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HTC One is the Android phone to beat

Armando Rodriguez | April 9, 2013
HTC knows how to make good-looking hardware. I loved the white ceramic body of the HTC One X and Nokia could learn a thing or two about making Windows phones by taking a closer look at the HTC Windows Phone 8X. The company's latest offering, the HTC One, is a paragon of industrial design: Its chiseled chamfers, rounded edges, and chrome accents are sure to turn more than a few heads when you whip out the phone in public. But the One is more than just a pretty face: HTC packed a lot of power under the phone's hood, and the handset's camera benefits from numerous software and hardware tweaks that should excite fans of mobile photography.

Another noteworthy shooting mode is Zoe. When you activate Zoe, the phone takes up to 20 photos and records about 3. seconds of 1080p video. The feature is designed for action shots, of course, where you'd expect a lot of movement; and you can select and pull additional stills from the 1080p video. Though Zoe mode is a neat extra, I didn't find much use for it in my day-to-day life. Perhaps very creative people will find some cool uses for the feature.

The processor steps up the power

The One's many features require a lot of processing power, which the One has in good supply. The One is the first handset to ship with Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, which is supposed to deliver superior graphics and battery life. The phone gracefully handled every app I threw at it, including games like Shadow Gun and Temple Run, though it did get noticeably warm when performing processor-intensive tasks (like gaming) or downloading 20+ apps at once.

The phone's battery should survive an entire day of normal use (about 9 hours), so you don't have to worry about the One dying on you in the middle of the day. If you like to play lots of movies or games on your phone, however, you're well advised to bring along your charger: The One's high-resolution screen can be a real drain on the battery if left on too long.

We received the Sprint version of the One for testing. (It will also be available on AT&T and T-Mobile.) Call quality over Sprint's network was solid, with little or no static on either end of the call. Unfortunately, Sprint's data speeds were somewhat underwhelming. In San Francisco, where we have access to Sprint's LTE network, I often found myself using the One on Wi-Fi when streaming HD video or downloading large apps. Its performance might improve as Sprint fleshes out its LTE network, but for now don't expect miracles if you're a Sprint customer looking to upgrade to the One.

Bottom line

Even with its handful of quirks, the HTC One is among the best Android phones you can buy. Heck, it's among the best smartphones you can buy, period. A superb design, a beautiful screen, and such extras as the IR blaster and the Zoe camera mode help it stand out from the pack. If you're in the market for a new smartphone, this is the one to get.


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