With its One X, HTC made one of the finest smartphones of 2012. Unfortunately, the device's limited availability and lackluster marketing kept it from achieving mainstream success -- particularly next to near-ubiquitous competitors like Samsung's Galaxy S III.
This year, HTC is more determined than ever to achieve redemption. The newly announced HTC One phone -- previously known by its codename, "M7" -- is the company's most ambitious effort to date. The One takes some of the standout elements of last year's flagship and combines them with a slew of updated design elements and new standout features.
So what's the HTC One all about, and when can you get your hands on it? From hardware to software and everything in between, here are answers to all of your most pressing questions.
[SEE ALSO: HTC One: To buy or not to buy?]
What's the lowdown on the HTC One's hardware?
Excellent question, my dear Watson. The HTC One has an all-aluminum body -- what HTC describes as a "zero-gap unibody design." In other words, we're talking about a single piece of aluminum for the device's entire casing -- a sharp contrast to the plasticky panels seen on other high-profile phones. The One will be available in both silver and black.
The HTC One rocks a 4.7-in. LCD display with full 1080p and 468 pixels per inch. Not much to complain about there. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 2.
The One has a power button on its top-left edge that doubles as an IR blaster, allowing you to use the device as a universal TV remote. A headphone jack sits on the top-right of the phone; a volume rocker is on the right edge, while a micro-SIM card tray is on the phone's left side. The bottom of HTC's One houses a standard microUSB port, which also doubles as an MHL outport for HDMI connections.
In terms of size, the HTC One is 5.4 x 2.7 x 0.36 in. and 5 oz. For comparison, last year's One X was 5.3 x 2.8 x 0.35 in. and 4.6 oz.; the Galaxy S III, meanwhile, is 5.4 x 2.8 x 0.34 in. and 4.7 oz. and the Nexus 4 is 5.3 x 2.7 x 0.36 in. and 4.9 oz.
How 'bout under the hood? Is the HTC One fast?
In a word: yes. The HTC One runs Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor clocked at 1.7Ghz and has 2GB of RAM. All signs point to an absurdly speedy experience.
What's the deal with the HTC One's camera?
Well, Mr. Seinfeld, like with its 2012 phones, HTC is making camera quality a strong priority with its new HTC One device. Things are a bit different this go-round, though: Instead of playing the megapixel bragging game, the company is focusing more on actual image quality and less on sheer size.
With that in mind, the HTC One uses what the company calls an "UltraPixel camera." Aided by a new dedicated "ImageChip" and retooled light sensor, the camera is said to be able to absorb three times as much light as a typical smartphone camera setup. The resolution is limited to 4 megapixels, but HTC insists the pixels are far more detailed and high-quality than what you'd get with other comparable phones.
As an HTC exec explained it: "We're talking about real image quality, not just megapixels for the sake of megapixels."
The One's main camera includes optical image stabilization. The phone has a 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera, too, with an 88-degree wide-angle lens and 1080p video-capturing capability.
Tell me about the HTC One audio setup.
Gladly: The HTC One has dual front-facing speakers for stereo sound. They're giant, too, extending across much of the width of the phone's face. Compared to the tiny back-facing speakers on most current phones, that's a very nice touch.
The speakers have a dedicated amp along with HTC's now-standard Beats Audio integration. With past HTC phones, I haven't been able to tell much difference from the Beats Audio addition -- but regardless, with the hardware and placement alone, we're looking at an above-average audio experience.
The One's audio system also includes an option for dual-microphone HDR recording.
What kind of storage does the HTC One have?
The HTC One will have either 32 or 64GB of internal space, depending on the carrier and model you pick. The phone does not have an microSD slot for external storage.
What's up with the One's battery?
The phone packs a 2300mAh battery, and no -- you can't remove it.
NEXT PAGE: The strange new world of HTC's One software
Does the HTC One have on-screen or physical buttons for getting around Android?
The phone sticks with the HTC norm and uses capacitive buttons instead of the virtual on-screen buttons Google is encouraging with 4.x-level devices (as seen in the Nexus 4 and other recent Android phones). There is a new twist here, though:
With the One, HTC has opted to use only two navigational buttons: a Back button, at the bottom-left of the phone's face, and a Home button at its right.
The app-switching function -- which has its own dedicated icon in stock Android 4.x -- is accessible only by double-tapping the Home key. Android's excellent Google Now feature, meanwhile, can be accessed by long-pressing the Home key. If you want a physical Menu button, you can reportedly map that function to a long-press of the Back button within the phone's settings.
So, yeah -- it's a little convoluted. The setup is meant to be a simplified approach to Android navigation, but with all the stuff hidden behind not-so-obvious double-taps and long-presses, I worry that some of the platform's most powerful functions could get lost -- particularly to more novice users.
Speaking of Android, what version and type of interface does the HTC One use?
The One runs a new custom HTC interface based on the Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean OS. HTC has not explicitly said if/when the phone will be upgraded to the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean release, which includes a handful of new features like lock screen widgets, an interactive 360-degree image-capturing tool called Photo Sphere, and support for native "Daydream" screensavers.
The interface itself is a substantial change from HTC's previous efforts. The new UI, known either as Sense 5 or just "New Sense," leaves behind much of the cartoony feel present in HTC's earlier Sense incarnations and instead adopts a flatter, more subdued vibe that's closer to Google's current Android design language.
Make no mistake about it, though: This isn't stock Android -- far from it. When you first boot up the HTC One, you're taken to a new tile-centric screen known as BlinkFeed. It's kind of like a Flipboard-esque aggregator for news and social media updates. At the moment, it supports feeds from a variety of content services -- about 1400 of 'em, according to HTC -- along with updates from social services like Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter (no Google+ as of now).
You can scroll through the BlinkFeed stream to see the latest news items and social updates, and you can tap on any item to view it in full detail. Your BlinkFeed stream can be customized, too, though at this point it can use only services with official integrated support; you can't manually add in an RSS feed or view stories from sites that aren't official HTC "content partners."
BlinkFeed also doesn't display info like missed calls and emails, a la Windows Phone tiles; rather, its focus is squarely on news and social-oriented updates.
So wait -- can I still get to a regular Android home screen, or what?
Yessirree Bob; all you've gotta do is swipe to the right from BlinkFeed and you'll find yourself at a regular customizable home screen panel. By default, that panel is the only one there, but you can opt to add additional panels if you want.
The bigger question for me is whether you can remove BlinkFeed altogether, should you be so inclined. Right now, it appears the answer is no -- but there's conflicting information and no definitive answer.
Rest assured, I'll investigate that thoroughly once I'm able to spend some significant time with the phone for my full review. (I've also asked HTC for clarification on the matter and will update this page if I receive any additional details.)
Is the rest of the UI still regular Android?
Pretty much -- a newly Sense-ified version of it, anyway. The app drawer, for instance, uses an unusual 3 x 4 grid by default (though you can opt to change it to a larger, more traditional setup if you'd like). HTC also stuck with a Gingerbread-reminiscent green theme for notification bar icons like the battery status indicator, and it implemented its own light theme for the main system settings menus. The traditional HTC Sense lock screen is also still in place.
Are there any other noteworthy feature additions to the HTC One software?
Yup -- HTC added in a bunch of stuff, like a proprietary Vine-esque video-sharing service called Zoe and a custom camera/gallery interface. There's also a "Sense Voice" system that utilizes the phone's dual microphones to detect ambient noise and adjust your call volume accordingly along with a bunch of other random bells and whistles that I'll explore when I review the device.
How about connectivity? Will the HTC One have LTE? NFC? Qi? Zv?
The One will support LTE (provided that you use it on an LTE-enabled carrier, of course). Near-field communication, a.k.a. NFC, is also a go -- but it's a no on Qi, which means no Nexus 4-style wireless charging.
And Zv? That isn't a real thing. Nice try, though, buddy.
Okay, so when can I get the damn phone already?
HTC says it's aiming for a global release of the One in late March, though specific dates are still to-be-announced. In the U.S., AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile will carry the phone (sorry, Verizon-lovers -- no such luck). You can check availability for other regions at HTC's website.
As far as pricing, some places are reporting that the 32GB model will sell for $200 and the 64GB for $300 -- on contract, naturally -- but HTC has yet to make any official announcement.
Also worth noting: If you have an HTC phone right now, you can trade it in for a credit up to $100 off the price of the One. You just have to register at HTC.com within the month of February to qualify.
Is it pronounced FeBRUary or FeBUary?
FeBRUary, but that's really neither here nor there.
You're really neither here nor there.
Well-played, sir and/or madam -- but that's not even a question.
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Right -- I think we're done here.