Design

There is no doubt the HTC One is a beautifully made device and in terms of built-quality a notch above the utilitarian plastic designs of its predecessor and most other current smartphones. With its all-metal unibody and minimalist lines it's squarely competing with the iPhone 5 in the product design arena. The good news is that the HTC's metal back appears to be less prone to scratches than the Apple's. The tapered edges can feel a little sharp when holding the device but the metal surface provides decent grip. A good case could probably improve handling, especially when taking pictures in landscape orientation, but of course that also means you are hiding the One's luxurious metal looks behind a rubber or plastic shell.

Headphone jack and power button are located on top of the device.
The row of capacitive buttons are the only controls on the One's front.

The HTC's control layout follows Android standards only loosely. The power button and headphone jack are located on the top of the device and volume rockers are situated on the right side. The only other controls on the device are the row of capacitive buttons underneath the screen. Here you'll find the usual home and back buttons and the HTC logo acts as a direct access button to the app tray. Unlike iOS and many Windows Phone devices, there is no dedicated shutter button.

The 4 "ultrapixel" camera and flash can be found on the back.
Front-mounted stereo-speakers make the HTC One the best-sounding device we have used.

Like on previous HTC models, the main camera is centerline-mounted, toward the top of the phone. This helps keep your fingers out of the frame. At 4.7-inches the One's screen is the same size as last year's One X but with a higher resolution. A 1080p full-HD screen means the HTC One has as many pixels as the 50-inch TV on the wall of your living room and makes for extremely detailed viewing. With a pixel-density of 486 ppi this is one of the densest screens currently available on any device. Some other 2013 phones, such as the Sony Xperia Z or recently announced Samsung Galaxy S4, offer the same amount of pixels but on a slightly larger 5-inch screen which also results in marginally larger overall dimensions. It's a pleasure to both frame and review images on the HTC's screen.

The HTC One's aluminium unibody design makes for a tough and yet attractively designed device.

Untypically, the device's stereo speakers have been placed at the front. It's been done in a fairly inconspicuous fashion and doesn't interfere much with the overall design. However, in combination with the Beats Audio system, this also means the HTC One is the best sounding smartphones I have come across. It's actually feasible to watch a Netflix video or have some background music playing without the need for external speakers or headphones. Of course the One won't replace your PA system at a party, but its sound is certainly much better than the competition.