HTC is in an interesting position as a result of this last product cycle. While the previous HTC One series’ industrial design and performance was top notch, other OEMs still managed to eclipse the One series in terms of market adoption and consumer perception. Getting back to being a solid performer and cementing a place as at least the dominant number three player in the smartphone space is HTC’s mission for 2013, and the flagship device it’s starting that out with is the device previously known as M7, now known simply as the HTC One.

Design and Construction

The choice of the HTC One name really emphasizes how much this launch means to HTC — this is the canonical One. This is the fullest expression of HTC’s view for what the One lineup should mean, this is their flagship. The One is a clear evolution of the industrial design first begun with the Butterfly and DNA, except instead of plastic the One is machined from a single solid block of aluminum. There are over 200 minutes of CNC machine cuts per device, which is a unibody construction. Plastic is injected into the aluminum block after certain cuts are made for the back case, which then gets machined into the final form. The One uses the top and bottom aluminum strips for antennas, both of which are actively tuned to mitigate unintended attenuation from being held. There’s a plastic insulative strip in-between the two antennas and the main body. In spite of being aluminum, the One also includes NFC, whose active area surrounds the camera region. There’s no wireless charging from Qi or WPC, however.

In the hands the HTC One has the kind of fit and finish that I’d expect from a high end device. I thought that the One S was perhaps the best industrial design of 2012 in part thanks to the metal backside, unique concave shape, and size. The truth is that the HTC One feels even better than that. There’s something inescapable about metal — HTC described it as expensive and luxurious feeling, like a well crafted tool. Other OEMs with metal phones like to evoke imagery of watches or high end jewelry. I think at some fundamental level metal does imply value, and as a result it conveys a much higher end in-hand feel than other entirely polycarbonate plastic designs. There’s a thin strip of plastic which runs around the edge of the device, and it’s here that the microSIM tray, ejection port, primary microphone, microUSB port, power/lock button (which doubles as IR transmit and receive), earphone jack, and volume rocker sit. The front has two aluminum pieces which serve as the speaker, microphone, and earpiece grilles. The HTC One will come in both an uncolored silver version, and anodized black.

The One is topped with a 4.7-inch 1080p Super LCD 3 display. We’ve said that 2013 is going to be the year of 5-inch phones, and 4.7 is just shy. I think there’s something almost optimal about the device size that results with a 16:9 display size just short of 5-inches diagonal. It’s still possible to one hand if you have medium sized hands, easy to pocket, and still not laughably huge.

The HTC One at first glance might seem reminescent of another big metal unibody device, but in the hand couldn’t feel any more different. The convex rounded back side gives the One an entirely different in-hand feel, and the edges have a slight negative angle to them in addition to two chamfers.

Rather than place the primary speaker on the backside of the One, HTC has placed a set of speakers on the front of the device, one at top, one at bottom, behind the two grilles. These two provide stereo sound, and placing them on the front instead of the bottom or back makes a lot of sense for things like watching video, Google Navigation, and listening to music. The One also has dual microphones for noise rejection on calls, and also two different microphone pairs for accommodating low volume and high volume environments when recording audio. For example the commodity microphones generally included in a smartphone saturate around 70 dBA, HTC claims the dual microphone system on the One can accommodate up to 120 dBA SPL (Sound Pressure Level) without saturating.

Abandoning the Megapixel Race and Shooting for Quality
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • owned66 - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    when the nexus s was released i was a god send for galaxy s devs because they had all they stuff they need (source) to have a very good implementation of cm7

    when the galaxy s2 was released it was hell for devs they ended up signing a petition with +10000 signatures just to get the kernel source and that took them over 6 months or so

    now with the HTC one almost as the same as the nexus 4's hardware , no ?
    are there big architectural changes?
    could they use stuff from the nexus 4 to make cm10.1 work flawlessly ?
  • ssj3gohan - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    Why are they touting 200 minutes of milling and using ridiculously energy-intensive aluminum bodies as a bonus? It just seems extremely wasteful to me for a small device that will be thrown away in a year. If anything, if they want to make aluminum devices, they should tout how well-optimized they got their manufacturing.

    I don't get why they mill it from a solid block either. The only advantage of milling over casting is that you can do small series and the base material strength is (mostly) preserved. It's not like you need 7075 grade aluminum for strength. The only strength requirement for these phones is scratch resistance, and you can get that with anodized clad aluminum. They should just use cast recycled aluminum and post-process it with conventional means. It will save them, the environment and your wallet without any downside to the end product.

    This is just irresponsible.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    I'd rather have a larger battery, sane front buttons (HTC logo in the middle, whut?), microSD card, and definitely require inductive charging.

    I also have no interest in a 1080p screen on a phone.

    It's a phone. You do not need or want a 1080p screen. You may think you want it, but in reality it just adds a bunch of cost and battery drain, for a very pointless difference over 720p.
  • peevee - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    "The HTC One runs Android 4.1.2, a choice which might seem alarming, but was done for stability and quality reasons, although 4.2 is coming. I think it might sound bad to ship with 4.1, but even Google acknowledged that 4.2 was primarily a release with more tablet features than something for smartphones, after all both are still Jelly Bean. "

    it should be "still NAMED Jelly Bean", and name is irrelevant. Old version is old version, and 4.1 is 8 months old now and will be even older when the phone starts to ship. It is a very poor excuse for not investing in updating OS for their phones. Even top of the line phones are updated maybe once. 4.2 is 4 months old too, and by the time it MAYBE, EVENTUALLY, comes to HTC it will be outdated too.
    Only Nexus is updated regularly (4.2.2 is knocking at my door right now), but even Nexus is not updated on Verizon.
  • Azurael - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    As long as HTC won't S-Off their bootloaders and keep harassing developers, I'll not buy another. I love HTC hardware and would once have called myself a diehard fan. Now, I've got a Nexus 4 (to replace my Intl. One X) and I've not looked back. I ran Cyanogenmod on the One X anyway, I haven't wanted Sense since 2.3 on my old Desire when Android's own UI sucked by comparison. I can't see the reason to put up with the horrible experience clash between the Sense UI and Holo apps.
  • Hrel - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    I want that phone. I'd have to see battery tests to be sure but it's about time someone did a camera right. Hopefully Sprint won't wait long to put the phone on Virgin Mobile. I don't even care if it's 400 bucks, I'll still buy it. The amount of money I save monthly makes it worth it.
  • robco - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    I'm one of the curmudgeons who doesn't like the fact that smartphones are becoming ginormous. The design does look really nice though, a good change for HTC. I'd be happier if they made a 4" version with a 720P display.

    Unfortunately one of my pet peeves remains: the UI. I know HTC wants to differentiate themselves, but I'd prefer stock Android. I know I might be able to root it and put on a clean build, but I shouldn't need to do that with an "open" platform.

    Still, it's nice to see the competition get better and better. I like my iPhone, but iOS is starting to feel a bit stale. Should I decide to switch, it's nice to have a range of options.
  • blandge - Friday, February 22, 2013 - link

    Hey can I buy an HTC One at full price and add a SIM card for Verizon?
  • dwightja24 - Thursday, February 28, 2013 - link

    I have had a HTC one X and it was waterproof fell into a 2 feet deep puddle during rainfall
    and there was no issue after retrieving it. If that was a Samsung i would be sending it for replacement. Can't wait to see the price on this one HTC always makes quality phones . Sold my One X for a LG Nexus and now all i want is another HTC phone the sense UI and hand grip made it feel like it was worth the cost. The battery Life was an issue with the one x but with the bigger battery in the One i see that problem dissapearing.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now