My Initial Thoughts on the HTC One

I've been part of a lot of discussions on the One, GS4, and various other smartphones. Suffice to say, curiosity got the best of me and so I went to T-Mobile and bought a new HTC One.

A bit of background: I currently own a Nexus 4 which I love, especially stock Android. But the battery life...oh so bad. For example, on Tuesday night, I unplugged my charger at 5pm. At 8:30PM it was down to 55% after texting and chatting (Hangouts). Screen brightness was set around 30%. For me, that was it. After reading some posts by Nilay about his fears that stock Android is the problem because it doesn't have battery optimization, I decided to go try out...a GS4 since Samsung has a history of stronger standby time. But before I left for the store, I found out that HTC was offering another special $100 off promotion with an old smartphone. At that point, I didn't think the GS4 was $150 better than the HTC One, so I instead walked out with the One.

I somewhat regret my decision.

Overall, the BoomSound speakers, low light camera, and screen (GORGEOUS screen) really stand out. I like the feel of the metal unibody, and the capacitive buttons don't really bother me too much.

But, the thing is just uncomfortable to use. As other Vergens have pointed out, the sharper edges and the increased weight can be uncomfortable. The device gets noticeably warm while using it for more than 10 minutes at a time. And that power button...it's only been a day, but it's SO uncomfortable to press. I've gotten fairly used to it when I pull it out of my pocket since I can grab it so my finger can get to it; that's not really the problem. However, when it's sitting on my desk like it does a lot of the day, it's difficult to switch it on with one hand. It's gotten to the point already where instead of turning the screen off, I'll just let the 30 second screen timeout take effect so it switches off.

I haven't had it long enough to see how it does with battery life (my main concern), but I do enjoy actually using the device when it comes to texting, browsing, Feedly, Pocket, Reddit, YouTube, email, etc. But not immensely more than the Nexus 4. If the battery life doesn't hold up, then back to the store it goes.

Who else has a similar experience? I luckily have 30 days to make up my mind (full price purchase), but was curious to see if everyone else still loves their One.

DAY 5 UPDATE (after the weekend)

I've used the HTC One over the weekend and got some additional use out of it. Overall, I'm happy with the purchase; still not 100% sure that I'll keep it, but I'm definitely much more used to it now than I was on Day 1 (my initial post). My thoughts follow:

    • I'm much more used to the power button being on the top left now. It's still not perfect and I do sometimes miss it when I try to turn it on, but it hasn't caused me much of a headache.
    • I got used to the Home and Back buttons on Day 1; 5 days later, I still have no issue with them. However, one thing I did notice is that multiasking is a bit harder to do when you're laying down and using one hand. Dropping it on my face is a real possibility and I guarantee this will happen at least once if I keep the One.
    • The screen is absolutely GORGEOUS and it still blows me away. I use auto brightness, and it's a bit higher than I need...toggling on battery saver definitely helps this. The screen is VERY easy to read outdoors, and I was happy with how clear it was.
    • Battery Saver is definitely a nice touch. It's easy to activate and when everything is enabled, the phone can go for a LONG time. Definitely a fan of this.
    • I miss stock 4.2.2 for a few reasons, mostly due to the expandable notifications with one finger. I know this is coming soon to the One, but it's one thing I did notice that I missed.
    • I don't miss LightFlow as much as I thought I would. The LED is nice, but I realized that it wasn't really necessary, just nice to have.
    • The camera is awesome, especially the front-facing one.
    • Using the One for watching YouTube (movie trailers in particular) is a joy...the awesome screen and the BoomSound speakers make it so easy to share too. I showed my GF the Pacific Rim trailer and I was really happy with the viewing angles and the depth of the sound coming from this thing. Awesome.
    • This may sound trivial...but I really like the themes in the SMS app. I'm using the black and blue theme, and I just think it looks so cool.
    • This phone is FAST and definitely buttery smooth.

I pulled out my Nexus 4 and compared:

    • The screen on the One is definitely brighter and MUCH sharper. I didn't think that I'd notice a difference between 720P and 1080P...but there definitely is. I can make out pixels on my Nexus 4, whereas it's impossible on the One (not that this matters at all; just a conversation point).
    • The feel of the One is just so nice. I definitely like the feel of metal in my hand. The Nexus 4 feels a bit too wide now.
    • One of the things that bothered me most about my Nexus was the speaker placement being on the back. I could never hear it unless I turned the volume up really high. No such problem on my HTC One. BoomSound is definitely a real value-add.
    • Battery life: no contest. On a day where my Nexus 4 would only last about 10-12 hours, I was able to go 15hours on my One (without enabling battery saver) and I still had a good 20%+ battery life left. I considered this to be REALLY good.

My girlfriend has a Galaxy S4 so I also compared:

    • Battery life seems to be comparable. We used the One more this weekend to take some photos and I was checking in to venues and such, and at one point about 4-5 hours after we unplugged, she only had an extra 5% or so. This was one of my concerns, and I'm glad that the One keeps up with the S4 battery wise.
    • We both agree that the front facing camera on my One is nicer than the GS4. We took a lot of pictures and she was pretty happy with the results.
    • The screen on the One is definitely better than the GS4, at least to us. It's brighter and sharper.
    • I still prefer the GS4 button arrangement (side power + front Home).

I'm still in evaluation phase...so I'll see if I can update again later. I'm taking a long weekend trip on Friday, so I'll likely post my thoughts after that.

Battery Life Update

I have two days worth of battery statistics to share with you guys, but no screenshots (too lazy). I'll provide enough detail to get you guys to understand.

Battery life has been above and beyond my expectations. My Nexus 4 would generally die in around 8hours with the same usage patterns as the HTC One. The conditions are below:

-3G/4G HSPA+ on the 20th floor of an office building with decent-good signal.

-Brightness at 35% or so on teh Nexus 4, HTC One on Auto (which is significantly brighter)

-2hrs of screen on time

-Use: SMS, Feedly, Pocket, FB Messenger, Hangouts (text, no video), a couple of pictures. No music playback or videos watched.

-All background data services active and pushing notifications.

Yesterday, my HTC One lasted 16 hours before getting to 2%. I did turn on Power Saver when I hit around 50% to see how that would impact battery life. About 2hrs of screen on time, possibly more (I didn't check when it got below 15%).

Today, my HTC One is at 14hrs with 7% remaining, 2.5hrs of screen on time used. No power saver until it hit 15%.

I'm pretty impressed; tomorrow I'm going to switch on Power saver when I unplug to see how my usage varies. Hoping to get a 20hr day tomorrow.