New Phone! The HTC One

So HTC’s newest flagship phone – the HTC One – was released this week and lucky me, HTC sent me one as part of their launch. I’m a longtime fan of HTC phones, having used the Nexus One, the Inspire HD, and more recently the One X, but the HTC One is a big leap forward from all of these.

Short version: This phone is excellent. It looks, feels, and performs beautifully, and I just love using it. For more info, read on.

Getting Started

Out of the box, the HTC one feels great in your hand. It’s metal, not plastic, which means it’s a bit heavier than my One X, but not too heavy. The screen is beautiful. And the audio volume and quality are a big step forward.

HTC has a nice setup process that allows you to import data from a wide range of accounts. One new thing I found was the HTC Transfer Tool. As you might expect from the name, this transfers some data and settings (although mostly system stuff), including messages, contacts, music, and photos. After downloading the app onto my old phone and pairing the devices, it worked like a charm. Being able to transfer data across two phones without cables or using a computer was very nice. I just wish it included all my apps, not just HTC’s stuff.

HTC One Welcome screen
HTC One Welcome screen

For the rest, Google’s setup added some more apps and settings onto the one, and then finally I went into the Play Store and re-downloads the rest. it would be nice if setting up a new phone was a bit more seamless, but you only have to do it once per phone, so this isn’t that big of a deal. Plus it gives me the chance to re-evaluate what apps make the cut to go onto the new phone.

Using the HTC One

With the phone set up and my apps reinstalled, I could start to give the phone a real workout. Here are my impressions after three days with the HTC One.

There’s a few little things I’d like to see improved, but even so this is easily the best Android phone out there. Sorry, Samsung fans. Given Sense UI over TouchWiz I’ll take Sense any day.

And speaking of UIs, Sense 5 has gotten a nice overhaul. Lots of little tweaks and additions, a new icon set and font — overall a very clean and modern feel to it. I love the upgrades to the Gallery, bringing together the photos that I have in various places, like Flickr, Dropbox, Instagram, plus several others. The email client works great with both my home and office email accounts and looks nicer than the last version.

There’s been a lot of talk about the “UltraPixel” camera and how HTC is focusing not on pixel count but overall photo quality. I come at this from the perspective of what they call a “prosumer” photographer and as such I have a pretty high quality standard. The HTC One is as good as a camera in a smartphone is going to get, but it’s not going to be replacing my Nikon D5100 anytime soon. Here’s a sample indoor shot:

random cat photo shot with an HTC One
random cat photo

The audio quality, as I said earlier, is really excellent, as is the screen. Colors just pop and animations flow smoothly. Battery life is about the same as most phones in its class – decent but not spectacular (about 8 hours of moderate use). I turned down the default brightness to help with battery life but I haven’t made use of the built in “power saver” features.

Although overall I’m very happy with the HTC One, there are a couple of things I’m not completely thrilled with. Primarily, the new home screen. I’d like to be able to do more customization that it allows. The clock and weather widget, for example, can’t be customized at all. And the new BlinkFeed is frustrating, because while I really like the look, I’d like it a lot more if it would display my calendar first all the time and then my social updates and news. My phone is a work tool as well as a social one and access to my calendar is pretty critical. Not having that in my home screen is a big minus.

This is mitigated somewhat by being able to add my calendar notifications into the lock screen. I can live with that.

New BlinkFeed home screen. Click through for a full screen shot.
New BlinkFeed home screen. Click through for a full screen shot.

Also, the whole HTC Zoe Share thing. I still don’t quite get what the heck it is, and I don’t see a need for it. I have plenty of other ways to share my photos and videos already.

None of that is a show stopper, although I do hope HTC continues to work on BlinkFeed to give us more options there.

Anyway, those are my impressions after a few days of use. I look forward to a long and happy life with my HTC One, and would definitely recommend it if you’re in the market for a new phone. Even you iPhone users should take a look.

For an in-depth review, you might want to check out Android Central’s complete rundown.

One last note: I’m pairing my HTC One with a red Cruzerlite “Bugdroid” case. It’s a simple TPU case that doesn’t add a lot of extra bulk but offers some basic protection. Plus it’s cute.