It might be the world’s most popular smartphone operating system in the world, but Android has not been top dog in the style department for a while, with even the bestselling Galaxy S series being dogged (unfairly we think) with accusations of being plasticky. Well, that could change with the HTC One.
Crafted out of a single block of aluminum, the One does not scream “style” as much as speak “elegance” in a baritone that James Bond would like to borrow. The front is dominated by a full HD 4.7 inch display, with speaker grilles above and below it — a super idea, which we really think other manufacturers should adopt, instead of plonking speakers behind or below handsets. The back houses the much talked about UltraPixel camera, with the volume rocker gently blending into the right side and the power/display on/off button placed a trifle awkwardly on the top left corner. All with nary a rough edge.
And it is no dumb gizmo. Powered by a 1.7 GHz quad core processor, the HTC One comes with 2 GB RAM, 32 GB storage (non-expandable — that battery does not move) as well as every connectivity option you can think of (3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth). And don’t be fooled by the 4.0-megapixel count on the camera — it comes with a special sensor that helps you capture some rather stunning images and video. Those speakers on the front are dual stereo speakers with built-in amplifiers and deliver very good sound.
HTC has also put a spin on the software. Yes, it is Android (4.1.2, Jelly Bean) but covered by HTC’s own Sense 5.0 software. You get three customisable homescreens, one of which will be dominated by HTC’s BlinkFeed, which pulls the latest information from news sources and your social networks and displays them in graphic-rich tiles on your homescreen. The camera interface has also been changed thoroughly, letting you apply filters and effects while shooting images and also capturing three second videos which HTC calls Zoes. This being Android, Google goodies like Mail and Maps, and seamless social network connectivity come right out of the box.
It is not perfect, though. There is no multi-tasking button — you have to tap the Home button twice to see open and recent apps. BlinkFeed is nice, but can get irritating if you have a very hectic socially networked life. And we do think that the camera software’s improvements have come at the cost of simplicity.
Finally, likemost high-end Android devices, this One is pretty much a charge a day device, especially if you go crazy in the HD apps and photography department, which you would be tempted to do, given the display and the camera.
At Rs 42,900, it ain’t exactly dirt cheap, but the HTC One is the first Android phone in a while that makes it to the object of desire category, while also performing brilliantly. Will it outsell the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S IV? We don’t know. What we do know is that anyone possessing it will both use and flaunt it.
And there are not too many phones about which that can be said.
HTC One: 4.7 inch full HD display, 1.7 GHz quad core processor, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, Infra-Red, Android 4.1.2 with Sense 5.0, UltraPixel camera
Cost: Rs 42,900