HTC is in an interesting position as a result of this last product cycle. While the previous HTC One series’ industrial design and performance was top notch, other OEMs still managed to eclipse the One series in terms of market adoption and consumer perception. Getting back to being a solid performer and cementing a place as at least the dominant number three player in the smartphone space is HTC’s mission for 2013, and the flagship device it’s starting that out with is the device previously known as M7, now known simply as the HTC One.

Design and Construction

The choice of the HTC One name really emphasizes how much this launch means to HTC — this is the canonical One. This is the fullest expression of HTC’s view for what the One lineup should mean, this is their flagship. The One is a clear evolution of the industrial design first begun with the Butterfly and DNA, except instead of plastic the One is machined from a single solid block of aluminum. There are over 200 minutes of CNC machine cuts per device, which is a unibody construction. Plastic is injected into the aluminum block after certain cuts are made for the back case, which then gets machined into the final form. The One uses the top and bottom aluminum strips for antennas, both of which are actively tuned to mitigate unintended attenuation from being held. There’s a plastic insulative strip in-between the two antennas and the main body. In spite of being aluminum, the One also includes NFC, whose active area surrounds the camera region. There’s no wireless charging from Qi or WPC, however.

In the hands the HTC One has the kind of fit and finish that I’d expect from a high end device. I thought that the One S was perhaps the best industrial design of 2012 in part thanks to the metal backside, unique concave shape, and size. The truth is that the HTC One feels even better than that. There’s something inescapable about metal — HTC described it as expensive and luxurious feeling, like a well crafted tool. Other OEMs with metal phones like to evoke imagery of watches or high end jewelry. I think at some fundamental level metal does imply value, and as a result it conveys a much higher end in-hand feel than other entirely polycarbonate plastic designs. There’s a thin strip of plastic which runs around the edge of the device, and it’s here that the microSIM tray, ejection port, primary microphone, microUSB port, power/lock button (which doubles as IR transmit and receive), earphone jack, and volume rocker sit. The front has two aluminum pieces which serve as the speaker, microphone, and earpiece grilles. The HTC One will come in both an uncolored silver version, and anodized black.

The One is topped with a 4.7-inch 1080p Super LCD 3 display. We’ve said that 2013 is going to be the year of 5-inch phones, and 4.7 is just shy. I think there’s something almost optimal about the device size that results with a 16:9 display size just short of 5-inches diagonal. It’s still possible to one hand if you have medium sized hands, easy to pocket, and still not laughably huge.

The HTC One at first glance might seem reminescent of another big metal unibody device, but in the hand couldn’t feel any more different. The convex rounded back side gives the One an entirely different in-hand feel, and the edges have a slight negative angle to them in addition to two chamfers.

Rather than place the primary speaker on the backside of the One, HTC has placed a set of speakers on the front of the device, one at top, one at bottom, behind the two grilles. These two provide stereo sound, and placing them on the front instead of the bottom or back makes a lot of sense for things like watching video, Google Navigation, and listening to music. The One also has dual microphones for noise rejection on calls, and also two different microphone pairs for accommodating low volume and high volume environments when recording audio. For example the commodity microphones generally included in a smartphone saturate around 70 dBA, HTC claims the dual microphone system on the One can accommodate up to 120 dBA SPL (Sound Pressure Level) without saturating.

Abandoning the Megapixel Race and Shooting for Quality
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  • ramvoo - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    need to see battery Tests.
  • ChronoReverse - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Well, I'm fine with 720p in a 4.7" screen but the battery is the key. If it's not at least a full day battery, then there's no point.
  • mmrezaie - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    and now they are going to completely forget about their last phones (no android nor sense updates).

    but have tot say that, it looks awesome.
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    The battery is nearly 9 Whr, I expect battery life to at least be passable.
  • usopen65667268 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Do any of you currently own a DNA? The battery life on that phone is on par or better than any other HTC phone to date. Throw in the fact that the DNA has a larger screen at 5 inches and a smaller 2020mAh battery compared to the ONE's 4.7 inch screen and 2300 mAh battery and this phone should last a day and a half at least with moderate to heavy use. I get over 4 hours of onscreen time with my DNA and anywhere between 22-36 hours of total battery life before I have to find a plug. For those of you saying batter life being marginal or passable is just flat out not true. If I had enough money I would send each of you a DNA to judge for yourselves.
  • youwonder - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    >If I had enough money I would send each of you a DNA to judge for yourselves.

    I support this.
  • Conficio - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    O.K. so on an average day you can commute 2x30 min with navigation, 1h talk and 1h look at your calendar and messages, 1 h read your e-mail or browse the web and you are still dead next morning.

    Well, that is what I call no even passable. In real life it means:
    * If I have an above average day (traveling, waiting for appointments, play a game, weekend, show off the latest pictures to family, get hit with more than a couple of app updates in a day, etc.), the phone is dead in the afternoon
    * If I forget to charge over night, my phone is dead in the morning

    That User Experience is horrible! Give me the option to double the battery size (Motorola got the idea with the MAX), I'm willing to take the size/weight consequences.

    I have an HTC Sensation 4G and I'm spoiled by my previous TREO 600, which lasted a week.
  • leozno1 - Friday, February 22, 2013 - link

    Okay so you are comparing today's phones battery life with a phone that is 2 years old. The batteries are much larger now, and there have been enhancements in the efficiency of cell radios and SoCs. I'm sure it will be okay. My EVO LTE easily lasts an entire day and that includes push email all day, texting all day, listening to music for about 3 or 4 hours at work, 1-2 hours of talk and 2x40 minute commutes listening to music via bluetooth. And I still have upwards of 15-20% battery left when I go to bed.
  • Bagsen - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    you need to use your phone's nav to commute to work every day? you forget how to get to work every night? seems like a brain battery life problem, not a phone battery life problem.
  • cknobman - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    that home screen pictured looks awfully familiar to a Windows Phone?

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