Verizon Is About to Sell the Best Smartphone

After a long wait, the HTC One hits Verizon on August 22.

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Jared Newman for TIME

First, let me acknowledge that I might be biased. In May, I bought the HTC One on AT&T–derailing my plans to put off an upgrade until later in the year–and have not regretted it at all. The One is, in my view, the best smartphone on the market today.

But until now, I haven’t been able to recommend the HTC One to everyone. Quite often, the people who ask me for recommendations are Verizon customers, and for months Verizon has been hemming and hawing about when it would finally carry this excellent handset.

The wait is just about over. Verizon will start selling the HTC One on August 22. It will be available both online and in stores for $200 with a two-year contract. Although Verizon hasn’t given us all the details, it looks to be the same handsome, aluminum-clad phone that customers of AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have been able to purchase for months–no tacky Verizon-red trim or hamfisted Droid branding.

What’s so great about the HTC One? For one thing, it’s the rare Android phone that actually emphasizes smart design. It’s pretty to look at, but it’s also durable. After three months without using a case, my HTC One doesn’t have a single scratch or blemish. That’s more than I can say about my iPhone 5, whose aluminum edges began collecting scuffs almost immediately.

Oh, and those front-facing speakers that HTC has stupidly named “BoomSound” do make a difference. This phone is loud; you can listen to music through the speakers, and kind of enjoy it. The camera is another high point. It’s not as sharp as Samsung’s Galaxy S4 or Apple’s iPhone in perfect lighting (outside on a nice day, for instance), but it takes killer indoor photos without the need for flash.

As for software, HTC’s flavor of Android isn’t as bloated as Samsung’s. Hold down the home button, and you go straight to Google search, not some tacked on virtual assistant like Samsung’s S Voice. I’m not a fan of HTC’s home screen, which places a ticker of news headlines front-and-center, but you can move this ticker (called “BlinkFeed”) off to one of your side screens. Or you can do what I did: Install Nova Launcher, which replaces the home screen but preserves all of the phone’s other useful features, such as HTC’s custom lock screen and camera app.

Four months ago, my editor Doug declared the HTC One the “Current King of the Android Hill,” suggesting that it would inevitably get dethroned by some newer phone, such as the Galaxy S4. Hasn’t happened. Unless the non-removable battery and lack of expandable storage irk you, the One is still the phone to get. (When I need more battery, I throw on a Mophie case, and the One comes with 32 GB of built-in storage, which is plenty.)

While it’s true that Android phones used to become obsolete after just a few months, things have changed. The pace of hardware advancements have slowed down, and Google has been updating Android without updating Android, which means HTC’s software doesn’t feel out of date despite being a minor version or two behind. (The Verizon version will actually come with Android 4.2.2, which is practically indistinguishable from the latest Android 4.3 in terms of features.)

Granted, I haven’t tried Motorola’s Moto X, and we won’t know what Apple’s next iPhone is like for another month or so, if the rumors are true. But I feel reasonably confident that the HTC One can compete with whatever the rest of 2013 brings. It’s not too late to buy it and still feel like you got the best phone around.

128 comments
TylerLewis
TylerLewis

I had an razr hd max and lost it, and then had to get the iphone 5. Now i may either get the htc one or another razr max. iphones just dont really do it for me.

JoeyNicastro
JoeyNicastro

Yes, this is the best phone out there ! Period.  S4 is plastic crap and the I5 is just plain outdated !

ShaneDMeyer
ShaneDMeyer

Confused. How does the MOPHIE JUICE PARK make the HTC have 32 gb of storage?

"(When I need more battery, I throw on a Mophie case, and the One comes with 32 GB of built-in storage, which is plenty.)



BoMartin
BoMartin

I have the new HTC windows 8X and I think its the best phone I have ever had just replaced a new iphone 5 with this one and it blows the 5 away and the windows 8 is far easier to use than the apple or the android phones were

clydeboyd3
clydeboyd3

Now why exactly would I want to spend $200 for a no name brand phone when I can spend $200 for my iphone5? Sounds like this "article" is a PR advertisement.

KevinDuffey
KevinDuffey

Obviously this is an article of opinion, because spec wise and sale wise the S4 is smoking the HTC One. That said, I had the conversation just the other day with some people about what else can a phone do for us. We're talking quad-core with 2GB ram is just about standard these days, or soon will be, with 4" to 6" 1080P screens, 8+MP cameras... what more can they offer? Sure.. there is the option of a pico projector, laser keyboard, etc.. but those are already possible/available as add ons. 8-core and more for cpus? For what purpose? The only thing that they can really do is replace our use of any other computer, such as a laptop or eventually even a desktop.. that's about all they have left. 


So spec wise, performance wise, hardware feature wise, there isn't a ton more they can do that is going to wow the public that isn't already there. Software can always improve, as it is doing.  Frankly, the only thing left is putting a full blow OS like OSX, Windows or Linux on the phone instead of the minimal OSes on there now, but I don't see what that is going to do to make it that much better than what we have now.


As for the "best" phone.. that is yet to come. The Note 3 will take that crown soon as it arrives with it's larger screen, more performance, s-pen, etc. It still will only be a hair better than what is out now though.

DaveRobertson
DaveRobertson

The HTC One "was" the best smartphone - or is about to be.  Verizon is releasing it about 4 months after their competitors have done.  Given that smartphones stay current for about 6 months - it is a waste of time to buy something that will obsolete (in smart phone terms) in September. Three months ago, as a Verizon customer, I wanted to get an HTC one and almost switched to AT&T to get it.  In many areas the carriers are very much the same.  I then decided that it was too late and that I would wait until the fall to get what will have to last me two years.  This time, I will switch carriers if I have to.  Verizon has shown me that they really don't get the technology business - and I have had Cell phones for 23 years, so I have seen the rise and fall of many carriers.

AndiArbeit
AndiArbeit

Too bad it still has Undroid in the trashcan. 

JorgeSanchez
JorgeSanchez

HTC is lame.  All the PR in the world won't change that. 

Bill_Van
Bill_Van

Excellent article.  People want to think the Galaxy S4 is better than the HTC One.  I read a lot of reviews and I would have to guess 9 out of 10 reviews put the HTC One ahead of the Galaxy S4.  Why would that be? 

paulmmm
paulmmm

While people like Verizon, AT&T and Sprint are selling old phones locking you into 2-year contracts and all kinds of fees and penalties and overarge charges, other carriers like Straight Talk are allowing you to bring any new phone onto their network for unlimited 4G talk, text and data for $40/month and they allow you to pre-pay for the entire year.  So, I'd rather pay $500 per year for an unlimited smartphone than $150/month for some unlimited nonsense with these big carriers that are ripping everyone off.

TimDerr
TimDerr

my buddy had one and the only thing really special about it we could find were the front facing speakers and that wasn't so special after about a week.

iPhone5User
iPhone5User

If I understand correctly, you paid Verizon $200 for HTC One with a two year contract, same as I paid AT&T $200 for the iPhone 5 with a two year contract at the Apple Store. You even got the "non-removable battery and lack of expandable storage." I got that too.

MCHammBohn
MCHammBohn

If the battery isn't removable, how does one reboot if the processor hangs?

ArtVandelayTN
ArtVandelayTN

HTC One the best phone with "non-removable battery and lack of expandable storage"? Off your meds again? S4 destroys the HTC One. 


bcf1206
bcf1206

Still using my 4 year old Droidx with unlimited data plan under 90.00 a month. Sweeeet.

jimboawright
jimboawright

My last phone was an HTC Evo Shift.  I had to send the 1st one back.  The 2nd one was terribly sluggish and always saying it was running out of memory despite rarely taking pictures or downloading apps, and regularly deleting unnecessary stuff.  It also had the worst predictive text in history.  It's suggestions and corrections were not even ballpark.  And if you turned it off, it would turn itself back on, sometimes withing hours.  I am so happy I upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy S4.  It's been nothing short of delightful and the predictive text is by far the most intuitive I have ever encountered. 

cyber_nicco
cyber_nicco

Note to manufacturers: No removable battery equals no sale.  No exceptions.


MichaelSuperczynski
MichaelSuperczynski

Any device running an insecure OS like Android is akin to a computer running Windows.

Do we really need to go down that road yet again?

EricJunSilva
EricJunSilva

HTC One? Come on! Nokia Lumia 1020 41 megapixel Windows Phone is way beyond better than HTC One! Try to Beat that!

Ozzzy3z
Ozzzy3z

"No name brand"? Get out much?

MackKnife
MackKnife

@KevinDuffey Yes, the clue was right at the top of the article where it says "OPINION". 


mahadragon
mahadragon

@KevinDuffey <---symbolizes vast majority of clods using smart devices. No sense of subtlety or nuances of design or innovation. Just because you have better sales doesn't mean anything. Toyota Camry outsells the Mercedes E550, that doesn't mean it's a better car. I'm glad Apple doesn't get caught up too much in specs because it's about the user experience, not how much ram you have, or how many megapixels you can squeeze into a camera sensor.

commsense
commsense

@Bill_Van Samsung spends big money in marketing, greater than the rest of top 3 combined,  including sending lots of Korean in every Blog they can find on earth.  That's why.

protomessiah18
protomessiah18

@Bill_Van 

I don't think it's quite 9/10, but most of the reviewers cite the touchy feely stuff which is ok, but that not what I buy a smartphone because if I did, I would buy an iPhone.

The problem is that nicer build comes at the expense of not having interchangeable batteries or SD cards. Sure the phone comes with more onboard storage which is better than SD cards, but you can also get a 32GB S4. Also worth mentioning, is that it has a smaller battery which drains significantly faster than the S4. According to most tests, the S4's battery lasts 20% longer than the HTC One, not to mention you can always get bigger batteries, and if you play alot of games or watch alot of movies, battery life is very important.

That being said, I would gladly sacrifice aesthetics to get longer battery life.


KevinDuffey
KevinDuffey

@paulmmm Straight Talk doesn't offer any updated android phones.. the S3 being the latest one.

DCM5150
DCM5150

@iPhone5User So you are saying the HTC finally got up with Apple to rip off consumers, way to go HTC!

Bill_Van
Bill_Van

@ArtVandelayTN There is a major problem with your comment and it has to do with reviews. Can you show me just one review that puts the Galaxy S4 ahead of the HTC One?  Personally I would love to read it.

Jaguar6cy
Jaguar6cy

@cyber_nicco  You are absolutely right.  One other way cell companies, like Verizon, steal your cash is with non water resistant cases.  Every cell phone sold has a "moisture sensor strip" inside the case. They are there for the companies good, not yours.  And it doesn't take much turn those strips positive. All it takes is a little bathroom steam, a little rain or a light dew in the morning to do that.  Once that strip tuns positive ALL your warranty coverage is void.  They use that to "prove" you abused your phone.  Guess what?  They will sell you a new one, and extend your contract again. Republic Wireless uses a certified water resistant phone and that is just one of the many reasons I like that company.

t.joedodger
t.joedodger

@cyber_nicco 

meh.  It's not a deal breaker for everyone.  Most ppl are near an outlet at some point throughout the day.

DCM5150
DCM5150

@MichaelSuperczynski I'm not sure what your point is? Over 90% of the world's computers still run Windows and we are all not dead yet.

DiamondAir
DiamondAir

@MichaelSuperczynski Must be an Apple Fan Boy, Maybe even Linux too. They all are not secure if you knew anything. Only guarantee to be secure is to unplug your self from the world. Have a great day!

DCM5150
DCM5150

@EricJunSilva A camera should not be measured by megapixels alone. A 41 megapixel camera means crap if the exposure and lighting sucks. All that means is you can print really big crappy pictures.

KevinDuffey
KevinDuffey

@mahadragon @KevinDuffey You go ahead and keep on paying the overpriced costs for Apple's design. Meanwhile I'll enjoy a much easier more streamlined and much more often updated Android experience. You know as well as I if Apple doesn't hit a grand slam with their up coming phone, they are in a heap of trouble and will lose market share much faster than they are now. Already their phone and OS is outdated and behind the curve. All that said, I want apple to knock it out of the park.. we need Apple to keep Android on their toes. As much as I prefer Android devices for all their benefits, I don't want it to be the only game in town.

mahadragon
mahadragon

@protomessiah18 @Bill_Van Amen Bill. I had the original Nexus One (built by HTC) and then an HTC Amaze. Their phones have always had good, comfortable designs and features but crappy battery life. Finally I had enough. I haven't looked back. My Galaxy S2 had great battery life compared to my HTC phones and my current iPhone also gets better battery life.

I am looking at sample pictures from the HTC One now on Flickr and oh my god, what did they do? I had the HTC Amaze from which I was able to blow up to 11X14 on my wall. I would never do that with the current 4mp camera, what were they thinking? And the chromatic aberration isn't very good either, shots are too pixelated, huge mistake and a big step backward.

SayWhat?
SayWhat?

 

I think you missed the point. You can buy any, yes ANY like paulmmm said, unlocked phone(Galaxy S4 or whatever) and use it on Straight Talk, Family Mobile, etc... So many people have no clue that you don't necessarily have to be a sheep and purchase a phone that your carrier offers. For a short time, I purchased a phone from T-Mobile (wasn't even unlocked) and used it on Family Mobile (wal mart) because it's powered by T-Mobile anyway. I didn't want one of the garbage phones that Family Mobile offered. The same concept applies to Straight Talk (which runs on At&t *and* Verizons network anyway depending on the phone you get), and others.

Unlocked $600 phone + $500 per year = $1600.00 over two years.

$200.00 subsidized phone + Activation $36.00 + $100 a month(yes, I'm talking about you Verizon) = $2636 over two years.

The above assumes unlimited minutes and txt with 2GB of data. The numbers speak for themselves, and of course this is more complicated on Sprint/Verizon because you can't just slap a Sim in the phone and go, but if you do some real research you can save a ton of money.

The shareholders of Verizon, At&t, Sprint, and T-Mobile thank you all for not being very savvy shoppers! =)


cyber_nicco
cyber_nicco

@t.joedodger @cyber_nicco 

Although the ability to change batteries during the day (or use an extra-capacity one, like I do) is an important attribute, that wasn't what I was talking about.  It's when that battery that came with your phone only holds half the charge it used to a year later and the company wants $75.00 to replace it - that's what I'm talking about.

They are building-in obsolescence.  They want you to throw away your phone and half to buy a new one.  No where else would people tolerate this sort of nonsense.  Would you buy a house you couldn't ever paint?  It's just absurd.

bcordovan
bcordovan

Streamlined??  Apple is far superior in user experience than and Android device.  The reason is Apple's products work the way Apple intended them to work.  Android devices continue to come out with killer specs and amazing technology however the OS never works right because the phone has apps and software that Google never intended on and all too often the Android phones are just bogged down with crap or do not hae anywhere near the flow that the iphone has.  Seems like you are hooked on the Android so there is no changing your mind but the iPhone continues to outshine the Android phones by a landslide in usability and overall user experience which are the most important elements in mobile phones fr the general masses.

BillyJack1
BillyJack1

@KevinDuffey @mahadragon Kevin, do you realize that last year the iPhone 4, a 2 year old phone outsold the Galaxy S3, Samsung's then current flagship?

KevinDuffey
KevinDuffey

@mahadragon @protomessiah18 @Bill_Van Are you sure the pictures are done perfectly and at the best resolution possible? Perhaps the person taking the pictures didn't know what they were doing. I've seen both good and bad pictures from every camera out there, including the iphone 5 and the Samsung S3 and S4.