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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HTC has been hard at work redesigning Sense once more, and the HTC One is the first phone to bear the fruits of that labour. Sense 5 (as it's colloquially, if not officially, called) is another step forward in the Android overlay story, but we think this is the biggest yet from HTC.

It's also been upgraded to Sense 5.5 with the launch of Android 4.3 on the One, which brings a huge set of new functionality once more.

We're talking a whole new button layout, a new grid for the menu icons, geometric patterns replacing the over-complicated widgets of old; in short, it's simple, stark and we really like it.

HTC One review

There's no doubt that it's still a little heavy on the old processor - a quick trip to the battery usage settings will confirm that - but what HTC has done is bring the notion of Android 4.3 to a wider audience by, well, making it less Android-y.

The option to add widgets and such has been brushed to the side to some degree, with BlinkFeed taking centre stage (and you can read our bigger rundown of BlinkFeed on its own, separate, section).

Instead of the home button taking you to your collection of homescreens, BlinkFeed will pop up, in all its Windows Phone-like glory by default.

With the Android 4.3 update you can finally change the home screen to the one you want - perfect for when you don't want to look at the dizzying list of live tiles, but it can cause you to forget Blinkfeed is there at times.

However if you are using Blinkfeed as the default home action it only takes a swipe to the right to access the homescreens as you know them from Android of old, although you get a miserly five home screens to customise.

And customising them isn't easy - you either have to long press on the home screen and choose the apps that way, or drag them from the menu via the shortcut icon at the top. More convoluted than on other Android phones, that's for sure.

But enough of that - how does the interface work under the finger? In short, blazingly well, as you'd expect from a phone rocking a quad-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor. Add to that 2GB of RAM and you've got more than enough grunt. It's bettered by a good few devices on the market now, (the LG G2 wipes the floor with it) but it still does enough to zip by.

From opening and closing apps to browsing multiple tabs on the internet, there's nothing that can slow down the HTC One, and you'll really appreciate that in day to day life.

HTC One review

You can also choose from a number of lockscreen types, be it productivity for emails, calendar entries or messages - and a swipe upwards while holding said missive will launch it directly too.

It's a little sad that we've lost the HTC ring that we grew to love so quickly, but the geometric simplicity of Sense 5 is enough to calm the urges to run back to a Sensation.

You can select a range of pictures to wander past your eyes, have some tunes on offer or simply have no lockscreen at all if you're convinced nobody is in there trying to get at all your precious smartphone data stored on the HTC One - and we're fans of the latter, as lockscreens are annoying if you have no need for them.

Once you're in and past BlinkFeed you can select whether to stick with the frankly under-selling 3x4 grid of apps ('People now want simplicity in an Android phone' say HTC rather unconvincingly.) If you want to have the right amount of apps, edit that instantly to show 20 on the screen at once, and you can order them in a number of ways too.

Widgets aren't locked away in the menu like on many other Android phones either, as all it takes is a long-press on any home screen and you're greeted with all the widgets on offer - which is admittedly rather few.

HTC One review

The dock at the bottom of the phone pervades through the homescreen and menu options, which means you can always launch the camera or internet browser from anywhere on the main screens - you can customise this with a long press, so if you only want the entire range of Angry Birds games at your fingertips, you can make that happen.

It's not obvious how this works if you want to change it - you'll have to be in the apps menu to do so. While you're there, you can also hide apps too, which is neat if you're stuck with a phone rammed with bloatware.

Compared to something like the Samsung Galaxy S4 the HTC One is a little under-powered when it comes to the interface, but where Samsung is all about the functionality HTC is about style and minimalism.

HTC one review

However, with the 4.2 update you can pull down with two fingers and get access to said settings, as per the update from Google. It does take a few goes to remember that this is the way to get to settings, but it's a nice touch.

And with Android 4.3, you get even more choice, such as the Do Not Disturb icon that lets you decide when you want people to contact you.

The alarm clock is now more powerful too - sadly not with better ringtones, but in that if the phone is turned off the alarm will still trigger but then turn right back off when you slam your fist onto it to make the morning go away.

You can also now add widgets to the lock screen thanks to the Android 4.3 update - it's not something you'll use often as the scroll to the right to find them isn't intuitive, but if you need a quick calculator or similar it's useful. We wish flashlight was an option here.

HTC One review

The interface on the HTC One is simple - really simple. It doesn't have a huge amount of peeking to see messages (BlackBerry, take note) nor does it do much more than telling you the time or the weather.

But it does all this in a way that makes you feel like you're never missing anything and getting a stylish experience to boot that isn't like anything else on the market.

The closest we can equate it to is the LG Prada 3.0 phone's interface - and given that was designed by a fashion house, we'll call that pretty high praise indeed, if we don't say so ourselves.

Thanks to for spotting some of the extra changes in the HTC One Android 4.3 update

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.