An HTC One without Sense is not an HTC One

Some people think they want a plain vanilla Google version of the HTC One. For those of us who have a One and use it daily, this makes very little sense and after you see all that may be missing you may change your opinion too.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
An HTC One without Sense is not an HTC One
Image: HTC

The rumors and speculation makes it sound like a Google Edition HTC One is a sure thing, but I have to agree with ZDNet colleague Ben Woods when he writes it is a Sense-less plan and don't think people really understand what they will be missing. Let's take a deeper look at what you won't likely get on an HTC One without Sense 5.

Looking at the HTC One and features we find related directly to Sense, here is what you may lose with a Google Edition HTC One:

  • Video Highlights: I am still impressed by the way my HTC One creates dynamic 30-second video highlights from images, video, and Zoes that I capture. My family and friends enjoy these videos and this feature is one of the main reasons I keep using the HTC One.
  • Zoe: A Zoe is a 3-second video with 20 still images also captured that lets you capture more of the moment than just a single still image. They work well in Video Highlights and are fun to share with people.
  • BlinkFeed: I honestly thought I would go to the standard Android home screen and bypass using BlinkFeed on my own HTC One. However, I find it extremely useful and my experiences validate HTC's studies that showed people do like to snack on bits of information.
  • BoomSound: I have yet to find a smartphone with such great integrated speakers and if you are a heavy sleeper you will always wake to a BoomSound alarm. Thankfully, HTC gives you separate controls for the volume levels on ringtones & notifications, alarms, and music.
  • HTC Car: I received a free HTC One Car Kit with my One purchased on T-Mobile and it works with the HTC Car utility that is provided as part of the HTC experience.
  • Mail and Notes: As an Exchange user, I always preferred HTC Sense devices for a better email experience and the HTC One with Sense provides this compared to the limited vanilla Google client. Notes integrates with Evernote and lets you record audio in sync with text notes.
  • Sense TV and IR remote: HTC includes their Sense TV utility that works with the top IR port to control devices and provide you with the ability to see your favorites and upcoming shows right in your BlinkFeed.
  • Phone dialer: I previously wrote about some features on the HTC One that remind me of Windows Phone and the phone dialer is one that goes beyond what Google provides in Android. You can easily contact your favorite people, view recent communications, view their recent photo galleries, and view their latest status updates for a pretty amazing people-centric experience.
  • Sense Voice: There are advanced dual microphones in the HTC One that work to manage in-call voice and I can confirm that my voice calls over th past month have been excellent.

Now, with the loss of most, if not all, of those features what makes the device compelling? The hardware is fantastic and every review I have read has stated that, but is the hardware alone sufficient to justify the device? For some, yes, but I still argue that the One is a much better device loaded with Sense. I would personally like to see HTC focused on an HTC One Sense update that includes more Highlight Video themes, Zoe storage management update, and other fixes related to the One we already purchased.

I have had many pure Google Nexus devices and in the past I preferred that experience for the speed, updates, and interface. Over the last year though, I have been very satisfied with stock devices and haven't hacked my Galaxy Note II or HTC One. Google vastly improved the operating system with Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean and folks like Samsung, LG, and HTC have added value to Android devices.

You can always buy a Nexus or even hack up your device to get an Android experience. Samsung will be rolling out a TouchWiz-free S4, again losing many of the software enhancements that set that device apart, and I have to imagine only the serious die-hard Android user is going to pay the full $650 price for one. Ben points out that the likely market for a full price HTC One that loses most of the cool features will be small and I completely agree.

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