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Summary:

I’ve used a number of Samsung phones and tablets over the past three years, so I surprised some with a tweet yesterday saying the HTC One Google Experience phone may be my next purchase. Here’s why.

HTC One Nexus Experience

HTC One Google Edition boxAs someone who has used mainly Samsung devices since 2010, I surprised many with a tweet yesterday that suggested I like the HTC One Google Edition more than I expected. I received a loaner device less than 48 hours ago, but I’m already seriously considering a purchase.

Perhaps this really shouldn’t be surprise though: I’ve generally gravitated towards Google’s Nexus line of devices with the fast software updates and I like well designed hardware. In some sense — no pun intended — the HTC One Google Edition meets both requirements.

In the short time I’ve had the HTC One in hand, I’ve really come to appreciate the hardware. Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 uses most of the same hardware components but the One has a more premium look and feel.

There’s nothing wrong with the Galaxy S 4; again, I’ve happily used a bunch of Samsung phones and tablets in the past. Samsung says it uses plastics and polycarbonate to allow for consumer-requested features such as a microSD card slot and removable battery. I just don’t need those features.

Nexus 4 in handHow do I know this? There’s no memory expansion the Samsung-built Galaxy Nexus that I used for more than year. Currently, I’m carrying a Nexus 4 which has neither a microSD card slot nor a removable battery. The HTC One then, isn’t a “step back” in these two aspects; at least not for me. And having a relatively pure version of Android on the HTC One is exactly the setup I’ve used on the two prior Nexus devices, so I get the software environment I like.

Performance on the One is noticeably better than the Nexus 4; unsurprising since the new handset has a nice bump in processor and GPU. There’s plenty of RAM memory to keep the apps moving. And unlike the Nexus 4, the HTC One works on AT&T’s LTE network (with HSPA+ fallback), so I get a mobile broadband boost as well. I like the dual, front-facing speakers and the screen is outstanding.

It’s not a perfect experience though. As we’ve noted before, the HTC One hardware was designed to run HTC Sense on top of Android, not stock Android. So there are few minor inconsistencies in the user experience: Occasionally, I’ll see an overflow menu button taking up valuable screen space unnecessarily, for example. And I can’t use Google Wallet with the HTC One; something I often do with my Nexus devices.

While I generally don’t mind losing the HTC Sense software, some of it is actually better than Google’s. The HTC camera app and its many modes would be nice to see on this phone, but alas: It’s “pure” Google, which is a little more limited. Still, I’m getting nice quality shots with the HTC camera hardware, even if it is using Google’s imaging software.

Citizens Bank Park

There’s also hope to mix and match between the two software versions: Paul O’Brien of MoDaCo is working on a custom ROM to switch between HTC and Google’s software for this phone, perhaps even bringing some HTC bits to the Google Experience version.

Even if that doesn’t happen, I have no qualms about tweaking my Android phone or using other custom ROMs on the handset to get the experience exactly the way I want to. With the Google Edition of the HTC One, HTC has already done most of the heavy lifting in that aspect: Right out of the box, I have a phone that works the way I want it to. And I can’t say enough about the hardware; it’s superb.

So much so that my wife — who has an iPhone 4S and is due for early upgrade pricing next month — is even considering this device. All of the main apps she uses on her iPhone are available for Android; she already checked. She’d likely opt for the standard HTC One with Sense but it wouldn’t take much effort for me to get a stock Android ROM on there if she would prefer it.

Of course, she’d get her handset at the subsidized, lower price. I’ll have to pony up $599 for a Google Edition handset. Unless the HTC One loses its luster over the next few days, I think I’ll be doing just that.

On a related side-note, there’s some irony worth pointing out here. In the earlier days of Android, I used to put custom ROMs on my Nexus One in order to get the Sense hardware on the device. I did that because, at the time, I felt Sense brought a better experience. And for some, it still does. I think it speaks volumes, however, that I now prefer stock Android: Google has vastly improved the base software for its mobile platform since the Nexus One.

  1. AT&T alone is enough to kill that phone buddy.

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    1. Some people have had great experience with AT&T buddy.

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      1. Jason McKenzie Monday, July 8, 2013

        No they haven’t.

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        1. Yep, AT&T is the second largest cell phone company in the country because their service is so bad. Just keep telling yourself that. Someday it might be true.

          BTW, I currently have Verizon and switched from AT&T, but it wasn’t because of the experience. I just didn’t like their Apple-like policy of restricting the source of software downloads which they had at the time. That type of thing might have been what philo was commenting on.

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  2. I do use several features of the HTC one, and would not have seen this article without blink feed. I also carry a nexus as my work device and love that phone too, but still prefer the HTC one. On another note you should switch from at&t to tmobile now that they have LTE.

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    1. Thanks Jordan. There’s no point in me switching to T-Mobile (back actually, I used them until last year) because there’s no LTE coverage where I live and likely won’t be for a while. I’m out in the sticks of Pennsylvania. ;)

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  3. David Mason Sunday, July 7, 2013

    is there anything meaningful in “premium” to justify a heavier, more expensive to manufacture device?

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    1. What’s it matter if it’s more expensive to manufacture if it costs consumers basically the same price?

      And I ask that as someone who just bought a couple of S4 phones. For me the battery and MicroSD were huge considerations, but if they hadn’t been (and if the One was available on Verizon), I would have considered it.

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      1. David Mason Sunday, July 7, 2013

        The first obvious conclusion is the price is elevated unnecessarily. (= I just find this “burnished marble with gold inlay” thing a bit tacky. When Apple does it (and I’m no huge fan in general, though they have substantially raised the design bar) there’s usually a good justification, but other companies have tended to play copycat (though they are getting better). Perhaps the environmental cost to work with metal would be higher too. I’m just that kind of consumer who likes to open up the discussion, others like to look for “premium” I guess.

        I can speak from experience when I say Samsung’s plastic is too slippery.

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        1. LOL, there it goes again, the “Apple copycats” bitterness. Seriously, how many ways can you design a phone?

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    2. Not sure I understand your point, David. How is the device more expensive to manufacture? The comparable Samsung device is actually more expensive. And if you’re comparing to a $199 iPhone — which I think is also well built and designed — you’re not using the right price. $199 is carrier subsidized; the full price is $649.

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      1. David Mason Sunday, July 7, 2013

        I’m not talking about the selling price. I’m talking about the manufacturing price. $50 doesn’t matter much to me, but I’m interested in the trend realities.

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        1. Gotcha. So what’s the manufacturing price of the HTC One? I’m guessing you know since you said it costs more. Thanks!

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          1. David Mason Sunday, July 7, 2013

            I don’t know, but my point is it certainly costs more to machine an aluminium case than mold a plastic one, and with the plastic one being lighter I’m curious why people actually care about the alu case. If it’s just “prestige,” nuff said.

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            1. For me, it has nothing to do with “prestige”. It’s the feel of the device in my hand, which of course, is solely a personal preference. I can’t speak for others.

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            2. People have a perception that metal is better. Personally I prefer plastic because it doesn’t scratch and dent as easily, but in any case, most people use cases.

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        2. I still don’t get why manufacturing cost matters to you, unless you’re an HTC stockholder. If you are & are concerned about profit margin, I’d suggest you actually have much bigger things to worrry about! Don’t misunderstand either…I’m a big HTC fan, currently have 2 of their phones in our family & want to see them do well.

          So, why the interest in the “trend realities?”

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    3. Nicholas Henseleit Sunday, July 7, 2013

      I have a galaxy s2x Hercules version (same as the T-Mobile version SGH_T989) and I ran the cyanogen 10 custom “pure” Google rom, and personally I do enjoy pure Google at times but having a skin over top just makes things feel nicer and classify it as a Samsung phone rather than a Google phone, but having instant updates would be crazy nice since I had to wait like 5 months before getting JB 4.1.2 on my phone :l

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  4. OK, no replaceable battery. So the obvious question is – what kind of battery life does it have?

    Oh, and what’s going to happen when Verizon locks it down? I know, root root root.

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    1. Not sure if you’re serious, but he means the battery is not a user replaceable battery such that you can: (1) Carry around a second battery if you need extra power; or (2) Just replace an old battery that is no longer functioning well if you happen to keep devices a long time.

      A user replaceable battery is on my list of absolute requirements due to the second reason.

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  5. Michael Frank Sunday, July 7, 2013

    Never ever, *ever* place any credence in anyone who uses the term “RAM memory”.

    Ever.

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    1. Whenever I see the term “RAM memory,” I want to dash out to an ATM machine to get some cash so I can buy the author a proper style guide.

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      1. I don’t find acronyms to be so bad, in comparison to something like “hot water heater.”

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  6. This is a poorly written article. Repititve commentary, short on detail.

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  7. Ditto the AT&T comment killing it.

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  8. Ditto the AT&T comment.

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    1. Ditto your own comment much?

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  9. Your writing is horrible. You cite nothing but your own opinions and personal experiences. “Perhaps this really shouldn’t be surprise though: I’ve generally gravitated towards Google’s Nexus line of devices…” and “having a relatively pure version of Android on the HTC One is exactly the setup I’ve used on the two prior Nexus devices, so I get the software environment I like.” and WORST of all, posting a pic of your own tweet which simply summarizes this article: that you like this phone. Wow! You got two retweets!

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    1. It’s a story about why he’s buying the One. Of course it’s filled with his opinions and personal experiences.

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    2. Eoin, read the title of the post again. Then let me know if your comment makes sense. To me, it doesn’t. I wrote a personal blog post about a device. I’ve also gravitated heavily towards Samsung phones and tablets, having bought more than I can count on one hand. Moving to an HTC product — my first since the Nexus One — is a bit of surprise for those readers that have been following me for a few years. If you’re not one of them, perhaps that point is lost, which I understand. But a personal blog post should cite my opinions and personal experiences, no?

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      1. Enlightened Sunday, July 7, 2013

        Dear Kevin,

        I respect and value you opinion a hell of a lot (especially when it comes to chromebooks) so please keep giving us your opinions and don’t let the idiot haters get to you :)

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        1. Much appreciated. :)

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          1. Oh i didntt realize this was a personal blog. I thought it was a news article. It came up on my google news feed

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  10. I don’t know why “look and feel” are so important to people. Has it occurred to anyone that the “premium” metallic case has disadvantages? No removable battery. No micro-SD slot. But most important of all — a metallic case will partially block Wi-fi, GPS and cell signals, reducing the phone’s ability to grab signal in marginal situations.

    But hey, if looking good is what turns you on, more power to you. At least you’ll look good while complaining about lack of signal.

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    1. Pradeep Viswanathan R Sunday, July 7, 2013

      Seriously, you would need to grow up on removable battery & micro SD slot. There has also been no reports of signal blocking theory you talk about. Do you have anything better to comment?

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      1. What do you mean “you would need to grow up on removable battery & micro SD slot.”??????

        Those are important features for many people. Just for example, having music on a SD card can allow a smaller data plan.

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