HTC One Review

Alternatively, I could have entitled this post ‘Why I Didn’t Buy A Galaxy S4, Nokia 925 or iPhone’. Let’s deal with the last two first, because they are easy. The Nokia 925 is a gorgeous looking phone, and I love the Windows 8 OS. But. If we put aside the fact that it’s not yet available (and I just can’t wait* another month for shops to start shipping) it’s just too under powered for my liking.

One of the key things I use a smartphone for is photography. I don’t want to wait 15 seconds for a photo to be processed. And those are the sort of reviews I kept reading. The specs make that perfectly believable. There’s also the lack of apps, but if it excelled elsewhere I could have forgiven it. The Nokia was almost a challenger. Almost…

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The iPhone? I’m not nuts. Why on earth would I want to pay the Apple premium to obtain a device which is inferior in almost every way to the latest Android sluggers? The screen is too small, the OS is stale, and its best features are, at best, only on a par with the latest and greatest from Google, Samsung and HTC. Let me put the iPhone in context. If all Android devices were removed from sale, then I’d wait for the Nokia 925 to come on sale before I’d buy an iPhone 5.

Really, my choice was only ever between two phones. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. It’s a tough choice. They are both superb phones. There’s not much between them, as you can see from CNet’s Prize Fight. But they do approach things in their own unique ways. I like the fact that you can open the S4 up and add storage space in the shape of a mico SD card. You can swap a drained battery for a fresh one two while you’re at it.

You can’t do this with the HTC, but the trade off is a gorgeous one piece metal body. Holding the two of them in a shop, you feel you’re comparing a Rolls Royce to a Lexus. And as far as storage is concerned, truth be told, the 32 gigs you get with the HTC is enough for me anyway. The S4 screen is a 5″ monster, just that little bit bigger than the HTC. But  the HTC 4.7″ screen is big enough. In fact, I’m going to declare that 4.7″ is the ideal size screen for a smart phone. The sweet spot. It’s perfect.

So build quality is a big points scorer with me. There’s another two factors that HTC wins hands down as well. The speakers. Those dual front facing Beats speakers are fabulous. Sure, you’re not going to rock out an auditorium with it. But you’ll not be straining to hear what’s going on, even if you’re at the side of a busy road. They are phenomenal.

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The second factor? This was very much the X factor. I’ve been using a Samsung smartphone, the S2, for a couple of years. And I tried out the S3 and S4 in stores. It’s all very much about evolution, rather than revolution. The Touch Wizz interface Samsung uses is very functional and effective. And also very ugly. But it works, and hey…better the devil you know. When I ordered the HTC One, the HTC Sense 5.0 interface was the unknown element. Would I like it?

I love it. I love Blinkfeed. How best to describe it? Ok. You know sometimes you get home and switch on the TV because your favourite program is on. And sometimes you slump into that armchair and just start flicking through  channels until you find something interesting. That’s kinda like blinkfeed. Sometimes I pick up my phone and go straight to an app. Sometimes I just pick it up and flick through blinkfeed. I’ve set it up and get all sorts of stuff that interests me, a lot of it from sources I wouldn’t normally go to.

The rest of Sense 5.0 is also slick and easy on the eye. The dialer and phone book are a huge improvement over what Samsung offer. So it turned out that perhaps the best reason to switch from Samsung to HTC was originally not a reason – perhaps ever a deterrence. There is another test to come. What’s the camera like? It’s a 4 megpixels large sensored unit that, again, approaches things in a very different way to Samsung. I’ll run that one over on my photography blog, which I’ve decided will be the place for all my camera / photo related stuff from now on. I’ll link to it.

But as things stand, I’m delighted with my new HTC One. Thrilled. And absolutely convinced I made the right choice. Sorry Samsung, but adios.

* I can’t wait, because the Jelly Bean upgrade to my Galaxy S2 caused massive battery drain issues which were never resolved, and rendered the phone useless after as little as three or four hours.

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