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.)
And a hat-tip to Geek.com'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.