Opinionated World


HTC One – The Only Premium Android Device

For the last three years we’ve had a myriad of Nexus devices. This year Android sees the Google Play edition devices. Two flagship phones, with more rumoured, from multiple manufacturers running unadulterated vanilla Android. How does the HTC One stack up?

When Sundar Pichai was at D11, he announced that the HTC One would be coming to the Play store as a Google edition device.

Here we had the second of some of the top Android phones of 2013 becoming what is essentially a Nexus device, minus the OTA (over the air) updates from Google and adding a few propriety elements to allow the camera and other parts to function.

Sadly, the Google Play editions are only available in the US at the moment, and they only come in silver for the One or white for the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Me being me, well, I wanted to experience what is arguably the best phone with what is, in my opinion, the best software. Pure, unadulterated vanilla Android.

Off I went to Carphone Warehouse. The two sales clerks were, by coincidence or as an act of fate, using the HTC One and the Galaxy S4. Over the preceding week I had been umm-ing and err-ing over which to choose to make a GPe device.

I had originally set my mind on the One, but as time went by I considered getting the S4. This decision led to much internal debate. Previously this year I had had the Note 2, which was, and still is, a great product. It does however use Samsung’s horrendous ‘Hyper Glaze’ plastic. Something that becomes very slippery and a finger-print magnet when sweaty.

Ultimately I settled on the One. The guy that served me was happy about this decision.

Twenty minutes after I returned home, I was running the leaked GPe ROM on the HTC One. Boy did this feel like the best choice I’d made for a while.

The bare specs of the One are really rather beastly. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, clocked at 1.7GHz and in a quad-core configuration; 2GB of RAM; 4MP Ultra-pixel camera, the larger sensor here allows for more light to hit the sensor which in turn creates better images in low-light situations; and the 4.7″ Full HD display. 1920 x 1080 pixels in a display narrower but slightly taller than the Nexus 4‘s screen. This equates to 468 PPI (Pixels per inch). It looks incredible. Text is crisp and the viewing angles are substantially better than those seen on the other 1080p display I’ve used recently, the Sony Xperia Z.

As for the external hardware, it’s a mixture of anodised Aluminium, glass and plastic to allow for better radio reception. Let me say this now, the HTC One is the first phone from any manufacturer that even comes close to the iPhone 5. In terms of feel in the hand I’d say it surpasses the iPhone. The edges taper back to meet the back plate, which in turn has a perfectly hand fitting curve to it. The phone is weighty at 143g but doesn’t feel so. Hands down, this is the best Android device that I have ever owned, and I’ve owned a lot of them. While Beats Audio may be a gimmick, the speakers on the One are pretty incredible. Gone is the usual tinny sound that comes with a higher volume, in it’s place we have a guttural and deeply rich experience. Simply outstanding if you ask me.

My previous experience with running a none stock OEM ROM was on the Xperia Z. I struggled to get the phone boot-loader unlocked and rooted. Then when it came to it the CyanogenMod 10.1 that I ran had a few little niggles. The wake from sleep took a couple of seconds and there was noticeable stutter throughout the ROM.

Admittedly this is going to be on any device that isn’t using the kernels and drivers designed specifically for the phone. Something that the vast majority of OEMs keep close to their chest. Therefore we have a large network of developers who create these themselves, I don’t want to knock these people at all, the work they do is incredible and something I can’t do. This can lead to a less than perfect implementation. Something that I personally don’t enjoy on my daily driver.

Thus I was somewhat apprehensive to use the GPe ROM on the One.

My apprehensions have been subdued. The One running this software is the fastest I have ever seen Android work. It’s incredible. Some food for thought, my old MacBook Pro got about 3600 on GeekBench, the Nexus 4 got 2020 or so, and this One gets just shy of 3000 points. Absolutely insane to think about. It flies through anything I’ve thrown at it. Is there is any stutter, I’m not seeing it at all.

When I reviewed the Nexus 4 back in December of last year, I finished by saying that it’s my perfect software with sub-par hardware. I shall finish this review with these words.

The HTC One is the best marriage of hardware and software that you can get on Android. It could even be said that this is the best phone…in the world.

4.7 inches of glorious 1080p.

4.7 inches of glorious 1080p.

The matte black, Beats Audio labelled aluminium back.

The matte black, Beats Audio labelled aluminium back.

Glass fronted with incredible stereo speakers.

Glass fronted with incredible stereo speakers.

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