Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Four Features that Set HTC?s 'The One' Smartphone Apart

At a press event today, Taiwan-based smartphone maker HTC unveiled its new flagship phone, which it calls The One. The definite article sets it apart from HTC's earlier One S, One X, and other "Ones," none of which are as powerful and all of which had trouble differentiating from each other.

The One, by contrast, is designed to be a premium device, with unique features that go beyond its raw hardware specs. TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington compared HTC's new approach to Apple's , where it launches a limited number of easily identifiable products that are set apart more by how they work and feel than by how powerful they are under the hood.

Here's a look at how these unique features set The One apart from other smartphones, both Apple's and Android manufacturers'.

Premium speakers and screen

The One has a large 4.7-inch screen, which doesn't quite place it in the same range as Samsung's Galaxy Note "phablets" but is the same size as the Google Nexus 4's. What's more noteworthy is how sharp it is; at 468 pixels per inch, it beats out even the iPhone 5's 326 ppi "Retina Display," which already had pixels so small that they couldn't be seen by the unaided eye at the normal distance one would use it from.

For sound, The One not only features HTC's Beats Audio technology, it incorporates it into the phone's built-in speakers in what it calls BoomSound. Reviewers agree that the stereo speakers are more powerful than those typically found on a smartphone, but The Week's Chris Gayomali reminds us to "Please don't be that person" who turns them up loud in public.

"UltraPixel" camera with HTC Zoe

The sensor in The One's camera has fewer megapixels than most, but much larger pixels which capture more light. Alexandra Chang, writing for Wired's Gadget Lab, explains how these make for higher-quality pictures with less visual noise and distortion, like collecting rainwater in buckets instead of small cups.

HTC ZOE, meanwhile, is basically an app which automatically edits videos you take and creates three-second highlights reels meant for sharing online -- "complete with a theme, soundtrack, and filter," according to Etherington, who isn't enamored of the idea of having software do this for him.


Photos of The One's screen show a sort of Windows Phone 8 (or Flipboard) style series of tiles, with the weather at the top and others showing Twitter or news updates. This is actually not Windows Phone 8, but the new HTC BlinkFeed feature running on top of Android. It's sort of a combination social media and newsmagazine app, and it's designed to be front-and-center on the home screen.

Price and availability

According to a leak found by HTC Source, The One will launch in the US on March 22 on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, at $199 on a two-year contract. This may be subject to change, however, or may not be reliable information. HTC did not specify either a price or release date at its event.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.


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