We had given you an exclusive preview of the HTC One right after the international launch. Now we have our hands on it and with the India launch just about happening, here’s a detailed look at what the potential powerhouse packs in!

There are crests and troughs in the rumour mill based on how close a newly-launched smartphone is to becoming the new iPhone killer. When the HTC One was about to be launched, there was a certain buzz around it, but none dared imagine whether it’ll be able to match up to the cult status of the iPhone 5. It’s been barely two months since and most geeks can’t seem to stop raving about HTC’s new flagship.

When you see the phone for the first time, it was easy to gauge why. You see, a big screen, and the sleek body is all fine to look at; also, it’s something every major smartphone manufacturer (even budget-phone manufacturers, now) can offer. However, you hold the HTC One and you know that it’s consciously built to survive drops! Not that we even had the heart to put it to the test. While most of the face is the huge 4.7-inch display, I’d say it owes its classy build mostly to the full metal back panel with diamond-cut edges and strips for the antenna beneath. It’s unibody in the sense that when you run a finger along the back, it’s just one smooth surface. HTC calls it a “zero gap construction” phone.

Standing Apart

In an attempt to get users to stay updated with news and social activity, the company has dedicated the home screen to BlinkFeed – a matrix of tiles displaying stories and news regarding your areas of interest. You can pick your favourite topics or media channels and follow all that’s happening, live on the homescreen. So I picked Entertainment (who can live without the daily drama of tinseltown!), Asia, Food, Music and Trending Topics. The service itself is very similar to Flipboard and the layout kind of similar to Pulse (except you scroll down instead of sideways). The only downside to Highlights is the fact that you can’t really remove it from the landing home screen.

The handset features an upgraded version of HTC Sense, and the changes entail a very iPhone-like drag-and-drop convenience when you want to group a certain of type of apps together in a folder.

Camera

Bigger isn’t better. Not always with megapixels, anyway! And HTC was shockingly honest with this revelation at a time when everyone’s busy boasting their specs. So, technically, the HTC camera is a 4-megger, but what really does the job is the camera sensor and something that HTC calls ‘UltraPixels’. What sets this apart from the competitors is the fact that it’s designed to capture light more efficiently than a regular smartphone camera – 300 per cent more light, to be exact. So, not only is the HTC One able to capture images taken in daylight well, but shots clicked in dimly-lit corners also turned out better than we’d expect them to be.

Another feature that sets the HTC One apart is the Camera functionality - Zoe. Simply put, Zoe makes your still images move! Anyone who’s familiar with the Harry Potter-esque experience of photos in newspapers moving will instantly identify. Basically, with Zoe on, you not only capture a picture but also get an editable 3-second video to go along with it. At the time of writing there’s no other smartphone that offers this functionality.

Audio

The smartphone predictably comes equipped with Beats Audio. But apart from that it also features HTC BoomSound which includes front-facing stereo speakers with a dedicated amplifier. While the max volume levels on the device might not be the loudest I’ve come across on a smartphone, the quality of audio streamed from the speakers is really nice. We played a couple of songs, including Lovely Day by Bill Withers, Vagabond by Wolfmother and Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes and the fidelity was better than we had come across on most smartphones.

One of the few downides to the handset was the fact that it got really heated up when we were watching videos or olaying music on it for an extended period of time. The aluminium case makes matters worse.

The HTC One is powered by a 1.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor and comes with a 2,300 mAh battery. Despite the big screen and fairly continuous usage with Wi-Fi on, the handset kept me company for almost 10-11 hours in a day. On the Quadrant Standard test, the HTC One scored the highest we’ve seen any smartphone score, with a mind-boggling 9009 points. To give you some perspective, the quad-core LG Optimus G scored around 7629 points.

Verdict

There are a lot of super-smartphones vying for your attention in the market. All of them have the beauty, the brains and the brawns (or at least two of the three!). However, what I personally love about the HTC One is that it’s unpretentious, extremely sturdy and is actually good at all those things that it promises to be. Plus, a couple of its USPs such as Zoe, the UltraPixel camera and a powerful processor, help set it apart from the competition. The brand new HTC One will now be competing against the likes of the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4, and I for one will not be surprised if it finds itself a cozy spot right at the top!

Rs 42,900

Love – Sturdy build, great camera, powerful processor

Hate – BlinkFeed as a permanent fixture, too ‘tall’ a design

mahananda. bohidar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 8, 2013)
XThese are links to The Hindu Business Line suggested by Outbrain, which may or may not be relevant to the other content on this page. You can read Outbrain's privacy and cookie policy here.