If you had to nitpick, one of the HTC One's more polarizing features is Sense 5, a re-imagination of Android that transforms your homescreen into what's essentially a second-rate Flipboard clone. And although it's fairly easy to customize the UI skin and hide the stuff you don't want to see, some reviewers felt that the gorgeous aluminum construction of the One deserved better software.
Come June 26, those critics may get their wish. Google announced this week that you'll soon be able to purchase an unlocked HTC One for AT&T and T-Mobile that comes pre-loaded with the stock version of Android Jelly Bean available on the Nexus 4. The phone, which will cost $599 through the Google Play store, will be competing directly with Samsung's $649 Galaxy S4 stock edition, which goes on sale the same day.
It naturally raises the question: Is pairing the HTC One with Google's purest distillation of Android a match made in heaven?
Probably! But there are a few tiny concerns worth noting. "You'll still have to deal with HTC's weirdo button layout," says Nilay Patel at The Verge, who had an early hands-on. "The home button is on the right, not the middle, and it's a long press for Google Now and a double-tap for recent apps."
Engadget reports that the One's Beats Audio hardware will still be optimized, so your music will still sound deep and and rumbly, especially compared to the tinny sound emanating from other smartphones.
One of the bigger question marks, though, is if the One's UltraPixel camera — which is incredible in low-light settings — will still deliver if paired with stock Android software. (Google's Hugo Barra says Google and HTC are working together to ensure the camera works as promised.)
That said, the phone will essentially be "the same great HTC One hardware but this time with pure AOSP (Android Open Source Project) build, skin, and thus pure Nexus experience," says Brian Klug at AnandTech. And with LG's recent announcement that it isn't working on a new Nexus 5, the HTC One-Nexus pairing could be the phone Android users have been dreaming about.