HTC One a leader among followers - review

Cape Town - If you are paying in excess of R400 per month for a smartphone, HTC believes that, at the very least, it has to have a metal case - and the company emphasises that point with the HTC One (M8).

If you think the name sounds like a luxury car, you're not far from the truth. The update to the One features a similar aluminium case as the previous model but it's larger and darker, giving the device an elegant feel.

Just like a luxury vehicle, the One (M8) is an evolutionary step, but there are changes that the company hopes will attract customers used to premium brands.

The One (definitely one of the cooler smartphone names) is powered by a 2.3Ghz quad core processor and 2GB of RAM. That gives the smartphone the oomph to easily handle most apps that require processing muscle. It runs Google Android 4.2 (KitKat).

But smartphone owners - especially people who have the cash to buy at this level - want much more than simple a fancy calculator.


The One has features (as opposed to gimmicks) that make the device a useful tool to get things done on the move.

First up: Camera is a thing of beauty. The 4 megapixel "ultrapixel" camera is fast and delivers crisp shots even in low light.

In fact, living with the smartphone, you are encouraged to take pictures because you generally get the shot you're looking for. Even when compared to the previous One which itself was no photo slouch, the M8 is noticeably better.

Video is equally impressive and the latest software update means that the latest and previous model HTCs have pause functionality built in to video recording.

The HTC One design seems to take a direct shot at iPhone users. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

As one would expect from smartphones, images are categorised according to date, location or subject. It's a neat trick though the device doesn't create folders on command - maybe on the next update.

Given that it is a cellphone, making calls on the One is easy, particularly because of a couple of factors.

You can choose contacts by simply keying in part of the number or name. Android power also means that your Google contacts are automatically uploaded when you enable you Google account.

Some people regard built-in software as bloatware, but on the HTC, Sense is one clever piece of kit that you can use to aggregate content that you are interested in.

iPhone target

It was easy to tell HTC Sense to aggregate news from the AP, Reuters and a number of tech news sites. Unfortunately, sister publication News24 is not one of the news sources available on the program.

But HTC is hiding a dirty little secret in the One smartphone. It's targeting iPhone users to switch.

The smartphone departs from the standard set by the previous model by being compatible with a nano SIM card (these cost around R70) which the iPhone uses.

The iPhone 6 which launches on Friday has a larger screen and an aluminium back cover. Some American tech writers have already labelled it the best smartphone available, but the HTC One (M8) makes a good case for the title.

This is especially appropriate given that HTC was first with the elegantly styled aluminium cover on the M7 and as a bonus, the device comes with a micro-SD card slot so you can expand the built-in 16GB of memory.

With allegations in the mobile industry of patent infringements, time will tell whether the new iPhone is a leader or a follower as mobile tech races ahead.

The biggest issue with the HTC One is the price. The device has a recommended retail north of R12 000 and R499 from Vodacom. That puts it in Samsung Galaxy Alpha territory.

If you are willing to buy the phone cash online, the Orange store sells it for R7 820 with free delivery. That may be a better deal.

HTC may not be a device that you will see in everybody's hand at the airport, but having a quality unique device is part of the attraction.

Watch our News24 Live video review here

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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