GADGET WATCH: HTC One

HTC has been out of the spotlight for a while, with most of the smartphone praise being pushed on Samsung.

But the company is still fighting the good fight, and the latest One smartphone is a big move in that war – a war that is being increasingly dominated by advertising rather than hardware power. HTC hopes its “One” brand can compete in that space.

So with the competition heating up with the impending release of the Samsung Galaxy S4, it’s a difficult time to make an entry. Can HTC pull it off?

Hardware and features

The HTC One features a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor at 1.7Ghz, with 2GB of RAM and total storage of 32GB and 64FB, depending on the model. The display is 4.7 inches, capable of displaying full 1080p HD video.

Connectivity-wise, the phone features NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and DLNA, along with a micro-USB port with a mobile high-definition video link.

The phone comes with two cameras, with both lenses capable of recording 1080p HD video. The device also comes with Beats Audio technology, and weighs a total of 143 grams with the battery included.

What’s the consensus?

Over at Engadget, the publication straight away focused on one of the best aspects of the One’s hardware, which is the fact it’s crafted out of a single block of aluminium, which is not the usual strategy for crafting such a device.

As a result, it says, the handset is built with high quality, with a “staggering” among of detail.

“Ultimately, we’re smitten with the One’s design for all sorts of reasons: it’s sexy, it feels secure in the hand and the combination of unibody aluminum and polycarbonate ensures the phone won’t shatter into a million pieces if it were to hit the ground (although it may get dinged or scratched up a bit, depending on the angle).”

The Verge had similar things to say, noting the device was “gorgeous” and simple in its approach. However, it did note the device has “lots of clean lines and sharp edges”, making it seem a little “inhuman”.

But it also said the screen was the “sharpest I’ve ever seen” and looks good from any angle. It also praised the included sound technology called BoomSound, which provides a slightly higher quality sound from the speakers.

“Make no mistake, these are still phone speakers, and I still use headphones more often than not, but the One’s audio setup is a huge leap beyond virtually every other smartphone or tablet.”

At TechRadar, the publication delved into the interface. HTC has been working on developing its UI technology, after being criticised for customising its previous phones too much. Now, it says, the benefits are clear.

The publication notes the interface works quickly with such large amounts of power behind it, and praised the dock at the bottom of the phone which maintains its position through different home screens.

“Compared to something like the Samsung Galaxy S3, the HTC One is a little under-powered when it comes to the interface, but where Samsung is all about the functionality HTC is about style and minimalism.”

“It doesn’t chuck power options, connectivity settings and brightness adjustment in the notification bar (although we wish the option was there) so when you pull down to look at a message, you do just that.”

Engadget had good things to say about BlinkFeed, which brings in data from all your social networks, although noted you can change it if you don’t like it. It did, however, have one major complaint:

“While the idea behind BlinkFeed isn’t terrible (and we imagine serial social networkers and news junkies may find it quite handy), it makes Sense feel a little too cluttered with unnecessary bloat and users should be given the option to disable it if they don’t get any benefit out of it.

And over at The Verge, the publication noted the battery life was only average, at just under five hours. “If you’re using it normally (which means relatively lightly), it should last you a whole day, but the One is a decidedly average performer when it comes to battery life,” it said.

Who’s it for?

For those who like good-looking hardware, the HTC One is a good choice. It’s sleek, light, and the power of the gadget itself means it won’t be sluggish.

But power users who may want this device would get turned off by the battery life, and the average camera. While the HTC One is definitely worth looking at, the upcoming Galaxy S4 could give it a run for its money.

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