Sign in with Microsoft

It hasn’t exactly been HTC’s best kept secret, but the news is finally out, and HTC’s new “One” flagship for 2014 will keep the name from 2013, but change nearly everything else.

A new handset for a new year, HTC is a little late in announcing the star device that will take on phones from manufacturers such as Sony and Samsung, both of which announced new devices a month ago at Mobile World Congress in Spain.

Still, the time has come for HTC to tell the world what it has been planning, with the company doing that overnight in New York, and giving us a briefing before hand.

“The whole philosophy hasn’t changed,” said HTC’s Head of Product Marketing for South Asia, Darren Sng, adding that HTC’s goal was “to make it simple.” Now with a new year dawning, the company plans to “make the phone even simpler.”

First up are the specs, and those are right on par with pretty much everything else you’ll be seeing from any other manufacturer this year that doesn’t have its own chip production plant. There’s Qualcomm’s most recent revision of the Snapdragon chipset, the Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.5GHz, with 16GB of storage and — in a first for the HTC One handset — the inclusion of a microSD slot capable of expanding the memory with a 128GB microSDXC card.

All the typical connections are included, with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Near-Field Communication, infrared, and of course 4G, though HTC has updated that last one to support Category 4 (Cat4) LTE connectivity, with support across both TDD and FDD LTE, which means it will work on any 4G network in Australia, including Telstra, Optus (TDD support there), and Vodafone (Cat4), which is good since we’re told all carriers will have the handset.

The battery is apparently up to 40 percent better than last year’s HTC One, with a 2600mAh module that you cannot remove, though it will charge to 80 percent in under an hour, similar to the RapidCharge technology found on Lenovo’s laptops. We’re told an “extreme power” mode is also coming, making it possible for the phone to survive on standby for ten days, though you can’t use your phone much in order to make this work.

All of this sits under a 5 inch Full HD screen, protected by Corning’s third-generation Gorilla Glass technology, with support for knocks to bring the handset back from standby (similar to what LG used in its G2 and G-Flex handsets), while swipes will also bring the phone back from standby directly into different modes too.

The camera has also changed slightly, with a revised and redeveloped Ultrapixel camera, which HTC claims can bring in as much as 300 percent more light than a sensor on a competing device like the Samsung Galaxy S4. The new camera technology on-board makes it possible for some super quick camera speeds, with one second for the camera to launch, a third of a second to focus, and what we’re told is no shutter lag. Need a lot of pictures at once? There will be an 11 frame per second burst mode.

But it’s not just the new sensor that does it, and HTC has brought in a second camera lens that sits above the regular one on the back, a camera that takes additional information to let you get depth information, with the HTC One handset able to determine the difference between the foreground, background, and more, and let you focus after you’ve taken the photo, similar to what Lytro engineered with its Lightfield technology.

We’re told its completely different from what Lytro used, which is hardly surprising given the HTC One isn’t as deep as a Lightfield camera, but HTC plans to let you do similar things, defocusing and refocusing when you want to, as well as adding effects. You can add a colour filter to the background, and then do something else to the foreground, or even add seasonal effects, such as snowflakes or falling leaves, with the camera foreground-background difference engine able to determine when the effects should pass behind the subject.

“The most popular camera phone in the world is the iPhone [5S], and we think we will trounce this,” said Sng.

Technically, the Ultrapixel size hasn’t changed, though, with 4 megapixels still shot by the HTC One, the new One that is, which will apparently be a higher quality 4 megapixel sensor than the one used previously in the 2013 HTC One.

That could be a downside since 4 megapixels isn’t much against what its competitors will offer, though HTC has changed the front camera dramatically, shifting from the 2 megapixel in last year’s phone to a 5 megapixel in the new one, resulting in some of the highest resolution selfies you can find. It’s actually kind of strange to find a front-facing camera have more megapixels than a rear camera, but the sensors are dramatically different, so neither camera is really in the same league as one another.