HTC One review

15 May 2013

A benchmark-busting phone that marries stunning design with all-round panache – the HTC One storms to the top of the A-List

HTC One
Price when reviewed: 
504inc VAT
Buy it now for 
5

UPDATE: We’ve re-run our benchmarks after the HTC One received an over-the-air update. Scroll to the end of the review to read more.

HTC couldn’t have chosen a tougher time to release the HTC One. With the Samsung Galaxy S4 just around the corner, and no shortage of Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8 rivals all vying for the premium handset crown, the competition in the sector has never been so fierce. With the pressure piling on, HTC has responded in the best way possible: it’s unleashed the world’s best smartphone.

HTC One

The One makes a stunning first impression. Each handset is hewn from a single block of anodised aluminium, and the process is painstakingly thorough: HTC proudly claims that it takes more than three hours of CNC machining to create each and every phone. It’s clearly time well spent. The curved rear fits beautifully in the hand, and the attention to detail is astonishing. Bands of off-white polycarbonate slash across the rear and run around the phone’s circumference, every edge is lovingly chamfered and the speaker grilles above and below the screen are formed from grids of finely milled pinpricks in the aluminium body.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One

Find out how the HTC One compares with its big rival - the Samsung Galaxy S4 - in our head-to-head review

Those gorgeous looks are matched with excellent build quality. The HTC One isn’t the lightest or slimmest handset – its 143g weight and 9.3mm thickness put it squarely in the middle of the flagship smartphone pack – but it’s certainly one of the sturdiest we’ve encountered. The metal construction and Gorilla Glass display make for a reassuringly stout-feeling handset, and there isn’t a hint of give or flex anywhere to be found.

Unfortunately, there’s a price to pay for such stunning design and build quality. As the rear panel isn’t removable, there’s no battery access, and expandable storage has also fallen by the wayside – you’ll just have to make do with the 32GB of onboard storage.

Still, there’s little else missing. Support for 4G, Bluetooth 4, NFC and dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi is included, and HTC has concealed a tiny infrared transmitter within the One’s power button to allow it to control set-top boxes and TVs. The front-facing stereo speakers are surprisingly good, too, with ample volume and unexpected levels of clarity – the audio quality is a cut above most smartphones.

Crystal clear

The One’s display is equally refined. It isn’t the first phone with a 1080p screen – the Sony Xperia Z takes that honour – but the HTC’s 4.7in panel is markedly better. Its maximum brightness of 481cd/m[sup]2[/sup] and contrast ratio of 1,202:1 soundly beat the Sony’s vital statistics of 409cd/m[sup]2[/sup] and 454:1, and the HTC also surpasses the Sony for colour reproduction and viewing angles. The very darkest greys are crushed into black, but that’s its only weakness, and one it shares with several other top-flight handsets. In every other respect it’s a fantastic screen, and the match of any smartphone on the market, including our previous A-list smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S III.

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Details

Price ex VAT £420
Price inc VAT £504
Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £31.00
Contract period 24 months
Overall rating 6
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5

Physical

Dimensions 68 x 137 x 9.3mm (WDH)
Weight 143g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 2.00GB
Camera megapixel rating 4.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.7in
Resolution 1080 x 1920
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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£428