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HTC One review

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Verdict:

A beautiful handset with an amazing screen and innovative camera - an Ultimate smartphone

Review Date: 19 Mar 2014

Price when reviewed: £504

Buy it now for: £403
(see more store prices)

Supplier: http://www.handtec.co.uk

Reviewed By: Chris Finnamore

Our Rating 5 stars out of 5

User Rating 5 stars out of 5

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UPDATE 19/3/14 When the HTC One launched a year ago, its chief competition was the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Sony Xperia Z. Since then, we've had the Sony Xperia Z1 and Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5, so the competition is looking stiffer than ever.

We looked into how the prices stand 12 months on, to see if the One is still worth buying. Surprisingly, the handset has not dropped significantly in price. When launched it cost £504 SIM-free, and is now £414 from Lambda-tek.

This makes it expensive when compared to the Galaxy S3 and Xperia Z, which can be had for £220 and £300 SIM-free respectively, as well as the newer Galaxy S4 and Xperia Z1, which are £350 and £410.

The HTC One has also proved resilient in terms of how much it costs on contract. You'll have to pay £27 a month for 24 months to get the phone for free, which makes it as expensive as the newer Z1 and far more than the Galaxy S4, which is free on a £21-per-month contract, or the bargain S3, which can be yours for just £13 a month.

None of these phones can match the One for build quality, although the Xperia Z1 comes close, but with the new HTC One (M8) just around the corner, you may want to hold off on paying a premium price for an older handset.

REVIEW

In the year 2013, few things are as hyped as a new premium smartphone. There were adverts for the Sony Xperia Z all over the national press, technology journalists (ourselves included) are falling over themselves to pick up on any rumours about the Samsung Galaxy S4 and even staid, businesslike BlackBerry hired Alicia Keys to be its Creative Director. By contrast, HTC has been relatively quiet about the new HTC One.

HTC One

There was a launch press conference in London but, acrobats aside, there were few gimmicks. Make no mistake, though; this is the big one. HTC has fallen far behind Apple and Samsung in sales, and it hopes this is the top-end phone to revive its fortunes.

First impressions, thankfully, are great. The One is a gorgeous phone, and we think it wipes the floor with the Sony Xperia Z. The combination of metal rear, bevelled metal edges and edge-to-edge screen are class itself, and make the Xperia Z feel square and tacky, despite its glass rear. The HTC One's curved back also makes it comfortable to hold - a minor downside is that it's tricky to type when it’s lying flat on a desk.

HTC One

The metal-backed HTC One is a thing of beauty, and even out-classes the Sony Xperia Z's glass chassis

We were also seriously impressed with the screen. It's a 4.7in model with a Full HD 1,920x1,080 resolution, leading to a huge pixel density figure of 468ppi. When compared side-by-side with the Xperia Z's display, we preferred the HTC One's screen, thanks to its superb contrast. It has incredibly deep blacks (for an LCD at least), and our test photos showed rich, vibrant colours and plenty of shadow detail.

The Xperia Z had the advantage when it came to looking at web pages, however; its slightly larger 5in display meant text was ever-so-slightly larger and easier to read when web pages were fully zoomed out, helped by brilliant white backgrounds, compared to the very slight grey tinge on the HTC One.

HTC One

Last year it was 720p, now Full HD 1080p screens are becoming the norm on top-end smartphones

The HTC One wins out when it comes to web browsing performance. It has a quad-core 1.7GHz processor, and completed our Sunspider JavaScript benchmark in a super-fast 1,123ms. This is far faster than the 1,890ms we saw from the Xperia Z, but we think much of this is down to the speed of the Xperia Z's browser. For comparison, we ran the same test using the fast Dolphin browser, and the HTC One remained ahead of the Xperia Z with a score of 1,120ms compared to 1,357ms.

This difference was borne out in our subjective web browsing tests. Both phones rendered graphics heavy web pages at a similar speed, but when zoomed in and panning around a web page, the Xperia Z would stutter when coming across a large image – a problem we didn’t have with the HTC One.

Luckily, HTC has provided a huge 2,300mAh battery to power the fast processor and bright screen. The handset managed 8h 32m in our continuous video playback test, which is a strong result and bodes well for all-day battery life.

DUAL SIM & EXPANDABLE STORAGE
If we have one major gripe with the HTC One, it's is lack of expandable storage - unless you buy the top-end 64GB model, you could quickly find yourself running out of space if you take a lot of photos and video, or use your handset as an MP3 player.

HTC is preparing to rectify this problem with an updated model which includes a removable rear cover, much like the HTC One Max. Known as the HTC One 802w in China, where it's already on sale, it will simply be called the HTC One Dual SIM here in the UK.

It will still be made of aluminium, rather than plastic like the HTC One Mini, but include a microSD card slot as well as twin SIM card slots.

This is somewhat rare for the UK, as dual SIM handsets typically aren't very popular with customers. They are much more popular in developing nations, but twin SIM card slots could still be a welcome inclusion for anyone that wants to keep work and home life separate without carrying two phones.

If you've been put off by the HTC One's limited storage you may want to wait a little longer - although no release window has been confirmed, you can pre-order the handset for £495 through the HTC Store.

Unfortunately, you have to make a choice between extra storage and faster internet speeds, as the dual-SIM model doesn't support 4G LTE networks. If you live in an area without 4G coverage, however, it could be an easier decision.

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