It's a nicely designed interface, though the content is limited right now. I preferred to revert the home screen back to the regular Android home screen. (You can set Blinkfeed to be the home screen to the left; you can't disable it fully.) There are other small additions too: Select the weather icon above the Blinkfeed interface and you get a nicely designed and animated weather app. There's one change, however, that I don't appreciate. HTC placed the Home button on the bottom right of the phone and removed the open apps button, straying from the typical Android design. I have been using the phone for a week, and I still haven't gotten used to the placement.
A quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and the 2GB of RAM in the phone make that software extremely snappy and responsive. I mean really snappy apps respond nearly instantaneously ,and so do webpages, thanks to AT&T's LTE network. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile will carry LTE versions of the One.
However, while it is fast, that horsepower takes a toll on battery life. The One lasted about a full day of moderate use. Unlike with the iPhone, I worried about using the phone heavily at times, despite following my own battery-saving tips. And unlike with the Galaxy S4, the battery isn't removable either.
Ultrapixel: Ultra Better?
The last piece of the One puzzle is the camera. HTC says the megapixel war is over and has instead come up with an "ultrapixel" camera. The term is really just marketing jargon, but HTC promises that the camera has larger pixels that can let in more light.
That part holds true. The phone takes good low-light shots even without a Flash, but the other parts of the camera's performance left more to be desired. Shots I took on Auto mode were at times unbalanced and seemed to be very saturated. I was able to take some good shots, but other times it just seemed like the camera couldn't figure out how to automatically adjust the settings. (HTC says it could be a result of the pre-production software on my phone.) My iPhone 5 ended up being the more reliable camera when I wanted to grab a shot of this interesting tree.
But HTC attempts to make up for that shaky performance with some very interesting camera software features. One called Zoe takes a second of video before and after you press the shutter button. It shoots video and stills so you can then grab the best photo. It really helped when I tried to get a still shot of this very active puppy. There is also a highlights reel feature, which creates an instant slideshow or movie of your photos set to music. And thanks to the two front-facing speakers and Beats Audio software on the phone, that music sounds better than any other music I've heard come out of a phone or tablet.
Two. That will likely be the number of Android phones you should look at when you walk into a Best Buy or other mobile phone store this spring or summer.
The One is a beautiful phone with a well-made case, stunning screen and unique software. Yes, its camera and battery performance hold it back from being the perfect smartphone, but those other attributes set a new bar in the Android phone market. But there's no ignoring that Samsung's Galaxy S4 will be coming out soon and promises a host of new features and an impressive 13-megapixel camera. That's why I say there will be two phones to pay attention to. Those looking to buy a new top of the line Android smartphone should certainly wait until the S4 hits later this spring to make a decision, but for now, the One is the one to buy.