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Today, I headed over to the official launch of the HTC One down in London’s Oxford Street, and got a hands-on look at the Taiwanese company’s latest and greatest smartphone device. There’s no debating that, on paper, the device is a monster, but what’s it like to hold? Is the build quality up to scratch? And does the “Boom” factor in the speaker or the “UltraPixel” element of the camera make any notable difference, or is it marketing jargon? I’ll be answering all of these questions, and offering my initial reaction to the device after the break.

There’s no doubt that HTC has a lot riding on the One. Both of its previous flagships – the One X and One X+ – enjoyed a reasonable amount of success, but failed to really threaten the dominance of Samsung and its Galaxy Series. The company needs to make a real statement with the One, and having spent a good half an hour with the new handset, I have to say, I have been pleasantly surprised by how good it really is.

HTC One 1

When you first pick the device up in your hand, you’ll instantly realize that it’s unlike any handset HTC has ever delivered. Not only is it light enough to be squirrelled away into the pocket, but the build quality is superb. Android smartphones have built something of a reputation for mediocre build quality finished with cheap, plastic fascia. Not the HTC One. When you hold it, you feel like you’ve a decent bit of kit in your hand, and the Gorilla Glass II protecting the display is nicely complimented by the aluminum unibody. It feels solid, and looks gorgeous.

The display is as crisp as you would expect from a high-end smartphone. You have to hold the device a matter of centimeters away to notice any pixels whatsoever, and Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 laced with HTC’s very own Sense 5 are both nicely accentuated by the 1080p resolution on offer.

HTC One 3

In the announcement, the company talked of “HTC Boom” – a new method of arranging the improved speaker system to deliver the highest-level of sound quality. While I personally don’t care much for Beats Audio, the quality of sound pumped out by the HTC One is quite unlike anything I have ever heard from a smartphone. Most devices – even the Galaxy S III and iPhone 5 – deliver an average, somewhat tinny audible experience, but the HTC One sounds fantastic. It’s something you most certainly must hear to fully appreciate, but if you’re massively into your audio and looking for a device that appeals to you, this is the one you’ll certainly want to consider.

HTC One 4

As you can see from the shots taken, well-lit areas weren’t abundant in what was a very busy launch event. Thus, it’s hard to make a full and balanced assessment of the snapper. From what I saw, I was moderately impressed, but having secretly applauded HTC for blowing the “megapixel myth” wide open in the build-up, I was perhaps expecting a little bit more. For me, the Lumia 920 still has the best camera, but the HTC One’s is easily on par with the iPhone 5.

HTC One 5

Had a little play around with some of the apps, and everything responded smoothly and without lag. That quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor running at 1.7GHz and 2GB of RAM certainly aren’t sitting idly, and having run a few apps, including Play Store, Chrome, Twitter and Facebook, I cannot fault the operation of the device. Of course, it’s early days, and the only way to test a handset is to download 50+ apps of varying intensities, and see how it holds up with those. Still, after thirty or so minutes, the HTC One excelled.

HTC One 2

All in all, I think HTC has lived up to its hyping of the event in launching a very, very impressive smartphone. It looks and feels better than any of its previous releases, performs to a very high standard, and having been frustrated by past HTC devices with so much promise but glaring shortcomings, I think the company has finally nailed it.

HTC One 6

HTC One 7

Should Samsung be running scared? Well, HTC will have to gain quite a bit more traction – particularly with the buzz surrounding next month’s purported Galaxy S IV launch. Still, Samsung is unlikely to top the HTC One in terms of specs, and if the Korean company fails to impress with the fourth Galaxy release, HTC has today proved it is ready to pounce.

That’s my take, but what about you guys? Has the HTC One caught your attention? Please do share your thoughts via the usual mediums below.

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