HTC One: Smartphone Reinvented?
By JOANNA STERN | ABC News 02/19/2013
HTC is kicking off the start of Android phone
season. At an event in New York City today, the Taiwan-based company announced
its latest flagship Android phone -- the HTC One.
"We think it's time to shake
things up in the smartphone space," Mike Woodward, President of HTC
America, told ABC News in an interview. "We have decided to come out and
reinvent the smartphone."
Of course, HTC hasn't completely
reinvented what the smartphone looks like -- it's still a large rectangle --
but according to Woodward, the One is a complete shift for the industry, built
around how people use their phones now.
"We have re-architected the
phone around how Generation Feed behaves," Woodward said. Woodward and HTC
say Generation Feed is those of us who look down at their phones constantly,
staying up to date on news and friends.
Ahead of the Hardware
HTC's Android phones have always been known for their top-of-the-line hardware parts and the One is no
The phone is made entirely of
aluminum -- no small feat, according to Woodward, who said it took two years to
make a good all-metal phone. It also has a large 4.7-inch, 1080p screen, which
is flanked vertically by two speaker strips. (HTC calls it Boomsound.) The
phone is fast too, thanks to its quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor and 2GB of
Ultrapixel: Forget Megapixels
Where the One stands out from other Android phones on specs is with its camera.
"Generation Feed grew up with a camera in their pocket, but the pictures
that they take are not always great and they're not always outside,"
With that, HTC has ditched
megapixels for an ultrapixel camera.
"An ultrapixel is twice the
size of a megapixel -- it lets in 300 percent more light," Woodward says.
"We paired that with dual-axis stabilization. This is different than
letting a shutter open."
HTC says the new technology should
allow you to take much better low-light shots without having to use flash,
which often makes for flat, blown-out images. We got a look at the camera and took this shot without a flash. A shot with the
iPhone didn't match it. Nokia has focused on similar low-light settings with
its Lumia 920 PureView camera vi.
HTC has paired that camera hardware
with some new software features. It has livened up its gallery and allows you
to take three-second videos when you take a photo. HTC calls this sort of video
or photo a Zoe; the camera takes one second of video before you hit the shutter
button and then two seconds right after, giving you photos that "come to
It sounds bit like the latest app from Twitter, called Vine, which takes
six-second videos. HTC says you can share Zoes with anyone via a URL.
A Revamped Android
HTC has always added its own flare to Android with its Sense software. While
HTC backed off from tweaking Android too heavily in its previous phones, it has
begun to think of Google's software entirely differently with the One.
The phone is based on the latest
version of Android (Android 4.2 or Jelly Bean), but HTC says
that the majority of Android users only use one home screen instead of the
three provided by Google (80 percent of Android users use fewer than three home
screens, says HTC).
"We found that widgets and home
panels aren't that well understood, so we wanted to simplify that,"
Woodward said. Called Blinkfeed, the home screen on the One is now a grid of
news or a newsfeed of your social media accounts and news accounts.
"The idea is in a blink of an
eye your phone is constantly refreshed and your phone is constantly alive. That
becomes your home screen," Woodward said. The feed can be customized and
if you don't like it, you can choose to put your Blinkfeed on another pane and
use a regular Android home screen.
In addition to the Blinkfeed and
redesigned user interface, HTC has added features like a Sense TV, which works
with an IR blaster in the phone to turn the phone into a remote control for
Android Phone Season
The One will be offered by 180 carriers in 80 countries over the next few
months. It will be available in the U.S. at T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T in
March. HTC would not confirm the pricing, but said it would be competitive.
Most high-end Android phones and the iPhone 5 cost $199 with a two-year
But, of course, this is Android
phone season and Samsung is rumored to be announcing the next version of its
popular Galaxy S 3 -- the Galaxy S 4 -- in early March at
its own event. While the One might be the only phone now designed for
Generation Feed, it may make sense to wait to make sure it's the right one.