HTC One: What you need to know
19th Feb 2013 | 18:10
The lowdown on the letter-less model
HTC's new One handset 'only' offers a 4MP camera, goes retro with an infra-red blaster – but here's why you should take notice of the new features.
Some people might look at the spec sheet of this new phone, albeit one with a fancy chassis, and decide that it's not worth the cash; after all, who wants to pay top dollar for a phone with a low-res camera, right?
Well, you'd be missing the whole point of the phone with an attitude like that (and frankly, we're disappointed in you for even taking that stance) – so let TechRadar break things down for you so you can see what's really simmering beneath the surface:
You might be thinking that the camera on the HTC One is a little bit low-end for the amount it's going to cost – but while the likes of Sony are chucking 13MP sensors on the back of the Xperia Z, HTC wants to dispel this 'megapixel myth' that more pixels equals a better shot.
Phone imaging sensors only have a finite surface area, which is being increasingly squished as designers try to eke more space out of the phone to make it look even more fancy and slim. So therefore more megapixels might mean more sharpness, but that's at the cost of the overall picture.
Think of a pixel as a hole to let light in: more pixels clustered together means smaller holes, which means less light and therefore less data to process.
With UltraPixels, HTC has gone the other way: making the pixels bigger (2 micrometers to be precise) which means 300% more light in, and yes, you've guessed it, more data. HTC is touting this to bring you much better lower-light snaps and generally better shots.
When you see Apple doing the same thing then you'll know it's the new way the world is working…
A girl's name? In a phone? No, you fool – it's a Zoetrope. You know, those spinning things that you peer through the slats and you see a horse galloping. No? Well, look it up as that's where the name comes from.
The reason for that is HTC's new method of shooting photos means you'll actually start capturing high res footage 0.6 seconds before you hit the shutter button and for three seconds afterwards, thus resulting in every picture you take having a few seconds of video to show the 'context'.
In reality this will mean that you've got a Harry Potter-style gallery that lets you see each photo moving – and HTC claims that it won't actually look rubbish as algorithms will be able to chop off that terrible bit at the beginning and end where the you lift the camera up and down.
But that's not all – take loads of photos in one album, and a video highlights reel will be created to interpolate stills and moving shots to make a 'real life' photo album, with six themes to choose from (right now) when creating your own personal movies.
Don't worry though – it will only be 30 seconds long to keep your friends interested. It will be created in an MP4 format too and stored on an HTC server so it's much easier to share, although you should probably stick it on YouTube as it won't stay on HTC's platform for more than 30 days.
Who doesn't love this name? It's the name for the improved sound on the HTC One, which is possible thanks to the dual-facing front speakers and the inbuilt amplifier.
There's not a lot more to it than that, but in reality it means that the sound, bass-heavy tracks aside, is improved massively. However, that's only if you're the kind of person that wants to play your music on your desk and doesn't want to invest in a dock, as otherwise it's not really much use at all.
However, combined with the inbuilt amplifier and Beats Audio, over a pair of even half-decent headphones the sound quality is always going to be a lot better – we were impressed despite the fact it was irritating to be told people like watching YouTube videos together.
The other big change that HTC has made on the audio front is the addition of dual-dual microphones (our phrase, not HTC's).
This means that on top of the extra microphones to noise cancel bits and pieces, each mic has a dual membrane and monitors sound levels to stop that distortion you'll notice on your Samsung Galaxy S3 when you're filming a concert or your friends shouting in a club.
Or fireworks. Shoot what you want, we don't mind. Not people though. Don't shoot people.
HTC Sense and BlinkFeed
HTC has decided that its Sense UI can be updated again, and while it's not officially saying so, this is HTC Sense 5.0.
This means a more simplified UI on top of Android 4.1.2, with elements like a 3x4 grid of apps showing less on the screen but reducing the clutter HTC thinks is putting people off buying smartphones.
In reality it's just another overlay on top of Android – albeit one that we rather like. We're not fans of the constant changing of the way HTC phones work, especially as most people like consistency, but ditching things like Locations and the internal mapping solutions makes it a lot easier to do the things you care about.
The app launcher, the way the menu works and customisation of what's going on is all improved though, and the prevalence of BlinkFeed means that you're always up to date with what's happening.
While we're on that subject, let's talk a bit more about HTC's bitesize news format – it's all very tile-based and visual so you can get access to the things that matter the most to you.
Well, that's the theory anyway; in reality it's a little more impersonal. You can choose from over 1400 contact sources, ranging from sports to fashion to technology and all in between, but you can't import your own personal feeds which gets a little in the way.
It will cache the pics and the text though so you don't need to worry too much – but in essence you're not going to get a lot more than Facebook, Twitter, some pictures and the pre-chosen news sources at the moment.
The good news is HTC says it's working on bringing more to the ecosystem – be it on the Blink personalisation side, or the camera action – so there's certainly more to come.