Three months in, here's why I can't sell my HTC One

Feed the fanboys

There are an alarming number of people hanging on a date for when Android 4.3 comes to their toy. Make those people happy.

I buy an HTC One running Android 4.1.2, then feel mildly robbed when the Galaxy S4 clumps into town wearing 4.2.2. Yes, I know, I know - it’s but a point increment in the software roadmap, a mere sliver of gravel on the development of a mobile operating system’s highway.

But I still felt robbed. S4 owners could gloat over their superior settings screen in notifications. They had (hush at the back, there) home screen widgets. Yes. All I had was a beautifully engineered phone that worked like a dream. 

As it happens, the 4.2.2 update for the One magicked its way over the airwaves only a few weeks back - and the 415MB update was boringly painless. It’s almost as though (again, hush at the back) HTC had thoroughly tested it before releasing the software. I know. Insane stuff.

But I think we can all see the direction of travel: Google has spread Android at a terrifying pace by letting manufacturers do what they want with the interface. And gosh, didn’t they take the brief to heart.

But just lately, the core apps that define that Google experience have been appearing in the Play Store as stand-alone items. If you want your TouchWiz-ed S4 to look more ‘stock’, the Play Store is now your friend. And meanwhile, the whole noise around the stock Android / Nexus experience is getting louder by the day, aided by the looming rebirth of Motorola.

So there’s every chance that in a surprisingly short period of time, the Sense 5 on my HTC One will signify that I have the ‘cheap’ cut of Android - at least in the eyes of my Moto X and Nexus 5-wielding chums. Perhaps that was part of HTC’s motive in launching the Google Play Edition in the US, giving the purists the option.

How to out-One the One? Release big Android updates the day before Google announces them. 

More after the break...

GOING LOUD MATTERS - EVEN WITH A PHONE

The HTC One has the best speakers on any smartphone, anywhere.

HTC One speaker sketch

And surprisingly, it does matter. The decision to put the engineering effort into extraordinarily good speakers may have been questioned by HTC’s high-ups at some stage: after all, don’t most humans experience their device’s tunes through headphones, while voices are held close to the ear?

In that light, the One’s BoomSound system may appear to be a cheap marketing trick included purely for advertising value. If it is, then cheap marketing tricks work, at least on me. Sad confession time: I’ve contrived opportunities to make friends watch ‘Tube videos, just so that I can feel smug when they comment on the One’s sound. I know, I need help. But I have £50 riding on the fact that I’m not alone (and if you’re a One owner reading this, I dare you to deny that you’ve never done the same).

In case you’re wondering, voice call quality is as good as music and movie soundtracks. And the One’s is cleverly calibrated: the maximum volume setting on external speaker is loud enough to draw a crowd, but with the headroom to ensure that there’s very little distortion. Even after 90 days, the novelty of having a phone that doesn’t sound like a strangled duck hasn’t left me.

How to out-One the One? Fit your new handset with a pair of floor-standing, audiophile speakers. 

TRUST THE PRODUCT TO DO THE MARKETING

And lastly, the hardest lesson of all. 

HTC One sketch

There’s something about the HTC One that’s heartening for anyone who loves product design (and we do). So many handsets in recent years have reeked of cut corners, or of marketing or accounts departments chiselling at the rightness of a product until… well, there was no product.

In that sense, the One’s from a slightly different era, when you made things that were rather good, and sold them. On the whole, people tended to buy them, then told their friends how good the thing was. No contrived social distribution campaign, no hidden team of 10,000 paid ‘evangelists’ peppering forums with praise. 

For all the praise I’ve lavished on the One here, my particular form of OCD means I’ll be touting a Moto X in a few months. When I've moved on in the past, I’ve never regretted it (the last excursion before the One was a Nexus 4 - still one of the finest, most understated toys on earth). This time, I have the horrible suspicion that I’ll want to downgrade.

UPDATE: Since posting this yesterday, it looks like we've sparked quite a debate among our Google+ followers - many are pointing to the difference between 'look and feel' from 'build quality' when it comes to the relative merits of the Galaxy S4 and HTC One. 

If you think that there is a difference between the two things, just let us know in the comments below.

Comments

@PabloCreep Can you go through that process again? There's no home screen style setting in my One - the most I can do is hide Blinkfeed by setting another screen as Home. 

You can turn off BlinkFeed by selecting your favourite styled Personalise button and selecting the Home Screen Style option. Job done.

Well I had a galaxy s4 and sent it back in exchange for a one which I think is far superior all round yeah the camera might let it down compared to the s4 but the new sony has the best cam out so if your buying a phone based on a camera get the Xperia 925( which does look like a nice phone) but in my opinion the s4 felt very cheap and breakable the one sits nicely in hand thanks to the curved back instead of a rectangle of cheap plastic so I think the htc one is still the best phone for at least another few weeks till another new phone comes out(seems like a new phone is launched every few weeks now and these 2 year contracts r terrible they should come up with a mobile phone swap shop like they have for games as long as its the same grade A,B,C ect...then swap over for a £5 or £10 at the most save people from being stuck with the same handset until your due an upgrade

I got an S4 and had it for about a week before I switched to the One.  I had previously had an S2 and a Note, so was entirely Samsung-friendly.

But the S4 let me down, simply because it wouldn't play nicely with MS Exchange.  It got tremendously hot, ran its battery down in just over 2 hours and used up, in the process, 145megabytes of data, without apparently doing anything at all.  

After several days spent trying to make it behave, I gave up.  I had had a similar issue with the S2 that somehow settled down in time, but with the S4 I couldn't take the risk that every time I went outside my wifi zone (or off the electricity grid) I'd be stuffed.  I was reminded that when I got the S2 it had to be exchanged 3 times before I got one that behaved.  I was so disappointed with Samsung.  I feel they've concentrated too hard on gimmicks, and not taken enough care to make the really important stuff work properly.

In contrast, the One has been superb. Not a sniff of trouble with anything, including Exchange, and superb battery life.  Plus, of course, it is beautiful.  And I rather like Blinkfeed - I have it set up to view my Flickr account and it works beautifully.  I still have a Note 2, but as the comment above says ... if HTC would produce a One Mega with a stylus, I'd take it like a shot.  

There is no doubt that the HTC ONE is an excellent phone and most of your comments are correct.

However, your comments on size are the most important I believe. You say half your household thought it perfect and half thought it too big. Now here comes HTC MINI. So a perfect situation you would think. I am not so sure.

In my office, mobile phones have become critical tools for the sales staff and over a period of six months .We started with a mixture of HTC ONES , IPHONE 4S AND 5S , GALAXY S3 (later some S4s ) and GALAXY NOTE 3S. The migration to the GALAXY NOTE 3 by the others has been amazing.

The office is nearly all GALAXY NOTES now. Reasons? Screen size is just right for data sheets, sales reports, emails, attachments ... and u get used to the size in a couple of days. S.PEN means we can quickly send each other sketches and examples.

Point is that going forward the split in your household will surely mirror the split in the marketplace. I bet you would find it real difficult going back to a smaller phone now. Now if HTC brought out a HTC ONE MAXI with a pen function...

I agree and disagree, somewhat. Yes, the HTC One is gorgeous to look at, and a great design. But where did you get lag from an S4? Are sure it was not a S2 you were using? I have a S4, and its far from laggy. My only complaint is the plasticky back if they made all aluminium like the One, it would be just beautiful.

Then on the One side the camera is not all that. The One is a good camera phone, and good the price and the whole package is justified. 

But without being biased, the tech on the S4 is far superior - hence why the S4 is a top seller. 

But well done, HTC, I nearly got one, as i was very impressed overall. But the S4 just had a few more bells and whistles to make it my winner.

Wouldn't disagree: if HTC would just fit the One with the S4's camera, it'd be perfect.

sad to see HTC aren't making enough money, its such a nice product! Although if you're an obsessive photo taker the s4 is probably better for you. 

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