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The HTC One: Don't Drop It

Stocks in this article: FB AAPL QCOM MSFT GOOG

The review unit was swiftly replaced, of course, but I asked a Sprint (S) store what would happen if one of these front plates came off for a regular consumer. I was told that if it happened outside the initial exchange/return period, it would be treated as "user error" and that I would either have to repair it myself, or buy a new one for $550. The Sprint store said it could not repair it.

Keep in mind, the front plate came off the device not because I dropped it. It just came off while inside a pocket, and I noticed it when I pulled it out. You can even feel the sharp line at the corner of the HTC One where something could get stuck and rip off this front plate, which is affixed seemingly only with glue.

iFixit gave the HTC One a teardown/repairability score of 1 -- the lowest of any phone ever. In contrast, the new Samsung Galaxy S4 got a score of 8 -- one of the highest ever. In combination with the apparent sensitivity to this front plate coming off, Sprint's inability or unwillingness to repair it for a general consumer and the record-low iFixit score, these are key reasons I would never buy the HTC One.

There are other parts of the HTC hardware that are great, however. The display is the best I've seen at 1080x1920 in a 4.7-inch size. The CPU is the market-leading Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 600. WiFi is 801.11ac. Basically, the hardware specs are almost exactly like the Samsung Galaxy S4. For now, the HTC One is a spec leader.

One other part of the hardware that's class-leading is the speakers. They are stereo and point forward. I have never heard any other smartphone match it. You can watch a movie on this one and fill up a small living room with sound. Truly the best of its kind.

What about the software? Several points to be made here, none of them positive:

1. Which version of Android does it run? It is based on Android 4.1.2, which was current as of October 2012. The current version of Android is 4.2.2, and you have had it for a while already if you have the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which was introduced in October 2011.

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