Burps and belly rumbles

So far this has just been a duping ground for moans, groans and over exagerated injustices that have rained down on me. If you look close though, you might just find a post or two of opinion and not complaint.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The HTC One - A personal review

So I have been lucky enough to have a HTC One for a couple of months now thanks to the very kind folks at HTC UK and I thought I should maybe jot down a few random thoughts about it.

To start I will say that the unit I have is a pre-production model and as such was not spanking new when it arrived but I would guess was rather a review unit or was used internally within HTC for some use or other.  This meant that my device came with full S-Off and SuperCID wich suited me perfectly as the last Android phone I had the last a day without being rooted and flashed was the HTC Hero, and that is only because I never knew any better.  Being a pre-production unit I can't say if there were any manufacturing or other differences from a full retail device but I do know that my One is solidly built without any issues whatsoever.

If you read any mobile phone sites you will know that the design of the phone has been praised without equal, and being honest it really is a thing of beauty, but it's not just how it looks, it also feels fantastic to hold.  The smooth curved back sits perfectly in the hand and the glass and metal front fit seamlessly to give the feel of a single object.  The phone feels that nice I actually use it without a case whenever I can.  The stereo 'Boomsound' speakers nudge out above and below the screen in a way that is slightly unconventional with modern phones.  Being a rightie, the position of the power button is a little awkward, I would have preferred it to sit along one of the sides but HTC opted to also use the gap in the casing as the Infra Red blaster (or port as we used to call it in the old days) which I would guess was a costing decision.  For me the design is not all sunshine, the button setup is weird to say the least.  There are two capacitive buttons (I always prefer hardware buttons), a back key and a home key.  Not too crazy in itself, but the way HTC have chosen to use the buttons is.  The back key is just a back key, nothing else but they have chosen to give the home key multiple uses, it's the home key (obviously), and the recent app key and even the Google now key, why?

Onto the screen.  Being a full 1080p it's obviously going to look good, but it really is crisp and the viewing angels are amazing.  Looking a images or watching video is a great experience, by far the best I have seen.  One area I have always found HTC phones to lacking is in the volume of the handset speakers, I have always had to use third party apps to boost the output even for the ringer never mind media.  HTC have finally seen the error of their ways and on the One stereo front facing speakers are backed up with a decent amplifier (affectionately called Boomsound) to mean that using the screen to watch media is now enjoyable.

The most controversial feature of the HTC One is the 4 Ultra pixel camera.  It has been criticized in many places when compared to the camera's of the S4 and Xperia Z but for me it is all about use.  For me the camera on my phone is all about capturing memories and the features the One has in the camera and gallery app make the task a joy.  Still shots in even poor lighting, Zoe's capturing snippets of movement and the highlight feature to wrap everything up in.  Is it the best camera for capturing majestic landscapes? No.  Is it the best package for recording a family event and presenting it on a social media outlet? Yes, without doubt. If you have kids you will find the features amazing.

HTC have also looked at the way Sense was developing and decided that it had become too much.  I recently installed a Sense ROM on my HD2 and it is easy to see why HTC went down the road they did.  For the smartphone beginner everything was there dressed up in the distinctive style of HTC.  The problem was all that HTC bling came at a cost and Sense had become massive. For the One HTC redesigned Sense and stripped away a LOT of the widgets and features of previous versions.  It still has the Sense look, but if a far smaller package.  The difference is amazing to the extent that almost everyone I know who has a HTC One uses Sense, either fully stock or as part of a close to stock custom ROM, it is that good.

Lastly is the big bonus for me.  As I said earlier I like to use custom ROM's on my phones and the inclusion of the One into the GE project means that the choice for ROM flashers is great.  Every kind of custom ROM you could want will have fully working hardware and even better we are now on the brink of getting mixed Sense and AOSP ROM's meaning that whatever way you like have your phone you can.

Marks out of ten? Well nothing is perfect but for the technology we have right now this is close.
9/10 for me.

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