It's been five whole days since I received my HTC One on T-Mobile, and I'm pleasantly surprised by HTC's end game. The One is a well crafted piece of art that leaves little else to be desired. Build quality bests every Android device on the market. Performance is wonderful thanks to the quad-core CPU. And Sense 5.0 is polished to the point where third-party launchers seem empty without BlinkFeed.
With that said, this phone is far from perfect. Chasing perfection is a bit like chasing your own tail; there's an instant where you get close, but after a while the process just turns into a dizzying frenzy of tweaks, most of which are negligible in the end. I critique each of my smartphones to no avail because everything can be improved. Maybe that's why I tend to root and mod my Android smartphones. But at the end of the day, I feel the HTC One lives up to its hype which is half the battle in this era of super phones.
My initial impressions of Sense 5.0 are very good overall. It's very fluid in and out of BlinkFeed where I'd expect some hang time between updates and category switches. The same goes for the Gallery app which is a mosaic of images and Zoe's that really show you how well the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU is working behind the scenes. Sense 5.0 is vastly improved over previous iterations. It is lighter (using about 550MB total RAM) which is welcoming for multi-tasking. It is cleaner and simpler as evidenced by the traditional Android home screen.
With that said, Sense 5.0's limitation of nine background processes is unwelcoming seeing how little of the total 2GB of RAM is actually used. Also, the app drawer is finicky in that it sometimes throws you into it after pressing the Home button. The three dot menu bar plague is back and thriving off of third-party apps deeming those 5 centimeters at the bottom of the display useless, and the T-Mobile variant of the One does not allow button modifications, so I'm being forced to rely on the modding community to provide a fix. This issue with Sense 5.0 is getting old and is a clear step backwards considering versions of Sense 4 and up have had the option to use a capacitive button has a menu key. To top it off, the omission of quick toggles in the notification tray has been difficult to ignore considering how often I monitor running apps and my battery status.
Speaking of battery life, I'm interested to hear your initial impressions thus far, fellow readers, because my experience hasn't been the best. Since the phone is so new, I've tried my hardest to write-off the measly 8-10 hours with two hours of screen-on time. But as I'm going on battery cycle number five, I'd by lying if I said I wasn't starting to get annoyed. Some research via the hacker's black hole of the Internet (XDA and Rootzwiki) has yielded a few interesting tidbits of information regarding battery life related to wakelock issues, and I've downloaded BetterBatteryStats by Sven Knispel from the Google Play Store to dive deeper into what's draining my battery.
At the time of this writing, T-Mobile's Carrier IQ is wakelocking my One, and sapping 7 percent of battery per hour with the screen off. Google Play Services is also draining it at a rate of 4 percent per hour. I have disabled all T-Mobile apps in the running programs log as a precaution. Overall, I'm a bit disappointed by the battery life of the One, but I can't blame it entirely on Sense 5.0. The 4.7-inch 1080p panel is so clear and vivid it makes everything in the real world seem dull, and it just so happens smartphone displays are the biggest battery drainers.
Continuing with the hardware discussion, the chamfered edges and matte aluminum finish exude a sense of quality previously absent from the current portfolio of Android smartphones, and I'm convinced by the One's timeless design. But as you'd expect, the aluminum back is prone to scuffs quite easily. I have been able to buff out the light hazing that has seemingly shown up out of nowhere, but I've decided to go with an XtremeGuard clear back protector seeing that I do not want to use a case all the time.
Onto the marketed features - The UltraPixel camera has lived up to its hype in both day and night settings. In the day, images have a tendency to get soft, but after tapping to focus, I have no complaints of the result. In the gallery, colors are a bit saturated, but not overdone. And at night time, the camera really runs away from the competition. BoomSound has made streaming media a joy to endure with a stereo effect that makes me wonder how I've dealt with anything else for this long. To say two speakers on the front of a smartphone is not necessary is something you shouldn't even consider until you've tried it.
And that's enough from me. It might seem like I have done more nitpicking than what's really required, and that the HTC One is nearly faultless, but initial impressions can always change.
So, what do you think of the HTC One thus far? Hit the comments below!
Image via Pocket-lint.