Editorial – HTC are back.

Editorial   HTC are back.

In recent months there’s been a keen media interest in two mobile launches,the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. Handsets like the Xperia Z, the Ascend P2 or the Nexus 4 are also in the running but all eyes seem to be focused on the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4.


Over the last few years I’ve jumped between various handsets, but lately I’ve stuck to the global brand that is Samsung. The S2 was my first dip in the water and it’s still a fantastic handset. Likewise, the S3 is a beautiful thing but, like I said at the time, if you had an S2 then I couldn’t see a huge reason to upgrade straight away to the S3. I said the same for S4 when that first appeared. My wife saw the launch too, and she couldn’t see why she should upgrade her Galaxy S3.

To be honest, I have to agree. The S4 is an utterly fantastic handset but those fancy features like Smart Scroll, Smart Pause and those touchless Air Gestures aren’t actually going to get used a lot. Have you used that “SmartStay” technology on the S3? Was it turned on as default? No and no. Have you used S Beam to transfer files between S3 handsets? Probably not.

It’s not that the features aren’t good, because they are, but are they really useful? Are they something you want to use, want to fiddle with?

I’ve not had a HTC phone in my pocket for a while. Instead I’ve had a Samsung phone and meanwhile HTC have been getting a real kicking from the mega-cash-monster that is the Samsung marketing machine. The Samsung brand is strong, their phones are great and they’re selling a ber-jillion every 12 minutes.

While I was out in Barcelona I got a fantastic demo and in-depth look at the HTC One but now (thanks to the guys at UR Mobile) I’ve got one on loan for a week or two.

And you know what?

It’s utterly stunning.

It’s cool, it’s robust, it’s powerful and it looks beautiful. That, though, is only the start of it, because I simply can’t stop playing with the thing.

Editorial   HTC are back.

The HTC Zoe system, which snaps a few seconds of video, and the gallery itself is wonderful. Even without trying I’ve loved watching the video montages that it’s produced. I’m always on the go, so to have a clever musical video produced by my phone is nothing short of fantastic for me. I don’t have time to put my pictures and videos together on a DVD. I love this. I will use this.

The BlinkFeed system turns data into an alluring and instant magazine. The IR remote, coupled with the Sense TV system, lets me flick through the channels without having to ferret the random remote controls from the back of the sofa.

I tell you what I like most. The BoomSound system. My God. Someone, somewhere has been listening. Someone in a meeting room at HTC HQ actually stood up and said..

“Hey guys, the sound quality from the speaker on all smartphones is tinny, hard and annoying. It’s like nails in a pan…”

I want to find that person. I want to buy them a donut. This is what people want. The portable radio is dead. Your phone is your mobile music machine now, and people want to hear the music.

For once I can actually stand in the shower at 6AM and hear my tunes. Yes, yes, I woke up my wife. Yes I got nagged at but I could actually HEAR the thing and it actually sounded GOOD. At last, a phone speaker that DOES NOT sound like a snake tutting. This is actually useful. This is change. This is good.

Editorial   HTC are back.

For me HTC are back, and in a big way. I’ve not even mentioned the speed of the thing or that screen. Heck, I’ve not even touched on the camera either or any of the other little tweaks that have impressed me over the last week or two. Believe me, the HTC One is going to be my next phone. My personal, “carry it around all the time”-phone.

The HTC One is stunning. Just stunning. It’s the best device they’ve ever created and I’m seriously impressed by it.

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  • I have to agree that of the Xperia Z/HTC One/Samsung GS4 ‘battle’, the HTC One does stand out – but there are some annoyances. It might have the most solid casing, but I felt it was going to be very easy to damage it if dropped – and it also picks up dirt from your fingers, no matter how clean you try and keep your hands.

    The audio is amazing, but why did HTC not think to offer some quieter levels – the lowest volume level is still too loud if you want to try and quietly enjoy some sound without disturbing others, forcing you to go without any sound or resort to using headphones.

    But, the biggest bugbear for me is the fact HTC didn’t go with on-screen buttons, which would have prevented the mess we have with no recent apps key (having to double tap the home key) and the rather ‘lost’ menu icon that appears on countless apps you’ll use daily.

    I have to say that, despite having the glass shell that should make me terrified, it’s actually the Xperia Z that I’d say excites me more – perhaps because it seems quite close to native Android besides the Sony launcher.

    But that’s my opinion, and so far more people are siding with HTC – and it’s always great when you’re spoilt for choice. However, I have to say that (to be fair, it’s only just gone on sale) most people who I’d have said were going to be definitely GS4 customers aren’t planning to upgrade anytime soon and don’t seem overly bothered about it if they’ve already got a GS3. I think that just shows that the GS3 is already so good, and more than powerful enough for the apps/games they use, that they can’t see any reason to change.

    And that will be a problem for every manufacturer I think. Usually people upgrade because they’re sick of the phone they have. However, any phone made in the last year or so isn’t likely to be lagging, crashing or doing anything to anger people. If the phone hasn’t been damaged, why change it?

    • Patato Hsieh

      uh-uh, htc one is much stronger than i expected. I can totally accept the dent!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwE9PGDnlvs

      • Nice video.

        I did forget to mention the other ‘problem’ with the HTC One – that being the lack of a memory card slot. Both Samsung and Sony devices will happily accept 64GB memory cards today and I have no reason to doubt will also work with 128GB cards and higher in due course.

        I do hope that HTC might address the issues with its next release, in which case I think HTC could finally ‘crack it’. I just hope that HTC can manage to sell lots of devices now to make that a reality, given the stupid amount of money Samsung will be spending on advertising – pushing both HTC and Sony down the list for most consumers (especially as phone stores will be motivated to push the Galaxy S4).

  • Martin

    I agree as well Leigh, the HTC One out of the 3 big boys is the one I would choose, It is the best looking and the camera draws me to it. Of course as you quite rightly say the SGS4 will sell by the bucket load regardless of the gimmicky features that no one will use. A colleague sitting opposite me got a SGS4 as an upgrade yesterday, lovely looking device, screen is amazing, but….it looks like a slightly bigger S3, the One has style and dare I say it, a bit of class with that lovely chassis, the SGS4 is just a big lump of plastic.
    I have one misgiving though, that is the speakers. It is great that there is finally a phone with great sound quality, but………. I can see that this could well be the one thing that the yoof of today will be drawn too. We will see loads of the little oiks playing their music out loud on the streets and on public transport via their HTC Ones, because, finally, there is a phone that makes a decent sound out of its speakers.

  • I have to say its a hard one for me too…. but the none removable battery is really putting me off at the moment. Any chance of so s4 vs HTC one photos Gears as that is dragging me to one side not the clever s4 features….. (Ie use dolphin and Mxplayer which work with the eye thing.

    T

  • en_croute

    As a former HTC afficianado, I agree with most of what you said here.

    I went from Nokia to HTC built windows devices – MDA compact, MDA Vario, MDA Vario III, HTC Touch Pro2, HTC HD2 before my switch to Android with the Samsung Galaxy S2.

    When the S3 arrived, I was hooked – I particularly liked the flip cover, which provided that additional level of protection without adding extra bulk – Jonathan Ive must be sobbing into his bank account when he sees his beautifully designed iPhone is wrapped in a £2 plastic case.

    The Galagy range (S3, S4, Note 2) addressed this problem with the flip case which replaces the original back cover. When I eventually sell the S3, I can restore the unused original bask case and sell it virtually damage free – all the wear and tear has been on the flip cover. I dont care if it’s plastic – it’s coping (physically and techncially) with my hectic lifestyle and that what’s important

    The HTC One specs looks amazing, and provides a real alternative to doing things, wherease the S4 only offers minor real life benefits, (most of which will available through to load on the S3 via XDA Developers), but with Micro SD card slot (32gb S3 with 64gb card) and no flip case offering (with a Unibody it would be tricky), it’s not one I’ll be considering for now.

    Sticking with the S3 for now, but once I see an S4 for real, I may use the current S3 2nd hand price as reason to justify the sale!

  • As I have said before, in a POS shop, put this next to any phones (including the S4 and iphone5) and it stands head and shoulders above them all…

    What Leigh failed to mention is the seriously good battery on it my average battery life is 1d 2hrs 37mins……..

    Brilliant phones, brilliant that HTC are back……

  • Firedup

    I’ve had one since the day it was released. Quote simply the best smartphone I’ve ever had, and I’ve had almost all of them. Deserves to be marketed better.