It's been quite a morning here in New York, and after weeks of leaks, anticipation and rumors, the HTC One is officially official. In case you're waking up late, we're talking about a design overhaul here, complete with metal chassis, 4.7-inch 1080p display, and Sense 5.0. The highlights here aren't so much the specs-- though the Snapdragon 600 chip and 2GB of RAM are nothing to sneeze at-- as they are the features HTC has built from the ground up, including the Ultrapixel camera complete with "Zoe", Sense 5's new BlinkFeed homescreen experience, and BoomSound. Hit the break for our initial impressions.
In hand, the HTC One feels exactly as it should: sturdy, sleek, and light as a feather. Its design borrows from HTC's own DNA and 8X as well as the iPhone's diamond-cut edges and aluminum finish. It's simply stunning, and is by and large the most beautiful device HTC has ever created. That 4.7-inch display utilizes HTC's tried and true LCD3 technology and manages to pack a whopping 1920x1080 pixels for a downright eye-popping PPI. It's one of the brightest displays I've ever seen, and matches the DNA's "wow" factor in terms of saturation, color reproduction and viewing angles. This display seems just a hair brighter and more vibrant than the DNA, so it's entirely possible that HTC made some last-minute tweaks to perfect it's technology. And for those who were hoping for a 5-inch (or larger) screen size, I can say with confidence that HTC has struck a balance between size and usability.
But again, the specs here only tell half the story: what HTC is really proud of here are the hand-crafted elements of Sense 5 that really make the One stand out. One such element is BlinkFeed, a total redesign of the Sense homescreen experience. Think of it as an amalgam of Windows' LiveTiles and Android's widgets-- HTC says that the experience will maximize the 30-second intervals that pop up throughout your day in which you look to your phone for content. Your homescreen will update regularly with the live feeds you choose, and HTC already has over 100 content partners including AP, MTV, and ESPN. As an ESPN executive explained at today's unveiling, this is just one more way for his company provide content beyond the traditional borders.
Another main differentiator for the HTC One is BoomSound, a set of dual stereo speakers located on the front of the smartphone. Paired with the internal Beats driver, HTC says that the experience will completely change the way you think of sound on your smartphone. Even in this morning's crowded venue, the speakers produce clear and vivid sound without a hint of distortion. It's not going to replace your home surround sound system, but this is a remarkable step in the right direction, and just the latest piece in HTC's stellar track history in mobile audio technology.
The true highlight of the HTC One, without much doubt, is the "Ultrapixel" camera. HTC stressed today that gone are the days of megapixels, something the manufacturer called a "sales myth." Cut to ultrapixels-- four million pixels stuffed onto the One's sensor. They're able to take in 300% more light than the typical 8 megapixel camera. Paired with HTC's ImageSense chip, this may just be the best low-light performer on the market today. To compliment the hardware, HTC has thrown in some goodies on the software side, including the HTC Zoe, a seamless blend of images and video to give you a tapestry of the content you just shot. Sense can string these Zoes into "highlights" complete with filters, sound clips, and transitions all automatically-- dare I call it a "Vine" created independently by Sense? As you'll see in our hands-on video, these features truly do change the way you think of your smartphone camera, regardless of how often or enthusiastically you'll use them.
This is finally a phone from HTC worth waiting for, a perfect blend of exciting software innovation and striking hardware design. It'll face still competition from Samsung, Motorola, and Apple in the coming year, but HTC knows that, and has created a device with the guts to compete. We'll dig much deeper into Sense 5 and the HTC One in the coming weeks, and according to HTC, you'll be able to grab your own by the end of March.