HTC has really upped their game with the new HTC One line of Android smartphones. Each of the three devices in the series looks great, is super fast and offers a range of features that makes them some of the best smartphones currently (or soon) available. Judie had a chance to see them they day they were announced at Mobile World Congress, and I spent some quality time with them the next morning. We were both impressed.
A few weeks later I got my hands on the T-Mobile-branded HTC One S. I liked the look… and the feel… and found it to be a pleasure to use. And since last week, I’ve had my hands on the flagship of the line, the 4.7″ HTC One X branded for AT&T. Like its slightly-smaller (4.3″) sibling, the HTC One X is an all new design that is striking in its appearance, appealing in its feel and impressive in its specs. I thought we might take a look at it by allowing HTC’s promotional wording to do the descriptors with my adding some “colorful commentary” along the way.
Brace yourself for lightning-fast web browsing, remarkable picture quality and seamless gaming visuals. You’ll love the minimalist design and the camera that captures every moment (even in low light) with crisp, vivid, beautiful photos. It also lets you take a photo while shooting HD video. Plus, with Beats Audio™ you hear authentic, deep sound with true, finely-tuned details.
One of the best things about the HTC One series is that, while there are three phones in it, all the phones share the same design cues as well as the same special features. Yes, the specific specs change from one device to the other (and from one region to the other considering the fact that the European version of the HTC One X has a quad-core processor and 32GB of storage while the American version has a dual-core processor and just 16GB of storage along with 25GB of Dropbox storage), but it is clear that each is part of a larger family of devices. What are the unifying “themes” for the HTC One series? As the (incredibly well-versed in the new message) marketing team made clear (over and over and over again), the devices in the line all share an “Amazing camera, Authentic sound and Minimalist design”.
Here’s a look at each feature.
Amazing camera: With this camera you never miss a shot. Capture every moment with a camera that starts-up in less than a second, and has rapid-fire continuous shooting. You’ll never again have to choose between capturing a video or a picture—with Video Pic you can get both at the same time. And you’ll get the best images even under the worst conditions: low light, no light and back light… None are a problem.
Okay so let me get this out of the way- the camera is freaking awesome. It starts shooting quickly, it takes nice shots and it does a whole lot more than that.
Continuous shooting: Never miss a shot again…ever. With continuous shooting you capture every moment. Just press and hold the shutter button and the camera captures every picture until you let go. It’s faster, smarter and more intuitive.
It lets you take burst shots with a default of 20 images (but you can increase that number). Once you have done the shooting you want, the phone lets you either delete pictures one by one or, and I love this — it lets you pick the “Best Shot” of the bunch. When you do, the phone automatically deletes all the remaining images. Considering the fact that I will often have ten of the same images when using my iPhone and have to delete each manually, I find this to be a great feature.
Capture video and pictures at the same time: The camera on HTC One devices starts up in just under a second to ensure you capture the moment. Plus with photo and video capture buttons on the same screen, it’s easy to switch modes or simply snap a photo while recording HD at the same time.
One more feature that I love is the ability to be shooting a movie and then, at the same moment, grab still images. It certainly beats the hassle, not to mention the low quality, if trying to pull still frames from video. In all, HTC claims the HTC One line has an amazing camera, and I would have to agree.
Authentic sound: Sound on your HTC phone is worth bragging about. With Beats Audio™, listening is truly different. Whether playing music or games, watching movies or videos, or your in-car experience, you get rich, authentic sound. Plus with our integrated music experience, easily access all your music libraries, favorite audio apps and internet radio simultaneously from one convenient location.
HTC has been pushing this feature in a huge way and, with the One series, they have gone to the next level by allowing the Beats Audio processing to be applied to ANY audio coming from the device as opposed to just from the music player as it was on previous models. I do love the fact that the phone can identify different Beats headphones and adjust accordingly. Unfortunately, since I don’t own any Beats products, this is more about appreciating the technology than it actually having any impact. I will say that when I listened to a few tracks through my BlueAnt EMBRACE headphones, the audio processing came through loud and clear. It blew the doors off the audio coming from my iPhone. I noticed it, and so did Elana.
The story isn’t as good on the speaker front. The sound is okay but nothing to get excited about. At the same time, HTC has always offered devices with tinny sound and, for once, that is not the case. No, I wouldn’t describe the audio coming from the device itself as being “good”, but it certainly is better than it’s been in the past, and I guess that is worth something.
Minimalist design: We’ve paid close attention to every detail, ensuring this phone is as durable as it is beautiful. Minimalist design meets a 4.7-inch infinity screen with smoothly rounded piano-gloss sidewalls, a curved back so it’s easy to hold, and a unified shell for increased durability.
In our first look at the HTC One S we tried to make it clear that we were smitten with the new design. HTC has done a great job of creating handsets that are sleek, solid, and have enough visual interest to stand out from the pack. The screen on the HTC One line is flush with the phone except in the middle. There are places where the sides of the glass almost appear to float on top of the device. It’s a great and striking visual that adds interest to the device without adding bulk or screaming “Look at me! Look at me dammit!”
And did I mention the phone is thin? It’s amazing that this device can be so much larger than the iPhone but feel so much thinner. In fact, when you use one of the phones in this series and then go back to the iPhone, as I mentioned in the post on the HTC One S, the iPhone feels like a heavy, angular block.
In addition, HTC made the HTC One S out of a solid material rather than putting the white color on the surface. The HTC reps made sure to point out that this means that, when and if you scratch the device, you won’t find the bottom color coming through the surface since it’s the same color all the way through. That’s good to know, but a downside is that the white phone gets dirty pretty quickly. That’s worth taking note if you like using a device that is always pristine.
HTC Sense 4: After you gaze upon a beautiful phone for the first time you want to know that it’s more than a pretty face. Learn more about the software substance inside – it’s what we call HTC Sense.
Some people don’t like HTC Sense, HTC graphical interface that skins over Android. I do. I like the graphics and I like the added functionality. And, thanks to the speed of the HTC One X, I don’t see any slowdown… none!
Quick access to your top apps: Access to your favorite apps is just a finger stroke away. Set your phone and quickly get weather updates, stock information or your favorite people’s Facebook status. Or see your to-do lists and events in a glance.
As Android becomes more and more refined I am finding it to be easier to use and far more flexible. I do like the ability to access the top, most frequently used apps. and I love the iOS-style folders. In fact, I prefer the ones here since you can actually SEE what apps are in the various folders!!
Size: 134.36 x 69.9 x 8.9 mm
Weight: 130 grams with battery
Display: HD 720p touch
Screen: 4.7-inch (1280 x 720 resolution)
1.5 GHz, quad-core (global version)
1.5 GHz, dual-core LTE version (USA and select countries)
Android™ 4.0 with HTC Sense™ 4
Total storage : 32 GB
Europe/Asia: 850/900/1900//2100 MHz
Ambient light sensor
3.5 mm stereo audio jack
Bluetooth with aptX™ enabled (Bluetooth® 4.0)
Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n
DLNA® for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to a compatible TV or computer
micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) port with mobile high-definition video link (MHL) for USB or HDMI connection (Special cable required for HDMI connection.)
Camera with HTC ImageSense™
8 megapixel camera with auto focus, smart LED flash, and BSI sensor (for better low-light captures)
F2.0 aperture and 28mm lens
1080p HD video recording
1.3 megapixel front camera (720p for video chat)
Dedicated imaging chip
Capture a photo in the midst of recording HD video
Continuous shooting mode captures multiple snapshots
Auto flash smartly determined by distance from your subject
Video stabilization feature removes annoying, shaky motion
High quality slow motion video capture and playback
Sound enhancement via Beats Audio™
Audio supported formats:
Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)
Video supported formats:
Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3)
Capacity :1800 mAh
Let’s talk accessories.
One of the neat accessories I had the opportunity to see in action is the HTC media link. The $99 accessory allows you to mirror the phone’s screen on any TV that has an HDMI port. It works quickly and beautifully.
HTC Media Link HD: High quality content can be shared anywhere, anytime. Immerse yourself in high definition entertainment with your Media Link HD. Enjoy high quality movies from HTC Watch, videos and photos from your own personal collection, Youtube videos and more from the internet, and project it to wherever a high definition display is available. Simple and intuitive, Media Link HD is easy to set up- and portable enough to take on the go. Media Link HD, your essential link from your HTC phone to the big screen.
I loved the fact that, in order to activate the media link mirroring, one simply swipes up with three fingers at the same time. This kind of fast intuitive usability is something that I’ve come to appreciate with many current devices and this is just about as slick as it comes. And while you won’t get the same level of functionality that you will get with the $99 Apple TV, it has the opportunity to access iTunes and more, this is a great way to take your smartphone to the big screen. If you are picking up one of the devices in the series I think this is a “must have” accessory. (Any HTC phone with HTC Sense 4.0 can work with it.)
HTC is also releasing a line of auto accessories for the phone. This makes sense since one of the advantages apples devices have is an incredibly broad and deep catalog of third party accessories. There are never as many accessories available for android or Windows phone handsets but the fact that HTC is releasing some specifically for this phone at the onset is a good sign. I didn’t see any of them up close and personal but let’s take a look anyway.
Continue your premium HTC experience… behind the wheel. HTC Car accessories come together and ensure your HTC experience continues even when you get behind the wheel. Wirelessly play premium music, all while you continue to have easy and safe access to calls and navigation.
HTC Car Kit: The Car Kit is specifically designed for your HTC device. Car mode on your HTC phone automatically comes up when you place your phone into the cradle. Be delighted as you notice a more driver friendly user interface come up on your phone, complete with large icons and easy to access navigation and phone book.
HTC Car Mic: The Car Mic operates as a large speaker and mic- wrapped in a compact, polished design. Connect your phone wirelessly via Bluetooth to the Car Mic, and you now have the convenience of talking and listening hands free.
HTC Car StereoClip (Aux): Wirelessly stream music from your HTC phone through your car stereo speakers with the Car StereoClip (Aux). Just plug the adaptor into a 3.5mm auxiliary port, and listen to premium, authentic sound thanks to embedded apt-X enhancement.
So it’s a great phone with some great accessories and it’s coming soon.
There is no question that the HTC One Series of smartphones is a winner. The phones are sleek, fast and reflect the best of what is currently available in the smartphone market. The question remains however, which one? This is made all the more difficult thanks to HTC bringing their new features and philosophy to each of the three phones. Yes, they have different screen sizes and the specs differ, but the experience of using each will be the same.
Of course if you are locked into a carrier and want a subsidized phone, the decision is largely made for you. The One S is on T-Mobile, and the One X is on AT&T. But what about in an absolute sense? Given the freedom to choose any of them which would it be?
The specs on the HTC One X are certainly the best of the bunch. It has a brilliant 4.7 inch screen, a speedy dual core processor, and a powerful camera. At the same time, I would actually opt for the HTC One S over the HTC One X, were I given the choice. The reason for this is rather simple and straightforward – I find the 4.7 inch screen device to be a bit difficult to handle with one hand. I just find the slightly smaller, but still rather large, 4.3 inch screen to be more than adequate and easier to handle. It also is a tiny bit thinner, and while this isn’t a huge difference it is enough to make that device feel even sleeker.
That said, the bottom line is this – you can’t go wrong with any of the devices in the new HTC one lineup. They’re all pretty amazing and if you are a fan of Android, they are certainly worth a look.