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HTC One review

Ultrapixels, Zoes, Blinkfeed and more: HTC is going all out

The HTC One's main camera element is located at the top edge of the handset, when held upright, and ranged dead centre, giving it a pleasingly symmetrical look. But by being as far away from either edge of the Android smartphone, it is also less likely that fingertips may stray in front of the lens in the process of gripping it.

Once you've set the phone up from scratch the camera icon is immediately visible bottom-right of screen. Give this a tap and you're immediately presented with the scene before your lens, the camera's AF automatically and visibly adjusting focus and exposure as you pan with the handset around the room or scene.

Like the HTC One X, the HTC One features a bright/fast aperture lens at f/2, with the lens itself offering a 28mm-wide focal length. The bright f/2 lens serves the HTC One well when shooting indoors using natural light.

This is the same sort of performance as its predecessor, although that model offered the standard 8 megapixels overall. Fudging the issue of pixel count, HTC refers to the One's main camera resolution in terms of 'ultra pixels' - a term that sounds zeitgeist-y but is basically meaningless and seems like an attempt to cover up an otherwise modest-sounding 4 megapixel camera.

HTC One review

As in the world of dedicated cameras, pixel count isn't everything, of course. Sensor size has a role to play too, and here it's a larger than most 1/3-inch. There's also a front-facing camera, offering a lower 2.1 megapixel resolution, as opposed to the previous HTC One X's 1.3MP.

Other features that will flick on a lightbulb in the head of photo enthusiasts are a back side-illuminated sensor, HDR facility for video as well as still images, plus optical image stabilisation to avoid hand wobble resulting in blurred shots. It betters the Sony Xperia Z in offering twice the internal memory, at 32GB, as well as NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity.

A new gimmick is something that on compact cameras is often referred to as 'motion snapshot', but here is given the less immediately obvious moniker of HTC Zoe. Press the shutter and the HTC One automatically captures up to 20 photos and a 3-second video (with Full HD 1080p resolution offered as standard here). The manufacturer claims that this produces a picture that's 'alive', or at least one that tells the story more fully by mixing media.

Flash operation is included too, or rather 'smart flash', as HTC likes to refer to it. Zooming in or out, again of the video variety, is a case of swiping your finger over a zoom bar on the screen, which is very responsive to the touch and the zoom action smoothly fluid.

HTC One review

An icon for immediately summoning up a comprehensive toolbar of built-in app-like digital filter effects is provided either at the bottom-right or bottom-left of the screen, depending on whether you're holding the handset to shoot in portrait or landscape orientation. We also get camera or video icons, with a tap of the former immediately taking the shot, rather than just selecting the relevant mode.

It's worth adding here that the HTC's screen is much brighter and clearer than many dedicated digital cameras we've had the pleasure of using, and really picks up fine detail, which is a bonus. Also a bonus is the fact that the image before the lens fills the whole of the screen in widescreen format, meaning it feels best suited to group portraits or landscape shots.

Specific image adjustments can also be made in-camera to the likes of exposure, contrast, saturation and sharpness. There are also dedicated scene, night, HDR and panorama options, selected via a toolbar located top or bottom-left of the screen, again depending on the manner in which you're holding the phone.

Manually selectable ISO runs up to the standard ISO 1600, up from the so-so maximum ISO 800 of its predecessor. Perhaps HTC is thinking it could justify upping the sensitivity as there are fewer pixels on the actual sensor. The handset does, however, get quite warm over the course of using the camera. Also the shutter release is so sensitive on the HTC it's possible to fire off two shots instead of one.

HTC One review

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Rather more interestingly, after capturing an image there's the facility to remove unwanted passers by from a photo in the style of Photoshop via an Object Removal function.

One of the benefits of the previous HTC One X handset was that it provided compatibility with a removable microSD card for system expandability and storing and transferring all those photos and videos. But whereas that feature has been added to the Sony Xperia Z, HTC has inexplicably jettisoned microSD use on the HTC One. This is a pity for us snap-happy users, even though it could be argued that a 32GB internal cache, the same as the HTC One X, which had the card slot, is plenty.

We're all for paring down on unnecessary features and bulk, but this move feels a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Coupled with the lower pixel resolution, which admittedly can have one benefit - in that fewer pixels on a smaller sensor equals less noisy images - the HTC One wouldn't be our first choice for the camera aspect alone.

This is disappointing, because we love the handling, look and feel of the HTC One handset. Where it could have been a champion, it's merely an (very good) option if you don't mind widescreen ratio still imagery.

Shots taken at higher ISOs such as ISO 800 and ISO 1600 are noticeably less noisy on the HTC One than either the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the Sony Xperia Z, however, so if retaining detail in low light is a priority then the HTC One is the phone to go for.

HTC One review

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Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, GPRS, HSPA+
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyOne
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 1800, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution4 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameHTC
Screen Size11.9 cm (4.7")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)143 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), Instant Messaging, Email, MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service)
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density468 ppi
Height137.4 mm
Width68.2 mm
Depth9.3 mm
Radio TunerYes
ManufacturerHigh Tech Computer Corp
Product NameOne Smartphone
Processor Speed1.70 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Product LineOne
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor
Manufacturer Part Number99HTT009-00
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.europe.htc.com
Marketing InformationWith a sleek aluminum body, a live home screen that streams all of your favorite content, a photo gallery that comes to life, and dual frontal stereo speakers, the New HTC One is ready to reshape your smartphone experience.

HTC Zoe™ Your photo gallery brought to life.
Capturing a moment takes more than one image. That's why the new HTC One includes the HTC UltraPixel Camera. Press the shutter and the HTC One automatically captures up to 20 photos and a 3-second video-a picture that's alive. So your entire photo album becomes a living, breathing gallery.

HTC BoomSound™ Sharper, richer, louder.
On the average smartphone, sharing music or a video with friends is a frustrating experience. A tiny speaker will tame even the most ferocious track. But the new HTC One's BoomSound™ changes all that. Dual frontal stereo speakers powered by built-in amplifiers deliver bigger sound with less distortion and more detail.

HTC BlinkFeed™ Your live home screen.
With HTC BlinkFeed™, simply pick the social networks, news and feeds you want to stay updated on and they'll all stream live to your home screen. The pulse of your world is in the palm of your hand.

Refined design. Rugged build. Inspired results.
Full metal body. Zero gap construction. And tapered edges that offer a slim but satisfying grip. The new HTC One is phone design that doesn't compromise.

Your interactive TV guide.
Tired of remotes taking up valuable couch space? The new HTC One is ready to help you channel surf. With Sense TV, all it takes is a few simple steps and you'll be able to select TV channels, access program guides, adjust audio and more with your HTC One. Find your favorite shows, and it will notify you when they're on. Take control of your TV experience with your phone.

Sense Voice: Call clarity-even in a crowd.
The world doesn't include a volume knob. So talking on the phone in any loud, crowded environment can be a challenge. The new HTC One solves that problem with Sense Voice. It includes dual built-in microphones that detect loud ambient noise and will then dynamically boost the in-call voice to compensate. Hurrah for clarity.

Get 25 GB of Dropbox space free for two years*
With Dropbox integrated into HTC Sense, you can automatically save all your photos and videos to Dropbox - and access and share all your pictures directly from the Gallery. Dropbox also makes it easy to edit and share files while you are on the go, so you never have to email yourself a document again. To discover all that Dropbox can do, sign-up or log-in to Dropbox on your HTC phone and receive 25 GB of Dropbox space free for two years.
Limited Warranty1 Year