HTC ONE Smartphone review

HTC has a wide range of smartphones, with nine models available for Android alone, but the company is taking a more minimalist approach with its flagship One phone - It's a bold move, especially as HTC hopes the One will revive its flagging fortunes.

HTC ONE Smartphone review

The phone's smooth aluminium shell feels robust and rigid. The bevelled edges and aluminium construction bear a passing resemblance to the iPhone 5. It also looks and feels classy - much more so than many of Samsung's plastic, creaky phones.

There's no memory card slot so the built-in 32GB of storage can't be upgraded. And the volume and power buttons are flat, making them a little tricky to find by touch alone.

You may think the One's four megapixel camera won't be as good as the 13-megapixel cameras found in other Android smartphones. However, HTC claims it has achieved superior picture quality, especially in dimly lit conditions, by packing fewer mega pixels into a bigger sensor. Photos we took in low light were great, with faces and other details visible, and there was minimal blur or distortion. However, photos taken in daylight were darker than we expected. The low megapixel count also meant finer details in landscape shots were lost or blurred, especially when photos were cropped.

HTC has squeezed 1,920x1,080 pixels into the bright 4.7in screen. This makes on-screen text sharp, while photos look rich and detailed. Our one complaint about the screen is that it makes the phone too big for some people to use single-handed.

The Android interface and apps ran smoothly thanks to the powerful 1.7GHz quad-core processor. One of the phone's most distinctive features is the minimalist interface HTC has added on top of Android. The first screen is called BlinkFeed, which is similar to the Flipboard app. A scrolling list of tiles show the latest news headlines as well as your friends' Twitter and Facebook updates, but we found most of the headlines to be US-centric.

Another useful addition is the ability to add shortcuts to the home screens, which link to specific details, such as icons that dial a number or load Google Maps with directions to an address. This is similar to Windows Phone 8's 'pinning' feature.

Call quality on Vodafone's network was clear, with little distortion. Callers on the other end could still hear a construction site near us, but the One reduced these noises to a murmur. The HTC One's battery life was good, lasting more than 10 hours when playing videos. When making calls, finding directions in Google Maps and browsing the web, the battery lasted 30 hours - better than most similarly priced phones.

The HTC One is beautifully made and well-equipped. It is better than our previous favourite, the Samsung S3, and will become the standard by which all other Android smartphones are judged.