In case all the hints, leaks, and brazen demonstrations hadn't already tipped you off, HTC has a new flagship Android smartphone and it's called the HTC One. Succeeding the One X family of devices atop HTC's global mantelpiece, the One sticks closely to the company's tradition of wowing fans with lofty specs, but it also innovates dramatically in a couple of key areas, which HTC hopes will give it an edge over the competition and a route back to financial prosperity.
First up, the 4.7-inch LCD display is truly a worthy successor to the One X in being bright, crisp, and beautiful, no matter what angle you look at it from. It's optically bonded and comes with a full 1080p resolution, giving it the pixel density (468ppi) crown and making 5-inch handsets like the Sony Xperia Z look dated before they've even come out on sale.
Playing the pixel game correctly: huge ones in the camera, tiny ones on the display
Secondly, HTC is betting big on the One's camera capabilities, which revolve around a custom-developed imaging sensor with enlarged pixels that can absorb roughly three times more light than those inside a conventional 8-megapixel camera. These UltraPixels, as the company calls them, will make for a major leap in low-light performance, however they do limit the resolution of any photos you take with the HTC One to 4 megapixels. The obvious goal here is to compete with Nokia's PureView system in the Lumia 920, and just like inside that Windows Phone device, the HTC One includes optical image stabilization (OIS). Gyroscope-based, multi-axis OIS is available for both the front- and rear-facing cameras, with the front unit also being of the ultra-wide angle variety we first saw on the HTC Windows Phone 8X.
Just to pad out its camera credentials a bit further, HTC also throws in an HDR video mode, an expanded photo editing suite, and a new HTC Zoe photo option. The latter captures five frames before you press the shutter, plus another 15 after you do, giving you a set of 20 photos to choose from as well as the ability to create some amateur stop-motion animation. If that's not to your liking, it also records a 3-second video clip alongside the pictures.
When it comes to sound, HTC claims the One has "the best audio experience of any mobile phone" and gives it a matching name: HTC BoomSound. This is primarily owing to the two front-facing stereo speakers, which have the largest sound chambers on a phone yet, as well as Beats Audio integration and a dual-microphone HDR recording option.
The One debuts HTC's new Android software overhaul, which is named Sense 5. Aside from a simplification of the visual style, the biggest change in the new user interface is something called BlinkFeed — a Flipboard-like aggregator for news, information, and social feeds that will serve as your new homescreen.
Yes, there's even an IR blaster
No flagship phone spec sheet is complete without LTE these days and the One will naturally come equipped with 4G connectivity, courtesy of a Snapdragon 600 SoC that also features four processing cores running at 1.7GHz. There's also 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage as standard (a 64GB variant is planned for the APAC region), a 2300mAh battery, GPS and GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and even 802.11ac Wi-Fi. And if that's not enough, the power / lock button atop the phone doubles up as an IR emitter, allowing you to use the HTC One as a TV remote control. That comes with an HTC Sense TV app that will provide interactive programs guides from many of the biggest broadcasters.
The HTC One will be available in a choice of silver or black starting in the latter half of March. HTC is aiming for a truly global release, having signed up a total of 185 carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint in the US. Notably, Verizon Wireless was not mentioned yet as a carrier partner for the HTC One in the US. All the major UK operators — O2, Vodafone, Three, and EE — are also on board, and though not all networks may yet offer LTE, the One will arrive in an "LTE-ready" state for whenever their 4G services go live.
Update: Though we'd originally heard the higher-capacity HTC One was planned for Asian markets only, AT&T now says it will offer both a 32GB and a 64GB model. There's no word on whether other carriers will follow suit.