NEW DELHI: HTC recently released a couple of smartphones under Rs 40,000: One E9+ and One ME. In our review of One E9+, we found it to be a fantastic phablet, offering a great deal of features and great performance for the price, which gives it a distinct place in HTC’s lineup. On the other hand, One ME seems to be suffering an identity crisis: it has almost all the features of the company’s India flagship One M9+ (fingerprint sensor, 2K screen, identical design, 4G support, equally powerful chipset, same camera setup, etc), but costs a little less.
Adding to HTC One ME’s woes is the fact it costs approximately Rs 37,000 in the market at present, which is just Rs 1,000 less than Samsung Galaxy S6’s current price tag.
Read our HTC One ME review to find out if the almost-flagship has what it takes to create a distinct identity for itself and capture the limelight from Samsung Galaxy S6 among buyers.
You will notice One ME’s HTC roots as soon as you set eyes on it, as it looks exactly like the company’s One M9 and One M9+ smartphones. Design elements like the curved back, front-facing speakers and fingerprint scanner below the screen are common among all three smartphones, but a closer look shows a few differences between One ME and its two siblings.
For starters, One ME sports plastic+metal construction, whereas One M9+ and M9 boast of all-metal body. The plastic back cover used in One ME is of very good quality, but catches fingerprints easily. On the sides is a metallic frame that, coupled with the high-quality polycarbonate back panel, gives the smartphone a solid feel. The curved back casing makes it easy to grip in the hand at all times.
The Power and Volume buttons as well as the microSD card slot are on the right side of One ME, whereas the two sim card slots are on the left. HTC has covered the microSD card and sim card slots with flaps that are easy to remove. The microUSB port and earphone jack are located at the bottom of the phone. Like other HTC phones, One ME comes with dual stereo speakers that are placed above and below the screen.
HTC One ME’s camera setup protrudes slightly and is surrounded by a metallic ring; on the left, it is flanked by the two-tone dual-LED flash. As was the case with the company’s E9+, the lens takes up only a small portion of the whole camera setup in this smartphone as well.
The fingerprint scanner is easy to access even when you are using the HTC One ME with one hand. However, we had a little problem with the placement of the Volume and Power buttons; there is very little gap between the two keys and we accidentally hit the volume down key while trying to turn the screen off and vice versa.
HTC One ME has a 5.2-inch IPS display panel with screen resolution of 1440x2560p (2K/QHD), the highest any smartphone offers at the moment. The screen packs 565 pixels per inch, which is second only to Samsung Galaxy S6’s pixel density of 577ppi. This makes the One ME display among the most gorgeous we have seen recently, and a treat to watch videos on.
The viewing angles are very good as well, so you won’t have any trouble even if two or more people watch videos on the phone at the same time. The contrast levels are pretty balanced and colour reproduction is good such that you get punchy colours but not over-saturated. HTC One ME’s display panel also delivers under direct sunlight so you have no trouble reading outside.
HTC has picked the 64-bit octa-core Mediatek MT6795 chipset running at 2.2GHz to power the One ME smartphone, paired with 3GB RAM. The smartphone comes with 32GB of internal storage and supports microSD cards of up to 2TB (2,000GB) capacity, even though the maximum capacity available today is 200GB.
On the camera side, you get a 20MP rear camera with two-tone LED flash and a 4MP front camera. The battery capacity of the smartphone is 2,840mAh. Apart from standard connectivity features (like 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and microUSB 2.0), this smartphone also comes with Infrared. HTC has added Dolby Audio to the speakers for better sound quality.
One ME runs on the company’s proprietary Sense UI, based on Android 5.0.2 (Lollipop). The software is similar to what we saw on One E9+, offering a few Material Design elements & animations, BlinkFeed-based news updates on the homescreen, a number of preloaded apps, and several customization options.
Though the software is largely same as that of One E9+, the smaller One ME comes preinstalled with the company’s Fun Fit fitness tracking app. This app is pretty useful and tracks the number of steps taken, calories burnt, etc.
The smartphone does not have any hardware buttons below the screen; you get on-screen keys instead. HTC One ME’s software can store up to five fingerprints at a time.
In terms of usage and operations, the software is smooth and easy to go through. However, unlike Samsung, whose new user interface is a lot cleaner and organized, the HTC UI seems a little too plain and cluttered.
The MT6795 chipset and 3GB of HTC One ME were able to bear the load with ease in our review period. The Sense UI makes the experience more cohesive and makes One ME a more integrated handset.
Though HTC One ME is a smooth handset, it does not match the level of performance delivered by Samsung Galaxy S6, which is also priced under Rs 40,000. Nevertheless, you will not find the smartphone to be bogged down by any apps, tasks, or games. We did not find any overheating issues with the smartphone as well.
The fingerprint scanner used in HTC One ME is hypersensitive to say the least. The fingerprint sensor lights up the screen if you touch it with any finger, though it unlocks the handset only if you place the registered finger/thumb on the scanner. Many a time, the phone woke up as we slipped the smartphone into the pocket, so you need to be careful while keeping the phone on your person.
This phone’s fingerprint sensor also acts as the Home button and will bring you to the primary homescreen from any app you are using. The fingerprint sensor, on the whole, is accurate and fast and we did not face any problems, as it unlocks the screen as soon as you place the thumb on the scanner.
As a multimedia device, HTC One ME is fantastic. The BoomSound speakers with Dolby Audio and the 5.2-inch QHD screen make for a great pair as both the video and sound are of excellent quality. The front-facing speakers are pretty loud and clear, and can replace your bedside speakers if you want.
Battery life, however, is one concern for us, as the smartphone’s 2,840mAh battery failed to deliver desired results. We consistently got less than a day’s battery life even with moderate usage, which is not a surprise since the high-resolution screen takes a lot of power to fire up those pixels. However, what was surprising was the loss of charge even when the phone was not in active use (though it was connected to Wi-Fi/4G networks during the period). We connect all phones to the internet constantly during review periods and have not seen this behaviour before.
The 20MP rear camera of HTC One ME delivers pretty great photos, though the colours appear to be ever-so-slightly oversaturated. The camera app is able to hide noise during image processing in lowlight conditions without losing details, which is a major thumbs-up for the phone. As you can see in the images below, you get more than enough details in the photos taken with HTC One ME.
The front camera has 4MP resolution and over-exposes the images a little so that you lose out on details more often than not. However, it too is able to take care of noise in indoor shots.
HTC One ME is a good phone by most measures, but it has the misfortune to fall in a category where Samsung Galaxy S6 is present. The Samsung flagship smartphone beats the HTC model on all fronts on all counts, which is unfortunate as the One ME is a decent performer with great audio, excellent screen, and good camera. It is good, but just not good enough to dominate the Samsung Galaxy S6.
However, it comes with support for dual-sim cards, which is something neither the Samsung smartphone nor the HTC One M9+ can boast of.
If you choose to go for HTC One ME as the smartphone of choice under Rs 40,000, you would be pretty satisfied with its overall performance, except on the battery front.