HTC One Review: A One of a Kind Android Phone

PHOTO: The HTC Ones Blinkfeed software.

Walk into a Best Buy or any mobile phone store, such as Verizon or AT&T, and try to tell the difference between the seemingly interminable Android phones. Telling apart the rectangle slabs requires some real talent and time, even for those of us whose job it is to know the differences between theses Google-powered phones. But HTC is hoping that all those other choices blur into the background, and that its new phone will be the only one that matters.

The HTC One, which costs $199 with a two-year contract, is one premium Android phone, with top of the line hardware specifications, an all-aluminum design and some unique software features. But is that enough to make it the only Android phone to focus on, especially with Samsung's Galaxy S4 on the way?

One of a Kind Hardware
I don't like plastic phones. I especially don't like plastic phones that feel flimsy, like they won't last the length of the two-year contract. The HTC One is not one of those phones. The all-aluminum device has a beautiful design and feels incredibly well-made. In fact, this is one of the only phones on the market that can rival the iPhone 5's sleek and head-turning design. But unlike the iPhone 5's squared edges, the One has a curved back, making it thicker at the center. Still, the 9.3mm-thick handset is very thin and comfortable to hold, despite its big-screen stature.

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Now, of course, many will ask if this is a nicer feeling or looking phone than the Samsung Galaxy S4. I haven't reviewed Samsung's device yet, but from what I've gleaned from my short time with the phone, the One's metal build feels far superior to Samsung's overwhelmingly plastic device. I do have one main complaint about the hardware design: the power button, which sits on the top edge, should be easier to press, and I'd prefer it be on the right side, not the left.

Even if you end up hiding that beautiful silver hardware in a case, one of the most stunning parts of the phone will still be visible. The 4.7-inch, 1080p edge-to-edge glass screen is one of the sharpest and clearest displays on any phone to date. Colors don't only pop and look true to life, but HD videos and text just look sharper than they do on other phones I've tested, including the Nexus 4 and the iPhone 5.

Software with a Unique Look
The software that pops up on that display is unique too. The One runs one of latest versions of Android 4.1.2 or Jelly Bean, but HTC has created its own software, called Sense 5.0, that runs on top of Android.

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Last year HTC moved away from messing too much with Android, but this year it's gone back on that. The new software includes a number of new features, the main one being a new type of home screen called Blinkfeed. Blinkfeed focuses on the content and not the apps. You can log in to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and select news sources. All that content will then appear in a vertical magazine style layout. Reminiscent of Windows 8 or Windows Phone, square- and rectangular-shaped photos with headlines or updates appear, and you can scroll through and then tap to select the ones you are interested in.

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