HTC One has fine looks and innovative features
HTC One: while it has some impressive developments, don't expect anything revolutionary. photograph: toby melville
The HTC One is “the best phone ever made” if you believe HTC’s Europe, Middle East and Africa president Florian Seiche. While the curved aluminium design makes it look the part, HTC’s claims at the launch in London this week seemed a little ambitious.
The event’s timing was no doubt an attempt to trump any announcements at next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and to get in ahead of Samsung’s expected release of the Galaxy IV next month.
While many assumed HTC would release a “phablet” this time out, the 4.7-inch design is light, thin and still a smartphone. Indeed the size of the display is to allow more pixels-per-inch than would be the case on larger phones, creating a crisp visual experience.
The 1080p super LCD display with Gorilla Glass screen, which has become standard for HTC phones, welcomes users to HTC’s new BlinkFeed feature on the homepage which, according to Scott Croyle, HTC’s vice-president of design, is one of the major parts of ensuring that smartphones “go from being smart to being alive”.
The feature was referenced by HTC chief executive Peter Chou in London as he talked about how the HTC One represented a move away from previous smartphone designs in “old PC” models of user experience.
BlinkFeed is a visually appealing live feed of information customised to your preferences – be they Facebook updates, news headlines, sports results and more. The layout should be familiar to those who use the popular FlipBoard app, and users have the option to switch back to the more familiar applications-based homepage.
Whether this aggregated approach to the interface will work is the big bet for HTC as elsewhere, while there are some impressive features, there isn’t anything revolutionary. The UltraPixel camera comes with an F2.0 aperture and 28mm lens allowing in “300 per cent more light” than previous models so it works better in low-light conditions.
According to HTC, the amount of pixels no longer matters with phones, rather it’s capturing “larger pixels” which has allowed HTC to make this three-fold improvement.
After seeing the theory tested in London against an iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III, there was noticeably more light in the images of a darkened display area. The dark conditions of the launch at the German Gymnasium in King’s Cross, however, didn’t allow for a test of how it compares against its rivals when more light is present.
The low-lit surrounds didn’t do the much-heralded HTC Zoe feature any favours either. Zoe allows users capture hi-res photos and short videos simultaneously. “You’re looking at a living gallery,” said Croyle, who says users can create “real-time highlight videos” which can be automatically set to music, as well as allowing you to edit out people or objects and edit in smiles, which should prove handy for that family member who always grimaces as the shutter is pressed.