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Hands-on with the HTC One

30

We covered the HTC One quite extensively at its launch just over a week ago. We had been given the chance to play with the device at a pre-launch event in London but weren't allowed to take any pictures. So we've taken the opportunity to pop by the HTC booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to have another look at HTC's latest flagship and snap some pictures of the device.

If you haven't followed the smartphone news over the past couple of weeks, the One is HTC's latest high-end smartphone. It comes with an impressive feature set and specifications. A 1.7 GHz quad-core processor powers the Android 4.1.2 operating system and content is displayed on a beautiful 4.7-inch 1080p full-HD screen. 

 The HTC One is thin, with aluminium edges.
 At the top of the device you find the headphone jack and power button.

Despite the processor and screen specifications, from a Dpreview Connect perspective the most interesting aspect of the new device is the camera. While most manufacturers this year have opted for a 13MP camera module, HTC is going the opposite way in terms of sensor resolution and offers a camera with only 4MP. However, these pixels are similar in size to those found in enthusiast compact cameras such as the Canon Powershot G15 or Fujifilm X20, and promise much better low-light performance than conventional smartphone sensors.

HTC likes to speak of 'ultrapixels' rather than megapixels when talking about the One, but this is simply a marketing term, essentially meaning 'megapixels from large photosites.' The sensor is combined with a fast F2.0 lens. 

 The HTC One's back features the camera which offers 4 'ultrapixels' and a F2.0 lens which in combination should provide better low-light performance than your average camera phone. 

In the hand the HTC One feels as nice as it looks. It's pretty lightweight and with its 4.7-inch screen, it's the most compact device with a 1080p screen we've seen so far. While a few other full HD smartphones have been released this year all of them come with slightly larger 5 or 5.5-inch screens which mean the devices are bulkier and heavier overall. The HTC One is in terms of dimensions and weight pretty much in line with last year's 720p devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 or the HTC One X.

The One comes with a couple of HTC-specific pieces of software which look pretty interesting. Blink Feed combines updates from  variety of news sources with your own social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr, and displays them in one customizable stream which can be placed on your home screen. It's a little similar to the popular Flipboard social news reader and looks and works really well.

 Blink Feed combines news with your social media streams. 
 All Blink Feed sources can be customized in the settings.

ZOE movies are another cool and fairly unique feature that can be activated in the camera app. It simultaneously records a three-second full HD movie clip and still images at 5 frames per second. The short clips can be combined in albums but you can also compile a composite still, manually selecting your favourite expression from each person in group shots and extract still images. The feature looks interesting in the demo and we are looking forward to testing it in-depth once we get a review unit, along with the HTC One's image quality. Until then make sure you read our previous coverage to get more information about the device.

The HTC One's camera app features separate movie and stills shutter buttons and offers a variety of shooting modes. There is also a dedicated ZOE movie button.

Comments

Total comments: 30
peevee1
By peevee1 (Mar 9, 2013)

"One" in the name signifies how many times the OS on the phone will be updated, and how many years later than it was released by Google.

0 upvotes
healthbenefitsoff
By healthbenefitsoff (Mar 4, 2013)

All those newer highpixeldensity display seem to have that affinity towards . Hopefully, there is something like color profiles on a jailbroken iphone...

0 upvotes
dpLarry
By dpLarry (Mar 1, 2013)

My ex GF used to tell me she looks prettier in pics from a HTC phone than from an iphone (she was almost a model ;-) but also a college student).

0 upvotes
dpLarry
By dpLarry (Mar 1, 2013)

It has a 1/3" sensor larger (slightly) than the iphone 5 and Galaxy S3.

But each pixel gather over twice the amount of light. Better pixel uniformity. (Because 8mp on 1/3.2" sensor is pushing it) Less grain.

I'd prefer 1/3" 4mp camera phone to 1/3.2" 8mp any day. Assuming they are both high quality sensors.

Anyone who says otherwise, seriously, doesn't know what he is talking about.

I've had over a dozen digital cameras over the years and have done numerous comparisons. Back in the day I took 5mp Canon vs 3mp Canon and 5mp Pentax vs 3mp Pentax taking the exact same shot same time. The 3Mp cameraS has less grain and higher resolution !! Even in broad daylight at low ISO !

2560x1920 vs 2048x1536 is only 20.0% increase in verticle and horizontal pixel count. It means a bigger picture, not a sharper one (most likely less sharp in fact).

(Also read the megapixel myth by Ken Rockwell.)

2 upvotes
Dash29
By Dash29 (Feb 28, 2013)

Hey HTC hope your new phone is more capable at taking sharp photos over the crap you've produced previously. You cant compete with my old Sony's

0 upvotes
drischord
By drischord (Feb 28, 2013)

I notice that these photos all show the phone charging. I currently own an HTC phone and my single biggest complaint is inefficient battery life. Photos I saw from HTC's launch event all showed a battery drained to half full.

What are your impressions on its battery life, Lars? Would HTC let you take it off the charger?

0 upvotes
cluening
By cluening (Feb 28, 2013)

All those newer highpixeldensity display seem to have that affinity towards . Hopefully, there is something like color profiles on a jailbroken iphone...

0 upvotes
cluening
By cluening (Feb 28, 2013)

The display looks yellowish.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Feb 28, 2013)

This might be due to the very weird blueish lighting at the HTC stand. It totally messed up the white balance in my shots, so I corrected it in raw conversion. The difference in color temperature of the screen and the ambient light has then resulted in this slight cast on the screen. There is nothing wrong with the HTC One's screen. :-)

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Feb 28, 2013)

@Lars Rehm
If you looked at it under weird blueish lighting how would you know there is nothing wrong with the screen?

1 upvote
John Abides
By John Abides (Feb 28, 2013)

Screens produce their own light, so they aren't as affected by ambient lighting. I know you're just trying to be snarky, but try it some time. Take your cell phone into fluorescent, tungsten, shade, or sunlight. Besides brightness changes, do you see color tinting?

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
YiannisPP
By YiannisPP (Feb 28, 2013)

Man, if this is 4.7 inch display phone, then you sure picked a guy with a huge hand to hold it! He makes it look the size of an Iphone 5.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Feb 28, 2013)

Yes, my hands are large but the phone is also pretty compact for its screen size.

0 upvotes
slimandy
By slimandy (Feb 28, 2013)

Only 4m pixels? At last a camera phone I might actually want!!

4 upvotes
Rumle
By Rumle (Feb 28, 2013)

It sure looks like an awesome phone. Had I been in the marked that would be the one for me... Bad timing IMO the Galaxy III is heavy on the marked right now and the IV is getting announced soon. had they had this phone out a month or two ago they might have had a chance to hold back a lot of Galaxy III 4g buyers... kinda too late.

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Feb 28, 2013)

Marketing talk again. If they really care about IQ, they would have put in a sensor bigger than 1/3. The one in One is barely larger than the SONY 1/3.2 on most smartphone and depending on who fab the sensor, there is a chance it would have more noise than the SONY 1/3.2

I want the next iPhone to have 1/2.5 or 1/1.7 sensor and f/1.8 lens. That would be an adequate compact camera replacement.

2 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Feb 28, 2013)

Bigger sensor = bigger lens = bulging body = weird look.

1 upvote
Elaka Farmor
By Elaka Farmor (Feb 28, 2013)

The old Nokia N8 has a 1/1.8" sensor and that camera isn´t big. Why is it that difficult for others to do the same?

0 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Feb 28, 2013)

@Elaka
Look what's protruding out of the phone. That looks weird to me and I wouldn't want to put that into my trousers pockets.
Nokia N8
http://cdn2.gsmarena.com/vv/pics/nokia/nokia-n8-bronze.jpg

0 upvotes
Elaka Farmor
By Elaka Farmor (Feb 28, 2013)

I don´t care who it looks like, the inside is the important thing for me. With the screen facing out I have no problems to wear it in my pocket.

0 upvotes
Priaptor
By Priaptor (Feb 28, 2013)

This is what the iPhone 5 should have been

5 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Feb 28, 2013)

Of course. The design is a copy of iPhone 5 and tile UI a copy of Windows 8. HTC knows the best to copy from.

I actually expect the next (big) iPhone to have similar design.

3 upvotes
wy2lam
By wy2lam (Feb 28, 2013)

tile UI is a copy of Windows 8? LOL. Tile widgets existed on Android even before Windows Mobile 7.

1 upvote
BrunoH
By BrunoH (Feb 28, 2013)

Which mobile operating system is this Windows Mobile 7 you are talking about?

I was running Windows Phone 7 on my old phone and have no idea that there was a Windows Mobile 7 line to. As you are such an expert in Windows phones and which kind of features they have or have not I would very much appreciate an educated answer!

Also in Windows Phone there have never been widgets, as those require a separate download. Windows Phone has Live tiles which are built in to (almost) every Windows Phone App existing. So please explain also about theese widgets that this elusive Windows Mobile 7 had.

0 upvotes
solarsky
By solarsky (Feb 27, 2013)

4 Ultra-pixels, oh my goodness ;-)...
It's just a normal 2µm 4MP Bayer-Sensor combined with some "propaganda".
So it only has an effective 1 MP true RGB-resolution.
Totally lame. My Nokia 808 has a 1.4µm 41.48 MP Bayer-Sensor which gives me effective 10.37 MP of true RGB-resolution.
HTC will just be trying to make the best out of additional well-capacity offered by larger sensor diodes and BSI-design. The rest is anything but "PureView", as clearly shown by the test photos from the HTC One which are circulating on the web.
The whole concept of this phone's camera could have been a lot more interesting, if they had managed to integrate a 4MP global shutter sensor, instead of THIS old sham...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (Feb 27, 2013)

Where on earth did you get the idea that the HTC one is doing 4 pixel binning? It's not 1MP effective, it's 4MP effective. There is no binning, they just stupidly call a single pixel an ultra pixel because it's "big".
However, if you resized the Sony's 13MP image down to 4MP you would get similar noise and better detail.

2 upvotes
John Abides
By John Abides (Feb 27, 2013)

What solarsky is talking about is the old bayer vs Foveon debate. Bayer sensors are technically unable to resolve all color detail at the sensor level, so the have to fake it a little (demosaicing). However, in the real world it's more like 2:1, not the 4:1 he's using. Check reviews of the Sigma cameras for more info, but basically they have resolution rivaling cameras with double the megapixels. Cool stuff, but no Foveon sensors on phones yet.

Addressing the 'old sham' though is tougher. Can you tell me a single time in digital photography history where a company sold a REDUCED MP camera?? Yes, there's the decrease in Canon's enthusiast camera from 12mp to 10mp, and it was fine because enthusiasts are not morons and know that megapixels is not the be all end all! 13 mp is pointless if your crappy phone lens is unable to resolve down to the pixel level (highly likely) and you just lose dynamic range and low light performance. Ya know, important things.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
Kirigoi
By Kirigoi (Feb 27, 2013)

Think solarsky is making a different point; referring to the fact that a 4MP Bayer sensor does not capture 4MP of RGB data; due to its colour filter array it's subdivided into four separate pixels 1 red, 2 green and 1 blue) which are reconstructed and interpolated into the final RGB image. It's a bit of an oversimplification to claim that's effectively 1MP overall though, but it's a similar point to how Foveon sensors are claimed to outresolve Bayer sensors when direct pixel counts are compared.

Edited: Oops, spent far too long writing that (and pausing to make tea), John Abides got there first...

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
dpLarry
By dpLarry (Mar 1, 2013)

Solarsky obviously does not understand basic photography and sensor design. Or he works for Samsung.

Amazing he got five upvotes from people who don't understand any better .

1 upvote
Randomoneh
By Randomoneh (Mar 12, 2013)

Solarsky is right. Take a look at sample images full-screen on a regular 1080p or 2560*xxxx display. Blurry.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 30
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