One year ago this week I was able to get my hands on the HTC One and still use it on a regular basis. It is rare for me to use a phone for more than a few months, but the HTC One remains my favorite smartphone ever and has earned a permanent spot in my device collection.
In the past couple of months I have jumped around to the Moto X and Apple iPhone 5s, but either my primary or prepaid T-Mobile SIM has also stayed in the HTC One.
The Moto X knocked the HTC One out as my primary for a bit because of the added features from Motorola, but after a couple of months I am finding I don't use those that much and the camera is still a lot worse on the Moto X than the HTC One. I still like the Moto X, but am happier with my HTC One.
I use the iPhone 5s primarily because it gets the newest apps and services first (Pebble appstore, UP24 support, Tweetbot 3, and many more) and photos with more "depth" than the HTC One. However, I like the larger display on the HTC One and still find it to be a better piece of hardware.
HTC One hardware
The HTC One is a perfect combination of size (4.7 inches is the sweet spot between usability and pocketability), high quality design (the metal, beveled edges, and that fantastic display), and innovation (there is still no one who can match Highlight Videos, HTC BoomSound, and HTC BlinkFeed functionality).
I tried a couple of cases on my HTC One over the past year, but 99 percent of the time I carry it without a case. The back is nearly scratch free, even after a full year of use around the country, in shipyards, on runs, and after being dropped several times. I have never had a smartphone with such quality and durability.
I still get better battery life with the HTC One than I do with the Moto X and iPhone 5s. I haven't read much about the battery on the Moto X or iPhone 5s being that limited, but I cannot go through one of my typical days with either of those devices without charging them up. However, I can go a full day with my HTC One, even with a year of charging and usage under its belt.
HTC One software
My T-Mobile HTC One currently runs Android 4.3 with HTC Sense 5.0 and the Android 4.4 update is at T-Mobile going through certification right now. I am a firm believer that HTC Sense makes the HTC One and having stock Android on it kills the HTC experience. I already listed many reasons why I love the HTC One and those remain valid today, which is why my T-Mobile SIM is back in the One right now.
I am looking forward to the Sense 5.5 enhancements, including enhanced BlinkFeed, Highlight Videos improvements, Do Not Disturb settings, and more.
Would I buy another HTC in 2014?
I honestly thought the HTC One would be more widely adopted by consumers and help HTC be successful, but their troubles go beyond one amazing piece of hardware. HTC's financials were disappointing all last year, including a poor fourth quarter with December sales falling 42.46 percent, as compared to December of 2012.
ZDNet's Larry Dignan wrote that the recent Lenovo purchase of Motorola Mobility will lead to HTC's demise as we know it today and unfortunately Larry's options for HTC seem likely. I started using devices made by HTC back in 2000 (Compaq iPAQ) and 13 years later I am still a major fan of their devices so it personally makes me sad to see them struggle to stay alive. Making one of the best pieces of hardware available is not enough to be successful and they may have to go back to making devices for other partners.
Marketing is one area where HTC fails and unfortunately they spent a lot of money on a weird Robert Downey Jr. Here's To Change campaign that may have resulted in more people hearing about the name HTC, but nothing that showed how fantastic the HTC One really is. HTC could learn a few things from Apple on how to run successful marketing campaigns.
HTC has addressed their previous failures to update devices in a timely manner and has kept the HTC One updated as fast as carriers will allow. The Android 4.4 KitKat update is starting to roll out in the US now with Sprint certifying and allowing the update first.
Given the increasing pressure from competitors, failed marketing tactics, along with successful designs and an improved update program would I buy another HTC in 2014? Personally, I will consider buying an improved HTC One this year because my HTC One has performed like a champ for a year and there is no reason I couldn't continue to use it until the internal battery fails. I also know that I can always hack an HTC Android device even if HTC is no longer operating as we know them today.
Would I recommend others buy an HTC device this year? That is not as clear cut. Many people buy a phone and are pleased with its performance as it was out of the box for the two years of their contract. Others want a phone with the latest and greatest software all the time, these people should stick with an iPhone or a Nexus device. I have never had to use warranty service on my phones so am not worried about long term coverage from HTC or others.