Wednesday, 20 February 2013

HTC One hands on preview

 

HTC One hands on preview

The HTC One made its first public showing this afternoon, but we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the next-gen Android superphone last week at a secret London location. Read on to find out what we made of it. Is this a Samsung Galaxy S4 slayer?

We’ve already run down the specs of this monstrous new mobile, but what’s it like to actually use? Physically, it’s a beauty, and easily the msot beautiful phone HTC has ever made. The curved metal casing is cool to the touch and just as easy on the eye – we know it looks like an iPhone in press shots, but in the flesh it’s its own style, and we like it.

The full HD screen meanwhile is stunning, but the navigation buttons at the bottom will take some getting used to. Unusually for an Android phone, there are only two, home and back, and they’re on either side rather than in the middle – it takes a bit of getting used to but it doesn’t limit you in any way.

After Sony’s impressive Xperia Z phone however, all this is the least we’d expect from HTC. The Taiwanese tech giant’s tried to stand out from the crowd with its new software draped across the top of Android 4.1, and it’s here that things get a little different.

Gone is the standard homescreen on the HTC One – you now have to swipe to the right to get to it. Unstead, you get something called Blinkfeed: it’s a rolling, visual stream of social network updates and stories from news sources you choose (though there’s a list of 1,500 to pick from, you sadly can’t add your own as well). It’s a lot like Flipboard or Pulse, but on your homescreen – we can see a lot of people using this in place of something more complicated to set up, like an RSS reader.

The HTC One’s clever “ultrapixel” camera meanwhile is accompanied by a camera app that once again handily lets you shoot video and images at the same time – you just tap while you’re filming.

At a glance, images seem crisp and detailed, but we didn’t get a chance to examine them in-depth on a bigger screen, so you’ll have to stay tuned for a verdict in our full review (coming very soon).

We did have a go with the Zoe Camera app, pulling together montages quickly and easily, but we’ve still to see the website that will go with it – we’re not sure whether this’ll take off, as it’s yet another social network type site that needs critical mass to really prove useful or interesting.

We’re actually more taken with the clever telly integration on the HTC One. We got to test out the app, bossing about a TV in the room and it worked just fine – suddenly, you’ve got a legitimate alternative when your remote is buried down the side of the sofa, and one that tells you what’s coming up on every channel while you’re at it.

All in all, the HTC One looks like it’ll be a strong contender for your next upgrade when it goes on sale on 15 March – but given that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is reportedly being announced on the very same day, it could have some stiff competition.

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