By Stephen Schenck | February 22, 2013 4:10 PM
HTC’s One has a look to it that definitely sets it apart from HTC’s other models. Back when the first render of the phone leaked, I flat-out didn’t want to believe it was real. Then, when we saw so many other pictures of hardware that didn’t resemble it in the least, with those unusual dual speaker grilles and all, I was totally ready to believe that those others were how the One would actually arrive. But then, as we got closer to the phone’s launch, it started becoming increasingly clear that, yes, HTC was going with this design. Like any smartphone, that look is going to have both its fans and its haters, but today I’m not so interested in whether or not the design works that well for the HTC One, but just how original (or not) it might be.
Take a look at this guy, over to the right. With that silver top, bottom, and black bezel, you might think it was some sort of HTC One knock-off. Except, this phone, the JIAYU G3, came out last year, and pictures of it had been circulating for months prior. Is it a knock-off of the iPhone 5′s back, at least? Not likely, since those images pre-date the iPhone 5′s release, as well. At best, the HTC One’s design was obvious enough to occur independently to other manufacturers – at worst, HTC’s the one that’s making the knock-offs.
Even the details seem derivative. The phone’s chamfer – its beveled edges – harkens back again to the iPhone 5′s design. As if the appearance of copying design elements (or being “inspired” by them) wasn’t enough, we’ve already seen those iPhone 5 edges take a beating in the months of daily use that phone’s already endured, leaving handsets dinged-up and looking that much worse for the wear. At least if you’re going to take borrow something from another phone, borrow something that works – two nice, straight edges at every corner are just asking to take the brunt of phone abuse, and make that damage seriously easy to notice.
What about those speaker grilles? The dotted look is already something HTC’s been doing with models like the 8X, and to HTC’s credit, this feels more like an evolution of that than a strict rehash. But the dual front-facing speakers in general? Been there, seen that: Samsung’s gone down that road already with models like its Galaxy Player series or last year’s Galaxy Music.
So what does that make the HTC One? The screen is still an improvement over everything we’ve seen before, the camera (while we have doubts about the decisions that led to it) is at least trying something new, and the software, while not winning any awards for originality, looks decent enough.
Maybe this is what they mean when they talk about products “designed by committee.” The HTC One seems more like an amalgam of a lot of different ideas than anything forged by singular, driven inspiration.