Hands-on: The HTC One

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HTC is a brand that believes that your product must speak for itself. You can have the greatest hype machine in the business, but sooner or later, people are going to see through the smoke and mirrors and expectations will be shattered. Though mostly quiet, the brand has never failed to impress with their devices. Of their phones, though, one of the most anticipated devices or recent memory has been the One. Their first foray into the aluminum uni-body construction arena, early photos for the device created quite a buzz in the Android community as well as the rest of the smartphone world, and for good reason. The device is gorgeous.

It has, unfortunately, taken a while to hit the shores of our country. It isn’t technically here yes, but the folks at HTC were kind enough to hold a little pre-launch event for a select few, in order to give us a glimpse at the HTC One.

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I have personally been waiting for this device for some time now. Having lost my phone in an unfortunate skydiving incident some months back (just kidding, I dropped it in a cab,) I have been waiting for the next device to add to the growing list of smartphones I have owned through the years. There was the amazing HTC Butterfly a few months back, and while that is a pretty solid device, I knew there was going to be more. When I finally got to hold the HTC One, I knew where my next few paychecks would be going. The words that come to mind to describe just how sexy this phone is would be inappropriate to use on a phone. The construction is rock-solid. From the seamless single-piece aluminum back panel, to the sleek Gorilla Glass front and wonderfully curved back, it’s a device that just oozes quality. The device is great in hand when you hold it for any amount of time, you know it is meant to be there, preferably without a case of any sort. It’s a phone you will want to hold every chance you get.

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The next thing you notice is the display. It’s a very comfortable 4.7 inches in size and with a screen density of about 469 ppi, it blows all other devices clear out of the water–even the already beautiful screen of the HTC Butterfly. This makes HTC’s default home screen, BlinkFeed, look even more amazing. BinkFeed is basically HTC’s take on a news aggregator, and is implemented very nicely. All the news from any number of BlinkFeed’s 1300 partner sources can be posted on the home screen. The app even stores the stories offline when it has the chance, so you won’t have to use up your mobile data just to have a quick snack on info from any of your feeds. Even though it gives you great eye candy, the app remains fast, thanks to some serious hardware under the hood. The One runs Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 with the HTC sense overlay on top.

the camera has the same 4 shots/sec burst capability as other HTC phones, plus advanced editing features, right out of the box
The camera has the same 4 shots/sec burst capability as other HTC phones, plus advanced editing features, right out of the box.

HTC has always been known to take mobile photography seriously. The One is no different. Apart from a sensor that is larger than some dedicated cameras, it comes out of the box with a suite of camera apps that further improve the photography experience. From taking photo-quality video clips when you press the shutter, to advanced algorithms that allow you to cut out unwanted photo elements, and combine multiple frames into one, the One’s camera is a snapper that you will love to have, and use a lot. We were very very impressed with the low-light performance of the One. Colors came out very well, and photos in the dim venue of the event were only the slightest bit noisy. Low-light performance is key in a mobile phone, since chances are, you’ll be using it to record nights out, parties and other events in less than ideal lighting conditions. 

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Speakers are located on the top and bottom of the One’s face.

Sound has also been a major focus of the brand, and the One might be the HTC phone that takes audio most seriously. For calls, the phone keeps an ear out for ambient noise, and bumps the treble up for the speaker’s voice, allowing it to stand out from the rest of the sounds in the background. It also picks up a greater range of frequencies than most mobile phones on the market, so sound recording comes out much fuller. This allows you to record music say, for example, a concert, and play it back at a quality much higher than you would expect from a phone. the One also has playback covered. On most mobile phones, the speakers are located on the rear or sides of the device. This makes sharing audio difficult and more than a little awkward. Apart from having great hardware to handle audio playback, the HTC One’s speakers are located on the front of the device. Yes “speakers.” With an “s.” The One features front-facing stereo speakers that make short work of music sharing and video watching. They have enough power to share music with a small group of friends, or fill a room without the need for an external set of drivers.

One solid piece of metal. Everything should be made this way.
One solid piece of metal. Everything should be made this way.

HTC has boasted that these are only three of about 300 upgrades to the device. There was really only time to scratch the surface of the abilities of the HTC One. Those who are eager to get their hands on the device will have to wait a little while. Availability here in the Philippines is slated to be some time in May, but they will be taking pre-orders very soon. We were told to watch the HTC Philippines’ Facebook page HERE for news about the start of pre-ordering.

Oh, and for those who are interested, the phone is going to go for PHP32,990, which is a great deal for one of the best, most beautiful phones in the market today.