The HTC One is the best smartphone I have ever used (review)

The HTC One is the best smartphone I have ever used (review)

Summary: HTC needed to knock it out of the ballpark with a new phone and get it onto all major US carriers. They have done both with the HTC One, so now it is up to marketing to help it succeed.

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Software and HTC Sense 5

In addition to the fantastic hardware, HTC teams put a lot of work into HTC Sense 5 and related software. Here are some thoughts on these new features:

BlinkFeed

The central focus of HTC Sense 5 is BlinkFeed and it comes as the default home screen. You can of course easily change this or swipe once to get back into a standard HTC Android experience. However, even as a power user, I find I spend most of my time browsing or "snacking" on the information shown on BlinkFeed. Yes, it is similar to Flipboard, but offers more personal information and has a cooler user interface. HTC apparently studied people and found they enjoy snacking on information like this, and even though I thought I would hide this part of the experience, I am loving it.

My wife can't wait to have her HTC One with BlinkFeed setup for Facebook since she primarily uses her phone for Facebook, photos, text messages, and calls.

Phone interface

Speaking of calls, I wrote about the Windows Phone look to the phone utility and I personally love it. I like how easy it is to navigate and how well laid-out the dialer display is.

Application launcher

HTC also provides a custom app launcher and, for the most part, I like what I see when I have the 4x5 grid selected. However, I do not like that I have to drag an icon up to the top to the double arrow (if I am on a different screen) and then back down again to drop it in a folder.

Areas to work on

The HTC One is not perfect, but many of the things I would like to see changed can be taken care of with software updates. Here is my list of cons and recommendations:

  • Custom feeds in BlinkFeed. I see that HTC is increasing content partners — Android Central is there now — but I would still like the ability to fully control the content that appears in my BlinkFeed.
  • Zoes and memory consumption. I understand that the way Zoes work is to capture burst shots, however I wish there was a less manual way than to have to manage hundreds of photos and many that may look nearly identical to each other.
  • App launcher organization. I should not have to drag icons up to the top of the screen and then back down below the clock to place them in folders.

Things I still need to test

I plan to continue testing the HTC One, including the OIS video I mentioned above. I also need to do more testing on the HTC TV utility and IR port, but I don't have cable so there is limited usefulness for me. Anything else you wish me to try out?

Closing thoughts

I plan to buy an HTC One as soon as it comes on T-Mobile. I thought about a Verizon one, but they haven't announced one and they already have the Droid DNA that looks to be about 95% of what the HTC One already is. I also plan to buy my wife one to replace her Lumia 900. This is the first Android phone she has really been trying to take from me and she agrees that the hardware is stunning.

HTC needs to put some major marketing behind the HTC One. It is clearly a better piece of hardware than anything else out there or coming soon and deserves a fighting chance. HTC did just about everything they could with the hardware and software while also making broad carrier deals to get the device launching on three of the top four US carriers. Now it is time to tell the story of the HTC One and let the world touch it.

I recommend you check out some other reviews of the HTC One, summarized and linked on the GDGT page where the critic reviews show an average of 8.9. If I had a rating system, I would give the HTC One something like 9.5 to 9.8 out of 10. I can't really find anything to complain about and the few minor issues I have are correctable with software updates.

Topics: Mobility, Android, HTC, Reviews, Smartphones

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Talkback

133 comments
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  • No MicroSD, No Sale

    At least for me, if there's no MicroSD slot, I won't buy it. I keep *all* my digital photos on my phone. It's my own version of off-site backup, and the folder gets bigger week by week. Sure the 64 GB version of the HTC One might be OK for now, but in a year or so, it might not be. For me, being able to easily add storage is a huge deal.
    bmgoodman
    • Re: It's my own version of off-site backup

      Considering how easy it is to lose a phone, I wouldn't do that if I were you.
      ldo17
    • Get with the times

      Every time I hear someone say they "NEED" an SD slot on their phone, I picture some elderly person clinging-on to their 1980's PC with floppy disks.
      furious00
      • Need may be too strong a word

        But want -- a lot -- is certainly totally reasonable. And the OP wants it, a lot. For him it is a differentiator that makes a phone that is otherwise tempting much less so. And that's his opinion. You may not "need" one, so go ahead and get a One or an iPhone or a Lumia 920 or a...and enjoy it.
        x I'm tc
      • Oh please

        There are definitely use cases where a ton of storage is important. People immediately assume that we're just too stupid to put our pictures and movies and music on THE CLOUD! but there are space-hungry apps that can't be so easily offloaded.

        Now maybe eventually someone will write an app that can swap apps between phone storage and THE CLOUD! as needed, but this might not be such a hot idea for most people given that the major carriers have all axed unlimited data in order to squeeze more money from their customers who use THE CLOUD! like they're encouraged to do.

        Thus, I remain of the opinion that more storage is better and less storage is worse.
        Jim McNary
        • I guess I'll start to worry

          if I ever fill up the 16G onboard....still got over 10G free, but then I don't keep ever song I own or picture I've taken on the phone. Why would I?
          timspublic1@...
          • why wouldnt I want a large video and music collection

            If I am out and about I want to be able to choose something to suit my mood at the time - it doesn't take many HD videos to fill up an internal card -especially when it often doesn't have anywhere near the headline space available. However it is horses for courses - if you don't store tons of data, play large games or use your phone as a constant entertainment device, and you don't want to hack or mess around with it, then you don't need Micro SD. The point being made is that the presence of a micro sd would not stop you from buying one however the absence of one will stop others, why lose even a part of your potential market over such a cheap small thing.
            cymru999
          • Full HD movies

            all you need to do to fill up 16gb is load a bluray movie on your phone.
            with a full hd screen that storage limit becomes restrictive real easily.
            warboat
          • Also lossless audio compression as a use of space

            I never have enough room to keep very much of it lossless, and I really prefer not having the artifacts of lossy compression - the high frequencies are not great and the bottle is kind of lifeless... If you really listen.
            Schoolboy Bob
          • Buy your movies from Google Play

            They stay in the cloud and you can stream them to your phone without using memory.
            wiseoldbird
          • Try that on the subway sometime.

            Let us know how it goes.
            sleepdawg
          • So you get an SD card

            and fill 4 movies on the phone? So more memory isn't really useful to you either.

            I think you can use a compression technique to get near HD quality and not take nearly the space!
            wiseoldbird
          • wait what?

            being able to store 4 movies on an SD card is not useful?
            that's 4 more movies that I can store without an SD card.
            Don't give me this cloud streaming excuse. If I want to stream it, I have that choice. If I want to view movies offline because I don't have unlimited data then the choice is mine.
            warboat
          • To be fair

            Even compressed you are talking at least a Gig. Realistically 1.5 to take advantage of the high res screen. I don't know who needs this, not many people sit around watching movies on their phones, but I have on occasion. But 32gb with 8-9gb of music, 1-2 of other still leaves room for 3-4 movies for those rare occasions.
            stano360
        • Unlimited Data

          Both Sprint and T-Mobile offer unlimited data, and AT&T as well, if you're grandfathered in (as I am).
          Derek Barr
          • T-Mobile

            offers "unlimited data" but after 5 gigs they throttle the bandwidth to about 70Kb/s
            wiseoldbird
          • Sprint

            They are the only true unlimited. No throttling!
            jet1959mo@...
        • If you have the cloud

          and unlimited bandwidth, why would you swap anything back and forth? Old style thinking there.

          Are you upset with your phone cuz you can't send the AT transmission commands, like you did with your modem?
          wiseoldbird
          • new age sheep

            I don't have unlimited data. using airtime to stream data is also taxing on the battery.
            I don't keep my life in the cloud, that's for ignorant noobs.
            warboat
          • *bingo*

            ;)

            Seriously, the cloud - and the draconian, bloodsucking terms of service (royalty-free copy and all), is for the n00bs and r00bs...
            HypnoToad72