Well, my HTC One finally arrived yesterday after an agonizing 2 week wait. But in the end, it was well worth the wait because I only paid $574 for an unlocked version directly from HTC.com. Of course, unlocked here means that the phone is “SIM” unlocked for using with any GSM network, the bootloader is still locked (but you can use HTCDev.com to unlock that).
The unlocked HTC One is probably the “best deal” in town right now at just $574 with LTE support and latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor. You will have to cough up at least $100-200 more for Galaxy S4 with LTE (GT-i9505).
My initial thoughts on the HTC One?
Certainly the HTC One does come with uni-body aluminum casing similar to the one found on a Macbook Air/Pro. This phone may just complement your Macbook very well and people might think it’s the next iPhone. (Well, it is practically the next iPhone as far as design is concerned, just without iOS.)
Does it feel good in my hands?
Yes, the HTC One does feel very “solid” in my hands. However, the edges are a bit sharp and does feel a bit uncomfortable to hold it all the time but with a case, this problem should go away. Otherwise the HTC One has a very good “premium” feel like holding a gun or something. Yeah, it’s definitely metal.
One of the features I was looking forward was the stereo speakers on the HTC One. It definitely is louder with slight amount of bass than any other smartphone on the market. But here, I was expecting too much as some tech reviewers had said it was so loud they had to turn it down. I am glad I did buy the phone to prove them wrong as you can also hear clearly in my video unboxing. The HTC One is slightly louder than the S4 or the Note 2, but not by much, and nowhere near my bluetooth speakers at normal volume. If you are expecting to replace your bluetooth speakers with HTC One’s new stereo speakers, don’t. These are very nice speakers but they are definitely nowhere near where people have been hyping up them to be.
Also, the stereo effect doesn’t work as the speakers are not spaced far enough apart. (However, when I did lean in about 3-inches from the phone, I could hear some stereo, but I am definitely not going to put my nose on my phone all the time.) I would have actually preferred mono, front speakers on the HTC One with a bigger amp and louder single speaker.
But I do still love the speakers, it’s definitely better than S4 and Note 2 by a notch.
Screen on the HTC One looks beautiful, full 1080P display, nothing I can complain about there. People have been flaming over AMOLED vs. Super LCD but seriously, they are about the same, most people will not see any differences between the two but I will have a microscopic comparison for those of you who need the nitty, gritty.
As for software, the HTC One ships with Android 4.1.2 with Sense 5.0. I was rather horrified when I first saw the 3-column app drawer with rather cumbersome toggle settings but then again, Sense never was never fully polished and refined for efficient real-life usage. I will definitely root it and install an AOSP ROM like CM10.1 soon just like I did with my One X.
The worst was with HTC One’s new BlinkFeed feature. Upon signing into my Facebook, BlinkFeed would try to pull latest posts from all of my 5000 Facebook friends, causing havoc on system and heating up my HTC One over 90 degrees fahrenheit and my battery went from 80% to 20% within just 20 minutes. Even when not using BlinkFeed, it would try to sync with Facebook in the background, heating up my new phone like crazy.
I couldn’t figure out at first what was going on and there’s no way to actually turn off BlinkFeed completely, a serious software flaw that HTC should fix on the next update for sure.
The only way to turn off BlinkFeed is to go into BlinkFeed settings and uncheck all topics, websites, and your Facebook feed. After I did that, my phone finally started cooling down. If you look on YouTube, there’s literally a dozen videos showing you how to do this BlinkFeed fix, people shouldn’t have to jump through hoops just to turn the damn thing off.
Worst of it all, BlinkFeed is exactly that, “just a feed”, I cannot choose my favorite websites , only the ones that’s available on BlinkFeed. It’s a nice feature HTC tried to incorporate, but failed miserably in my real life testing.
The camera on the HTC? It seems pretty solid. Both the front and rear cameras on the HTC One have wider lens than any other smartphone on the market. This will be great for taking photos and videos in areas you don’t have enough space and give you that wide angle shot you are looking for. I am certainly looking forward to using this feature on the HTC One.
The rear camera on the HTC also boasts one of the shortest F-stop at F2.0 (compared to Galaxy S4 F2.2), this will translate into better photos in low light. I should have a full comparison video on that later down the line.
Overall, the HTC One is a very nice phone for the price you pay (if you buy the unlocked version like I did). If you are looking for the lowest-cost smartphone “right now” with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 4G LTE support, stereo speakers, and wide-angle front/back camera, then HTC One might be the “One” for you.