Now and again a company gets it right when designing a phone. Like Apple did with the iPhone 4s, Nokia with the Lumia 800, Sony with the Xperia Z and now HTC with the One. When the HTC One arrived I knew that I wouldn’t be that shocked as I’d spent an afternoon with HTC and the One during their tour of the country. But lo and behold I opened up the box and whoa I was shocked. It is a gorgeous phone and it thoroughly deserves to be up there with the others.
I’ve had the One for a few weeks now and initially my plan was to see if I could cope with my main device being under 5″.
My normal main device is a Galaxy Note II and at times it is just too big, but the pros outweigh the cons. But now the trend seems to be making phablets even bigger I thought I should try to get on with something a bit smaller. The other factor was these new 1080p displays that the flagships all have now, I just wanted to try one out.
Initially I found the jump to Sense 5 and BlinkFeed difficult, there just seemed to be too many things that were different to what I was used to. I soon got over my Samsung guided view of how Android should be done and I set about testing out everything I possibly could.
I wanted to try out the speakers, the camera, BlinkFeed, the HTC Sense widgets, the Contact syncing done the HTC way, the IR Blaster, gaming with those speakers, Beats Audio and then a little bit of blasphemy trying to make it look like a Windows Phone (more on that later).
A lot has been said about the camera on the HTC One and the Zoe mode. I was a little overwhelmed as I tapped the camera icon for the first time.
For starters I just snapped a few shots around the house to work out how the camera app worked. The normal camera mode seemed to take better shots than in Zoe mode. I wasn’t really sure what it was for. Then one day I was outside walking my dogs and I hit the Zoe button first and didn’t think about it. I snapped a load of pictures of my dogs playing about. I got home to find a load of little mini videos had been saved. I realised what the fuss was about. This mode would be ideal for kids, parties, sporting events and even just normal photography. I was very impressed, it made me want to try out other burst mode cameras on other devices.
The normal mode of the camera is really capable as well, with low light capabilities being good. The built in filters really help personalise photos as well, allowing you to create some unique images. I did find that at times certain photos had a lot of noise in them, mainly low light shots that had quite a bit of noise present.
Sense has been one of the main criticisms aimed at HTC for years now. The last time I used an HTC phone was the Desire Z so I expected the HTC One to be drastically different. My original plan was just to install a few different launchers and avoid the Sense Launcher and not have to worry about BlinkFeed but after setting both up the way I wanted I was happy. Here’s a few of the launchers I tried.
HTC have tweaked quite a few elements of the whole UI and I feel it’s for the greater good, social media integration within the Contacts app is as well implemented as over in the Windows Phone world. Seemingly miles ahead of the mess Google or Samsung have made of their Contacts apps. Other apps like the Dialler, Music, Gallery, Calculator, Calendar have all been changed by HTC. I used to think this was a bad thing, but nowadays these tweaks really add to the usability if the device. It makes the device a whole lot more usable out of the box.
The HTC One is a multimedia monster, play some music on the speakers; you’ll be shocked, plug a decent pair of headphones in and listen to some music; you’ll be shocked, play a game and crank the volume up; you’ll be shocked, watch a YouTube video; yep you guessed it you’ll be shocked. The speakers and the built in Beats stuff really impressed me.
I thought the IR Blaster was going to be a gimmick. I sat down one Saturday afternoon to try it out and I was really surprised. I had it set up within minutes, it controlled my Sky+ box and my Toshiba with barely a complaint. I realised I was missing a new series of Total Wipeout on the BBC (mmm Amanda Byram). Take a look at the video from HTC to see how easy it is.
I hate being in the situation where you have to break bad news to people. I now find myself in that postion. My main device gets used a LOT and I mean an awful lot. I sync four email addresses, one of which is our for here and we get hundreds of emails each day. I use Twitter a lot, I use Google+, Instagram, Facebook, I check my collection of hundreds of RSS almost obsessively every ten or fifteen minutes, I take a lot of pictures of my mundane daily activites; almost as though they are going to be used as an enourmous collage of my life as an homage at my funeral. You get the picture I use my phone a lot. The HTC One basically gets me to about two PM, even the Galaxy Note II I normally carry only gets me to about four or five PM. This basically led me to use it less, I’d check the news less, I’d tweet less, I wouldn’t knock off a few levels of Angry Birds in the toilets when I should be toiling away for the man. It basically limited my life.
Then I had an epiphany, I plugged the HTC One in at about lunchtime and normality was restored.
In conclusion to my time with the HTC One I’ll say the following.
“Wow what a phone, go out and buy one. NOW.”
In all seriousness though, the HTC One is probably the best phone I’ve ever used in my life. Yes there are a few niggles with battery life, button placement and expandable memory, but I’d be more than happy to deal with those issues to own one.
As regards whether or not it could replace my now aging Galaxy Note II I’m not sure, the ability to put extra batteries in as I go through my battery draining day I would miss. In every other respect I would swap it in an instant.
Lastly a huge thanks to Vodafone for lending me the HTC One, they offer a wide range of contracts on the One here.