AT&T can’t ruin HTC’s gorgeous new smartphone, but it tried. The AT&T version of the HTC One ($199.99 with contract; $599.99 without), the most elegant Android phone of 2013, is laden down with hideous and undeletable bloatware. But since that’s par for the course with AT&T Android phones, don’t let the bloatware stop you from buying the most beautiful phone we’ve seen so far this year.
The AT&T HTC One is very similar to the Sprint HTC One, which we reviewed in full earlier this month. It has the same all-metal body, the same excellent front-mounted Boomsound speakers and the same UltraPixel camera, which works very well in low light but limits your ability to digitally crop and zoom your images. Read our Sprint HTC One review for details. We’ll focus here on the differences here.
The most notable difference here is all the undeletable bloatware AT&T stuffed onto this phone. AT&T’s lust to take credit knows few bounds here: for instance, it rebranded HTC’s own excellent guided setup app as AT&T Ready2Go, making it less visually appealing in the process.
Other undeletable apps, guaranteed to stay at the top of your app list because they start with “A,” include AT&T DriveMode, AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Locker, AT&T Navigator, and AT&T Smart Wi-Fi. Further down the app list there’s Live TV, SoundHound, and YP Mobile.
These undeletable apps often aren’t best of breed. DriveMode is one of many “don’t text and drive” apps on the market. AT&T Locker, a cloud storage service, is actually far worse than the Dropbox promo included on other carrier versions of the One: Locker gives you 5GB free while Dropbox gives you 25GB. AT&T Smart Wi-Fi is like a less stable version of Devicescape DataSaver, which automatically connects you to Wi-Fi hotspots. In general, the point is that you can find apps on Google Play which do all the things the preloads do, often better—but you can’t delete the preloads. It’s infuriating.
Call Quality and Networking
AT&T shouldn’t feel so nervous, because its LTE network is better than ever. I got a solid 11-12Mbps down and 5-8Mbps up in midtown Manhattan using Ookla Speedtest.net. AT&T’s LTE now covers 183 markets from coast to coast, with much of the rest of the country covered with at least HSPA 14.4 speeds. While Verizon Wireless still has more LTE, AT&T’s 3G fallback network is much faster than Verizon’s.
This model of the One has quad-band GSM, HSPA+ on the 850/1900/2100MHz bands, and LTE on the 700 and AWS bands. That means it’ll work with AT&T’s 3G and LTE networks and roam on HSPA+ 3G networks abroad; it won’t work well with any other U.S. carrier.
Call quality here is also very good, although I haven’t tested the competing Samsung Galaxy S 4 on AT&T’s network yet. The speakerphone is a real standout, thanks to the front-facing Boomsound speakers. Call quality in the earpiece is sharp and clear, with a lot of treble. As with the Sprint version of this phone, noise cancellation is imperfect. It is certainly good enough, even in an area with heavy construction noise, but the sound leaked through a little bit.
AT&T also killed off the LTE mode toggle in the HTC One’s settings, so you can’t turn off LTE if you’re in a weak coverage area. Once again, that’s the case with all recent AT&T Android phones.
Battery life is similar to the Sprint device. I got 5 hours, 43 minutes of LTE video streaming and 12 hours, 48 minutes of talk time, both solid results that suggest a full day’s use, and better results than the Galaxy S 4 on T-Mobile.
Comparisons and Conclusions
We’re ladeling praise liberally over the HTC One, so why doesn’t it get our Editors’ Choice award? After seeing the Samsung Galaxy S 4, that device scores just a little bit better than the One thanks to its lighter weight, faster processor, high-res camera, and tuneable call audio. But the big difference between the One and the GS 4 is really philosophy: The One is about all-metal elegance (all that bloatware aside) and the GS 4 is about more, more, more.
Both phones are great choices on AT&T, and both have fresher technology than Apple’s iPhone 5. You may still want to turn to the iPhone 5, though, for its more easily pocketable size and unbeatable library of apps.
If you’re considering this model of the HTC One, we’d also suggest you consider with the $574.99 unlocked model direct from HTC. While you don’t save any money over the subsidized model (as AT&T doesn’t give you a discount for bringing your own phone) you’ll get the same performance and LTE speed, minus the bloatware. That could be the best of all worlds here.
|Phone Capability / Network||GSM, UMTS, LTE|
|Screen Resolution||1920 x 1080 pixels|
|Dimensions||5.4 x 2.7 x 0.36 inches|
|Video Camera Resolution||1080p Rear|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||12 hours 48 minutes|
|Processor Speed||1.7 GHz|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core|
|Total Integrated Storage||32 GB|
|High-Speed Data||EDGE, LTE, HSPA+ 42|
|Screen Type||Super LCD 3|
|Operating System as Tested||Android OS|
|Camera Resolution||4 MP Rear|
|2.1 MP Front-Facing|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||468|
|Bands||850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100, 1700, 700|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Screen Size||4.7 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc