The Internals: Snapdragon 600 On-Board

At the core of the HTC One is a Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064Pro) SoC at 1.7 GHz. This is quad core Krait 300 (as opposed to 200 in MSM8960 or APQ8064) which brings a 15 percent increase in IPC as well as higher clocks (from 1.5 to 1.7 GHz), for about 20–30 percent higher overall CPU performance. This is still built on a 28nm LP process, and is analogous to the MSM8960Pro change from Krait 200 to 300, but for APQ8064. HTC One includes 2 GB of LPDDR2 RAM on a PoP in a 2x32 configuration. For storage, there’s no microSD card slot, but instead 32 or 64 GB of internal memory with no option for lesser 16 GB configurations. For connectivity the HTC One uses the same MDM9x15 baseband we’ve seen in Fusion 3 phones and in other places, and as expected the HTC One will come in LTE-enabled flavors for the appropriate operators. There’s still no magical single SKU that will do every region, but the most important band combinations are supported. On the WiFi side the HTC One is the first device I’m aware of to include 802.11ac support as well, alongside the usual a/b/g/n, this is provided by Broadcom’s latest combo, BCM4335.

The One continues to use the pyramidal internal stacking of display, then battery, then PCB which started with earlier designs. As a result the One includes an internal 2300 mAh 3.8V (8.74 Whr) battery which should be more than adequate in conjunction with Snapdragon 600 to provide good battery life.

HTC One Specifications
Device HTC One
SoC 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600
(APQ8064Pro - 4 x Krait 300 CPU, Adreno 320 GPU)
RAM/NAND/Expansion 2GB LPDDR2, 32/64 GB NAND
Display 4.7-inch SLCD3 1080p, 468 ppi
Network 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Qualcomm MDM9x15 UE Category 3 LTE)
Dimensions 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm max / 4mm min, 143 grams
Camera 4.0 MP (2688 × 1520) Rear Facing with 2.0 µm pixels, 1/3" CMOS size, F/2.0, 28mm (35mm effective), 2.1 MP front facing
Battery 2300 mAh (8.74 Whr)
OS Android 4.1.2 with Sense 5
Connectivity 802.11ac/a/b/g/n + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, MHL, DLNA, NFC
Misc Dual front facing speakers, HDR dual microphones, 2.55V headphone amplifier

 

Abandoning the Megapixel Race and Shooting for Quality

I’ve buried it a bit, but one of the biggest headlining features of the HTC One is inclusion of a camera system that definitely goes against the prevailing industry smartphone imaging trend, in a very positive way. The trend has been smaller and smaller pixels on a smartphone CMOS for some time now, and as generations have marched on we’ve seen pixel sizes shrink from around 2 microns, to 1.65, to 1.4, to 1.1 which seems poised as the flavor of the year. More of smaller pixels lets an OEM sell a phone with more megapixels, but it’s fairly obvious that beyond 8 MP there’s not much sense in going way higher. In fact, even with the best possible diffraction limited optics operating under the constraints of a smartphone package, it’s impossible to resolve pixels that small. For so long megapixels has been the only figure of merit presented to consumers, and continually increasing that number, at the expense of other things arguably might not make sense. In a world increasingly dominated by photo sharing services which downscale images aggressively instagram (600 x 600) or pic.twitter (1024 x 2048 for the first party image sharing target) or Facebook, does 13 MP make sense?

HTC made camera a big emphasis with the previous One X, S, V, and other One series cameras with the first F/2.0 optical system which was shared across all devices. With the new HTC One has taken a huge risk and gone against the trend by keeping CMOS sensor size the same (1/3"), and moving to bigger 2.0 micron pixels, with the same F/2.0, 28mm (35 mm effective) optical system. The result is a camera that trades resolution we arguably can’t realize to begin with for dramatically better sensitivity in low light and better dynamic range. In addition, the HTC One includes optical image stabilization (OIS) with +/- 1 degree of accommodation in pitch and yaw to enable even longer exposures without hand shake, as well as for stable video. On the video side, the HTC One also includes HDR video capture at 720p30, normal dynamic range video at 720p60 or 1080p30, and this time video is encoded using the full capabilities of the SoC (high profile, 20 Mbps).

There’s a new shooting mode as well which HTC has coined Zoe mode, short for zoetrope. This simultaneously captures a few seconds of 1080p30 video while bursting still image captures at full resolution. The combination is a short video and series of photos at full size which can be shared. This then can be used with a new gallery feature called the Highlights reel which combines this media into a short, computationally edited 30 second video with other photos and videos from the same day. There are a number of different video themes to choose from, and in practice the videos that result are impressively well put together.

 

Design and Construction Sense & Final Words
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  • nerd1 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    720p in 4.7" is already 312PPI, and no one with 2.0/2.0 eyesight will see pixels from 10" distance.
    I just don't understand why this silly 'PPI' race is going on.

    They put 4MP sensor and says they won't do the megapixel race - then why do the PPI race which is plain meaningless? At least high-MP camera is better for outdoor pics. 400+ppi screen is good for nothing.
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Are you old enough to remember when consumer oriented printers began focusing on dots per inch? 144 DPI clearly sucked, the early laser printers at 300 DPI were a godsend but expensive, and once prices came down and competition from inkjets heated up the race was on to 600, 1200 or more DPI. Today we take it for granted, but when was the last time you printed a document at less than 600 DPI?

    Unlike printers, LCDs don't need to handle halftone screens and can take advantage of anti-aliasing. However, I spend quite a bit of time reading very small text on my phone. I'll be happy when virtually all of the LCDs in my life are closer to 600 PPI. Also consider the sizable Asian market and the impact that resolution makes on non-latin script at small sizes.

    Whining about real progress on a tech site is ridiculous, especially with all the pointless arguments about what viewing distance person x or person y can still discern a pixel at. If text is easier to read at higher resolutions for a good percentage of the population, then there is still a reason to go there. If you compare text and photos printed at 300 and 600 DPI it's obvious that most people can see a difference.
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    DPI is different from PPI, as they need dithering to display halftones.
    And there is biological limit for display PPIs. You simply cannot outresolve 300PPI screen at 10 inch distance, even if your eyesight is 2.0/2.0.
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    I already pointed out the halftone issue, which is a decidedly different technique than dithering. While you may not be able to readily distinguish individual pixels on a 300 PPI display from 10 inches, I will bet money that most people can tell the difference when looking at type on a 300 PPI display vs. a 600 PPI display.

    I used to do prepress work. I've looked at plenty of output at various resolutions that was strictly PostScript text or vector based graphics with no halftoning or dithering involved. 300 PPI is not enough to be indistinguishable from higher resolutions. The difference between 600 and 1200 requires a loupe for me.

    Mind you I never said that 1920x1080 was a good choice of resolution for a phone. I'm happier with slightly smaller displays and different aspect ratios, but then again I almost never watch movies or play games on my phone.

    The yield argument is ridiculous. The yields will always be negligible if nobody specs the damn things. I'm also not in the market for a cheaper phone. I want a better phone, and I'm quite willing to pay for it. Unfortunately no matter how much I seem to pay AT&T I can't manage to get anything better in the way of carrier service in my home market.
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    And you just CANNOT increase resolution without sacrificing anything. High resolution LCDs requires more bright backlight, has lower yield and of course burdens GPU way more. (Remember current gen consoles cannot render any game in 1080p)

    If they use 720p panel instead, they can make the phone cheaper, more brighter (given the same backlight), and cooler (less GPU load). and most importantly last longer.

    All these sacrifices for silly 1080p marketing gimmick nobody will distinguish from normal distances. Maybe in one year or two, some OEM will say that PPI race is meaningless and they will give 2x battery life instead. Ironically, HTC did the same with this phone with their camera MP count.
    Reply
  • iamezza - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    I agree, that trade-offs you make for the higher pixel count isn't worth it at this stage. Reply
  • Mithan - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Will this work with Android 5 when it comes out?

    Does anybody know?
    Reply
  • steven75 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    If only going by the looks/materials this shames any other Android phone I've seen. Looks high end far unlike any of the popular Samsung devices. Reply
  • lefenzy - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    frustrates me so much Reply
  • mutatio - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Given that HTC has had some adjustments to their phones due to mimicking Apple, I'm surprised to see a complete lack of commentary by Klug on the obvious design elements that seem hijacked from the iPhone. The end product looks like a hybrid of the iPhone 5 (beveled chamfered edge, color scheme, antenna integration, etc.) and and iPhone 3G/S (rounded back). It looks sharp but the clear design rip-offs are obvious. Also, I'm not so sure about the whole cluster of gear along the top of the front panel. Would a center mounted camera make it too obvious of an Apple ripoff? The whole issue of eyes being slightly off focus while looking at the screen is always an issue but is best mitigated with a center mounted camera. There is always a compromise in terms of turning the device to a different orientation but it's always beneficial to have at least one of the orientations having a center mounted camera. It seems the corner position will make the user always appear to look off to the side in the image regardless of orientation. It's great to have amped up speakers, but IMHO, if the intent behind front facing cameras is to facilitate face-to-face social interaction, designs that work to distance the user from a more personal interaction should be reconsidered. Reply

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