I’ve bought an HTC One. It wasn’t the one I wanted. I want 64GB in black but it was only possible to pre-order the 32GB. Then HTC announced they didn’t have the black in stock, we’d already suffered through delays, and the email suggested switching to silver and getting a free screen protector. I switched. I have my phone now but there’s no sign of the screen protector.
There’s no doubt HTC has been hit by the supply problems around this handset.
The good news is that this is a really good phone.
I’ve been a loyal HTC customer for the last few generations and even as I pre-ordered the HTC One I knew the Samsung Galaxy S4 was coming. I wondered whether the HTC One would be my last HTC. My main concern? Sealed batteries. My last phone was an HTC Sensation. I carry two spare batteries for it. Batteries are easy to switch and when the phone crashes, as all phones too, the easy reboot-of-fix is just to take the battery out. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that for the HTC One.
The battery has lasted on me so far. I’ve not been stuck on a train down to London with the device but I’ve spent hours on wi-fi, downloaded lots of apps and caught up with hundreds of posts on Feedly and the HTC One has made it to the end of the day.
That’s not enough, though, I’ve backed Fuel and will be just part of my battery alternative. HTC seems to be savvy to the concern and the need for a better battery solution. The HTC One comes with a little brochure of accessories and these include external battery back.
The screen on the HTC is wonderful. It’s full HD, 1080p, 468 PPI and 4.7 inches. That’ll ensure it wins any retina resolution screen. The screen seems to stretch edge to edge and it makes a big difference to the feel of the phone.
The phone itself is a single, sealed, sculpt. That’s why the battery has to be sealed. No getting the battery out of that without ruining your warranty.
The feel of a single sheet of metal in your hand is great. The phone feels different. It feels robust without being chunky. The amazing quality screen stretches from palm to fingers. Let’s not use the word phablet but at 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 the phone is large.
The default home screen is HTC BlinkFeed. This is a Flipboard like a visual summary of your social networks, trending topics from HTC’s content partners, text messages and other alerts the phone knows about. I was worried it was redundant but it scrolls so smoothly it’s actually not a bad way to keep up to date.
Over the days I’ve had it I’ve found myself removing content and networks from BlinkFeed to concentrate on breaking news and sources I don’t have in my RSS reader or follow on Twitter. My HTC BlinkFeed has become a way to alert me to news I might otherwise be missing and as a blogger that’s useful.
Another big selling point of the phone for me is the HTC Zoe.
There are seem to be two forms of Zoe. The first is a 15-second video you take from the camera when it’s on still image mode. The point of this is that the Zoe acts like an awesome action shot, taking lots of photographs (enough to make the video) but letting you scroll through and select the frames you want to share as still image.
The other Zoe is a 33-second film made by images (or the 15 second Zoe) stored as an event in the gallery. These Zoe’s are surprisingly clever. The films made come with music and effects. Here’s an example I made with just a few photographs taken during a trip to BBC Scotland in Edinburgh.
I’m looking forward to using Zoe to turn trips to conventions and expos into short, engaging and personalised blog posts.
The HTC One has a number of other technical tricks. It controls the TV set, home theatre and Virgin Media cable box. Set up is surprisingly easy; tell it the maker of your TV set (Phillips, Samsung, LG, etc) and it’ll download a bunch of infrared instructions. Then it’s just a matter of pressing the test button until the TV responds. The same process runs for the home theatre and cable box. If HTC doesn’t have the right library you can train the phone by pointing your IR controller at it and beaming the signal into the phone.
I’ve had a portal TV controller before – on a watch. I used it to turn TVs on or off in shop window displays. I was young, foolish and too fond of pranks. Now I’m older but I suspect the urge to take control of friends Sky TV boxes when I’m visiting will raise its head.
This is a fast phone. It’s a quad-core device with 1.7Ghz. The camera responds quickly, Bluetooth is 4.0 and the wi-fi works on a, ac, b, g and n. The specs are impressive but more importantly – the HTC One feels like a fast phone. It’s satisfying to use.
One of the features I’m yet to get any mileage out of is the phone’s ability to share pictures and videos to other media devices. Another accessory you can buy for the HTC is an HDMI adaptor that plugs into your TV which then lets you use a three-finger-push gesture from the phone to bring pictures from it to the TV. That’s the theory. In practice, I don’t know anyone with a spare HMDI slot. I already have to use an HDMI switcher to flick back and forth between the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. It’s going to be hellish when the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 arrive. Hopefully, HTC is looking at Connected TVs and TV apps as an alternative to a hardware solution for their screen sharing or they’re always going to lose out.
Lastly, the unexpected win for me on the HTC One has been the speakers. I knew they were supposed to be good but it didn’t influence my buying decision. I don’t use my phone to listen to music outside of headphone use. Perhaps that’s because I’ve not had an HTC One until now. This phone is actually good enough to use as a speaker.
Overall, my first week with the phone has been a success. It’s living up to promises. It’s not fulfilling any of the fears I had about it. I’m looking forward to taking the phone to a gaming convention this week because I want to take some pictures and make a Zoe. The HTC One is a great phone for bloggers.
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