HTC One: First impressions

Our first impressions of the HTC One, including what impressed us and what did not

Our first impressions of the HTC One, including what impressed us and what did not.

Pros

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 we've seen on any smartphone. The edges appear to use a similar machining technique to Apple's iPhone 5 and the overall feeling is that this is an exceptionally built smartphone.

The viewing angles on the HTC One's display are exceptional. We 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, we were 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.

HTC's new Sense 5 software was also a positive. We particularly liked the new fonts, graphics and animations. These don't follow Google's 'holo' guidelines but appear to be consistent across most applications. The UI felt both fast and slick.

Cons

HTC spent a large portion of its presentation talking up BlinkFeed, which is the new tile-based home screen on the One. Whether the idea of seeing social networking status updates and feeds everytime you unlock your phone is appealing is really a personal preference. If you're not a fan, 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.

We 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. 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 is also odd. 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.

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