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HTC One and HTC First smart phones: Same maker, different results

Consumer Reports News

The HTC One and HTC First may share a manufacturer and an operating system, but the similarities end there. Each phone has a unique interface for presenting and accessing news feeds and messaging apps. But only the One tackles that task with aplomb. Here's what we found:

The HTC One is a marquee model with a dazzling 4.7-inch, high-definition (1080p) display, and its sleekly curved aluminum unibody has a solid feel. We found its two amplified, front-firing speakers sounded better than those on many other phones, providing stereo sound loud enough and rich enough to enjoy without headphones.

A more intriguing feature is the HTC One's main camera, which uses a new type of image sensor called UltraPixel that promises less noisy, less blurry images in low light. What we found about the camera's performance was surprising, though we can reveal that we were impressed some of the cool things you could do with it.

One thing that's hard to miss on the HTC One is its unique, photo-rich interface, called BlinkFeed, which pours calendar notifications, news, and social-network feeds into a cascading mélange of captioned photos and text boxes. When fully fed, BlinkFeed may appear a bit chaotic, more like an endless, disorganized buffet of your personal news world. But at least you can move BlinkFeed out of the spotlight by choosing another screen for your home page.

Find the best model for your needs and budget: Check our cell phone buying guide and Ratings.

The aptly named HTC First has a slightly smaller (4.3-inch) display that also performed well in our tests, but its claim to fame is that it's the first smart phone optimized for Facebook Home, the social-network giant's overlay interface for Android phones. Facebook Home overlays the traditional Android screens of apps and widgets with a wallpaper-like Home screen called Cover Feed, an ever-changing slideshow of photo highlights, and the verbiage connected to them, from your Facebook newsfeed.

Our testers found that the Facebook Home interface drowns out or dilutes access to all of the other great features of the versatile Android platform. Besides, Android phones are already Facebook-friendly, thanks to the blue, blinking LEDs, vibration and sound alerts, and a notifications menu that ensures you'll never miss a single update from your Facebook world—or from any other messaging app.

Also included in our new cell phone Ratings is the T-Mobile version of the iPhone 5. Like the AT&T version, it has the advantage of access to two 4G data networks , LTE and HSPA+, though T-Mobile's LTE network is not yet widely available.

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