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Review: HTC One for Verizon Wireless

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Apr 8, 2014, 2:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

The One is a dazzling piece of hardware that has but a few foibles. This Android smartphone from HTC delivers on nearly all its promises. Here's an in-depth look at the Verizon variant.

Is It Your Type?

HTC is back with the All New One. This year's flagship smartphone bears the same name - and more than a striking resemblance - to last year's device. Don't be fooled; it’s an entirely new piece of hardware that HTC says is in no way an "incremental" update. The One has been re-envisioned to be even more powerful, easier to use, and better looking than its predecessor. Is it for you? Answer these questions: Do you like pretty, well-made things? Do you prefer metal over plastic? Do you want the best of the best in your mobile phone? If you answered "Yes" to any of these, then the HTC One might be for you.

(NOTE: HTC is using "One" as the name for the phone it released last year as well as the new phone it is releasing this year. You’ll see HTC sometimes refer to the new, 2014 One by its model designation, which is M8. The 2013 One's model designation is M7.)

Body

(NOTE: We've already reviewed an unlocked version of the One on AT&T's network. We've carried over significant portions of the text from our initial review and changed it where appropriate to reflect performance on Verizon's network and Verizon's modifications.)

Every so often something comes along that resets the rules. We saw that last year when HTC introduced the One, a stunning aluminum-and-polycarbonate smartphone that was both gorgeous and well made. Nearly everything about the One was exceptional, and it was among the most well-reviewed devices of the year. It may be hard to believe, but HTC actually improved the hardware when compared to last year's phone. The 2014 One is almost a piece of art.

This year's One has more aluminum, and the metal now wraps fully around the phone and forms the side edges as well. Aside from the glass front and some narrow bands of plastic, the One is mostly metal. There is absolutely nothing cheap or chintzy feeling about this device. It’s a hardcore piece of metallic awesome.

When viewed side-by-side, the new One has softer corners and edges than the old One, and is slightly taller. The bloodlines are clear between the two, and it is obvious they come from the same genetic stock. The new One is being offered in three shades: dark gray, silver, and gold. All three shades feature a brushed aluminum exterior that feels exquisite. HTC said it made an effort to soften the look and feel of the phone. This means the edges have more aggressive tapering and are less sharp. The black plastic bands (white on the silver model) cross the back in two places, just as with last year's phone. HTC also placed a plastic band on the front to provide it with a nice frame.

The aluminum is smooth almost to the point of being slippery. The back panel is gently curved to allow the One to sit deeper in your hand. There are no hard corners or seams. Last year's One had a sharper edge where the glass on the front met the side edges. This year's model does away with that edge and the chamfered side surfaces are angled perfectly to meet the glass. As good as it feels, there's no denying that the One is a big phone. It's not overly heavy, but it isn't light, either. It may be too big for some. Even so, the slim profile means it will easily slip into pockets.

The materials and build quality are second to none. Only Apple makes hardware in the same class as this. The design and manufacturing are top notch. The One puts most other smartphone designs to shame.

Body  

The One's front face has the now-familiar BoomSound dual-speaker setup. There are machine-drilled holes in the plastic panels above and below the screen to house the speakers. In the top set of holes, one tiny opening is reserved for the notification light. There are also some sensors and the user-facing camera above the screen. HTC has done away with physical buttons on the One and now uses the on-screen control buttons that are part of the Android operating system. This is a welcome change. The screen, which measures 5 inches, has plenty of bezel above and below, but minimal bezel along the sides. This gives the One a bit of an oblong look, but I'm not put off by it.

The SIM card tray is located along the left edge of the One, just like last year's model. It requires a SIM tray tool or paperclip to eject it. Of note, HTC has switched to a nano SIM card, which is the same size SIM card used in the iPhone 5 and just a handful of other phones at the moment. Both the micro-USB port and 3.5 mm headphone jack are positioned on the bottom edge of the One. The volume toggle is on the right edge; it’s a thin strip that has a reasonably good profile. Travel and feedback are decent. One bit of news that should make people happy: the new One supports microSD memory cards up to 128GB. The memory card tray is positioned on the right edge and also requires a SIM card tool or paperclip to eject. The screen lock button is on top. It is placed in a strip of black plastic. This strip also houses the infrared port. The lock button itself has a low profile. I wish it were easier to find with my finger, though travel and feedback was all right.

Trays  

As with last year's phone, the battery of the One is sealed inside. The back panel houses two cameras, a dual-LED flash, the NFC antenna, and microphones for recording audio. All of these elements are arranged in a pleasing way. Verizon's logo is etched into the metal on the back.

Simply put, the One's hardware is impressive. It should appeal to most anyone seeking a high-quality smartphone.

Comparo  

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Comments

This forum is closed.

This forum is closed.

msteven3

Apr 8, 2014, 3:26 PM

VZ Navigator

After reading that VZW no longer charges for VZ Navigator, I decided to check out their Web site. While the first month is free, they charge $4.99/month thereafter, so it's definitely not free.

Unless, of course, this is something special with the HTC One.
I didn't hit any sort of "trial" or anything when I started using VZ Navigator. It didn't ask me to sign anything, click on anything, agree to anything - the app just works. Usually it warns you about the trial and the monthly fee. It didn't on the On...
(continues)
I am using the HTC ONE and just checked my Verizon account. I am being charged $4.99 per month for Navigator.
JJinNYC

Apr 12, 2014, 2:37 PM

Camera

Thank you Eric. Great review.

Whoever says this phone doesn't take good pics is full of it. I own this phone now and I can honestly say I'm quite pleased with the results.

Yes, I played around with a GS5 at the store and saw pics taken with it online and I agree the GS5 takes slightly better pics but to me the difference is only marginal.

The One's camera excels the GS5 in other areas. I think it's sort of a trade off you know. But sites like The Verge complaining about how bad the One's camera is are full of $hit, IMO. Samsung fanboys are also hating with their overrated ugly plastic machine as well. Sorry

HTC really went all out with this phone. It is a stunning piece of art. Only the iPhone beats it in terms of build quality...
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WokeUpAsADonut

Apr 9, 2014, 7:10 PM

FM Radio Removed AGAIN

Thanks Verizon, way to go and disable a feature in the hardware to try and force us to use data over your network.

Really classy move.
Very Happy Tmo version has it!
Slammer

Apr 9, 2014, 10:50 AM

Great Review Eric!

Phone Scoop is my primary go to site for news and reviews. This review was again another fine coverage editorial.

I do feel that Eric's preference for metal phones as become adherent and obvious in these articles. However, the basis of nature in what the devices he tests, encompasses articulate hands-on usage.

While the HTC still lacks what I feel is more important to everyday needs or possible scenerios over physical attributes, HTC is on its way of regaining my business. It needs to address the accessibility of the battery. Even with today's smartphones, I'm still seeing a great number of devcies suffering battery issues. Not surprising considering that the current battery is based on 30 year old technology. Knowing first hand of t...
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Tamarai

Apr 8, 2014, 7:19 PM

Windows Phone Please

There are so many Android handsets on the market, nothing really stands out. As nice as this handset is, If they'd wanted to start something, they should've packaged Windows Phone in this wonderful piece of hardware.
 
 
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