By Ben Bowers
on 2.19.13
Photo by HTC

HTC has a solid track record for making incredible Android phones like the One X and more recent Droid DNA. We know; we’ve spent the better part of a year with both. But they’ve never gained the recognition of Samsung’s titan, the Galaxy. Thanks to a newly announced flagship, dubbed the HTC One, their time in the spotlight may finally come — granted a few bold bets pay off.

We’re impressed that the company is tackling the megapixel myth head on with the One’s so-called “UltraPixel Camera”. It’s technically only a 4MP camera, but HTC says an advanced CMOS Sensor allows the camera to capture 300% more light than most 13-megapixel competitors. An advanced image chip, optical image stabilization and an F2.0 aperture lens — touted as the largest available on a smartphone camera — round out its photography chops. These guts should translate to best in class imaging and allow it to compete directly with Nokia’s PureView tech found in the Lumia 920. We’ll leave the definitive judging to a hands-on review.

HTC’s decision to scrap the favored polycarbonate bodies of yore for an all-aluminum unibody with a matte finish, while weighing just 143 grams and measuring 0.37 inches thick, also takes direct aim at the premium aesthetics of the iPhone 5. Top-of-the-line internals, including a Gorilla Glass 2 4.7-inch 1080p Super LCD 3 display with a ridiculous 468 ppi, a 1.7Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, LTE, NFC, Beats Audio, a 2,300mAh Li-polymer battery and even a IR blaster (integrated into the power button), prove the One’s beauty runs down to bones.

The company’s revamped Sense 5 skin of Android Jelly Bean (4.1.2), however, could be a point of hesitation for HTC loyalists and newbies alike. Its new “Blinkfeed” homescreen was clearly built with social media addicts in mind, and gives users a series of tiles (similar in ways to the new Windows Phone 8 OS or Flipboard) to stream live updates from popular services, news sources and feeds. HTC kindly provides a more traditional home screen experience if Blinkfeed doesn’t wind up being your thing. “Zoe”, likewise, is a new imaging software tweak that captures five images before you even press the shutter, followed by another 15 after, creating a set of 20 photos as well as the option to create stop-motion animation. It records a 3-second video clip alongside the pictures too — in case your internal storage wasn’t being filled fast enough. Gratuitous sharing of your every thought to small crowds is similarly encouraged on the hardware front via two front-facing “BoomSound” stereo speakers, which supposedly feature the largest sound chambers on a phone, and are both powered by dedicated amplifiers.

If you’re ready to turn your current phone into a coaster, the HTC One will be available globally in silver or black sometime in the back half of March on AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. Pricing is still under wraps — but saying it’ll cost between $200 and $300 depending on your storage preferences isn’t exactly a stretch.

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