It’s no secret that, at least by its own high standards, HTC has fallen from grace over the last year, with Samsung and perennial competitor Apple stealing enough of the Taiwanese manufacturer’s market share to allegedly push the CEO to threaten resignation if its new flagship handset “fails”.
Possibly the biggest contributor to the success of the Android platform with excellent offerings such as the Desire, Sensation and more recently the One X and S, Samsung’s equally impressive S3 really stole a match on its competitors and many were waiting with bated breath to see how HTC’s “all-in” offering would fare.
Thankfully for the company, its fan base and modern consumers, HTC hit the proverbial home run, leading many tech journalists to declare it the most impressive smartphone in the world, even when compared to the soon to arrive Samsung S4.
Despite the cutting-edge features and functionality on offer from the One, like any proud owner of a top-end smartphone you’ll no doubt want to get your hands dirty accessorising even further. So here we present our take on the best additions available for HTC’s worthy flagship smartphone.
Media Link HD
If you’ve opted for an HTC One there’s a fair chance you also have a decent TV, and if it’s DLNA compliant you’ll get all of the features described below just by connecting the One to your TV through a home Wi-Fi network.
If not, the HTC Media Link HD could be particularly appealing, especially when you consider that its diminutive size (barely larger than a box of matches) and easy setup means that you can carry it with you to send anything you’re viewing on your smartphone to an HDMI-compatible TV.
Supplied with a tidy adhesive-backed cradle so it can be slotted neatly behind a display out of view, the Media Link HD picks up your One’s display wirelessly and replicates it on the big screen. This means you can view video, play games, browse photos and stream online content. Literally anything you’d usually see on the smartphone’s screen pops up on your TV, with audio.
Having tested a few of the more generic wireless adapters in the past, we can say that we’ve been utterly underwhelmed by most offerings thus far. Luckily the Media Link HD works very well, and after a setup process that took under a minute we were watching 1080p video through a TV, with the volume control on the phone controlling the volume on a home cinema setup.
There’s a short buffer time of a few seconds before video clips start, but audio quality is impressive and jumping from a video gallery clip to a YouTube video to a photo slideshow is about as fast as it is on the phone itself. It’s not perfect, as after trying a few games we did notice a slight lag that would prevent you from playing most titles using the phone as a controller (Wii U style) but aside from this and the odd disconnect, it’s a seriously appealing optional accessory, particularly for those that don’t have a Smart TV.
Available from Amazon
Battery life is surely one of the biggest bug-bears of modern smartphones, and while the HTC One does a more than admirable job of holding its charge there will be the odd occasion when you can’t get to a mains supply and are desperate for a bit of extra juice. Like most accessories on this list, portable phone chargers are rife these days and many are universal, but we opted for Duracell’s 5-hour portable charger with 1800mAH capacity as one of the best all-round solutions on the market.
Housing twin USB ports (to charge two devices simultaneously) and a mains plug (with both UK and European adapters) this charges itself by plugging into the mains, with a handy push-button indicator to display current capacity. It is a little bulky, and as is typical of these sorts of devices the purported capacity doesn’t link up accurately with a percentage charge on the phone. The HTC One’s 2300mAH battery was boosted by just under 50% (from 30% to 78% in our tests), and did take a bit longer to charge than a conventional mains adapter (90 minutes compared to one hour). But still, it could be seriously useful on a long commute or when away from mains power.
Duracell also offer a smaller, far more portable 1150mAH charger that charges via USB and though it offers less power, will appeal to those who want something pocket-sized.
Available from Duracell.
One category of accessories that is rarely in short supply for new phones is cases, and the HTC One already has a veritable smorgasbord available from budget options for a few pounds to HTC’s own selection of custom-designed options, which include the Double Dip Flip and Double Dip. We’re going with Otterbox on this one, despite the fact that most people will probably want to avoid using a case to appreciate the smooth lines and outstanding finish of the phone.
Otterbox has established a name for itself largely by offering top-notch protection without sacrificing aesthetics. The Commuter case is a great example – available in a range of colours (we’re particularly fond of the minimalist black design) it comprises of an inner silicon layer to absorb shock impact and a hard polycarbonate shell. This is about as snug a fit as you can expect from a smartphone case, especially on the HTC One, and while it does add some inevitable bulk, feels tidy in the hand and reassuringly protective. It also looks great, and was the best compromise we could find in terms of adding protection and still maintaining a “wow” factor.
If you’re particularly worried about damaging your expensive new purchase, Otterbox also offers a “Defender” edition with built-in screen protector (which does a surprisingly good job of maintaining the excellent quality display and responsive touch screen operation) and though fairly bulky has three layers of protection, with an additional rubber grip polymer on the outside.
Available from MobileFun
As with cases, browsing a selection of “compatible” in-car docks and chargers will leave you spoiled for choice. Many are universal and designed to work with a whole range of makes and models, but since we’re looking at the “best” accessories available for the HTC One, we’re going with HTC’s own Car Kit.
Yes, this is pretty expensive, but the aesthetics are far beyond cheaper, universal offerings and there are a few more bells and whistles to boot. After attaching the unit to the windscreen or dashboard (an adhesive dashboard disk is supplied) we were impressed by the solid, quality construction and suction mount mechanism that keeps it firmly in place.
In-car charging comes bundled with a cigarette-lighter adapter and USB cable, which is specifically designed for the dock and helps keep the phone securely in place as well as automatically enabling the HTC One’s CAR app for dedicated in-vehicle control. It can also connect automatically to compatible HTC audio streamers (such as the HTC CAR V100 Bluetooth Visor) via Bluetooth.
There’s no doubt that the HTC One Car Kit looks great, and complements the aesthetics of your phone beautifully, but a sacrifice for the smooth fit and judder-free operation is that it won’t worth with a case, which along with the high price may put some users off. With this in mind, if in-car docks aren’t a high priority there are plenty of universal docks that can do a decent job for a far lower price.
Available from Mobile Fun
urBeats by Dr Dre
HTC made a smart move asking Dr Dre. to spruce up the audio on its line of Sensation phones, and since then Beats-enabled HTC models have become relatively commonplace. The HTC One also uses the standard to boost its headline front-facing speakers, and while you can also enjoy a more personal experience from headphones, sadly it doesn’t come with a branded set supplied. That’s not to say the stock ‘buds are bad – in fact they’re up there with the best no-brand earphones supplied with smartphones and MP3 players we’ve heard, but they’re clearly not up to scratch with the real thing.
To get the most from the audio of your HTC One it seemed logical to include the urBeats by Dr.Dre in this “best accessories” list, and they certainly don’t disappoint. The most noticeable difference is the bass response, with tones far punchier and deeper, though mid and high-range tones do sound crisper and more defined as well.
Apart from a rather subjective stance on the styling (we like it) the biggest disappointment is that the in-built controller unit only allows you to pause and restart playback, pick up or deny calls and activate voice control. According to the manual, Apple devices also benefit from track skip and search and volume control via buttons at each end, but on other devices, including the HTC One, you don’t get these extra functions.
Though not a cheap accessory, these are far from the most expensive headphones money can buy and represent an impressive upgrade on the otherwise capable “out of the box” experience.
Available from: Beats