It has been a little over four months since I sold my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and purchased the HTC One. You can find my thoughts and reasons for this switch over on Android Dissected. I had some harsh words for Samsung and some sharp criticism for one of their flagship phones. So what is life like now, four months later, with the HTC One? I’ll go over some of my experiences and cover weather or not I am still enjoying the HTC One.
Quality Control Problems, Customer Service Failure
When I got my HTC One I was stunned at the build quality of the phone. I have never seen anything like it in the Android world. The iPhone build quality is universally known but, upon getting the One it was evident that it could hold its own against Apple’s design and in some ways surpassed it. I played with the phone like any geek with a new toy, non-stop and for hours. Needless to say, battery life was horrid that first week or two. But this break-in period is essential when getting a new product. It allows one to go over the device with a fine tooth comb, and I am glad I did. After doing my write up on leaving Samsung for HTC I noticed a small spot on my screen. It was very evident when the screen was on a white background (browsing Google in Chrome is a good example). I ignored it for a few days, passing it off to my bad eyes. But it kept screaming at me every time I opened a white background page, taunting me at every turn. So I showed the screen to my wife and she confirmed the spot as well. I did some research via Google and found that many HTC One handsets were having this dead pixel issue. Yes, I had a dead pixel. As a matter of fact, I had three total.
The first thing I did was head over to the HTC Store located at my local mall (which is now closed) and showed the device to the store manager. He acknowledged the dead pixels were there but he would not exchange the device for a new one. I was told that Sprint would have to be the one to exchange the device, it was out of their hands. This was the beginning of the customer service failure on both HTC and Sprint’s part. After going to the HTC store, I headed over to the local corporate Sprint store to show them the issue and get a new phone. The Sprint store was bustling with activity and had a total of three employees to service the brood of waiting customers. After a long wait period (over 30 minutes) I had to leave with no one even looking at my issue. I finally called Sprint and talked to a customer service representative. I explained the situation, and they said they would replace the phone. Finally a resolution! Not so fast. I would have to wait 5-10 working days to get my replacement. Upon hearing that I argued the wait time was too long, and we finally came to an agreement on 2 days. Great! The details were finalized and the replacement was on the way.
When my replacement arrived, I opened it and began the process of setting it up. I checked the screen and saw no dead pixels. Great! I wrapped up the old one and sent it back to Sprint. The replacement was a thing of beauty and my thoughts on the dead pixels started to fade. Then, I started feeling some uneven parts along the screen and speakers. It was not as flush as the previous model. So, here we go again. I got another bad unit, this time with the gap issue. So I prepare myself for round 2 of arguing with Sprint for a new device. Just before this happened the HTC One died. That’s right, dead. The phone would not even power up. All known key combos were used to try to revive it but to no avail. So, I stopped in at the corporate store one more time to see if maybe they were less busy this time around. This time I got to talk to someone. I showed them the phone and they looked up my account, I had the device protection so it was covered. But wait, I had to wait 5-10 days again for a replacement. There are no phone exchanges in store, even though they have them in stock. Wow. What choice do I have? I gave them the dead phone and waited out my 5-10 days. Finally, 7 days later, the new device arrived. I went through setup again and checked for dead pixels, none. Check for gap issues, none. Great, now let’s hope it doesn’t die in the next few days. Success!
Finally I have an HTC One that has no gap issues, no dead pixels and is functioning 100%. I am a happy man after three devices. But is this acceptable? I think not. I feel that HTC failed big time with quality control. For one consumer to get two bad units says something, to me at least. And both HTC and Sprint failed at taking care of the me, the customer. I could understand the wait times if the damage to the phone was my fault or an accident, but these were quality control issues. Both the OEM and carrier should have done everything they could to take care of it. I really felt strung along through the whole process. I had that we-got-your-money-we-don’t-need-you-anymore, feeling. Some customer service and customer care education is in order for both HTC and Sprint.
The Silver Bullet
OK, now that I have the negative points off my chest, let me talk a little more about the HTC One, specifically, the HTC One that finally works with zero design flaws. In a few words, I love it.
When you have a well built, zero issues HTC One in your hand it’s like holding a piece of aluminum art. The curved back is elegant and the chamfered edges gleam in the sunlight. The blackness of the screen and bezel lends well to the aluminum front facing speakers. The uni-body construction gives it a super premium feel and even the two white plastic strips across the back (which house antennas) lends well to the overall design. There is no question that the designers put thought and effort into the One. Even the volume rocker melts into the housing. It is totally flush against the body and gives the One a clean finished look. The aluminum is cold to the touch at first but then heats up just a bit (depending on how long it is used) in your hand.
The front facing speakers are insanely clear with nice mid and deep bass tones. Listening to music, without headphones, on the One is a joy. Plug some headphones into the aux jack and you get Beats Audio equalization (mostly over hyped but it does enhance the sound experience somewhat). Watching Netflix, YouTube, Hulu or any other HD content is amazing on the One. The full HD Super LCD3 display is one of the best on any mobile phone. The colors are amazing and the blacks are deep while keeping the colors vivid but true to life.
HTC Sense 5 is by far the best Android UE I have ever had, so good in fact, I haven’t even rooted this thing. The UI design is simple and elegant, not as wild and untamed as Samsung’s Touchwiz. Blinkfeed is usable but needs more content, just adding Google+ to the feed may give me enough incentive to use it more often. I find myself rocking the stock launcher from time to time, it’s a great launcher, though like all OEM launchers, is not customizable. Because of that I usually use a third party launcher like Nova, Apex, ADWEx or TSF Shell 3D. So basically Sense 5 is not the Sense of old, it’s revamped and more usable and even nice to look at, so, if you plan on trying this phone out, leave the Sense bias at the door.
There are a few issues I’m going to briefly address concerning some people’s issues with the two button interface, lack of removable battery and no sd card slot. First off, these are all valid complaints. It’s a fact that some people need and want a removable battery and sd card slot. If those issues are important to you then the HTC One is not your phone. Do not buy it, you will not be happy. The lack of a menu button is off putting to many, Android has almost always been a three button interface, back, home and menu. HTC opted for a two button interface and logo placement in the middle. If having a menu button is important then this phone is not for you (although there is a hack to turn the logo into a button). None of these issues were issues for me. I have no need for expanded storage, no need for a three button interface and no need for a removable battery.
Speaking of battery, the battery life on the HTC One is pretty excellent. I run mine with battery saver (an HTC One feature) on all the time as well as Battery Guru from Qualcomm. I get a whole day use out of my One before having to charge. Your use may vary. That all being said, I think some users may run into an issue with battery life, especially if they are extremely heavy users. I would also recommend giving the battery a week or so to settle in. Trust me, you’ll be using the phone a lot for the first few weeks. Personally, I have been happy with the battery life. It gets me through my day, and I plug it in when I go to bed.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things that annoy me about the One. Not everything is going to please every person. Obviously the deign flaws I experienced at the start were something that was frustrating. Then there’s the aluminum body. While it is attractive and just plain awesome, it is susceptible to scratching if you don’t have a case or skin on it. I don’t like that sometimes the palm of my hand activates apps I didn’t intend on touching. I also don’t like the silly way you have to set wallpapers in the stock launcher. But the likes outweigh the dislikes and I do not think anyone will ever find a phone they like 100%.
So am I still loving my HTC One? You bet I am! I had some real bad quality control and customer service issues that should be addressed by HTC and Sprint. There really is no excuse for stringing a customer along like they did when the fault is in the construction of the product and not the consumer’s fault. But, despite all the issues I had with both companies, the hardware and software of the HTC One are some of the best out on the market today. Sure it is not for everyone. We all have our own tastes, likes and dislikes. But as Android phones go, the HTC One is a real winner and shines pretty bright through the fog of Android devices. It is just too bad that HTC doesn’t have a handle on proper marketing and advertising. They really had something in the One and I think they failed to capitalize on it. Some advice, if you plan on buying the One, be sure to inspect it closely for any gap issues and screen issues and I recommend adding device protection from your carrier, at least for 3 months, just to be sure you won’t have to replace it. So, yes. I love my One and I would tell people all day to try it out for themselves and buy it if they like it,