Wednesday 3:00 PM, I received an SMS message from a friendly supplier that miraculously changed my relatively toxic mood for the past few weeks: “Your HTC One Developer Edition is now ready for pick up.” I can’t believe it. This i surreal. After 17 stressful days of word war with LetsTalk (ShopAmerica), HTC’s partner in the United States, I’m in a state of euphoria while opening a sealed box containing the most sought-after smartphone to date.

The initial feeling of unboxing and tinkering HTC One Developers Edition (I love to call it DevEd) is a bit weird. After my hands on experience with the HTC One few weeks ago (HTC Elevate), i’m surprised that i’m still excited to see, hold and own it (since there is no cosmetic difference between a regular one and a DevEd variant, plus the fact that ordering it online was hell to say the least)…well, I guess because of the rarity, the bragging rights, and the thrill of the chaste? Or probably because luscious design, topnotch specs and cool features made me rediscover the pride and joy of having one? Whatever it is, you have no reason not to love this device. Without further a do, i’ll raise the curtain and introduce you HTC’s special variant: the HTC One Developer Edition, and boy, this is everything your phone isn’t.

HTC One DevED in a nutshell:

A variant of HTC One with:

  • Unlocked bootloader
  • Open-line
  • 64GB onboard storage
  • Comes in Glacial Silver only
  • US-exclusive

Specifications:

Platform: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)

CPU: 1.7 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600

Memory: 2GB RAM DDR2

SIM card Type: microSIM

Display: 4.7-inch IPS Super LCD 3

User Interface: Sense 5

Screen protective layer: Corning Gorilla Glass 2

Display Resolution: 1080 Full HD with 468 ppi

Battery: 2,300mAh non-removable

Audio: HTC BoomSound dual frontal stereo speakers with built-in amplifiers + Beats Audio

Camera: Primary: 4MP HTC UltraPixel Camera with BSI sensor, F2.0 28mm lens, LED flash, HTC ImageCHip 2 with HDR video, OIS, HTC Zoe; Secondary: 2.1MP wide angle front camera

Connectivity: 3.5mm stereo audi jack, microUSB, Bluetooth 4., WiFi, DLNA, AGPS + GLONASS, NFC

FIRST IMPRESSION:

  • The first few seconds after opening the box, you will find yourself uncontrollably elated after seeing the thin, metallic device from the packaging. Built in all-aluminium unibody,  with almost end-to-end Gorilla Glass 2-protected S-LCD3  screen, HTC One is undoubtedly the sexiest and most premium-looking smartphone to date. With 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm dimensions and 143 g weight, HTC ‘s latest flagship device is both slim and light, offering not only the desirable look but also that premium-feel consumers have been clamouring for the longest time since plastic polycarbonate, became the preferred material of most manufacturers.
  • The unit comes in Glacial Silver (only), open-lined, and with unlocked bootloader. With the bootloader unlocked by default, it makes rooting and tinkering the device a step easier. Unfortunately, this will come in S-ON, which is quite ironic for a “developer’s” edition. Anyway, HTC One Dev Ed offers 64GB on-board memory and 2GB of RAM, which should compensate the lack of microSD support. Add a Snapdragon 600 chipset and a Jellybean 4.1 in the equation  (4.2 is coming in two weeks or so) and this gem is not only an eye candy, but a powerhouse beast as well.
  • HTC’s 4MP UltraPixel camera lays perfectly flat in its metallic back, unlike other smartphones’s camera which is a bit protruded. Though this will make the camera more susceptible to unwanted contact to hard surfaces, this compliments the overall design of the device, which is no less than modern, stylish and refined. White accents (not engraved) were placed in the upper and lower posterior area and the metallic HTC logo make perfect sense for the final touch. The red-font Beats logo is screaming for attention in the lower portion.
  • The front area boast 468 ppi (the highest display resolution in any smartphone to date)  4.7 inch Super LCD3 display with Gorilla Glass 2. Daul front-facing BoomSound speakers. Proximity sensor is located just below the power button while a 2.1 wide angle camera front-facing camera is positioned in the top right portion;
  • In the upper left corner, you will find the micro-SIM tray,  while the upper right side is where the thin, metallic volume rocker is located.
  • The power button is located on the left top portion. Note that the power button is not that sensitive, thus you need an extra oomph of force if you want to turn off your device or access the kid mode and flight mode. Not surprised, the top portion is where you can find the infamous gap many early adopters are complaining about. But luckily, my unit has very very thin gap  (probably a quarter of a hair strand) which is not noticeable at all since the line is so thin and uniform, you will think it is part of the built design (I intentionally looked for  the purpose of  investigative review). To set things straight, that tiny gap is no big deal at all.
  • In the top right area you can see standard 3.5mm headset jack. In the bottom right corner is where the mini USB port and sensors are located.
  • The body becomes cold relatively fast in a cool environment and a bit slippery if naked. Surprisingly, it is not hot even after 2-3 hours of web-browsing.
  • The box set includes a cool-looking flat-cable headset with red ear buds, SIM ejector, data cable, charger, manual, and 2 HTC stickers (!?). Note that the headset has uncanny similarities with Beats headset in terms of looks and performance.

         

  • Since HTC One X, HTC has been my personal benchmark in terms of display quality. Crisp. Natural. Detailed. It is like staring at an actual photograph neatly glued in the screen. Boasting 1080p HD at 468 ppi, HTC One raised the bar once again with luscious display which screams for attention, and most importantly, envy.

iPhone 5                               Samsung Galaxy Note 2                            HTC One

 

  • HTC One’s UltraPixel camera shines the most in low-light and dark scenes.

     

Samsung Galaxy Note 2                                                            HTC One

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – indoor

HTC One – indoor

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – dim light

HTC One – dim light

  • The BoomSound (dual front-facing audio speakers) is one of the primary arsenal of HTC One. It significantly improves volume and quality of incoming calls. There’s huge hype generated by the BoomSound, and it delivers in such a way that the audio quality  is indeed better (clearer and more crisp). The Beats audio will take care of the extra bass for the hip-hop and other upbeat genres.For other genre, the quality sounds the same, volume-wise. But in terms of  clarity, it can mop the competition anytime.  It may not deliver the kind of volume as we were led to believe (I’m actually expecting it to be ridiculously louder than laptop speakers), but against any smartphones to date, it definitely trumps the competition. The Beats-looking headset delivers with top-quality sounds and decent noise-cancelation. The choice of red earbuds and flat cable is a superb move. Looks good, and sounds even better.
  • The battery performance (2,300mAh Li-Po) is surprisingly good, providing me nothing less than 20-26 hours for moderate to heavy use. To give you an idea, my average usage is: 10 – 14 hours WiFi connection, BlinkFeed on, AutoSync on, Power Saver On, Brightness at 60%, with around 20 camera shots, 30 – 50 SMS, 1.5 hours of phone call, bluetooth transfer of pictures, average of 2-3 hours of web-browsing, and screen time of 5.5 – 6.5 hour

The Good:

  • Price
  • Battery performance
  • Over-all premium built
  • 64 GB on-board storage
  • Battery performance
  • Unlocked bootloader
  • Display quality
  • Over-all camera and video quality
  • Zoe
  • BoomSound
  • Headset
  • Packaging

The Bad:

  • S-ON (WTF for “developer-friendly phone?”)
  • Minor gap
  • A teeny-weeny bit insensitive softkeys and power button
  • Lack of marketing
  • LTE-compatibility with Globe (at the moment)

The Ugly:

  • Lack of supply
  • Difficult to order, exclusive to US

Verdict:

Since an expandable storage, as well as user-accessible battery, is a matter of “acquired taste” nowadays than a general necessity, there is very little to complain about HTC One Dev Ed. Artistic design. An engeneering marvel. An unworldly fusion of beauty and sheer genius. Needless to say, HTC One Developer Edition is a wonderland for both developers, sound junkies, camera enthusiasts, gamers and anything in between. HTC did a great job with their hero phone for 2013, and will definitely give Apple, Sony and Samsung a run for their money. HTC One is indeed Everything Your Phone Isn’t.