Review: The HTC One Is Great for Some, Better Than Most

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2013-05-08 Print this article Print

Where so many other reviewers were using the Galaxy S 4 and thinking about the One, I was using the One and thinking about the BlackBerry Z10.

While the One's BlinkFeed is unique, and I can appreciate the amount of deal-making trouble HTC went through to offer it, it still felt like it an extra screen between me and the information I was after.

This is likely just a case of me not being the One's targeted user. HTC executives have said that the BlinkFeed was created for those moments when one has 10 seconds, or a few minutes, to kill. That's not me. I don't turn to my smartphone for distraction; I grab for it when I need to check my email, send a text, take a photo or look up something online.

The One's power button is a flush button on the top, left of the phone, and just the second or two it takes to grab the phone in the right way and depress that button felt like wasted time, compared with the swipe required to wake up a sleeping Z10.

Even after (in the Settings menu) I did away with the lock screen on the One, so that waking it sent it straight to the home screen, there was no quick way to view emails. A dedicated icon bar on the bottom can bring one to the phone, texting, camera and Internet apps, as well as to the main applications list, but not email.

There are multiple home screens and one can swipe to the right and have her most-used apps positioned there, with mail front and center. But after a few weeks of using the Z10, the One's route to my most important content felt like it included too many steps. And the reward for completing those steps was viewing my emails. Or my text messages. But not both.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has said that BlackBerry 10 "ends the in-out paradigm" of needing to return to a home screen to enter new apps, and it's true. After getting used to the BB10's Hub, it felt annoying to need to dip into different boxes—email, messages, Twitter—for various information.

When the One buzzed, indicating that something new had come in, I'd wind up poking around for a few seconds to see whether the noise meant that an email, a text message or a calendar alert had come in. With BlackBerry 10, there's one place to see everything that's important to me—calls, texts, my personal email, my work email, Twitter and Facebook—and I can get to all of it by waking the phone with a swipe and then a single gesture with my thumb.

Full disclosure, when BlackBerry introduced the Z10 at a New York event Jan. 30, it gave everyone in the audience a free Z10, me included. After more than a decade of writing about phones, I can promise you it was far from the first free phone I've ever received, though it was first phone in nearly as long that I wanted to make my "daily driver." While it has its faults—things to be expected from the first device to run on a new platform—the OS feels modern, intelligent and genuinely efficient.


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