HTC’s best yet: HTC One (2014) reviewed

HTC’s shift to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor is a massive update from the Snapdragon 600 in the original One, and while that was a speedy little chip, the new processor is even better, with little to no lag in everything we ran through the phone.

Apps could be run simultaneously and multitasked without problems, menus and animations performed flawlessly, and generally the system just ran remarkably well.

You’d be hard pressed to be disappointed with the new One’s performance, and we sure weren’t.

Over on the battery life front, we managed a good day to a day and a half before the phone would give out.

From our reviewing environment of pushing several email accounts, social networking, web browsing, taking photos, and playing music, we found that heavy users will likely only get that a day of use, while people who rely on their phone a little less will be able to grab time into the next day.

That’s not bad, and is certainly on par with other phones that aren’t phablets, though you’ll probably want to charge nightly.

Mobile performance is also equal to many of the devices we’ve had pass our review desk recently, with 4G speeds running from 25 to 80Mbps down.

Category 4 LTE connectivity is supported here, so provided your network supports the technology (which is Vodafone only in Australia at the time of publishing), you may see speeds as high 150Mbps down, though networks with only Category 3 (Optus and Telstra) can see as high as 100 down.

Some of the little things make an impact here, too.

Details like the dual stereo speakers on the front are a big deal, and mean you won’t have to go reaching for a Bluetooth speaker system if you want to listen to your music at a park, as the volume on offer is actually very good. We found this was perfect lying in bed, watching YouTube or trailers, as the amount of sound that comes out of front of the phone — where your ears are aimed at — was enough that we could hear things perfectly.

HTC has also relocated the 3.5mm jack to the bottom of the phone, which is a most appreciated change. With this location, you can pull the phone out of your pocket when your headphones are plugged in and just see what has been playing. It’s a more convenient location, that’s for sure.

Other areas that HTC has changed tend to be on the software side of things, where the Blinkfeed social and news reading system is slightly different, but still doesn’t let you add your own news sources, relying solely on services sent out by HTC’s supplier, and then connecting with your social networking services, calendar, mail, and even photos shot on the device.

It’s a better system than when HTC first released the One, but it could still do with some work, and we’re sure if you websites that aren’t handled by HTC’s news supplier, you’ll be disappointed to find you can’t add it to the phone.

There are other little things, such as different themes for the app menu bars making each a different colour, and highlighting whether you’re in a productivity app, web app, multimedia app, settings, and so on, but these can’t be configured or tweaked by the user, and you have four to choose from. Most people probably won’t try to change them, but the options are there.

Support for FitBit is also built into the unit, as is a TV remote using the infrared port up front, and even the ability upgrade the storage inside the handset using microSD.

And if you decide you want a cover for the phone, HTC will be making the “Dot View” case, which doesn’t just give you a plastic wraparound case to protect both the front and the back, but also lets you see the phone through the tiny dot holes on the front of the case.

When this is on, the lockscreen goes all 8-bit retro, providing blocky text and notifications reminiscent of an 80s video game, and allows you to answer phone calls and touch the screen through the cover, which is a neat feature.

Some of the gestures on the handset are cool, too, making it possible to unlock the phone into different screens with specific gestures. For instance, if you swipe up from a phone on standby, you’ll get the last screen you were on.

Swipe from left to right and you’ll get BlinkFeed, and while the opposite gesture delivers the main home screen. Meanwhile, a swipe on standby from top to the bottom of the screen starts up the voice call function. Double tap the device to switch it on. That sort of thing.

But the camera is one area where it’s clear HTC has been doing some work. An evolution from the product we saw last year, the new Ultrapixel camera seems to be about capturing a little more detail and then tweaking the images with effects.