Try not to let the bloatware get you down - this is still a great Android smartphone​

I hadn't planned on it, but I picked up an AT&T HTC One this morning. This is the third version of the phone I've used -- along with the European model (that's the one we did our full review on) as well as Sprint's. I'd hoped the HTC One Developer Edition would have shipped today, but no dice. It would have been nice to have AT&T LTE with none of the carrier-mandated software junk along with it. Oh well.

On the outside, there's not a lot to talk about. The AT&T logo on the back is the only real identifying mark. This could just as easily be any other HTC One without it.

So what makes AT&T's HTC One different? As you could well guess, carriers usually can't keep from changing things every so slightly.

The AT&T HTC One video unboxing and hands-on

AT&T apps abound

AT&T has a fair number of applications preinstalled on its HTC One. But to be clear -- AT&T has not "taken over the phone" or changed the overall look and feel of it. In fact, probably the biggest change is in the setup process, and chances are if you're reading this you'll have skipped that part anyway.

But apps there are. To wit:

  • AT&T DriveMode
  • AT&T FamilyMap
  • AT&T Locker
  • AT&T Ready2Go
  • AT&T Smart Wi-Fi
  • Live TV
  • YP Mobile

It could be worse, I suppose. You can disable apps in the HTC One's Android 4.1.2. (I'm using Action Launcher, and you can simply hide apps from the app list if you want without full-out disabling. And that's good enough for me.)

Browser bar

And a hat-tip to's Russell Holley for spotting the AT&T Toolbar that's been tacked onto the stock HTC browser. It gives you some shortcuts to ... more stuff you'll probably never want to use. Its only real redeeming factor is that it gives you a quicker way to share pages, saving one whole tap on a menu button while taking up valuable screen real estate. Oh, and it anonymously collects information on how you use it. So there's that. Me? I'll be using Chrome.

My other big gripe with AT&T software, of course, is how it automatically connects to AT&T Wifi hotspots. I appreciate the sentiment, but half the time it just doesn't work. You can turn off that option in your Wifi settings.

Speeds and feeds

I've loaded up the AT&T HTC One with the same apps as I always use -- and as I used on the Sprint and Euro versions. I've seen no difference in performance. It's taken a little getting used to having LTE data again, and I'll have to see what that does to battery life when I'm not on Wifi.

The bottom line

Know what? My gripes here are relatively minor ones. A half-dozen or so AT&T apps I'll never use? Fine. They don't get anywhere close to casting a shadow over the HTC One camera or the front-facing stereo speakers. Out of sight, out of mind. That's the cost of doing business, and they don't affect the overall experience of Sense 5 in the slightest.

Even after just a half-day with AT&T's HTC One, I've seen absolutely nothing in comparison with other variants that would keep me from recommending it. 


Reader comments

The AT&T HTC One


I think the two things this has over ANY phone is, build quality/design, and the dual-front facing speakers. The two things that MIGHT keep me from buying it? No removable battery and no sd card slot... :-\

The funny part is if they think the At&t version has bad bloatware just wait for the crappy Verizon version. That definitely will be filled with the WORST CARRIER BLOATWARE and sad wifi notifications. The BEST version for the Htc One will be Tmobile. They won't alter the internals of the device.

It's time for people to get over the SD slot thing. 32gb and 64gb options (which will only get bigger in the future) has alleviated the issue. As for the removable battery, you would be giving up the glorious aluminum unibody design. Come on, people. You can't have both. Do you want high end hardware like the iPhone or not? Please vote with your wallets and buy the HTC One this time around and skip the junky shiny plastic GS4. Let's force Android OEM's to build phones of this quality that we can all be proud of.

Jesus, I'm so tired of people bitching about no removable battery and SD card slot. There is more to a phone then that.

There's also more to a phone than a speaker, but would you buy a phone without one? Why should we put up with a non-removable battery?

Compare apples to apples not apples to oranges. A speaker is a requirement for the phone to work. SD Card and non-removable battery are not required items.

the problem with this phone is "blink feed". You can't remove it from the home screen or turn if off... HTC is pulling an Apple move

I picked up the AT&T version last night from the store (pre-order that was delivered to the store) unlocked the bootloader and am running one of the international HTC One ROMs it works flawlessly on the at&t version (kernel and all) and no more AT&T bloat :-)

I know I sound like a broken record, but ... Nexus 4 ... don't let the lack of any bloatware or pre-loaded third party software get you down -- it's pure, sparse, lithe Android OS, unlocked, and you can customize it as you please. And it's a bargain.

When we say things like "don't let the bloatware get you down," I have answer, "It's that bloatware, and the Sense launcher, and the HTC customized apps, that you're paying for (partially). It had better be good, or the phone's just a mess."

IMHO naturally.

I know where you are coming from. I also have a nexus 4 and just got the one yesterday. I honestly think they did a great job on sense 5 and it's the snappiest version of sense I've ever seen. Especially of you set the animations To .5. I love my nexus 4 but with only 16gb and no lte it left me wanting more. And since I'm a device maintainer for AOKP I'm usually biased towards AOSP based ROMS

Right, because giving up all the tons of neat stuff the One offers for a boring Nexus 4 with no local storage and not available on the carrier of your choice is always a winning solution.

I am not fan of bloatware, and ESPECIALLY not modifications (what the F is with what they did to the browser), but having almost no hardware or carrier choice doesn't fly.

@graffixnyc nice work. original in built browser in Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 is huge faster than AT&T this crap bloatware browser.

I'm selling my Galaxy Note on Ebay right now to pay for my One! The second that money hits paypal I'll be driving to the AT&T store.

I got mine this morning and love the hardware (speakers are amazing). My only gripe is that I seem to notice a slight UI lag. I am coming from a Nexus 4. Anyone else notice an sluggishness? Powersave is off.

From all the stuff I've been reading about it the HTC One is mehh except for the build quality.. Specs wise S4 is better, the S4 UI is better... I guess each one has their own likes..

i dont know how any one can say UI of the S4 is better than anything. Touchwiz is simply disgusting

It was almost believable until you said Touchwiz was a better UI. As the poster said above, it's disgusting. Multiwindow is truly awesome, but overall, it's disgusting.

Agreed. Personally the best Android UI is the stock, pure Google one. You can add what you want and don't have the stuff you never use taking up space.

I will probably get flamed for this, but it has been nagging a me for a while now. When other phones come out including Motorola and Samsung devices, they get put down for the UI, camera, bloat, whatever. But with this phone it feels like people are trying to EASE the flaws with this one. I just got mine and I notice a very slight UI lag and the bloat is just that...bloat. Now I love this phone and I am keeping it, but it will be cased at times, which is why I never was so uptight on the build quality of my previous Samsungs and the Nexus I just sold to get this wasn't as big a deal. All I am saying is that I never really see people defend the flaws like they do with the HTC One. And I say this as a VERY proud owner of a new one.

That's what bothers me about this phone. Sure it's got some great things going for it, but it suffers the same flaws every other HTC flagship has...

1. Insufficient battery life
2. Sense is OK, but chances are you'll wait a year for the next version of android and when it's released, it will cause lag and god knows what else
3. Too many overlapping apps and functionality in Sense you can't disable

And then there's Phil, who never finds a flaw of any meaning with flagship smartphones or with the actions of the carriers. Look at his apologist attitude towards bloat. "It's just a few apps and I can ignore them".

I'll be checking back in next year, I'm sure it will the same ol S with reviews and content on this site.

1. That is different for everyone. For me personally, I can live with three hours screen time and 24hrs standby. Not a power user, but not a light user. I also have chargers at work, car and home so I never far from a power source.

2. All UI's have there problems. It could be some lag, or security holes.......

3. Problem with ALL Android skins.

I think Phil's attitude towards bloat is that it is not liked, but tolerable. That's the tradeoff in today's world. Either you buy a Nexus for a pure experience. Or you buy a S4 for the Samsung experience, or a Razr for a Motorola experience, etc..... That is why I buy Nexus devices, I prefer the Google experience, but HTC is my second choice. If I had an extra $700 to burn, I would buy the 64GB developer phone over any other phone out, or getting ready to come out, in a heartbeat.

Oh, and one more thing: Why is it people complain about the bezel on the S4, but I haven't heard a word about the fairly big bezel on the HTC One? Once again, LOVING this device, but just got me thinking...

I agree with you, I played with the One today in an AT&T corporate store, and yes I could just disable the apps to be out of sight and out of mind, don't care about the browser because Chrome will be downloaded and used. Or just root, and be done with it. The phone was fast. The big reason it would be a non-issue is if I was to buy this device, it would be via HTC unlocked. I avoid contracts at all costs. (please no carrier war stuff on who I can go to)

And before any decision to be honest, I want to see and mess with the SGSIV.

I've added pictures from my computer to my htc one although I can't pinch to zoom. Pinch to zoom only works with photos I take. Any ideas ?

Pre-ordered the One for my wife (she's coming from a GS2).

The $100 promo and AT&T's offer to receive a free HTC Media Link swayed us to get this phone over the GS4. Plus the glowing reviews of coarse.

Overall, its a really good phone especially for the price and the Media Link will come in handy when we want to watch HBO Go in the bedroom and when we travel.

On a different note, I also was very down about a phone not having an SD card slot, until I realized most of the apps I download don't take up much room at all and a lot of things are stored in the cloud anyway.

I'm using an 8GB Nexus 4 and loving it without any memory issues. Of course, I may be considered a light user.

Been almost a year since I posted over here. Life kind of kept me busy this last year.

I picked the HTC One up at my local corporate ATT Store Wednesday night. I went into the store to address an issue with my Samsung S3 dropping all data and voice signals repeatedly and saw the HTC One on display. I had read about it at length here on AC and other websites and knew I would like to give it a try, so luckily the sales rep who was going to swap out my S3 let me purchase the HTC One, and at a new every two year price not full retail...Kudos to the rep at the ATT Store for his quality customer service!

To echo the bloatware issue, most of it you can disable. However that darn ATT Address book you can't get rid of.

I found the Sense 5 to be highly improved over Sense 4. My wife has the HTC OneX+ with Sense 4. However I eventually went back to Nova Launcher. Let me tell you Nova and the HTC One work great together! No issues at all with zero lag and no redraw issues.

I would like to have been able to use Blink Feed, but the choices for news sources were very limited, news outlets I can't stand and so on. Hopefully someday a developer comes up with a Blinkfeed concept that lets us put in our own news source via RSS or some other type of selection.

The hardware is absolutely gorgeous. Personal preference but this is the standard that all phones from here on out should be based on. It feels solid and comfortable in the hand.

The screen is very bright and colors are very true. I can even see the screen in the direct sunlight with zero issues.

The sound on this thing will blow you away. I can hear message alerts clear across the house and upstairs when my phone is downstairs.

Personally, the HTC One runs laps around my old Samsung S3. Not sure how it will do compared to the S4 but if you want a robust, solidly built phone that looks like a piece of fine art, then I would give the HTC One a try. You won't regret it...Well except for the stupid ATT Address Book!

Later, I am out!

Be safe, keep your head down and run real fast!

I picked up my HTC One yesterday on Sprint via Best Buy. I am amazed...not only is the phone bare of any carrier branding, there is like no bloatware. On setup, there was a Sprint ID configuration which then installed several Sprint apps (music, movies, ringtones, tv, etc.). So I just happened to try to uninstall these apps and it worked! On my previous android phone, these apps were unremovable. Maybe Sprint (and other carriers) are finally getting it!

"Even after just a half-day with AT&T's HTC One, I've seen absolutely nothing in comparison with other variants that would keep me from recommending it."

Easily said by someone who has a veritable pile of devices to choose from on any given day. Live with it for a while, wait til Android 5.x is released and you don't get any updates. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait...

Please go back and look at how long it took ATT to update the One XL to Jelly Bean, then come back with your recommendation to sign up for a two-year contract and a phone over which ATT has complete control.