Now that I’ve had about a week to play with the new HTC One, I can see what all the fuss is about. It’s probably the most stylish phone I’ve used. Its brushed metal unibody case is a delight to hold. Sure, with its 5-inch screen and case dimensions of 5.74 by 2.75 by .37 inches , it’s a bit big as cell phones go, but it’s slim enough to fit into my jeans, which makes it small enough for my needs. It weighs 5.6 ounces, which is certainly heavier than other premium phones like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S5. I don’t mind the extra weight but I can see how some might.
The phone I’m testing was loaned to me by Verizon Wireless. It’s also available from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the United States and other carriers abroad.
The 5 MP front facing “selfie” camera is a lot better than typical front-facing cameras. You have to dig pretty deep to find any information from HTC about the number of megapixels of its front facing camera (it’s 4 MP) but on its website, the company goes on and on about its “UltraPixel”camera,” which, says HTC “enables each pixel to capture more than 300% more light than most leading 13 megapixel cameras.” In my tests, the camera performed pretty well with decent color accuracy even in relatively low-light conditions. I still, however, prefer the camera in the iPhone 5s which remains the gold standard, especially when you factor in ease of use.
The speakers in most phones are downright terrible for listening to music but HTC has done an amazingly good job with its front facing “BoomSound” stereo speakers. The sound, even at loud volume, is clearer and deeper than I have ever heard on such a small device. If I were going to listen to music on a phone without ear buds or headphones, this is the phone I’d want to be using.
Battery life is one of the most important features in a phone. No matter how good a phone you have, it’s not of any use if the battery dies when you need it. The phone has an embedded (not removable) 2600 mAH battery with, according to HTC, talk time of 20 hours for 3G and standby time of up to 495 hours (in 3G). And that 3G rating, of course, doesn’t apply if you’re using the phone with 4G data which, of course, is how most people will use it.
I haven’t done any formal battery tests but so far it’s doing a lot better than my Nexus 5. After about six hours of medium use I have 58% of my charge left, which is good as Android phones go.
HTC TV Sense turns your phone into a remote control
The phone uses Google’s latest Android 4.4.2 “Kit Kat” operating system with one missing feature. You can’t say “OK Google” from the home screen to have it automatically start listening for voice commands. It does access voice commands with Google Now installed or when using the phone in HTC’s Car mode
HTC has added some nice touches includgn HTC BlinkFeed, which updates the screen with posts from Facebook, Google Now and your favorite news feeds. It also has “Sense TV” which works as a TV remote control. I tested it with my Vizio TV and Dish Network PVR and it worked well. As part of the setup it asks you what shows you like and it lets you turn them in with one press. It also recommends shows that are on now and automatically tunes them in.
Another app called Zoodles, allows you to put the HTC One into kid mode so that children accessing the phone can only runs apps that you approve.
For more about the HTC One see Gordon Kelley’s excellent post on Forbes.com