HTC One review
Whether the HTC’s Full HD resolution gives any real benefits over a 720p panel is debatable. With the Nexus 4 and HTC One side by side, there’s no apparent difference in clarity at all. Just like its lower-resolution rivals, images remain crisp even with your nose pressed to the screen, and it’s possible to read desktop web pages without having to zoom in first.
In everyday use, though, it’s the One’s dedicated home and back buttons beneath the screen that have a far greater effect on usability. Where rivals such as the Sony Xperia Z and Nexus 4 sacrifice precious screen real estate to make space for onscreen home and back buttons, every one of the HTC One’s pixels is put to good use.
Despite having to power all those pixels, the One’s performance is never less than silky smooth. It’s the first time we’ve seen a phone with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset, and it’s a monster: its four cores run at 1.7GHz, and they’re partnered with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. It’s enough to help the HTC One best the previous record-holder, the Sony Xperia Z, by a country mile – in Quadrant, the One scored 11,617 to the Sony’s 7,744, and in Geekbench it outpaced the Sony’s 1,911 by some margin, achieving 2,733. It repeated the feat in Peacekeeper, more than doubling the Sony’s score with a final result of 692. Only SunSpider saw it drop behind the front-runners, although its overall score of 1,154ms is still nippy.
In real-world use, the HTC One doesn’t disappoint. Apps open swiftly, menus slide past without a judder, and the handset responds instantaneously to every prod and flick of a finger. Gaming is a strong point, too, and despite having to power the Full HD display, the Adreno GPU powered through the most demanding titles – where Real Racing 3 was noticeably stuttery on Sony’s Xperia Z, the One delivers a smoother, more consistent frame rate.
Amazingly, the HTC’s power doesn’t come at the expense of longevity. The One’s sizable 2,300mAh battery had 60% of its capacity left after our 24-hour rundown test, and while that’s 10% less than the Sony Xperia Z, it’s right on a par with the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Where its rivals are touting 8- and 13-megapixel cameras as standard, HTC has gone against the grain – the One’s rear-facing camera has a mere 4-megapixel sensor. The difference, according to HTC, is that its “UltraPixel” system makes up for this by using larger pixels that capture more light. Combined with optical image stabilisation, these larger pixels are supposed to improve quality in low-light situations.
The One’s camera slots into the top tier of smartphone shooters with accurate colour reproduction and sharp detail, but it isn’t perfect. Our sample shots were a tad noisy, and the One’s low-light images weren’t a match for those taken with the Nokia Lumia 920.