HTC One Review

June 3, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The HTC One is an Android smartphone with with a 4-megapixel camera and a 28mm equivalent lens with a fast maximum aperture of f/2 and optical image stabilizer. HTC's so-called "UltraPixel" camera features a backside-illuminated sensor with a pixel size of 2.0 µm and sensor size of 1/3-inch, both much bigger than rival smartphones. The HTC One also offers a 4.7 inch Full HD 1080p, 468 PPI touchscreen with Touch AF, 8fps burst shooting, built-in flash, Geotagging, Full 1080p HD videos at 30fps, HDR mode for both stills and video, and the innovative Zoe shooting mode, which takes up to 20 shots and a 3 second video to create a "living photo" that you can share with friends and family. The HTC One is available now in black or silver for around £500 / $575.

Ease of Use

The HTC One is a large but quite light smartphone that just about fits into a trouser or jacket pocket, weighing 143g and measuring 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm. It has a very solidly built unibody design that feels like it should withstand the odd knock or two, although we'd suggest investing in a suitable case to help protect it from scratches. The lens is a 28mm equivalent optic with a fast maximum aperture of f/2, alongside which is a small built-in flash that's not particularly powerful.

The HTC One offers 32Gb of built-in memory, with no external memory slot, although it would take a lot of 4 megapixel photos to fill all the available space. There's no physical shutter release button on the device, with the shutter fired instead via the touchscreen, which is a rather strange design decision on such a photographer-friendly smartphone. You can take a shot either by tapping on the subject to focus and then pressing the camera icon at the side of the screen to fire the shutter, or tapping on the subject to focus and fire the shutter at the same time.

The combination of the wide-angle lens, f/2 aperture, effective built-in image stabilizer, relatively large pixel size and the maximum ISO speed of 1600 makes this smartphone much better suited to hand-held low-light photography than most other comparable devices. The HTC One offers a built-in, lens-based image stabilisation system that HTC claims offers a 3-stop advantage compared to smartphones with no anti-shake. In practice we could hand-hold the HTC One in fairly dark conditions and still get sharp results for both stills and video without resorting to using the rather ineffective built-in flash.

Front Apps

There's no means of gripping the HTC One the front or rear, making it a little difficult to get to grips with, especially since its unibody design is very smooth. The lens isn't that close to the edge of the body, so you don't have to be too careful not to let your left forefinger stray into the frame. We had more problems shooting in portrait mode because the On/Off button is located directly under your left forefinger, inadvertently turning the device off on a few occasions.

Press the small On/Off button on the top and the HTC One quickly readies itself for action in around a second, jumping straight into the camera mode if you were previously using it. We'd describe the general performance of the HTC One as very snappy, with little waiting around for the camera to take a picture - its certainly just as responsive as the majority of compacts that we've reviewed.

By default the HTC One uses the Normal scene mode. The other available modes are Portrait, Landscape, Backlight, Text, Macro, Night, HDR and Sweep Panorama. All of the modes provide the full range of camera options, allowing you to change settings which include the ISO speed (Auto, 100-1600), Exposure, Contrast, Saturation and Sharpness (+2 to -2), White Balance (Auto, Cloudy, Daylight, Flourescent, Incandescent), Crop (Wide, Regular, Square), Self-timer (On, Off), Continuous Shooting (On/Off, Limit to 20 Frames, Auto Review), Face Detection (On, Off), Auto Smile Capture (On, Off), and Geo-tag Photos (On, Off). Compared to an entry-level compact camera, the HTC One has a similar amount of options.

Camera Mode Image Displayed

The HTC One has an HDR function to help even out tricky exposures, for example where a bright background would normally throw the foreground into deep shadow. You can see from the examples on the Image Quality page that this feature produces a photo with noticeably more dynamic range than one taken using one of the standard shooting modes, but at the same time without replicating the often "false" look of many HDR programs. It also usefully works when shooting video too. The HTC One also offers an extensive range of 15 creative effects.

The Sweep Panorama mode lets you capture a panoramic image very easily without the use of a tripod. All you need to decide is whether you would like to start from left or right, top or bottom. Then press and hold down the shutter release while doing a "sweep" with the camera in hand. Exposure compensation is available before you start the sweep, but the exposure is fixed once you depress the shutter button. After you are done with the sweeping, the camera does all the processing required, and presents you with a finished panoramic image. Note that if you do the sweeping too slowly, or you let go of the shutter release button too early, the panorama will not be completed.

The HTC One can shoot High Definition video clips at full 1080p or 720p HD with stereo sound in the MP4 format at 30fps. There's also an MMS friendly option (176x144 pixels), plus Slow Motion, Fast HD (60fps) and even Video HDR options. You can see examples of all these modes on the Sample Images page. Note that you can't take a still image during video recording.

Effects Menu Playback Menu

In the unique Zoe mode, activated via the combined camera/video icon on the middle-left of the screen, the HTC One automatically captures up to 20 photos, a 1 second video before you pressed the shutter button and a 3 second video after you pressed it. You can then choose the best shot from the sequence, combine them into one file to create a Sequence Shot, remove unwanted objects, retouch the imagess, and share the highlights from your day or an event in a 30 second video clip on the HTC Zoe Share server.

The 4 megapixel JPEG images are quickly committed to memory in a single second, the screen momentarily blanking out and then displaying the captured image before the user can go on to take a second shot. You can take a burst of images on the HTC One at 8fps as well as just a single-shot, a handy feature that many smartphones don't offer.

The small thumbnail icon in the top-right corner is for playing back your images. You can browse through your photos by flicking them from side-to-side, zoom in and out by pinching, highlight, share, and delete them. The HTC One also offers quite a comprehensive Edit option, with the ability to add effetcs, frames, retouch and transform the image.

The HTC One is a stylish, full-featured and very responsive smartphone, with only the lack of a physical shutter button being a major disappointment. Now let's take a closer look at its image quality...

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 4 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 1.5Mb.

The HTC One produced images of very good quality during the review period. This camera handled noise well, not becoming too obvious until the ISO 800, with even the fastest setting of of ISO 1600 being usable, a great performance for a small image sensor with such a high pixel count.

Chromatic aberrations were in evidence but were well-controlled, with some limited purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The images were sharp enough out of the camera and don't really require any further sharpening. Macro performance is respectable enough at 8cms, while the built-in flash is fine for fill-in use. The optical image stabilization system works well when hand-holding the camera at slower shutter speeds.

The camera can capture just enough light for some after-dark situations, without having to resort to using the flash, while the HDR mode successfully captures more detail in the highlight and shadow areas of both stills and video, albeit at the expense of fine detail in the image. The Sweep Panorama mode is easy to use and produces well-stitched results, while the wide range of creative effects are designed to appeal to the Instagram generation.


There are 5 ISO settings available on the HTC One. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Focal Length

The HTC One's lens offers a wide-angle focal length of 28mm in 35mm camera terms, as illustrated by this example:




Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are already quite processed and don't really benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The HTC One handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card), with a minimum focusing distance of 8cms. The second image is a 100% crop.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The flash settings on the HTC One are Auto, On and Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off

Flash On

ISO 64 ISO 64


The HTC One's maximum shutter speed is 0.7 seconds in the Night scene mode. This shot was taken at 1/3rd second at ISO 797.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg


High Dynamic Range Optimiser (HDR) is HTC's solution for capturing more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining two exposures into one image.



ISO 64 ISO 64

Sweep Panorama

The HTC One allows you to take panoramic images very easily by 'sweeping' with the camera. The camera does all the processing and stitching and even successfully compensates for moving subjects.

ISO 64
ISO 64

Special Effects

The HTC One offers an extensive range of 15 creative effects.



ISO 64 ISO 64



ISO 64 ISO 64



ISO 64 ISO 64



ISO 64 ISO 64



ISO 64 ISO 64



ISO 64 ISO 64



ISO 64 ISO 64



ISO 64 ISO 64

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the HTC One camera, which were all taken using the 4 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movies & Video

This is a sample video from the HTC One camera at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 20 second movie is 48.1Mb in size.

This is a sample video from the HTC One camera at the Slow Motion quality setting of 768x432 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 34 second movie is 10.3Mb in size.

This is a sample video from the HTC One camera at the Fast HD quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 10 second movie is 50.3Mb in size.

This is a sample video from the HTC One camera at the HDR quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 20 second movie is 46.8Mb in size.

Product Images


Front of the HTC One


Front of the HTC One / Turned On


Front of the HTC One / Apps Menu


Camera Turned On


Camera Turned On


Camera Settings Menu


Zoe Mode


Effects Menu


Image Displayed


Playback Menu


Playback Effects Menu


The HTC One is a brave attempt to do something different from a photography point of view. While its main smartphone rivals feature 8 or 13 megapixel cameras, at first glance the 4 megapixel sensor inside the HTC One looks like yesterday's technology. A closer look at the science behind the sensor and the images themselves soon reveals that the HTC One can still compete with the likes of the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4, if not on out and out resolution, then certainly in terms of noise and low-light shooting.

You really need to ask yourself what you want to do with your photos. If you want to make large prints or crop heavily, then the relatively low resolution of the HTC One's camera is going to limit what you can achieve (HTC themselves suggest up to 10x8 inch prints). This is especially true if you want to shoot in the 4:3 aspect ratio, rather than the default 16:9 widescreen format, as the resolution drops even further to 3 megapixels. If you want to share your images on social networks and make the odd small print, then the HTC One makes a lot more sense, as resolution is much less of a factor. And if you shoot a lot in low-light environments, it definitely has the edge over the competition.

The HTC One is also a really intuitive and responsive device to use, and it boasts most of the latest must-have features - image stabilisation, fast burst shooting, HDR, creative effects - plus its own unique take on your life in the form of the likable Zoe mode. Only the lack of a physical shutter button and some advanced shooting modes takes away from the otherwise well-designed camera interface.

In summary the HTC One is a great smartphone with a unique camera that could either more than satisfy your needs, or fall some way short, depending on how you intend to use and share your photos.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 3.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the HTC One from around the web. »

When a smartphone shouts about its camera as being something special it turns a lot of heads. We've already seen and reviewed the HTC One and love it as a smartphone. It's an ace device. But what of its "Ultrapixel" camera - is it really as "ultra" as it proclaims? We've spent a week living with the HTC One and used it as a camera - with some of the obvious smartphone content-sharing features of course - to see whether it switched us on or off.
Read the full review » »

In a bold move, HTC has attacked the "megapixel race" in smartphones head on, by putting a 4 megapixel sensor in their latest high end smart phone, the HTC One. They emphasis the importance of light sensitivity by using a sensor with less megapixels, and therefore larger light gathering pixels, a bright f/2.0 lens, as well as optical image stabilisation. They say this combination gives them 300% more light than competitors with 8 and 13 megapixel smartphones, and even go as far as calling it an "UltraPixel" sensor.
Read the full review » »

HTC couldn’t have chosen a tougher time to release the HTC One. With the Samsung Galaxy S4 just around the corner, and no shortage of Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8 rivals all vying for the premium handset crown, the competition in the sector has never been so fierce. With the pressure piling on, HTC has responded in the best way possible: it’s unleashed the world’s best smartphone.
Read the full review »


  • Size: 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm

  • Weight: 143g

  • Display: 4.7 inch, Full HD 1080p, 468 PPI

CPU speed

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 600, quad-core, 1.7GHz

Platform Android

Android™ with HTC Sense™

HTC BlinkFeed™

SIM card type



Total storage : 32GB/64GB, available capacity varies1




  • 850/900/1800/1900 MHz


  • Europe/ Middle East/ Africa: 900/1900/2100 MHz with HSDPA up to 42 Mbps
  • Asia: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz with HSDPA up to 42 Mbps
  • Canada/ Latin America: 850/1900/2100 MHz up to HSDPA 42 Mbps
  • T-Mobile (US): 850/ AWS/1900/2100 MHz with HSDPA up to 42 Mbps
  • AT&T: 850/1900/2100 MHz with HSDPA up to 21 Mbps
  • Sprint: 1900/2100 MHz with HSDPA up to 14.4 Mbps

3G - CDMA:

  • 800/1900 MHz for Sprint

4G - LTE:

  • Europe/ Middle East/ Africa: 800/1800/2600 MHz
  • Asia: 1800/2600 MHz
  • T-Mobile (US)/ AT&T/ Canada/ Latin America: 700 MHz and AWS band
  • Sprint: 1900 MHz


Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS
Digital compass


Gyro sensor
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor


  • 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
  • NFC capable3
  • Compliant with Bluetooth 4.0
  • Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX™ enabled
  • Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n
  • DLNA® for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to a compatible TV or computer
  • HTC Connect
  • Miracast wireless display standard
  • Support consumer infrared remote control
  • micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) port with mobile high-definition video link (MHL) for USB or HDMI connection (Special cable required for HDMI connection.)

Sound enhancement

HTC BoomSound™

  • Dual frontal stereo speakers with built-in amplifiers
  • Studio-quality sound with Beats Audio™
  • Sense Voice


  • HTC UltraPixel Camera
  • BSI sensor, Pixel size 2.0 µm, Sensor size 1/3'
  • Dedicated HTC ImageChip™ 2
  • F2.0 aperture and 28mm lens
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
  • Smart Flash: Five levels of flash automatically set by distance to subject
  • Front Camera: 2.1 MP, 880 wide angle lens with HDR capability
  • 1080p Full HD video recording with HDR Video
  • HTC Zoe™ with Sequence Shot, Always Smile and Object Removal
  • Gallery with Video Highlights and HTC Share
  • Continuous shooting and VideoPic
  • Slow motion video recording with variable speed playback


Audio supported formats:

  • Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)
  • Recording: .amr

Video supported formats:

  • Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3)
  • Recording: .mp4


Embedded rechargeable Li-polymer battery

Capacity : 2300 mAh

Talk time:

  • Up to 18 hours for WCDMA
  • Up to 19 hours for CDMA
  • Up to 27 hours for GSM

Standby time:

  • Up to 500 hours for WCDMA
  • Up to 496 hours for CDMA
  • Up to 479 hours for GSM

AC Adapter

Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240 V AC, 50/60 Hz

DC output: 5 V and 1 A

  1. Available storage is less due to phone software.
  2. Network bands in regions may be different, depending on the mobile operator and your location. 4G LTE only available in select countries. Upload and download speeds also depend on the mobile operator.
  3. NFC availability depends on the mobile operator and your location. Please check with your mobile operator.  
  4. Battery times (talk time, standby time, and more) are subject to network and phone usage.

    A Standby time specification ("specification") is an industry standard that is only intended to allow comparison of different mobile devices under the same circumstances. Power consumption in a standby state is strongly dependent on factors including but not limited to network, settings, location, movement, signal strength and cell traffic . Comparisons of different mobile devices using such a specification can therefore only be done in a controlled laboratory environment . When using any mobile device in real life circumstances for which the mobile device is intended, the standby time could be considerably lower and will be strongly dependent on the factors as mentioned above.

Note: Specifications are subject to change without prior notice.

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