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★★★★★

“Superb premium Android smartphone ”

Written on: 08/04/2013 by piphil (0 reviews written)

I bought my HTC One as a replacement for an ailing Galaxy S2. I thought I would wait until the Galaxy S4 was released, but a number of decent press reviews (eg PC Pro, and an epic Anandtech article) swayed me to the One.

The build quality of the device is excellent. The S2 was also very good, but the machined aluminium of the One is something else. The edges are more angled, so it's not quite as nice to hold as other handsets. It's also quite heavy. However, there's no flex to the phone and it feels like a quality product that is built to last.

The screen is stunning. The colours aren't as vibrant as the S2, but they look more natural. It is a full HD 1920x1080 16:9 panel, with a very high pixel density, well beyond Apple's retina.

The camera is slightly different to other high-end smartphones, as it has a low resolution of 4MP. However, the larger pixels used on the sensor mean it works much better than any other camera on a phone I've used in low light and indoors - I have only used the flash LED as a torch so far, it hasn't been required for photos. The resolution is lower but is plenty for uploads onto Facebook, and there's less noticeable image noise. The optical image stabilisation also works well.

Another highlight for me is the audio. The phone is BeatsAudio branded, which basically amounts to an EQ setting to bring out the bass, and custom sound chips. It can be turned off, but I find it works very well - the bass is punchy without distorting, and the headphone output is louder than the S2. The front-facing stereo speakers are also very good, about equivalent to some midrange portable speakers - not very loud but certainly far better than any other speakers I've heard on a phone.

The performance of the phone is excellent. With a quad core CPU AT 1.7 GHz and 2GB of RAM, it should be! The experience is very smooth, helped by the Sense interface. The "Blink Feed" aggregator on the home page is interesting, and allows you to add your social media and news feeds into a slick vertically stacked feed. However, you can only add HTC partner sites - there's no option to add RSS feeds, which is a shame.

Setup of the phone is helped along by a clever system where you select what settings and apps you want to load onto the device via a Web browser, which are then applied to the phone remotely. Another nifty feature is that the unlock button on the top of the phone is also an infrared transmitter. A preloaded app downloads your TV provider's listings, before calibrating the output for your TV and set top box. Within a few minutes I was switching channels using my phone from the integrated program guide!

Overall, the HTC One is an excellent phone. I can't say how it will compare directly with the Galaxy S4. The screen resolution is the same, and the CPU is comparable. However, I can't imagine that the build quality of the S4 will be as good as the One - and I own both the S2 and the Nexus 10 tablet, both Samsung products that have very good build quality. My impression is the One may be lost amongst the hype around the S4, which is a shame, because it is an excellent premium smartphone with some very interesting and well thought through features.