Hands-on with the HTC One

Here's what we like and what we don't like about the HTC One after our first hands-on

The HTC One Android phone.

The HTC One Android phone.

HTC showed off its latest flagship Android phone — the One — at a media event in Sydney last night. Although our hands-on was only brief, we've managed to compile enough thoughts to give your our first impressions of the device.

Read our preview of the HTC One here

Here's what we like and what we don't like about the HTC One after our first hands-on.

What we like

HTC has generally always built excellent quality hardware and the One is no exception. Although its a large phone, the One felt relatively comfortable to hold and the fit and finish is among the best I've seen on any smartphone. I was particularly impressed with the edges, which appear to use a similar machining technique to Apple's iPhone 5. All in all, this feels like an exceptionally built smartphone.

The fit and finish of the HTC One is among the best we've seen on any smartphone.
The fit and finish of the HTC One is among the best we've seen on any smartphone.

I can't stress how impressive the HTC One's display is. While the dark lighting at the event wasn't the most ideal for screen tests, the viewing angles on the HTC One are exceptional. I managed to compare them directly to the Sony Xperia Z and the difference is stark. Like the HTC Butterfly, the colour reproduction and brightness on the One are almost unrivaled. It's a display that has to be seen yourself in order to be fully appreciated.

One of the most distinctive design features of the HTC One is the inclusion of dual-stereo speakers that sit above and below the display. Despite a rather loud band playing in the background at various points during the event, I was left quite impressed with the volume the speakers pushed out. HTC actually calls the speakers 'BoomSound', saying they will pump out up to 93 decibels of sound. Let's hope this just doesn't increase the trend of people playing awful, audible music on public transport.

HTC says the One's 'BoomSound' speakers will pump out up to 93 decibels of sound.
HTC says the One's 'BoomSound' speakers will pump out up to 93 decibels of sound.

HTC's new Sense 5 software was also a positive. I particularly liked the new fonts, graphics and animations. While these still don't follow Google's 'holo' guidelines they at least appear to be consistent across most applications, something I can't say about many previous HTC Android smartphones. In my brief hands-on the UI felt both fast and slick.

What we don't like

HTC spent a large portion of its presentation talking up BlinkFeed, which is the new tile-based home screen on the One. I'm personally undecided about BlinkFeed: for me, there is nothing wrong with "static grids of icons" and the idea of seeing social networking status updates and feeds everytime I unlock my phone isn't exactly appealing. Other users may feel differently, so this is very much a personal preference. In what may prove to be an annoyance, BlinkFeed can't be completely removed from the HTC One. It must be one of your home screens, but doesn't have to be the primary one.

BlinkFeed can't be completely removed from the HTC One but it doesn't have to be your primary home screen.
BlinkFeed can't be completely removed from the HTC One but it doesn't have to be your primary home screen.

I found the top mounted power button on the HTC One, which also acts as an Infrared port, is almost impossible to press when using the phone single handedly. In my experience the optimal position for the power button on a large smartphone is on the right side, as this allows one-handed access. The HTC One's power button is awkward to press without avoiding an uncomfortable grip.

HTC's capacitive button layout also left me disappointed. The new layout sees a back key on the left and a home key on the right. The latter felt particularly uncomfortable and almost completely unnatural. There's no multitasking button on the HTC one, so this menu is accessible by double tapping on the home button. A long press on the home button launches Google Now.

We'll be getting our hands on HTC One review unit very shortly. In the meantime if you have any questions or queries about the device, drop us a line in the comments below!

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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