HTC ONE REVIEW - THE STRAIGHT STORY, MY IMMEDIATE REACTION
This will be a two-part review. It won't be like anything you've ever read before in a review. First off, I'm going to tell you exactly what my reaction was to opening and handling an HTC One (AT&T) Android smartphone right of the box. I won't hold back.
Next, I'll tell you what I expect others to think of the things I mentioned in my initial review, and who I believe would be best matched for this HTC flagship smartphone. So buckle your seatbelts, and get ready for my raw, unedited review and most honest straight-forward comments!
UNBOXING THE HTC ONE - FIRST THOUGHTS
The minute I pulled the HTC One out of the box, the first thought that popped into my mind was "this is heavy, thick, and bulky". I already knew it was going to take a lot of positives to get over the first bad impression.
The feeling of the device in my hands was not comfortable. I didn't like the sharp edges formed by the metal (or metal-like) back. It's definitely not the form factor of the One X that I thoroughly enjoyed. It almost reminded me of "retro electronics" devices. Just a bit too industrial for my taste.
After failing my initial hand grip test, I went to search for the power button. This was a solid "strike two". The button is flush with the top of the device, and not exactly easy to depress. I am so used to the portruding iPhone power button and the portruding side-mounted power button on my Samsung Galaxy S II that I wasn't really ready for this big of a switch.
The next awkward moment was figuring out how to unlock the screen. Again, after years of the "swipe to unlock" that is plain and simple enough for even someone with a lobotomy to understand, this was not easy. I don't quite like the unlock action on the Galaxy S2, but that has been improved with eh S3 and S4. But the HTC unlock, being a vertical pull, was odd.
Once in to the operating system, I was lost. Strike 3. Maybe this isn't the fault of HTC. It's probably due to my iPhone and Samsung experience. The HTC Sense operating system is different enough that I can't get manuevering around in it right off. It isn't intuitive. I had a hard enough time finding the "settings" pane. But I was totally confused with the HTC symbol sitting in the middle of the bottom of the screen where a home button should be. That's a total fail.
With only two navigational buttons, I still haven't found a way to get around with ease. I also haven't gotten used to the vertically-listed apps. I guess that's just something HTC does. And the five buttons in the home row is enough to give me a headache too. This again is due to my Apple and Samsung brainwashing.
I'm out of strikes, but strike 4 would definitely be the volume button. This is the most least desirable feature of the phone thus far. The volume rocker is flush with the side of the device. It's pretty, with its brushed metal look, but it doesn't work well. I found myself constantly smooshing the bottom edge of the case, and not hitting on the volume buttons. It is so smooth and flush with the case that you almost have to look at the phone to properly depress the up and down buttons. That's a solid fail.
The display on the HTC One is brilliant, crisp, and very high-def looking. But it doesn't go to the edges of the device like the Galaxy S4. Plus it's a couple tenths of an inch smaller. Maybe it's just in my head, but it is noticeable.
The one shining feature that I noticed within the first 10 minutes of using the device were the speakers that bear the "Beats by Dr. Dre" branding. They have incredible range, and carry such thick bass that I am in awe of how they physically made this possible.
But overall, my out-of-the-box thoughts after setting up the phone and giving it a whirl were really negative. This phone is definitely not for me. It's clunky, heavy, boxy, has hard edges, doesn't feel good in my hands, and is tough to navigate. I wouldn't even consider this smartphone versus the Galaxy S4. I'm a bit disappointed after enjoying the HTC One X as much as I did.
That said, let's move to part 2... the stuff that would make people want to purchase this phone above all the competitors!
HTC ONE - THE POSITIVES THAT VIRTUALLY GUARANTEE ITS SUCCESS
Here's another point of view that you won't believe could be coming from me, after reading the previous portion of this crazy review. But at the risk of sounding crazy, I'm gonna flip the record over and give you the "other side of the story".
The type of person who is going to totally appreciate this phone would be those who require a high build quality in their smartphones. The HTC One is the most solidly-built phone the company has broken out of the mold to date. I would say that it is on the level of an iPhone with a metal backplate.
Not only is the phone built like a solid jeweler's piece, it is just as beautiful. The combination of brushed metal, polished metal, shiny white polycarbonate, thick solid-feeling front glass, and crisp edges in its form factor make it a work of art. There's no doubts about quality when you first lay your eyes on the HTC One.
With the incorporation of Dr. Dre's "Beats Audio" in the front-facing speakers with this device, nothing will come close to the audio quality when playing music without the aid of headphones. They have worked a miracle in reporducing rich, robust sound for maximizing music enjoyment.
As for the form factor and the buttons, aesthetics were definitely kept as a high priority with the HTC One as nearly nothing portrudes from the edge lines of the device. If you run your hands around the edges of the phone, you hardly feel the volume buttons, power button, headphone jack, or micro USB jack. It is very elegantly laid out.
It goes without saying that the screen is aboslutely breathtaking with the vibrance and color reporduction that HTC has built in to their latest HD technology. There will be absolutely no complaints for this device's ability to show off multimedia content.
But the biggest advantage to the HTC One as it relates to the display is the soft keyboard. The only device that even comes close to what HTC has done when it comes to ease of typing is the Nokia Lumia 920. But HTC has perfected the ease and accuracy of the soft keyboard on its device.
And unlike any other manufacturer or device, the HTC One gives a "click" sound when your finger releases from the screen (after selecting something) that almost makes you feel as if there was a super thin button membrane popping back out. Totally amazing!
The spacing of the letters on the keyboard layout are just about perfect, and the haptics gives the most comfortable balanced feeling for feedback that isn't "too much" or "too little". It's hard to describe it, but the designers definitely kept the tradition of HTC's superior soft keyboard feel.
So... overall, for people who are current HTC fans, and for those that are iPhone users switching to Android, this will be a solidly satisfying device that should make record sales for HTC. If this device has caught your eye and has done well with a test drive in your hands, you really can't go wrong.
And that my friend is the long and short of it. If I have sparked your brain into the urge of sharing an opinion, please sound off in the Disqus comments section and let me know what YOU think of the HTC One! Or anything else you'd like to yap about!
Big thanks to AT&T (the only real carrier) St. Louis for the opportunity to test and review this great device! More details to come, and a full report at the end of my test period.
Sublime Geek Tester
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