmal.
    • re: alderran

      alderran, I have the One X, I had none of the problems you're describing and I still completely love my phone.
      Darren Hollander
    • Huh?!

      What in the world are you talking about? The HTC One with Sense is the first Android phone with a built in email client worth using. It's the first time I've ever used the built in email, and it works extremely well.

      I've experienced exactly NONE of the issues that you are suggesting.
    • HTC One X is NOT an HTC One

      You are not talking about the same phone, and the different phones have different versions of Android and Sense. Hard to compare.
    • Huh???

      I had a HTC One X for a year and I never experienced ANY of your complaints. You must have dropped it in a tub full of water or placed it in a grill or something, or you simply have a very bad luck.
      By the way I had it for a year only because I switched to HTC One. :)
  • Samsung

    I recently switched to a Samsung Galaxy S3 from HTC phones, and while I really like the hardware, it's taking me quite a while to get comfortable with the software. Sense just seems better thought out than Touchwiz. In fact, I paid for and downloaded "HD Widgets" just to get many of the convenient settings widgets that Sense gives you for free.

    If only the HTC One SV offered more than 1.2 Gb of application storage space, I would have gladly stuck wit HTC. But since I was already using 700+ Mb of storage on my HTC One V, even after moving my apps to the SD card, it was painfully obvious that if I were to go with the One SV I would soon be making painful decisions as to which apps I would keep on my device. That's a lesson HTC needs to learn. The phone needs real internal storage space. You can't rely on the SD card.
    • You get what you pay for.

      The One SV is a mid tier value phone and the S3 is last years superphone. The SV was built with value with features in higher end phones in mind.

      Its like getting a new 4 cyl Camry or last generation's v6 model. The newer camry may look a bit fresher, but there is no way you can ask a 4 banger to perform at the same level of a 6 cylinder engine.

      Internal memory costs money and 4 GB internal is pretty standard for phones in that category.
      • It's not about the SV

        The article is about the HTC One, not the SV. The One has plenty of memory.
      • All I'm saying

        All I'm saying is that the HTC One SV offered everything I wanted in a phone except internal memory. I liked the size, I liked the SD card slot and user replaceable battery, the screen resolution was perfectly adequate for my needs... but it faltered when it came to internal memory. I recall having to make painful decisions the last 6 months that I owned an HTC Evo because the 380 Mb of internal memory, that seemed like more than you could ever need in 2011, by late 2012 was barely enough to hold basic apps. I would gladly have paid $20.00 more for an HTC One SV with 4 Gb of user accessible app memory, if that had been an option. But it wasn't. So on my carrier (Cricket) the choice was clear Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4. I chose the former because I didn't feel the $150.00 added expense of the S4 gained me enough to justify the cost.
  • I wish the OEMs were making a unified effort

    to make Android collectively a better experience rather than working hard to make Android as different from the competition as possible.

    Google is doing good things though.
    • Disagree

      The overall android experience is still very much driven by Google. Sense and TouchWiz, at this point, are very refined and offer unique experiences, whilst still being Android. I wouldn't have it any other way.
      • I disagree

        Sense and TouchWiz prove that Google is NOT doing a good job, otherwise there would be no need for these added layers on their phones.
        • so then there's no need for

          KDE, gnome, windows, OSX? I'm afraid I don't understand your statement.

          "Someone built a GUI for it, so it must be worthless."
          Was that it? If it was that it's a ridiculous point of view. By your account, DOS is worthless because they has to write windows for it. UNIX is worthless because they write OSX for it. Linux is worthless because someone wrote dozens of GUIs for it. Different user interfaces only change how things are done, therefore catering to the needs of different folks.
  • HTC One Variant with Windows Phone 8 OS Appears

    Finally a buyable version ;),23262.html

    ZDNET you got scooped.
    • Windows Phone.... Meh

      I really cannot see any reason to have a Windows phone...
    • Windows Phone? Are they still even trying?

      ...Windows phone?
      So you can go from an ecosystem that has lots of apps and developer support, to one that is an embarrassing barren wasteland?
      It's the same problem Blackberry is facing right now - and at least Blackberry is starting to release some decent looking hardware.

      Oh - and I don't think there's any Swype available in Windows Phone land. That's a dealbreaker for me, as I often have to write lengthy support Emails.

      Same with that non-removable/replaceable battery. I actually travel for work, and I'm not going to get stuck coming out of a restaurant at 9:30pm to get back in the rental car to navigate back to "what hotel am I staying at this time again..." and have my battery die.

      With my current phone, I just pop in an extra charged battery from my pocket - cost me $25 for two of them plus a charger for them. With the One, I'd have to buy one of those ludicrous cigarette-pack sized battery $150 battery packs, which I'd inevitably leave in my laptop bag back in the hotel room because I wouldn't pocket it. Terrible, terrible design.
      • I do everything your dream anroid does and faster on wp8

        I can't stand swype, wp8 word suggestions are better and faster.

        I dread having to text or email on my work phone S2.

        Apps are the past and for little kids, get to the future with an integrated wp8 phone.

        Obviously the One isn't selling well enough and they are going to WP8. It's just another android phone, that's the problem with them.
      • Windows phone 8 is just fine

        165,000 apps available for download, so there is plenty to offer.
        There are windows phones with removable batteries.
        I miss swipe, but the predictive text is really good and the keyboard updates coming in WP8.1 look awesome. It is like a twist on Skype.
  • Thanks Mr. Miller!

    Thanks Mr. Miller! I thought the google edition was what I wanted, but every comparison I read makes me think I'd be happier with Sense 5. Though, I wonder if I'll feel differently when Key Lime Pie is released? hm.
    Darren Hollander
  • if you're going to define the One by Sense

    then most people don't want your idea of the One.