HTC One offers world-class hardware, slick software enhancements and a really cool camera.
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HTC is in a spot of trouble. For reasons unknown, the brand has fallen out of favor with smartphone buyers in recent quarters, leaving the Taiwan-based company with a shrinking share of the market. Despite bringing solid devices to the market throughout 2012, HTC's fortunes have dwindled.
Enter "The HTC One." As Morpheus believed Neo -- or The One -- would be Zion's savior against the machines in The Matrix, so does HTC believe that The One will save its skin from the Apple iPhones and Galaxy S smartphones of the world.
There's no doubt that the HTC One is a world-class piece of hardware. The company pulled no punches in its design or manufacture. The milled aluminum is of the highest quality. Nothing beats the feel of metal when it comes to strength, rigidity and trust in the design. It completely outclasses anything Samsung has made in the last 24 months, and equals the Apple iPhone 5 in the quality of the hardware. In fact, in many ways, the HTC One surpasses the iPhone 5. The curved metal back and Gorilla Glass front meet at a beautifully sculpted edge that is tapered.
HTC wisely chose a 4.7-inch screen for the One, rather than a 5.0- or 5.5-inch screen. Sticking with a less phablet-y screen size allowed HTC to keep the overall footprint of the One comfortable to hold and use without sacrificing the experience of the screen. It's a great screen. It has a full 1920 x 1080 pixels, with a pixel-per-inch count well over 400. It is leagues better than the iPhone 5's Retina Display.
Manufacturers such as BlackBerry, ZTE, Huawei, Sony, LG and others have never made a piece of hardware this good. It should be a very competitive offering when sitting on the shelves of wireless network operators.
Unlike last year, when HTC launched a handful of solid phones that were each picked up by one or two carriers in the U.S., the HTC One will be sold by three of the largest wireless network operators in the U.S.: AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA. (For now, Verizon Wireless has apparently chosen to pass on the One.) HTC's carrier relationships are key here. The device is launching on more than 80 carriers worldwide, which means it has an excellent level of support. Carrier support is one of the key reasons Apple and Samsung's devices have sold well: they are available everywhere you look. HTC needs that with the One.
Beyond the hardware and its availability, HTC has obviously put a lot of work into its software to help the One stand out from the crowd. The Blink Feed and photo "Zoe" – what HTC calls its combination of photo and video -- are the two biggest features of the One that will give it some extra selling points. Although Blink Feed is somewhat Flipboard-esque in nature, it has its own appeal. The idea of bringing personalized content to the home screen of the One is not a new idea, but it is one of the better implementations I've seen.
The camera is what is most likely to deliver a knock-out punch. The Zoes that are created by the camera give users a unique way to capture and share their lives. The process records video and snaps photos at the same time when you press the shutter button. It can then assemble them in different ways to present a living video/slideshow combo. It reminds me of the Cinemagraphs that can be captured by the Nokia Lumia smartphones, which are essentially animated GIFs. The Zoes can be shared with anyone, and are accessed by non-HTC devices via a Web link. This is really cool stuff.
The HTC One is without a doubt the best smartphone to come from HTC. Can HTC's best compete with Apple, Samsung and others? I think so. HTC's chances of regaining market share are good.
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