As for whether competitors are taking notice of what HTC's done and might also break out of the spec arms race, Whitehorn took a somewhat altruistic view.

"I don't think they'll copy it directly, but it starts to give the whole industry a lot more freedom to break away from this metric and explore," he mused.

"Frankly, when you start getting to these super big pixel counts you get so much noise, you might start cutting out some wavelengths of light, so we decided to go radically in the other direction. I hope that gives the industry some freedom."

One drawback consumers might take issue with is the amount of space Zoe video highlights consume, which in our review we found could amount to 0.5GB in photos.

Users can turn to the Zoe Share server to save excess images generated by Zoe clip production, but those expire after one month. Dropbox or similar services are another option, but that's yet another step and not the ideal for many.

"I think it's a perennial worry about all technology, but it does make that slightly more of a concern," Whitehorn said about the One's storage issues.

"We are starting to provide more management terms and we are working on more elegant solutions then what we have now. We'll bring updates and more services and we'll want to get more elegant solutions out once we start to hit that curve.

"People will find their own solutions as well," he added. "I have 10-plus years of digital photos and I've never thrown anything away."

Consumers put out by having to come up with their own image-saving solutions will likely welcome whatever HTC can cook up, though when those answers will be available isn't yet known.

What we do know is that while the One has launched with six highlight film themes, the company expects to up that number in the U.S. sooner rather than later.

"We're building a more dynamic engine for those, so watch for continuing development in that space," Whitehorn said of themes, which range from Avalon to Vegas and create different mixed and matched compositions of images as music plays in the background.

On follow-up, HTC couldn't nail down whether those themes will come to global devices, but we'll provide details as we learn more.

All eyes will be on the One's sales as it reaches full release ramp up, though Whitehorn seems pleased with the phone he's helped produced. Now, it's just a matter of whether customers start buying.

"Overall I think this product signals from us even more commitment to imaging, and it's only gathering momentum," Whitehorn said. "We're about optimization, and that's for all the technology, not just the camera. Everything [in the phone] is in balance, and I think it's only going to get more exciting."