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HTC One hardware and first impressions (gallery)

It's a simple fact that HTC makes superb hardware and that the HTC One is their new undisputed champion. They did most everything right with the HTC One. See my hands-on report for all the details.
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By Matthew Miller, Contributor on
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1 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The HTC One sets the bar for today's high end smartphones

HTC announced the HTC One back in mid-February, and an international eval unit arrived on Saturday. I've been using it constantly since Saturday morning and the more I discover what the HTC One can do, the more convinced I am that HTC is doing just about everything they can with the device and now they need to share the story with the world.

As you can see in the list below, I have been cranking out galleries, videos, and experiences with different aspects of the HTC One. Due to the last-minute shipping and lift of the embargo, I have been scrambling all weekend to post on the device. It has actually motivated me to post multiple posts as I explore different aspects and give readers the chance to read the topics they are most interested in.

Initial hands-on

I held the HTC One at the launch event and it felt great in my hand. After getting to spend a couple of days with the device I am convinced it is the best-constructed smartphone I have ever held. I had thought the HTC Droid DNA, HTC 8X, or iPhone 5 was the best, but HTC again raised the bar for fantastic designs.

HTC led last year with the best display on the HTC One X and they again lead with the Super LCD 3 display on the HTC One. There was a rare day of full sun in Washington on Saturday and I could not believe how amazing the screen looked outside. I saw very little effect of the direct sunlight and it was very refreshing to be using a phone that can be used inside or out without restriction.

Specifications

Specifications on the latest smartphones are mostly the same, but it is still important to check them out on Android phones. Here are the specs for the HTC One.

  • 4.7 inch 1080p display with 468 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, quad-core, 1.7 GHz processor
  • Android 4.1.2 with HTC Sense 5
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32/64 GB internal memory storage options
  • Dual front stereo speakers with Beats Audio
  • HDR microphone with Sense Voice
  • Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX, NFC, WiFi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n
  • Miracast and DLNA connectivity
  • Ultrapixel camera with HTC ImageChip 2, optical image stabilization, and more
  • 2.1 megapixel front facing wide-angle camera
  • 2,300 mAh integrated Li-polymer battery
  • Dimensions of 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm and 143 grams

As you can see, there is really nothing lacking in the HTC One. I'm sure we will hear people complain about the lack of a microSD card slot and removable battery, but with 32 or 64 GB integrated memory I don't think the external card slot is that much of a factor. It remains to be seen what battery life is like at this point.

Hardware

The 4.7 inch Super LCD 3 is awesome and I don't think you will find a better smartphone screen anywhere. Above the display you will find one of the stereo speakers between some sensors and the front-facing camera. There is an indicator light hidden in the third hole from the left in the speaker grille.

Below the display you will find two capacitive buttons and the other stereo speaker. It's a bit strange only seeing two capacitive buttons below the display, one on the left for the back button and one on the right for home. Don't worry about pressing the HTC name in the center, that is not a button and won't do anything for you. The back button just takes you back, there are no double tap or tap and hold options with this button. On the other hand, there are home button options:

  • Double tap of home button: Brings up multi-tasking display showing nine active apps. You can tap and swipe up on an icon to close the application.
  • Tap and then tap and hold: Brings up Google Now.

The volume rocker is on the right side and the microSIM card slot is on the left. The microUSB port is on the bottom right with the power button and the 3.5mm headset jack is on the top. The IR transmitter is found within the power button. The camera and flash are found on the upper back.

The aluminum shell gives the HTC One a million dollar feel. You can see antenna pieces integrated into the shell, along with the embedded HTC logo and Beats Audio labeling. The back is slightly curved, the edges are beveled, and I can't say enough about how great it feels in your hand.

What's next?

I have only had a couple full days with the HTC One and as you can see above there is a LOT in the device. I have plenty more to check out and can't pass judgement yet on a few things until the final shipping firmware is released. Here are functions I still plan to test out and if there is anything else you want me to check out, please leave a comment.

  • Advanced camera editing functions
  • Battery life
  • Low-light camera performance, especially compared to the Nokia Lumia 920
  • Optical image stability while recording video, again with a focus on comparing to the Lumia 920
  • TV remote control functionality
  • Normal daily operations, such as phone calls, text messaging, email, etc.
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Front of current smartphone lineup

The current smartphone lineup includes the Samsung Galaxy Note II, HTC One, HTC Droid DNA, Apple iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, and BlackBerry Z10.

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Back of the current smartphone lineup

Here you can see the back of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, HTC One, HTC Droid DNA, Apple iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, and BlackBerry Z10.

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Back of the HTC One

I don't think you will find another smartphone built like the HTC One.

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HTC One and Droid DNA

The Droid DNA was my favorite HTC device, until now.

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HTC One and Droid DNA

You can see the differences in design between these two high end smartphones.

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Back of the HTC One and Droid DNA

Quick glance of the backside.

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Cameras on the two HTC devices

The Droid DNA has a traditional 8 megapixel camera while the One use the new ultrapixel design.

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Upper back of the HTC One

Check out the back of the HTC One.

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Lower back of the HTC One

Beats Audio sounds great on the HTC One with dual front stereo speakers.

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Top of the HTC One

The power button and 3.5mm headset jack are on top of the HTC One.

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Right side of the HTC One

The volume button has a textured feel.

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Above the display

One of the stereo speakers is found at the top of the HTC One.

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Bottom stereo speaker and touch buttons

Note that there are just two capacitive touch buttons on this Android phone.

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Beveled edges and mic opening

There are beveled edges on the HTC One.

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Glass, plastic, and aluminum combined

The HTC One is well constructed.

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HTC One

I love the quality of the HTC One.

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Another view of the HTC One construction

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Another top view of the HTC One

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Side of the HTC One

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Bottom of the HTC One

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Another shot of the HTC One

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Top of the HTC One

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