HTC One (M7) review

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

HTC One review
Editor's Choice
Yeah, but is it THE One?

TechRadar Verdict

The Galaxy S4 is sleeker, the iPhone is, well, Apple-ier, and the Nexus 5 is cheaper. But for the overall package of smartphone design and functionality, the HTC One stands head and shoulders above the rest.


  • +

    Great design

  • +

    Sleek Sense

  • +

    Innovative camera


  • -

    No memory card slot

  • -

    Zoes fill up storage

  • -

    Alarm too simple

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Android 4.4 is on its way to the HTC One in the UK - albeit a little later than expected after some issues caused it to be rolled back by HTC. We're awaiting the software and will update the review as soon as we can!

After months on sale, the HTC One is still our top pick of the smartphones available at the moment - and with all new software, it's now even better.

While it may not have been borne out in sales, the One is definitely the phone that the likes of Samsung and Apple have been aspiring to.

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It's got a full HD screen crammed into 4.7-inches, which brings a 468ppi – well above what's needed for the eye to discern, and it does definitely bring sumptuous sharpness throughout the use of the phone.

On top of that there's a good CPU and RAM combo, a more-than-enough 32GB of storage and top-end Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G / 4G connections, all topped off by a completely re-imagined version of HTC Sense. What's not to like?

It's at the sharp end of the smartphone price scale, although can be had for around £34 per month on a two year deal in the UK, which isn't too bad at all compared to the competition. On a SIM free deal, it's still not too bad: £480 for the phone without having to monkey about with a network.

Given the One is now nearly a year on sale, the price is a little high for our tastes - there are better specified, if not designed, phones on the market, and be warned that its successor is likely to drop in the next few months.

The design of the HTC One is something that you simply have to experience in the hand though. Where those that pick up the Samsung Galaxy S4 will go ' Oh, it's a bit plastic, isn't it? But ooh, it's quite light' and those who encounter the iPhone 5S will, to a person, say 'Ooh, it's very light isn't it? You don't expect it to be that light!' those that try the HTC One will simply intone: 'Oh, that's really nice. Really, really nice.'

HTC One review

And do you know why? Simple: the HTC One is one of the best-designed phones on the planet. Not content with inventing a new machining process to allow the body to be all aluminium, the Taiwanese firm has extended the screen to the edges of the chassis further than ever before, meaning you're getting a 4.7-inch Full HD display without the additional heft you'd probably expect.

It's even thinner than its predecessor, the HTC One X (we know, that naming strategy leaves a lot to be desired) and as such slides nicely in the pocket.

It's not light either, weighing more than most of the competition, but rather than feeling overweight, combined with the metallic chassis is oozes a premium build. Samsung is probably hoping not a lot of people hold this phone side-by-side with the Galaxy S4 as otherwise the buying choice is going to be a lot more of a worry for the Koreans.

HTC One review

On top of that, there's a whole host of little design wins that delight when you first try the HTC One. For instance, the machined holes that allow sound toe emanate from the dual front-facing speakers (can you say BOOMSOUND?) looks amazing, and the lines on the back of the phone give a nice textured movement to things, helping to break up the constant greyness of the aluminium.

You could argue that straight on it looks far too much like either an iPhone 5, with its chamfered edges, or a BlackBerry Z10 front on, and you'd have a good point as this phone doesn't reinvent the rectangle-with-rounded-edges formula that we're so used to, but in the hand the curved back brings a whole new dimension to things.

HTC One review

There's a zero-gap construction at work here as well, which means that you won't find any gaping distance, holes or light leakages to make you feel like you've not spent your hard-earned cash on something wonderful.

HTC One review

The volume control on the right-hand side of the phone is in the same dazzling metal, and contrasts nicely with the rubber/plastic that makes up the sides. Our sample actually showed a fair amount of wiggle in this area, and slightly detracted from the overall premium feel. However, later models have deleted this problem, so chances are you won't notice it either.

The power button resides on the top, and doubles as the infra-red blaster - however, this is one of the poorer points as it doesn't have a whole lot of travel.

HTC One review

Similarly, the placement of this button, even on a phone that's been shrunk down while accommodating a larger screen, is still a bit inconvenient. We had to shuffle the phone around in the palm to turn it on and off on many occasions, and a lot of the time we couldn't use our thumb to hit the whole of the screen without jiggling the phone up and down.

That's another problem with the design: it's pretty slippery thanks to the metallic chassis. We thankfully only ever suffered two serious drops when we were about a foot off the carpet (basically scrabbling for it to turn off the alarm in the morning) and a more alarming one stepping out of a cab, but there have been a few near misses when trying to manoeuvre around the screen.

If only that power button was on the side (as it is on the HTC One Max), or a physical home button unlocked the phone, this whole issue would be negated for a large part.

HTC One review

But as we mentioned, HTC has wandered away from the physical buttons - where once it put a trackpad in the Nexus One, now it's stripped the capacitive buttons down from three to two, with the multi-tasking option going the way of the dodo. You can still get the same functionality by double tapping the home button, but it's not the same.

Overall though, you can guess we're impressed with the construction and design of the HTC One. We're not even looking at final hardware here - although we appear to have got lucky with our sample, as there are few design flaws in sight - so the chances of metallic chipping ('because that's just what it does....' OK, Apple) are slight to say the least - providing you don't fling it on tarmac. Seriously, we tried that... don't do it.

HTC One review

We thought we'd scuffed it so many times during our test, but each time it was simply a slight amount of dirt or dust that wiped right off. Tick from TechRadar on the design front, HTC.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.