HTC One: Meet the smartphone that can save HTC

HTC One: Meet the smartphone that can save HTC

Summary: With its unibody aluminum smartphone, HTC will finally be launching the same Android device with the same name on multiple US carriers. The HTC One combines amazing hardware with a unique software experience.


2012 was a tough year for HTC and they need to do something dramatic in 2013 to compete for customers in the Android market.

Today, we see the official announcement of the HTC One and, after using one for a bit a couple weeks ago, I think HTC is on the right path to success.

(Credit: HTC)

With the HTC One (I agree that using this name again may be a bit confusing) we see innovations in hardware and software along with HTC finally releasing an Android device across multiple carriers in the US with the same name and hardware. Apple does this with the iPhone and Samsung has done it with the Galaxy S III and Note II.

HTC was able to actually release hardware with the same name and design on multiple carriers with the HTC 8X, but that is running a platform (Windows Phone 8) that has yet to gain any appreciable market share. I think having the HTC One, an Android smartphone, on multiple carriers with the same name and design will indeed help the HTC brand and that is something that must be done to succeed.

HTC One name

HTC One_Silver
(Credit: HTC)

Last year at Mobile World Congress we heard HTC's strategy to reduce the number of devices and focus on quality. We heard of the HTC One brand, but then saw US wireless carriers kill that idea with the launch of different devices all with different names. We saw the T-Mobile HTC One S, AT&T One X, Verizon Droid DNA, and Sprint HTC EVO 4G LTE.

I still think the HTC One X is one of the best Android devices ever made, yet with the release only on AT&T it seems few even knew how great it was.

While it may be a bit confusing for us smartphone enthusiasts that HTC is launching the HTC One, again, I doubt many consumers will even know HTC tried using that naming strategy last year. I am not a marketing specialist so don't know if this HTC One branding will resonate, but with the same device launching on multiple carriers and all looking the same we may hear people asking for The One.

HTC One hardware

I think the new all aluminum body HTC One is the highest quality smartphone I have ever held in my hands. The Apple iPhone 5 has fantastic industrial design, as does the HTC Droid DNA. IMHO, HTC took this further with their HTC One design. Some have said it looks like an iPhone, but you really have to hold it to see that it is MUCH different.

Specifications for the HTC One include:

  • 4.7 inch, 1080p, 468 ppi, Super LCD 3 display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.7 GHz processor
  • Android Jelly Bean with HTC Sense 5
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB and 64GB integrated storage capacity
  • NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n WiFi, DLNA, Infrared (more on this below)
  • Dual front facing speakers with integrated amplifiers
  • Beats Audio
  • HDR microphone
  • HTC Ultrapixel camera with 2.0 micrometer pixel, F2.0 aperature, 28 mm lens, and 1/3' sensor
  • 2,300 mAh Li-polymer battery
  • Dimensions: 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm and 143 grams

It is fantastic to see another amazing 1080p LCD display, the ample RAM, and finally a healthy does of internal storage capacity, since it seems that HTC won't put microSD in these new high end devices. The dual front-facing stereo speakers are a nice touch.

While camera phone geeks may be concerned about the new ultrapixel camera, I think as long as HTC can show the One takes great photos and videos they may be able to get away from the megapixel discussion that people focus on way too much. More megapixels does not mean a better picture. Nokia showed this with the 808 PureView that captures 8 and 5 megapixel photos and then uses the technology to achieve the 41 megapixel level. You can capture 38 full res photos without PureView imaging and no one can argue that the Nokia 808 PureView is the ultimate in camera phones.

HTC's new camera has a sensor that they claim lets in 300 percent more light than traditional camera phones. It also has optical image stabilization (OIS), which is a function that prompted me to buy the Nokia Lumia 920. I cannot wait to test out the HTC One and see how it compares to the lowlight and image stabilized experiences of the Lumia 920.

The front facing speakers also lead to the HTC BoomSound feature. These speakers have a dedicated amplifier, along with Beats Audio. HDR recording is also present with dual microphones and advanced audio processing. You will also find HTC Sense Voice that boosts call volume and quality in busy environments.

HTC One software

We see a few new innovations and interesting ideas in the HTC One. Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation stated:

People today immerse themselves in a constant stream of updates, news and information. Although smartphones are one of the main ways we stay in touch with the people and information we care about, conventional designs have failed to keep pace with how people are actually using them. A new, exciting approach to the smartphone is needed and with the new HTC One, we have re-imagined the mobile experience from the ground up to reflect this new reality

The main new innovation we see that people will notice right away is HTC BlinkFeed, which is the focus of the new home screen experience. HTC BlinkFeed presents personally relevant information rather than typical Android widgets, Live tiles, or application shortcuts. You can fully customize what appears here so you can make the HTC One a Facebook phone if you want by just having Facebook updates appear; make it a sports phone with sports feeds appearing; or have a wide assortment of fresh content.

For those who don't want this unique home screen experience, you can always swipe once to a typical Android home screen environment. However, I know that many family and friends pick up the iPhone or Windows Phone because they say they are too overwhelmed by Android and I think that HTC's BlinkFeed may appeal to these type of smartphone buyers.

One of the coolest new functions I saw when I met with HTC folks was the HTC Zoe camera utility. Zoe is named after the zoetrope, a device that appears to make still images move. The HTC Zoe utility lets you use the camera to create Zoes, 3-second videos that can then be easily "mashed" together with still images, videos, and theme music to create fun highlight films that you can then share with others.

The gallery on the HTC One comes to life too, much like the newspaper you see in Harry Potter films. The experience is very cool and I honestly don't think these highlight films are gimmicks, but will be a useful way to share events with people in a more dramatic way than just through still photos or videos. I can see using these when I take business trips to share destination highlights with my family, to capture my daughters' basketball and soccer game highlights, and other memorable events like birthday parties.

Another new feature we tested out is the HTC Sense TV software that lets you control your TV, set-top box, and receiver through the infrared unit that is found in the top power button. In addition to simple control, the software has ways to make the TV viewing experience one based on favorite stations and genres.

Pricing and availability

Until carrier announcements are made, we won't know detailed pricing or availability information. HTC did state that the HTC One will be launching around the world starting in March. In the US, we will see it on T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Cincinnati Bell. We haven't heard anything about Verizon's plan, but the HTC Droid DNA is very similar to the HTC One and Verizon may be waiting to clear out some of that inventory.

Topics: Mobility, Android, HTC, Smartphones, AT&T

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • They should make a WP8 version of this hardware. Some people prefer this to

    the weird 8X case. WP8 is so much better than android they should have it on all their hardware
    Johnny Vegas
    • I would agree, a WP8 with similar specs would be excellent.

    • I would like to see that

      This phone would would do well with Microsoft Windows Phone 8 on it.
      • BS

        They already have the 8x a decent phone which has failed even with multi carrier due to the use of windows. Why bother trying again. There's a reason android is being used. A far superior os which has already been proven by its popularity.
        • Wrong.

          People pickup Android phones because of $0 or $0.01 offerings here at least in US. If you look at AT&T store you get variety of good phones, mostly from Samsung, are Android based, and people look at the brand name. If not iPhone, then get a Samsung or Nokia phone. They don't care about what is running behind them.
          Ram U
          • New smartphone buyers maybe

            Anyone with an investment in one ecosystem or the other, they will be considering what's running behind it. Although major apps are cross-platform, people will become increasingly aware of the platform they choose.
            I also think you're not entirely correct on the reason choose android phones. None of the high-end phones are given away, you either pay a surcharge up front or extra on the contract. Yet these more expensive phones are the one's selling more than any other. If what you say is true, the best selling android phone would be a single core freebie.
            Little Old Man
          • While I agree with you

            most of the novice smartphone buyers don't what platform it runs on. If they are not looking for iPhone, they obviously look for Samsung, Nokia then HTC comes to mind. Of course you right about being locked into ecosystem and one has to make up their mind to come out of that ecosystem. The big danger to Android I am seeing is not from competing platforms iOS or Windows Phone 8, it is going to be from Samsung.
            Ram U
          • WP phones are cheaper

            I think Samsung S3 is the best selling android and is far from cheap. Not sure if everywhere but probably more expensive than a lumia 920
          • Re: They don't care about what is running behind them.

            And yet you get the same hardware, with either Android or Windows Phone on it, and the Android one sells, but the Windows one doesn't.
        • So so wrong. You must even know it.

          Windows phone hasnt failed at all yet. Are you saying that anyone expected it to be way ahead of where it is??

          Maybe you thought WP was really going to simply take over? didnt. Anyone with a brain didnt. The fact is WP is still hardly known by the public the way iPhone and Android phones are. Its going to be a long expensive haul for MS continuing to keep getting the word out and they need to make sure all the Walmarts and Best Buys have WP8 on display with inventory ready to go. Its hard to convince the masses to purchase something that still isnt known about or available at their local big box store of choice.

          WP hasnt failed yet. You know it. WP8 has a very very long road and a long haul ahead of it. It will take a lot of commitment and a few years to see if Windows phone fails.

          And see we will. Right now sales are increasing at a very slow but sure pace. We all know when something really has failed.

          Its not for sale anymore.
          • Dream on

            Double of 1% is 2% so even if the sales double they are still going nowhere…they are actually going backwards:


            Windows Phone 8 is doomed as the whole Windows 8 Metro “revolution”. Now let’s see if Microsoft will get the message on time.
    • WP8 is a failed toy OS

      Wrong. WP8 is a toy OS, with those distracting and confusing silly tiles. It's only pushed by Nokia because Micro$oft has an insider Trojan horse
    • Re: They should make a WP8 version of this hardware.

      They already did that--all HTC's "8" models are adaptations of corresponding Android-based "One" models.

      None of the Windows-based models have sold well.
  • HTC One: Meet the smartphone that can save HTC

    As long as its based on android this will be just another phone that is lost in the mix.
    • what if

      you are wrong?
      • Well HTC One is a good phone

        But HTC can't compete with Google's Nexus line or Samsung's Galaxy line at the higher end phones market. Look at other HTC current offerings on Android side of the house, they are really good phones, but they suck at sales. People whenever they walk into stores (here at least in US, and I am not talking about rest of the world), they pick Galaxy SIII over HTC One anytime.
        Ram U
  • HTC mistake

    HTC learn nothing from past and they again make this same mistakes, instead put there Windows Phone 8 they use android wasting time, efforts and money.
    • They needed a real flagship

      Full HD can be overkill but I guess it's the new trend. WP8 I believe don't support full HD.
    • Microsoft shills working overtime

      That silly toy OS? it's a failure
  • Unless HTC uses massive SPIF, it will fail against Samsung.

    When a sales rep in a carrier store can make $25/Galaxy device, it does not matter how good the HTC One is unless the carrier rep can make the similar $$$ on each customer sale.