So the saying goes, “Better late than never.” Such is the case with the HTC’s 2013 flagship, the HTC One, for Verizon Wireless. Months after the spring release on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, the Verizon HTC One launched August 22 but is still every bit the flagship device HTC intended. How does it stack up to the current crop of devices for Big Red? Read on to find out.
Everything that you loved (or hated) about the HTC One from the other carriers is present. In the past few days of use I found myself picking up both my T-Mobile HTC One and the Verizon Wireless HTC One not knowing the difference without looking for the subtle differences in the software. That’s a good thing.
The HTC One’s gorgeous 4.7 inch, Full HD 1080p, 468 PPI display is powered by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 600, quad-core CPU clocked at 1.7GHz with 2 GB DDR2 RAM. Verizon is only carrying a Glacier Silver model (having Glamour Red as well would have been quite appropriate) with 32GB on-board storage. As there is no removable storage, this may be a deal breaker for the media moguls out there.
The machined aluminum body is identical to the other HTC One models and it is worth stating the build quality is still impressive and you know you are holding a premium device. The physical button layout is same with an IR blaster built into power button along the top left edge with a 3.5mm audio jack on the top right. Along the top right edge of the HTC One are flush volume keys. The bottom of the HTC One houses the main microphone and micro-USB charging port. Finally along the top left edge is the micro-SIM card tray and pin hole for the SIM tool.
Front side along the top are the proximity and light sensors, speaker and front facing, 2.1 MP, wide angle camera. Moving down is 4.7″ worth if Full HD 1080p display previously mentioned bordered along the bottom edge with the capacitive dual button arrangement, back and home, and prominent HTC (thankfully not the Verizon as rumored) logo between the buttons. Of note, the home button operates the same as other models but with the addition of the option to swiping up or long press to open Google Now or swipe up for Google Now and long press to open the menu. Finally the bottom speaker to complete the HTC BoomSound stereo experience.
The back of the HTC One is made of machined aluminum with inlaid plastic strips (this is the “zero-gap” construction) for the NFC and cellular antennas. Prominent in the top center is the HTC’s UltraPixel camera and flash. An ambient noise microphone is located in the top right. The center of the device has an inlaid HTC logo and the conspicuous Verizon Wireless markings – the only external hint this is a Verizon device – are at the bottom above the Beats Audio logo and required FCC markings.
HTC’s controversial UltraPixel Camera is present producing images from 2.0 µm pixels on a 1.3″ BSI sensor. I am not a photographer but found it produces good quality low light photos and really great photos in daylight. HTC Zoe’s are neat and you can also use the gallery software to create short vignettes. The camera version shipped on the Verizon HTC One is 5.1.611099 but takes identical photo’s (as far as I can tell) as it’s GSM brethren running a recently updated to 5.0.636939.
The HTC One includes a 2300mAh, non-removable, battery that will have you looking for the charger at the end of the day. It is rated to 18 hours talk time on 3G but running on LTE that goes down quick. I was getting in the 11-12 hour range with moderate use. This is not unlike what I experience with other LTE enabled GSM verisons but I am surprised Verizon did not include an option in the settings to use it on CMDA only. I found that it was hitting 10% by bedtime so it may be a good idea to invest in an external battery to top charge as needed if you plan to bring the HTC One on longer day outings. HTC Droid DNA owners that upgrade to the HTC One are also likely to miss the Qi wireless charging.
Sense 5.0 and Android 4.2.2
The Verizon Wireless HTC One ships with HTC’s Sense 5.0 UI running on top of Android 4.2.2. Big Red seems to have shown some restraint in customization this time as the experience is quite similar to other models with only minor changes the settings menu (which could be part of Android 4.2.2) and, of course, their own 4GLTE logo.
Overall the experience on the HTC One has been smooth with no lag. I logged a few Riptide GP2 hours over the weekend and did not notice any dropped frames or stutter. With system monitor pulled up playing in an online four-player match, only two of the four cores were active.
HTC BlinkFeed remains the same as found on other devices and still missing the ability to pull in external RSS feeds. While HTC BlinkFeed has grown on me the past few months using other HTC One’s, it still gets a position as the far left screen and my Google Now Widget and app shortcuts remain as my homescreen.
Probably one of the most notable features is the new quick settings menu in the notification bar. This is not customizable but includes the common functions such as WiFi, Bluetooth, Display and Sound. In the notification menu, the Power Saver shortcut is missing but a WiFi Network notification has taken it’s place. Up top, a GPS icon and NFC icon found on other carrier models (but not the unlocked Developer Edition) is present in the notification bar. There is also an option to display battery percentage next to the battery icon that can be found in the display settings menu. Other changes in 4.2.2 are slightly smaller icons in homescreen folders and a rearranged settings menu.
The same restraint cannot be said for the bloatware Verizon packed onto their HTC One. There is the whole set of Verizon applications included along with a full Amazon Suite and several third party applications. I will not list what also comes preloaded on the GSM unlocked HTC One for the purpose of brevity. Fortunately, most of these can be disabled from the Manage Apps menu.
- Amazon Kindle
- Amazon Mobile
- Amazon MP3
- Amazon App Store
- Caller Name ID
- NFL Mobile
- TuneIn Radio
- Verizon Accessories
- Verizon Backup Assistant
- Verizon Games Portal
- Verizon Location Agent
- Verizon Mobile Security
- Verizon My InfoZone
- Verizon My Verizon Mobile
- Verizon Navigator
- Verizon Sync Service
- Verizon Tones
- Verizon Video Calling
- Verizon Visual Voicemail
While it was reported working the first few days after launch, Verizon did do the expected and asked HTC to disable bootloader unlocking from HTCDev.com. The Verizon HTC One also ships with a 1.54 bootloader so S-OFF using revone or moonshine is not going to work either. This is the same dilemma faced by previous owners of the HTC Droid DNA. The good news is some developers were able to unlock their bootloaders prior to HTCDev.com blocking the Verizon HTC One and there is an early CyanogenMod build in the works along with a base of existing of CMDA roms that can be ported to the Verizon HTC One. Once a work around is found, flash-a-holics should find a good selection of custom ROMs available.
The HTC One is a Global phone for Verizon and I found it was SIM unlocked out of the box. However, I was only able to connect to T-Mobile’s EDGE service on 1900. AT&T users may experience a similar issues as 850Mhz for UMTS is also missing. Bands supported by the Verizon HTC One are below.
- CMDA 800/1900MHZ
- UMTS/HSPA 1900/2100MHz
- GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900MHz
- LTE 700MHz (Band 13)
One of the immediate dislikes I have is the ability to turn off LTE in favor of battery sipping CDMA is not present. Options for preferred network in the Mobile Data menu include Global, LTE/CMDA or GSM/UMTS. The dailer code to get into the phone’s test menu is also blocked. You cannot get to it by dailing *#*#INFO#*#* but you can still access this hidden menu by creating a shortcut with a custom launcher such as Nova or Apex.
Even thought the HTC One was a longtime coming compared to it’s siblings on the other major carriers, this is still very much so a premium hardware and Sense 5.0 on Android 4.2.2 is as fluid and intuitive as one would expect from a flagship device. The HTC One display is one of the best available right now on an Android phone and the pairing with HTC’s BoomSound stereo speakers completes the media experience. The HTC One may be getting long in the tooth on other carriers but it’s arrival last month on Verizon Wireless gives their customers a new and compelling option in a Galaxy of Droids.
Image Credits: Android Fan Network