HTC hits back with One - review

2013-04-08 13:40
The HTC One is poised to take on rivals. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The HTC One is poised to take on rivals. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Video

HTC One camera

2013-03-20 08:22

HTC's Jon French chats about the light sensor of the One smartphone in this YouTube video.WATCH

Cape Town - HTC has dropped all the descriptors and abbreviations to make a clear statement about its latest smartphone: It's the One.

The One smartphone from the company is the latest salvo in the war for the hearts of users who demand not only top-end specifications in a device, but a user experience that stands out from the crowd - in particular - the Android crowd.

Not that the One is lacking in top-end hardware, however. The device has a 1.7GHz Krait 300 quad core processor and 2GB of RAM in an all-aluminium body.

The company hinted that future phones would employ the metal unibody body design as it creates a more premium feeling with consumers.

"I don't think it’s something we'll move away from; we've already had a history of working with metal and we believe that it sometimes make a difference between a sale or not, because it feels premium," Jon French, HTC vice president of sales and operations for the EMEA region told News24.

Content


The 12cm high definition display is protected by Gorilla Glass as would be expected by a premium device, but the One really comes alive with the HTC Sense on the device.

From the home screen, the phone displays content from your social networks, news feeds and gallery in one place. It's a bit intimidating at first, but once you use the feature, it seems logical that all smartphones should work this way.

Windows Phone users will recognise the feature as the Live Tiles on Windows Phone devices display content, but the One's user interface is more detailed and clever.

And it doesn't stop there: The One automatically creates slide shows of you picture and video gallery so that it's always in motion, giving a visual taste of locally stored content.

There is also a Kid Mode for young children that locks them into child-friendly applications on the One, limiting access to potentially harmful content.

The Zoodles app though, is more suited to under 6 year-olds as older children will want to be unrestricted to play the games they enjoy.

HTC has added a great deal of customisation to the Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) operating system to ensure that the device stands out from the crowd, but some of the hardware features make the One a new generation of smartphone that may stand up to competitors from Samsung and Sony.

Zoe functionality

The camera is rated at 4 megapixels, but not all pixels are created equal. The "UltraPixel" camera some thought was a gimmick when HTC launched the One delivers one of the best images seen on a smartphone, comparing well with devices rated at 13 megapixels.

Low-light shots displayed low graining as the technology allows more light to reach the sensor. There are also additional photo effects that produce crisp shots that are all accessible on the device.

The Zoe functionality automatically records around three seconds of video with every picture taken and plays these clips in the gallery. In addition, the video is broken up into individual pictures that can be shared, edited or printed.

Beats Audio has been included on the One as with previous HTC devices, but there are stereo front speakers to provide bigger sound that also makes for a better experience on video playback.

There's no micro-SD card slot on the One, but the device supports content drag-and-drop and HTC offers users up to 25GB of Dropbox storage with devices.

There are only two soft buttons on the face of the One and a double tap brings up the application menu to end apps running in the background.

The HTC device is also slightly heavier than its competitors at 143g, but it's not uncomfortable, even with hours of use (or driving the Rock Stomper on Beach Buggy Blitz).

Marketing

Pricing for SA is unclear and Bloomberg reports suggest that there are delays in delivering the One because of the new camera components.

The delay has, according to the Verge, resulted in HTC posting its small profit ever, hurting the company's efforts to claw back market share from Samsung.

HTC is determined to beef up the marketing of the One and French said that the device would feature in a campaign as well as at the store level.

"An ideal for me would be a customer walks in to a store; maybe they've seen an HTC advert, and are intrigued by the product, don't know everything about it. But I don't want to let them go to look at any of our other competitors.

"I want them to get that comparison right at the place where they can buy an HTC."

The HTC One is expected to be available in SA stores by May 2013.


- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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