An Android Virgins Take On the HTC One

Introduction

So I have seen a few reviews posted here recently which seem like they would make for nice reference pieces for somebody considering buying the HTC One. Seeing as I made my purchase last week, I thought I would add my 2 cents.

I have made the transition from a HTC Titan running Windows Phone to the new HTC One, rocking Android Jellybean. This is my first Android device and I hope that this piece will reflect my opinion on the operating system and help anyone else thinking of making a switch. Anyone making the move should check out my post last week on essential Android apps, as it received a fantastic response.

Please don’t pass comment on any of my opinions, because they are just that: my opinions. I’m a user of all major platforms, and I respect the positives and negatives of each one.

Hardware

The HTC One is very well documented as a fantastic looking device. The complements are absolutely well deserved; there is something about this phone that makes it a pleasure to pick up and hold, and a delight to be seen with.

The details are lovely, from the texture on the volume rocker to the colour of the HTC logo on the rear; everything about this phone evokes a passionate and ambitious design team doing their best to save their employer from the perilous consequences of past mistakes

If you are in the market for a new phone, make no mistake, the HTC one is a fabulous device from a hardware point of view. The screen, the body and the processor speed all combine to create an incredibly satisfying user experience.

Personal view: So how have I enjoyed living with the HTC One? Well the button positioning hasn’t been an issue for me like it has for others. I can reach the whole screen with one hand, I can access the home button with no problem and I was used to the power button position after the first day. Keep in mind that I have come from using the Titan and am well used to having a large phone.

The complaints I have heard regarding the power button being too flush with the phone have not affected me, I find it very easy to use. Thank god it’s nothing like the power button on the HTC 8X. I also would have liked a dedicated camera button on the side, a feature I sorely miss from Windows Phone.

Software

So the software, how have I managed the transition? I found this section difficult to approach, as I have slightly mixed views. Coming from Windows Phone, and owning an iPad and iPod Touch, I have plenty of experience with mobile operating systems, but, as it turned out, not nearly enough. Android is a totally different beast.

I won’t go into a massive amount of detail here, but what I will say to the potential new Android owner, is don’t expect an easy set up. Don’t expect a setting to be where it should be. Don’t expect those icons in the status bar to go away. This list goes on and on with little quirks and unusual decisions. I’m reminded of John Gruber’s recent quote on Johanna Sterns Galaxy S4 review, “The iPhone has an easy mode too. It’s called “Using the iPhone”.”

But what’s the trade? What do you get in return? Well, what you get is a phone you can make your own.

Back when I owned a jailbroken iPhone, one of the many tweaks I had installed was to change the “Slide to unlock” text to say “Hello Dean”. It was delightful. A minor change that told me every day, my iPhone was different to everybody else’s. It was individual.

It’s this joy at the thought of being one in a million that Android offers out of the box. It’s a feeling you should most certainly try for yourself.

If you are considering a switch, I can’t praise the notification centre enough. It will change the way you use your phone, and it will be very tough to use anything else after experiencing the benefits it offers. The ability to very easily change default applications will save you from ever being able to complain that your browser is too slow, your calculator isn’t fully featured enough or your notes app doesn’t sync with the right service.

Personal view: Android will require a little bit of work, from adding your contacts and syncing them with services to arranging your home screens the way you want. It all takes time, and I still don’t feel like I have my phone where I want it to be. But I am getting closer and I fall more and more in love with the One after every new addition.

Android will offer features that change how you use your phone, from its intuitive notifications to its interactive widgets that offer you information in a flash. Productivity is the name of the game and Android delivers it in droves.

Camera

Most, if not all, the people reading this review are well aware of the fact the HTC uses a 4mp shooter, marketed under the ‘UltraPixel’ banner. This means the pixels are 4 square microns instead of 1.21 square microns, the norm for most high end smartphone cameras this year. 4mp is plenty for downscaling to a 1080p screen and is more than enough for the compression are photos receive when they are added to services such as Facebook and Instagram.

Personal view: I am far from an expert on cameras, but so far I have been delighted with the performance of the HTC One. The low light shots give me an opportunity to take great pictures in situations I never could have dreamed of before.

I haven’t been incredibly impressed by the camera UI, but like I mentioned earlier, this is something I can easily change at a later date.

Battery

The One features a 2300mAh, 3.8V battery that is non-removable. It will charge to about 85-90% in around 3 hours, but the final stretch will take the phone quite a while. The phone does not feature Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology, possibly to extend the overall life of the battery.

Personal view: Bring a charger. I use my phone on the bus to work in the morning, for an hour’s journey. With about 30 minutes screen time, and some music, my battery has dropped to about 80%. While it has been discussed plenty before, I still find the battery life disappointing but at least I am in a good position on most days to charge my device during the day.

Final Words

I have been living with my new phone for the past week and every other piece of tech I own has suffered for it. While I’m aware that the purchase of a new toy will inevitably distract from my other prized possessions, I don’t see this love affair coming to an end any time soon. With a display this beautiful, teamed with a chassis that is a joy to embrace in my hand, I find myself craving more and more content to consume.

As for Android, I am falling for it at an increased pace. An operating system I cursed for years, I now find its character charming me like a forbidden fruit, enticing me to explore its hidden gems and learn its quirky mannerisms. If you are considering a change to Android my advice is this: go for it. A platform you can make your own teamed with a beautiful and powerful device like the HTC One is a delightful combination.