March 4, 2013

HTC One preview: Take two


Introduction

The name is quite a statement, but one that befits a smartphone that has the makings of a masterpiece. The HTC One builds on a time-honored tradition of unibody design and packs all the very latest tech available - some of which exclusive - to make what is perhaps one of the best all-rounded packages to see the light of day in the first half of 2013.
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HTC One official photos
The HTC One is like a supercar - it's the best that current technology has to offer and while not everything is completely practical, it looks and handles great and is ready to wow its owner. And much like a car dealership, HTC is ready to offer you money if you trade in your old HTC phone - it's $100 or the value of the old phone, whichever is greater.
The biggest bullet point in the features list is the camera - a 4MP "ultra-pixel" camera. Yes, the resolution sounds too low, but this camera marks a first in the mobile phone imaging world, which puts it next to the Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 920.
Speaking of a feature list, here it is. The One (camera aside) is basically a Butterfly with bumped up specs and a cool aluminum unibody.

HTC One at a glance:

  • General: Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, quad-band UMTS/HSPA, optional LTE Cat 3 (100Mbps downlink, 50Mbps uplink)
  • Form factor: Aluminum unibody touchscreen bar phone
  • Dimensions: 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm, 143 g
  • Display: 4.7" 16M-color 1080p (1080 x 1920 pixels) Super LCD 3 capacitive touchscreen, 469ppi pixel density; Corning Gorilla Glass 2
  • Chipset: Qualcomm APQ8064T Snapdragon 600
  • CPU: Quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait 300
  • GPU: Adreno 320
  • RAM: 2GB
  • OS: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with Sense 5
  • Memory: 32GB/64GB storage
  • Camera: 4 megapixel auto-focus camera with ultra-pixels and Optical Image Stabilization; LED flash
  • Video camera: Full HD (1080p) video recording at 30fps with HDR; 720p @ 60fps
  • Front camera: 2.1MP front-facing camera, 88°; 1080p@30fps video with HDR
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, standard microUSB port with MHL and USB host, GPS receiver with A-GPS and GLONASS, 3.5mm audio jack, NFC, IR port
  • Battery: 2,300mAh Li-Po
  • Misc: Beats Audio, BoomSound stereo speakers on the front, HDR microphone, HTC Zoe photo gallery
The camera is backed by ImageChip 2, which enables some advanced functionality. It takes the Scalado tech we first saw on the HTC One X and puts them into overdrive.
HTC is trying to move away from Android slightly. Yes, it's still a full-blown Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, but the new Sense UI version 5 transforms the interface into something that isn't instantly recognizable as Android, including a brand new homescreen and a gesture-based replacement for the menu button.
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Handling the HTC One
The company is also playing to its audio strengths - the usual Beats Audio is on board, but there's also BoomSound for the front-facing stereo speakers, which are said to blast out up to 93dB. Then there are the HDR microphones to ensure good call sound quality.

Design and build quality

HTC has a history with aluminum unibody designs and we've always been fond of them - the combination of metal and glass has an unsurpassed premium feel.
The HTC One is similar in shape to the Butterfly (just slightly more compact) and uses a similar design language, though there have been some refinements.
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The HTC One is a looker
The change in size is due to the screen contracting a bit to 4.7", but it's still a 1080p Super LCD3 unit. The change in size, of course, bumped up the pixel density, but we'll talk about that later.
Things on the front have been moved around a bit. The face of the One is split into three - the middle section is the Gorilla Glass 2 covered screen, which is flanked by aluminum on both sides. The strips of aluminum house the stereo speakers with BoomSound tech. HTC claims they can put out sound at 93dB.
Just below the screen, on the glass are two capacitive keys - Back and Home. There are no Menu or App switcher keys. Switching between apps is done by double pressing the Home key, while the function of the Menu key is handled by a gesture throughout Sense 5. From the settings you can set the phone to accept a long press on the Back key as "Menu".
HTC One Preview
Just two capacitive keys and second loudspeaker on the front
Above the screen is the front-facing camera, plus the ambient light and proximity sensors. The speaker takes the role of an earpiece during calls.
The front-facing camera on the HTC One is almost the same as the one on the Butterfly - it has a 2.1MP sensor with an 88° lens and can shoot 1080p video with HDR mode.
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Front-facing camera with 88° lens, loudspeaker/earpiece and sensors
The HTC One uses microSIM cards, which go in a tray on the left side of the phone. As usual, you need a SIM ejector tool to open the tray. The right side of the phone houses the volume rocker, which is big and wide, just like the one on the Butterfly.
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microSIM card tray • big volume rocker
The microUSB port and the mouthpiece are at the bottom. The USB port is MHL-enabled, so you can use it for HD TV-Out and for USB Host functionality. The mouthpiece microphone works in conjunction with a noise cancelling mic at the back of the phone. Besides its usual noise cancelling duties, the second mic keeps track of how loud the ambient noise is and the phone will boost the sound from the mouthpiece to make sure the other side hears you loud and clear.
HTC One Preview
MHL-enabled microUSB port and mouthpiece at the bottom
The top of the phone features the 3.5mm audio jack and the Power/Lock key. That key has a surprising talent - it's also an IR emitter hiding in plain sight. HTC has preloaded an app that helps you control TV sets and audio equipment. After years in oblivion, IR ports seem to be making a comeback though they are no longer used for data transmission.
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Power/Lock button that's also an IR emitter and 3.5mm audio jack
The back of the HTC one is a big slab of aluminum that's divided into three parts by thin plastic lines. The noise cancelling mic is placed on the upper line, but the star of the show and arguably the biggest innovation on the HTC One is the camera.
It features a 28° wide-angle lens with F/2.0 aperture and an optically stabilized 4MP sensor with ultra-pixels. It's the most advanced camera system we've seen on a phone since PureView. Not that it's necessarily better than Nokia's tech, it's just that it involves the same high amount of innovation that's so rare to come by these days. We know 4MP sounds low, but check out the camera section of this preview for more info on why that's not necessarily a bad thing.
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A closer look at the back and the innovative camera
The HTC One features a 2,300mAh Li-Po battery that's fixed inside the metal unibody. It's non-replaceable, but it's about 300mAh bigger than the one in the HTC Butterfly and the same capacity as the battery in the Sony Xperia Z.
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HTC One in the hand
The HTC One is 9.3mm thick and the curved back makes it feel slimmer. It sits very well in the hand and the aluminum back both feels good to the touch and is good at hiding fingerprints. The phone weighs 143g, about the same as the Butterfly or an iPhone 4S. The weight is pleasant and gives the phone a solid feel.

Display

The HTC One goes for a 4.7" screen, instead of 5", which is the current standard for 1080p screen phones. That makes its screen 12% smaller than the 5" models, while increasing the pixel density from 441ppi to 469ppi. The increase in sharpness is not noticeable as 441ppi is already beyond the limit of the human eye.
HTC One Preview
The HTC One has a beautiful screen
The 300+ ppi screens of last year's flagships are pretty close to the limit, but the update to 400+ ppi isn't about individual pixels - even though it's pretty hard to see jagged edges on them, the 400+ ppi screens just look smoother. It's a subtle difference, but it's there. The difference between 441ppi and 469ppi on the other hand is not noticeable.
But there's more to the Super LCD3 screen on the One. HTC have been putting out some excellent screens recently and this one isn't an exception. The viewing angles are great, there's no shift in colors and only a slight contrast shift at extreme angles.
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Checking the viewing angles of the HTC One
The screen is laminated too, meaning the individual layers of the screen fit as closely as possible, bringing the image as close as possible to the outer surface of the glass.
We put the HTC One side by side with the Samsung Galaxy S III. The Super AMOLED wins out in terms of contrast and color saturation (those are the typical advantages of the tech), but the HTC One screen is close behind it and it's excellent for an LCD unit.
It is more reflective than the S III screen, however. It's also not the brightest screen around, but sunlight legibility is still very good.

Sense UI 5 centered on BlinkFeed

The HTC One runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, but more importantly it comes with the latest version of Sense UI. Much like Samsung, HTC prefers to add its own exclusive features to Android, instead of marching to Google's drum.
Here's a quick overview of the HTC One interface:
The lockscreen looks different but it is unchanged in terms of functionality. There's a clock, weather info and four (not five) positions for shortcuts. You can put a folder instead of an app shortcut if you need more than four apps accessible from the homescreen. The Lockscreen can show info on missed calls and received messages.
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The new lockscreen has no new functionality
The homescreen is quite different, however. The central pane is called BlinkFeed. It aggregates posts from your social networks and news from over a thousand news sources. You can pick what topics you're interested in and BlinkFeed will automatically pull up interesting news. You can also use the search function if you're looking for something in particular.
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BlinkFeed is the default homescreen pane
You're not stuck with BlinkFeed if you don't like it - the rest of the homescreen panes are the standard type with shortcuts and widgets and you can set one of them to the be default one (the one you get when you tap Home).
If you have social networking accounts linked, you can post on them straight from BlinkFeed, including sharing stories that you've come across on the feed.
Overall, BlinkFeed feels similar to Sony's Timescape widget, except it's not a widget, which we think would have been the preferable approach - a widget is easy to move to a different homescreen pane, to delete and even resize, so that you can combine it with shortcuts or other widgets on the same pane.
HTC have included one other major deviation from standard Android in Sense 5. Android has been moving away from a dedicated Menu button, instead having a button in the app interface itself. HTC took a different approach and created a hidden bar with options that appears when you swipe down on the screen. You should be careful where your swipe starts as a swipe from the top of the screen would bring down the notification area instead, you need to start lower.
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Swiping down reveals a menu bar with options
It's an interesting addition considering how few gestures are used in Android, especially compared to something like the BlackBerry OS 10. But apps will need to specifically support this and most apps will still have a menu button integrated into their UI. Older apps that rely on a dedicated Menu key (be it physical or on-screen) run with a black bar at the bottom just for an on-screen Menu key (not many apps still do this, but it happens).
Beyond this, the interface is pretty standard. You get multiple regular homescreen panes (ones with shortcuts and widgets) that you can re-arrange and add/delete panes with the traditional pinch zoom. Widgets are pulled out of a dedicated drawer and not from the app drawer, similar to previous versions of Sense.
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BlinkFeed aside, the homescreen is pretty standard
As for the app drawer itself, by default it only shows a 4 x 3 grid of icons, which does not make best use of the large, high-res screen. The shortcuts aren't even bigger than usual, they just have plenty of padding. Luckily, you can switch to a 4 x 4 grid.
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The difference between 4 x 3 and 4 x 4 modes for the app drawer
The HTC One comes with a dedicated Car mode screen, which has been styled to look like the rest of the interface. There are only five big controls besides the clock and weather info. There's the music info, which takes a whole row by itself, and shortcuts to Navigation, Dialer, the Music player (again) and for Voice commands.
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Car mode
The app can be set to automatically launch when you put the phone in the car dock and connect to the car's Bluetooth. There's also an option to resume playback of the music player or radio when the Car mode app launches, for an uninterrupted listening experience.
There's an interesting options in the power menu of the phone, borrowed from Windows Phone 8. It's called Kid mode - you can add info each of your children, with photo and birthdate and pick which apps they have access to. One annoying bit is that to enable Kid mode the first time around, you need to sign up via email.
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Setting up Kid mode
HTC usually includes an app to help you switch from your old phone by transferring the important data, but with the HTC One they've updated it. It can transfer data from an old HTC phone or an Android from a different maker (v2.3 Gingerbread and above), a Windows Phone, a BlackBerry or an iPhone.
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Transferring your data from your old phone to the HTC One is easy
The switch from an iPhone is pretty easy - the One can even read the data off an iPhone backup file, so even if you've lost or sold your iPhone, you'd still be able to copy all your contacts easily.

HTC One benchmark performance

The HTC One comes with a brand new Snapdragon 600 chipset, which packs four 1.7GHz Krait 300 CPU cores. The same chipset is used by the LG Optimus G Pro, so let's see how they stack up.
The BenchmarkPi shows a significant single-core performance boost over the older Krait cores (like in the HTC Butterfly and Sony Xperia Z). The HTC One adn Optimus G Pro are basically equal, however.

Benchmark Pi

Lower is better
  • LG Optimus G Pro147
  • HTC One151
  • Sony Xperia Z264
  • HTC Butterfly266
  • Oppo Find 5267
  • HTC One X+280
  • LG Optimus G285
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II305
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)330
  • LG Optimus 4X HD350
  • Samsung Galaxy S III359
  • Meizu MX 4-core362
  • Nexus 4431
The HTC One performed closer to phones with the old Krait cores than the Optimus G Pro in Linpack.

Linpack

Higher is better
  • LG Optimus G Pro743
  • HTC One646
  • Sony Xperia Z630
  • HTC Butterfly624
  • LG Optimus G608
  • Oppo Find 5593
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II214.3
  • Nexus 4213.5
  • Meizu MX 4-core189.1
  • HTC One X+177.7
  • Samsung Galaxy S III175.5
  • HTC One X160.9
  • LG Optimus 4X HD141.5
The all-in-one Quadrant and AnTuTu benchmark scores are impressive adn have the HTC One and LG Optimus G Pro trade victories.

AnTuTu

Higher is better
  • HTC One22678
  • Sony Xperia Z20794
  • LG Optimus G Pro20056
  • Samsung Galaxy S III15547
  • Oppo Find 515167
  • HTC Butterfly12631

Quadrant

Higher is better
  • LG Optimus G Pro12105
  • HTC One11746
  • Sony Xperia Z8075
  • HTC One X+7632
  • LG Optimus G7439
  • Oppo Find 57111
  • HTC One X5952
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II5916
  • Samsung Galaxy S III5450
  • Meizu MX 4-core5170
  • LG Optimus 4X HD4814
  • Nexus 44567
The Snapdragon 600 chipset still uses the familiar Adreno 320 GPU (it's the 800 that upgrades to Adreno 330), but the higher clock speed used in the HTC One does make a difference. It's enough to put it at the top in terms of raw power - GLBenchmark 2.5 always runs at 1080p resolution regardless of the physical resolution of the screen, which makes comparison easier. But unlike most other phones, the HTC One needs it as 1080p is its actual screen resolution.

GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better
  • HTC One34
  • Asus Padfone 231
  • Oppo Find 530
  • Sony Xperia Z29
  • LG Optimus G29
  • Apple iPhone 527
  • Nexus 426
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II17
  • Samsung Galaxy S III15
  • HTC One X+12
  • HTC One X9
We also run some browser test with the stock web browser - HTC needs to do some more optimizations here as the HTC One came behind older phones with slower cores in both SunSpider (which measures JavaScript performance) and BrowserMark 2 (which evaluates HTML5 performance).

SunSpider

Lower is better
  • Samsung Ativ S891
  • Apple iPhone 5915
  • Nokia Lumia 920910
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II972
  • HTC One X+1001
  • LG Optimus G Pro1011
  • Motorola RAZR i XT8901059
  • HTC One1124
  • Samsung Galaxy S III1192
  • Meizu MX 4-core1312
  • LG Optimus G1353
  • HTC Butterfly1433
  • Sony Xperia Z1906
  • Nexus 41971
  • Oppo Find 52045

BrowserMark 2

Higher is better
  • LG Optimus G2555
  • HTC One2262
  • Sony Xperia Z1865
  • Oppo Find 51797
  • Nexus 41794
  • Nokia Lumia 9201774
  • Nokia Lumia 8201760
  • Samsung Omnia W1632
  • HTC Butterfly1475
  • Samsung Galaxy S III1247
Overal the HTC One is blazing fast in terms of CPU and GPU performance and will handle any app without breaking a sweat. The web browser performance leaves something to be desired though.

HTC Zoe is a wiz at photo retouching

HTC Zoe is more advanced than any other gallery on a phone and it works thanks to the dedicated ImageChip 2 that the One uses. When you use the camera in Zoe mode, every time you press the shutter key, the phone captures up to 20 full res shots and a 3 second video (1 second before you press the shutter key and 2 seconds after). All that information is required for the advanced features of Zoe.
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Standard looking gallery, at first • Events view is where Zoe comes in
One of those features is Events. Zoe can be used as a regular image gallery with photos stacked together according to their folders, but Events groups photos by when and where they were taken. Each event has a 30 second highlight video, which is stitched together from those 3 second clips plus a slideshow, including some of the pics. You can remove clips and add new ones to the highlight video, add a video effect and also include a background music (the tracks are preset, though it is possible to add new ones to the list).
The videos and multiple full-res shots come into play when editing images as well. Since the phone has a video of the scene during which the photo was taken, it can find moving objects and put a red X on them so that you can tap and remove the ones you want, but keep the rest. The result is a full-resolution 4MP image.
Zoe can also make sure everyone in the photo is smiling and their eyes are open - it detects all faces and circles them, then you can swipe to go through all available images of that face until you find the perfect one.
Yet another feature is called Sequence shot. It takes a shot of a moving object and it creates a cool effect "multiple exposure" effect where that object appears several times on the photo. It's perhaps easier to show the effect than explain it, here's a shot of a BMXer jumping over a ramp. You can tweak the effect by adding and removing clones.

The Zoe arsenal of effects doesn't stop here - there are some vanity effects too. One such effect is Face contour, which allows you to easily slim someone's face. There's also Skin smoothing, an automatic lightning fix, Eye enhancer (which makes your subject's eyes open wider), Eye brightening, Red-eye removal and Anti-shine. The strength of these effects is adjustable with a slider so you can fine tune it.
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The photo editor has tons of options
That's just the Retouch section of the Photo Editor. There are also effects, frames and transformations available. Basically, Zoe is a knowledgeable Photoshop helping hand in your pocket.
Zoe events can be shared on the dedicated Zoe Share site, but you can use your social networks too. Here you can find several sample Zoe Share albums: Album 1Album 2Album 3.
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Setting up Zoe Share

Music player with Beats

The HTC One comes with a custom music player, which is HTC Beats enabled, of course. It can organize your music library by Artist, Album, Songs, Playlists, Genres, Podcasts or Folders (we don't see this option very often). The phone will also easily stream songs over DLNA, you're not limited to the music library you have in the internal memory.
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Browsing through the music library
The music player has some handy features out of the box. It can automatically look for and download Album art and artist photos (you can limit it to Wi-Fi connections only) and it can also search for lyrics. The lyrics can be displayed either in karaoke mode or just as text.
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The Now playing interface • the player automatically finds the song's lyrics
There's no equalizer on board, you just have the option to toggle Beats audio on or off. That's not ideal, but at least the BoomSound stereo speakers on the front of the HTC One are quite loud. Unfortunately, we didn't have our sound meter on us, so we'll have to wait until we get the One in our office for a full review to test if they can really hit the promised 93dB.

Video player

The Video player on the HTC One has a pretty simple interface, there isn't even a dedicated app, you just pick a video from the gallery. Anyway, you get a Play/Pause button and a slider to scrub through the video, a button to launch the camera and a small square with the current time and battery charge. Those automatically hide after a few seconds, of course.
The video player can use the Beats audio sound enhancement just like the music player, which is great for watching videos. The video player supports DLNA and you can use an MHL adaptor to plug the phone into a TV.
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The video player
One pretty unique feature allows you to change the playback speed of the video. This is helpful for clips, you've shot in one of the high frame rate modes, it allows you to watch either a High Frame Rate (it playbacks in real-time, just like The Hobbit) or in slow motion.

Camera features and UltraPixels

The HTC One comes with a camera that's unique in the smartphone world. It's only the second mobile phone camera to be optically stabilized and it's the first to use a new design which involves photosites that are three times as big as those on a 12MP size. And since the sensor is equally sized to a 12MP sensor, it only gets to capture a third of the resolution. In HTC marketing talk these larger photosites are calls UltraPixels.
The ultrapixels are bigger than you would get on all other current cameraphones. The Nokia N8 had 1.75-micron pixels, while the 808 PureView and the iPhone 5 both have 1.4-micron pixels. So, each pixel in the HTC One camera is twice the size of a pixel in the 808 and iPhone 5 cameras.
Bigger pixels mean lower noise levels and usually, betery dynamic range. Low-light performance is also helped by the Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) as we saw on the Nokia Lumia 920.
HTC has prepared this image to show how the One camera stacks up against competing smartphones.

The sensor used in the HTC One has a 1/3" diagonal with a 16:9 aspect ratio and it's mounted behind a 5-element lens with F/2.0 aperture. The sensor takes photos with 2688 x 1520 resolution, which amounts to 4MP.
HTC has included a second-generation ImageChip to process the images captured with the camera and also handle the needs of HTC Zoe.
The HTC One continues the trend of using a unified camera interface for stills and video. We didn't like it all that much on the One X and its siblings and we have to admit we're not big fans of it now. Our biggest complaint - that you see a 4:3 viewfinder - even though you are shooting 16:9 content has been fixed mostly because the image sensor has a 16:9 aspect ratio and not 4:3.
Before, you had to switch to 16:9 mode for the photos (dropping from 8MP to 6MP) just to get a proper viewfinder, which would allow you to frame your videos properly. Now things are quite the opposite - if for some reason you want a 4:3 photo rather than 16:9 the sides of the image get cropped out, giving you only 3MP resolution.
Another complaint is that all still and video settings get dumped into one menu, instead of just getting the relevant settings depending on the current mode.

Camera interface and image quality

Anyway, the camera interface itself is pretty simple - there are two shutter keys (one for stills and one for video), above them is the gallery shortcut and below is the effects button. On the left side of the screen you get flash mode selector and the Zoe toggle.
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The camera interface
Now, we already covered what Zoe does after you've taken a shot, here's how the actual shooting goes. You enable Zoe (an indicator at the bottom of the screen confirms you're in Zoe mode) and tap the still shutter key. The key turns into a progress bar, counting down the three seconds during which the phone records video, reminding you to stay relatively still.
HTC is bragging that the camera can do burst shots at 8fps. But with Zoe you need to hold still for 3 seconds and that really negates the speed of the camera.
The Optical Image Stabilization offers active correction of the image module in two axis with a frequency of up to 2000 times a second. That, combined with the F/2.0 aperture of the lens and big pixel promises good low-light performance.
The MWC showroom floors are not ideal for image quality testing and we're away from our usual shooting locations. So, we grabbed an LG Optimus G Pro (which packs a 13MP camera) and took a couple of shots with both to see how the radically different sensor in the HTC One stacks up against traditional sensors. We prepared crops, with the Optimus G Pro photos downscaled to the HTC One's resolution.
The first shot would be difficult even for a DSLR. In the MWC showroom are full of brightly lit company booths with patches of dim light in-between them. The Optimus G Pro photos have a lot more noise in them, while HTC One photos have a slight grain, but not too bad considering how dark the scene was.
The One developed the shadows better (look at the ceiling), though the highlights are overexposed. Still, the HTC One has an advantage in dynamic range.

The second shot gives us a peek at the resolving powers of both cameras when it comes to fine detail. The HTC One photos are sharper and pack more detail per pixel when we downscale the Optimus G Pro photos to the same resolution. But the low overall resolution is a problem - the text on the card is a lot easier to read in the 13MP G Pro photo than it is in the HTC One photo.
The One produced a nicely balanced photo in terms of colors, even under the purple spotlight. The halos around most edges, however, reveal that the photo processing includes generous doses of artificial sharpening.

And here are the full resolution shots we used to make the crops along with a few more HTC One camera samples.
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HTC One • LG Optimus G Pro
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HTC One • LG Optimus G Pro
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HTC One camera samples
Obviously, we need to do more testing back in the office where we have more time and phones on hand to compare the HTC One against. What we can say right now is that the technology shows a lot of promise - it keeps noise relatively low and the detail per pixel is pretty good.
The problem is that there aren't a lot of pixels to go around, which puts a hard physical limit on the smallest detail that the HTC One camera can resolve. As we saw, this could cause problems with things like text. The dynamic range isn't much better than that of traditional cameraphones either, so the large pixels didn't help too much here.
At the end of the day, it depends on what you want to do with the photos. Most high-res 27" computer monitors are at under 4MP resolution and HDTVs are at 2MP, so the resolution HTC One photos is okay. But if you want to print out photos or crop into a smaller detail, 4MP may start to feel pretty tight around the neck.

FullHD video camera with HDR

The HTC One can shoot videos at up to 1080p resolution at 30fps. It has an HDR option for the video, but note that the frame rate falls to 28fps, if you enable it. It also has high framerate recording modes, 720p @ 60fps and 68 x 432 @ 96fps.
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Video capture options
The camera features continuous autofocus and you have the option to lock the focus during video recording, if it triggers too often in dynamic scenes. The videos, of course, benefit from the Optical Image Stabilization as well.
Videos are recorded in MP4 files with a whopping 20Mbps bitrate - the highest we've seen yet. Sound is captured in stereo with 192Kbps bitrate and 48kHz sampling rate. So, both video and audio codecs have plenty of bitrate to keep as much fine detail as possible.
And videos indeed have plenty of detail and the noise is very low, especially considering that the lighting inside the showroom was not all that good. Sound is good too, despite the thousands of people around.
Videos are a shaky though. There is some noticeable stabilization, but we feel the Nokia Lumia 920 would have produced a steadier shot.

First impressions

Smartphones are now more advanced than ever, but we seem to have hit a low in innovation - we're just getting a Company Phone N+1 handset released each year on schedule. This is why we were excited to meet the HTC One, the company broke every mold imaginable when designing it.
HTC One
HTC One
The display is smaller to the benefit of ergonomics instead of trying to impress by numbers and is one of the best mobile screens around. The 4MP camera isn't keen either to play the "more is better" game, though we're yet to be convinced that this gamble will pay off.
Either way, HTC Zoe will probably get more attention than the raw image quality. It packs more features than any stock gallery or even app from the Play Store and the simplicity with which it creates complex effects is bound to draw crowds (the simple photo filters of Instagram have brought together a community of over 100 million).
HTC took their creative hammer to Android too - instead of being yet another prettified version of the Android UI, Sense 5 tries to whet the modern user's appetite for info with BlinkFeed and get in on the gesture craze. These are features though, that are yet to prove their worth.
Having earned a reputation for its Beats audio enhancements, HTC now pushes the envelope further the front-mounted BoomSound stereo speakers and the HDR mics for better voice calls.
Technological innovation is great, it's exciting, but sometimes it puts off the general consumer with the compromises it involves (e.g. the size and aging OS of the Nokia 808 PureView).
With the HTC One, however, the Taiwanese may have struck gold - even if you can't explain what UltraPixels are to someone, show them the Zoe highlights videos and they'll be sold, more so when you tell them you didn't actually have to do anything to create the video.
We'll be back with a full review of the HTC One along with proper battery tests. Even then we'll have to leave one value for you to measure - how bad do you want it?






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