I was lucky enough to be lent an HTC One to test by Peter C (such a nice guy) which I have been using for the past few days. One of you pointed out via the comments that I may as well not bother because I wouldn’t like it anyway. How right you were…
The One feels like a device that is very capable in specific areas and it seems as though HTC has deliberately aimed to offer an original camera set up, peerless audio quality and the stereo speakers that are indeed impressive. No other smartphone is capable of sounding the way this one does and in some circumstances the image quality is very good.
However, the price for all of this is a device which suffers in battery performance to the point that I was having to look at the power saver option. I’m sorry, but I am not enabling power saving on a £500 phone. The camera is praised by some, but ultimately the actual photo quality is not great and all of the software tricks don’t lift it much higher in my opinion. It has to be capable of capturing a shot that feels like more than a phone and in my experience it isn’t. Add to this the power button which is required to turn the device on, a button which is placed in the worst place possible to reach with one hand. And then there is the HTC font which is a personal dislike of mine, but it does feel old-fashioned and very like the font HTC has always used.
The problems above are indeed apparent, but the overall feel of the device is what concerns me the most. It is a bit of a brick, feels heavy and is far too cumbersome to me. This is not an issue with the screen size at all because the Galaxy S3 and S4 feel great in the hand, but the weight and the use of metal here feels too ‘big’. It is hard to explain, but it feels like a throwback in a time when every other manufacturer is making devices lighter and thinner all of the time. I could, however, live with it if the battery performance was stellar, but it is the opposite.
Android aside, and admittedly the use of Sense on the One is sometimes confusing, I found the One to feel quite alien when compared to the flagships from Samsung. I expected to like it a lot, I really did, but I was shocked at how much I didn’t enjoy most of the experience. This is a smartphone with some features that beat the rest easily, in a body that allows room for stellar performance in multiple areas, but which fails in the most important aspects.