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?

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Well, here we are - if you've skipped the whole of this review just to see what we thought, shame on you. Go back and read it properly. Have you done that? Good. Now read on, safe in the knowledge you didn't miss that bit about how to get free adult film downloads.

The HTC One is the phone that NEEDS to relaunch the ailing Taiwanese firm, and as such it's gone all out on the design. TechRadar spent some time with HTC's designers of many different sections of the handset, and you can see the passion that flows through the One from top to bottom.

Its combination of innovation and sumptuous hardware is a testament to the brand, and shows that new things can still come to our smartphones without costing the earth. Sure, it's not a cheap handset by any means, but it's perfectly in line with what we'd expect from a flagship.

We liked

The HTC One is the best phone the firm has made without doubt. It's got the wow-factor that made us fall in love with the HTC Desire, and manages to bring Sense back to a level that shows off the best of Android, rather than obfuscating it. There are those who pine for stock Android Jelly Bean, but earlier Android updates aside, we happen to think that Sense is better.

The camera is a great addition for on the spot shooting - if you want to take the photos and blow them up somewhere, it's not the phone for you, but if you want to be able to snap your friends in pubs without it being a blurry, dark mess, the HTC One comes into its own.

BoomSound and HTC Zoe are both really nice additions to the handset - the former makes the sound quality really sparkle and gives the option of recording louder noises without needing to worry about distortion, which is a really key capability.

We like the video highlight reels and the moving pictures of the HTC Zoe, and can see a number of people really starting to use them in day to day life. Some won't, and for them there's still a very competent camera on offer.

We disliked

The battery life issue has been negated, although it's not gone away totally. But many will only use HTC Zoe and the highlight reels at the weekend, and in doing so will remove some of the big battery draining daily problems with the phone.

Our only real gripe is with storage: many will argue that expandable memory slots are unnecessary when you've got Dropbox onboard for extra space, or just being organised and deleting unwanted content will solve the problem. That's true to a degree, but it's not common behaviour for today's smartphone user.

Bringing the phone out in a 32GB flavour from the off does help though - just be warned that you'll need to be organised with your photos on the phone, which isn't helped by a confusing gallery system.

Also, the alarm needs to be better. Come on, it's a key part of the phone HTC… put some effort in.

Final verdict

As we said, this is the best HTC phone ever, without a doubt. But we'll go one better than that: it's the best phone on the market full stop. The Samsung Galaxy S4 isn't far behind at all with its stunning screen and rich detail, but for sheer level of functionality, innovation and just overall effect it has in the hand, we can't help but recommend the HTC One to anyone looking to buy a new smartphone.

If you prefer raw power over style, the LG G2 is a better bet. But that's got a cluttered UI and plastic design, where the One is just the best mix around even with the older hardware.

So whether it's the Ultrapixel camera that extends the range of photos you can take, or the moving photos on offer, or simply the improved speakers bolted on the front (as long as you don't play them on public transport) the HTC One takes the best the smartphone market has to offer and just makes it better.

The Galaxy S4 is sleeker, the iPhone 5S 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.

First reviewed: March 2013

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.