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HTC One (2013): Reviewed and Compared to iPhone 5, Galaxy S III

grand master

 

 

HTC have kicked off this year’s Mobile World Congress by announcing their latest flagship smartphone: the new HTC One. The device features a 1080p display (full HD resolution) and a new camera for better low-light shots. It also has a new home screen and an infrared blaster for controlling your TV.

 

HTC One: 4.7-inches, Full HD

 

HTC One.jpgThe HTC One is the successor to last year’s HTC One X. It features an improved display, a new camera and a new user interface.

 

One of the most exciting improvements is the sharper and clearer display. Whilst 2012 was the year of HD displays (720p resolution), 2013 is turning out to be the year of full HD displays (1080p) on a smartphone. With 1920x1080 pixels, full HD displays have more than twice as many pixels as a normal HD display (1280x720 pixels).

 

On the HTC One, HTC have implemented a 4.7-inch display with full HD resolution. Whilst other manufacturers like Sony have been increasing the size of their devices to accommodate full HD, HTC have notably kept the 4.7-inch form factor that they had last year. This is good news for anyone who is fed up with the trend of ever-larger handsets.

 

With 1920x1080 pixels packed into 4.7-inches, the HTC One has a pixel density of 468 pixels per inch. Compared to other devices, the high “pixels per inch” rating means that individual pixels on the HTC One’s display are closer together. This means sharper and clearer images than on other devices.

 

The iPhone 5’s “Retina” display has a pixel density of just 326ppi whereas the Sony Xperia Z has a pixel density of 441ppi.

 

Handset

Display Size

Resolution

No. of Pixels

Pixel Density (pixels per inch)

Apple iPhone 4 & 4S

3.5-inches

960x640 pixels

0.61 MP

326ppi (“Retina”)

Apple iPhone 5

4.0-inches

1136x640 pixels

0.73 MP

326ppi (“Retina”)

Google Nexus 4

4.7-inches

1280x768 pixels

0.98 MP

318ppi

HTC One (2013)

4.7-inches

1920x1080 pixels

2.07 MP

468ppi

HTC One X (2012)

4.7-inches

1280x720 pixels

0.92 MP

312ppi

Nokia Lumia 920

4.5-inches

1280x768 pixels

0.98 MP

332ppi

Samsung Galaxy Note II

5.5-inches

1280x720 pixels

0.92 MP

267ppi

Samsung Galaxy S III

4.8-inches

1280x720 pixels

0.92 MP

306ppi

Sony Xperia Z

5.0-inches

1920x1080 pixels

2.07 MP

441ppi

Comparison of display size, screen resolution and pixel density on popular smartphones. The number of pixels is given in millions of pixels (megapixels or MP).

 

UltraPixel Camera: Better Low-Light Photography

 

Another key selling point of the HTC One is its “UltraPixel” camera.

 

UltraPixel Size.jpgHTC have re-engineered the camera on the One to give better photographs in low-light conditions. They have done this by utilising a larger sensor and by dropping the photo resolution to 4 megapixels.

 

The rationale for dropping the number of pixels is that it allows pixels to occupy a larger amount of space on the sensor. On the HTC One, each pixel occupies 4.0µm2 on the sensor. This compares to 1.9 µm2 on the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S III. As each pixel has more than double the amount of space for collecting light, the camera should perform much better in dark environments where light is scarce. HTC refers to this as “UltraPixel” technology.

 

Other important factors for low-light photography include having a lens with a large aperture and having optical image stabilisation.

 

The aperture of a lens refers to how large it is. It’s measured as an f-number where a smaller f-number corresponds to a bigger aperture (more light is allowed in). Because the HTC One has an f/2.0 lens, it’s better for low-light photography than the f/2.4 lens on the iPhone 5 and f/2.6 lens on the Galaxy S III.

 

The camera on the HTC One also features optical image stabilisation (OIS). In OIS technology, the handset detects movement such as shaking and compensates for it by shifting the camera in the opposite direction. This reduces the amount of blurring in an image and allows for longer exposure photographs to be taken.

 

The following table compares camera specifications on the HTC One to other high-end smartphones:

 

Handset

Sensor Size

Megapixels

Pixel Size

Aperture

Optical Image Stabilisation

Apple iPhone 4S

15.5 mm2

8 megapixels

1.9 µm2

f/2.4

No

Apple iPhone 5

15.5 mm2

8 megapixels

1.9 µm2

f/2.4

No

HTC One (2013)

17.5 mm2

4 megapixels

4.0 µm2

f/2.0

Yes

HTC One X (2012)

15.5 mm2

8 megapixels

1.9 µm2

f/2.0

No

Nokia 808 Pureview

85.4 mm2

42 megapixels

2.0 µm2

f/2.4

No

Nokia Lumia 920

17.5 mm2

8 megapixels

2.2 µm2

f/2.0

Yes

Samsung Galaxy S III

15.5 mm2

8 megapixels

1.9 µm2

f/2.6

No

Sony Xperia Z

17.5 mm2

13 megapixels

1.3 µm2

f/2.4

No

Professional SLR Camera

370 mm2

Varies

Varies

Adjustable

Yes

Comparison of camera specifications to other selected high-end smartphones.

 

Other camera enhancements on the HTC One include “HTC Zoe” which takes a series of photos around each photo and high dynamic range (HDR) video recording. See our article on the Sony Xperia Z for more information on how HDR video recording works.

 

HTC Sense 5 & BlinkFeed

 

On this year’s HTC One, the look and feel of the HTC Sense user interface has been transformed. The iconic flip clock has gone as has the traditional Android home screen of icons and widgets. In its place, there’s a content-rich home screen called “HTC BlinkFeed”. This shows a variety of content such as news, weather, sports results and upcoming appointments. It also pulls in data from social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

 

HTC Sense 4 and 5.jpg
The HTC One has a redesigned user interface. Left: HTC Sense 4 with flip clock and traditional home screen of icons and widgets. Right: The home screen on HTC Sense 5 with “BlinkFeed” functionality.

 

The new BlinkFeed home screen has been compared by many to a version of Flipboard that is embedded on the home screen. HTC believe that putting BlinkFeed on the home screen is great for “snacking” on content throughout the day, though it’s a radical departure from what many people are used to. For this reason, it is likely to be a controversial change.

 

Infrared & Television Remote Control

 

Top of Phone.jpgOne of the unique features of the HTC One is a power button that doubles up as an infrared controller.

 

Before the days of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, infrared was one of the most popular technologies for sharing files between mobile phones and PDAs. Infrared transmission works by lining up the infrared port on two devices and using a line-of-sight connection to share photos, messages and ringtones.

 

Although the technology is much slower than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it has an advantage in being a universal technology. It was removed from most mobile phones at the end of the 1990s due to the popularity of Bluetooth. However, infrared is still commonly used for television remote controls. It’s also used for controlling music systems and for opening garage doors.

 

With the HTC One, HTC have reintroduced infrared capabilities to mobile phones. Rather than being used for sharing files, HTC are emphasising the ability to control your TV with a smartphone. The device ships with “HTC Sense TV”: a modified version of the Peel Smart Remote app. Using the application, it’s possible to choose the channel that you’d like to watch and the application will use infrared to change the channel on your TV. You can also adjust the volume and play/pause DVDs. 

 

Garage Door.jpg

With the HTC One’s infrared functionality, you may be able to open your garage doors with an appropriate application.

 

In order to use the HTC One as a television remote control, you’ll need to set it up with the relevant infrared control codes for your TV. Our experience with Peel is that many major UK services aren’t supported. For instance, the application doesn’t have remote control codes for Sky+ or TiVo. With time, support should hopefully improve for these services.

 

HTC have released a SDK for developers to build their own apps with infrared functionality. This paves the way for new applications that can use infrared: for example to control your audio system or garage door.

 

HTC One: Comparison to iPhone 5 & Galaxy S III

 

Two of the bestselling devices at the moment are the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S III. With the latest version of their One handset, HTC will be hoping to challenge the dominance of Apple and Samsung.

 

The HTC One compares to the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S III as follows:

 

 

HTC One

HTC One.jpg 

Apple iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Front.jpg 

Samsung Galaxy S III

 Marble White.jpg

Processor

1.7GHz quad-core

1.3GHz dual-core

1.4GHz quad-core

Display

4.7-inch TFT display

4.0-inch TFT display

4.8-inch AMOLED (organic LED) display

Screen Resolution

1920x1280 pixels

1136x640 pixels

1280x720 pixels

Pixel Density

469 pixels per inch (326 ppi)

326 pixels per inch (326 ppi)

306 pixels per inch (306 ppi)

Operating System

Google Android 4.1

Apple iOS 6

Google Android 4.0. Upgradable to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

RAM

2GB

1GB

1GB

Storage

32GB or 64GB

16GB, 32GB or 64GB

16GB, 32GB or 64GB

MicroSD Expansion

No

No

Up to 64GB

Camera

4 megapixels with LED flash

8 megapixels with LED flash

8 megapixels with LED flash

Camera: Aperture

f/2.0

f/2.4

f/2.6

Camera: Optical Image Stabilisation

Yes

No

No

Video recording

1080p, 30 frames per second

1080p, 30 frames per second

1080p, 30 frames per second

Battery

2,300mAh (non-removable)

1,440mAh (non-removable, 8 hours talk time)

2,100mAh (removable, 11.6 hours talk time)

NFC

Yes

No

Yes

Text Input

On-Screen Keyboard

On-Screen Keyboard

On-Screen Keyboard

Approx. Price

Approx. £510

£529

Approx. £370

SIM Card Size

Micro SIM

Nano SIM

Micro SIM

 

All three devices are compatible with giffgaff. Some great savings can be had if you buy the devices upfront and use one of our giffgaff goodybags. All giffgaff SIM cards now feature a pop-out Micro SIM so are ready to use in the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S III.  For the iPhone 5, you’ll need to cut your SIM card down to Nano SIM dimensions.

 

HTC One Release Date

 

The HTC One will be released in the UK on March 15th. It’ll cost around £510 SIM-free, for which you’ll get an unlocked phone that works on any network.

 

Your Thoughts…

 

HTC One End.jpgIn this article, we’ve taken a look at the HTC One: HTC’s latest flagship smartphone. The HTC One is notable for its ultra-sharp full HD display, its “UltraPixel” camera and its new “BlinkFeed” user interface. HTC have also re-introduced infrared technology for controlling TVs: something that could be a popular feature in many households.

 

What do you think of the HTC One? Do you buy into HTC’s claims about their “UltraPixel” technology or are megapixels more important to you? Are you a fan of the new “BlinkFeed” user interface? We’d love to hear your thoughts: please drop us a comment below and let us know what you think!

 

Ken Lo writes about mobile technology and the mobile industry at Ken's Tech Tips.

9 Comments
consultant
thanks, nice comparasons aswell
pioneer

nice one thanks

heavy hitter

Nice one! I think the HTC looks good, however, I still think the galaxy s3 wins! Smiley Very Happy 

maestro

Looks really impressive. Though it does look a slightly copycat of the iPhone 5 and BlackBerry Z10 fused together. Then again anything is better than a BlackBerry. 

pupil
Good comparison guide. Looks a good handset.
enigma

Thanks. Nice guide. Still too much to spend on a phone. Have to see whether it's really a contender or just looks good on paper.

contributor

I do like the htc.

soothsayer

I don't care for this trend of cramming more pixels that makes any difference on a screen, there's almost definately a battery and CPU penalty to be paid.

well i got the HTC One

 

as expected battery life with power saver off was not to good it would nearly last a day, it died very fast with google Nav running, it could get you mostly the day maybe if your turned off stuff, i need to try more with it off but when using google nav i can use nearly 50% power if power saver is off so i can have a dead phone very fast

 

now with power saver on,,CPU Lower Power and Data Connection {turns off mobile data when screen is off} on, i left Vibrate and dim screen off,,

it seems to easy last a day i guessing most of that is due to mobile data been off when screen is off (seems to wait more then 10-15 mins before it does turn data off)

but it does seem to get to the end of the day even when using google nav (be good if you could set the CPU to run lower than 1.3ghz when using google Nav as the CPU does not need to do much), if HTC could make a phone that had an 3000 or higher battery it be the king, they only used 2300 battery due to faster CPU and bigger screen (that is limited to 1.3GHZ anyway when power saver is on)

 

most likey going to root it so i can set the CPU speed as thats all i need to tinker with to get better power use when using google nav

 

it be nice if there was a way to find out how long the screen has been turned on as they seem to have removed Screen from the history page so i cant work out How long i have used the phone with screen on (razr maxx gets me 4-6 hours screen on time, i am guessing at the moment its less then 2-4 hours with HTC One)

 

still it does not match the life of a Moto RAZR MAXX phone (just that my RAZR MAXX was very dated phone the Razr HD does not seem much better

 

as the HTC One X (i had for short time before i got rid of it) it had some insane battery life when mobile data was off, to bad it was mostly a useless phone if you used it with out power source