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HTC One hurls rich feature set at Galaxy

Taiwanese phonemaker needs high impact model to arrest declining share, and new One has hardware credentials at least


Published: 20 February, 2013

READ MORE: HTC | Handset | Android

Almost any smartphone maker which is not Apple or Samsung has its new products dubbed 'make-or-break',or 'comeback', so far behind have the second tier players fallen in market share. Nokia's Lumia 920, BlackBerry's Z10 and now the HTC One, the Taiwanese firm's new flagship.

The 4.7-inch superphone got a generally strong response from reviewers and is set to make a splash at next week's Mobile World Congress - but then so did its year-ago launch, the One X, which Engadget said at the time "simply stole the show ... It'll set the pace for every smartphone to follow in its wake". Yet, despite that and similar plaudits, the superslim, media-rich One X failed to prevent HTC losing more money and more market share as 2012 went on. This places an even heavier burden on the superslim, media-rich HTC One to reverse the tide, despite the looming prospect of a new Samsung Galaxy this summer.

There are many points in the One's favour, including a broad launch with 185 carriers in over 80 countries, from late March, including three US operators (AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile). The 32Gbytes version will retail for $199.99 with a two-year contract, and the 64Gbytes version for $299.99.

It supports LTE and majors on audio and video capabilities - like its predecessor - as well as its always-popular Sense user interface, now completely overhauled. New Sense features include BlinkFeed, which aggregates alerts from various sources and also replaces a homescreen full of apps with a collection of personally relevant news stories, updates and images to flick through. This can be fully customized (as CNet points out, it could be turned into a Facebook phone by the user, or switched back to the conventional Android UI).

HTC's CEO, Peter Chou, said in a statement: "People today immerse themselves in a constant stream of updates, news and information. Although smartphones are one of the main ways we stay in touch with the people and information we care about, conventional designs have failed to keep pace with how people are actually using them. A new, exciting approach to the smartphone is needed and with the new HTC One, we have reimagined the mobile experience from the ground up to reflect this new reality."

On the hardware front, the device is made entirely of aluminum in a process HTC calls 'zero-gap construction', designed to give a sleek, premium feel. The antenna uses part of the metal back to send and receive signals. The display supports full 1080p HD with density of 446 pixels per inch, higher than the iPhone 5's RetinaDisplay or HTC's recently released Droid DNA.

The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.7GHz quad-core unit and there are also 2Gbytes of RAM and a 2,300mAh embedded battery. HTC has got creative with the cameras, which have formed a central part of its advertising in the past few months. There is a 2.1-megapixel front-facing wide angle camera, and a unique rear camera dubbed UltraPixel. This actually has only 4-megapixels, well behind rivals' high end offerings with 8-mp, 12-mp or (in Nokia's case) even more. But HTC claims its sensor lets in 300% more light than other cameraphones and its ImageChip has optical image stabilization (a key feature of the Nokia Lumia 920) for sharper pictures, and can shoot 1080p videos through both the rear and front cameras.

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