25 HTC One tips

Here, we offer up 25 top tips for the HTC One, which are sure to make ownership of this flagship Android blower a pleasure, not a pain.

Damien McFerran
Damien McFerran has more than a decade of experience in the interactive entertainment and technology sectors. He is also the Editorial Director of Nintendo Life and co-director of Nlife Ltd. Damien is a freelance writer and is not an employee of CNET.
Damien McFerran
8 min read

When you've purchased a new handset, it's understandable to be excited by the sheer potential contained within the phone's sleek frame -- but it's also common to feel a pang of trepidation. Modern mobiles are almost as convoluted as desktop PCs, offering a dazzlingly range of options and settings.

Thankfully, here at CNET UK we've got plenty of experience in dealing with these complex beasts. Here, we offer up 25 top tips for the HTC One, which are sure to make ownership of this flagship Android blower a pleasure rather than a pain.

1. Bypass BlinkFeed to get a more traditional homescreen

BlinkFeed is a big part of HTC's new Sense UI, but it's something of an acquired taste -- for some users, it's a little too different to the traditional Android homescreen experience. Sadly for those individuals, you can't disable BlinkFeed entirely, but you can render it less obtrusive by making one of your other homescreens your default view whenever you unlock the device.

Simply long-press on any homescreen and then long-press the thumbnail at the top of the screen. You'll see the option 'Set as home' appear. Select any screen other than BlinkFeed, and bingo -- you can now ignore it completely.

2. Customise your lock screen

If you're finding the default lock screen a little dull, you can switch to something more dynamic by going to Settings > Personalise > Lock Screen Style. You can pick from a rundown of your unread notifications -- including texts, missed calls, emails, calendar events or a selection of photos from your gallery. You can also have a music-based lock screen which allows you to quickly access your tunes.

3. Take a screenshot

Hold down the power button and down volume key to snap a screenshot of your phone's display.

4. Automatically upload your photos to the cloud

Open up the camera, tap the three dots in the bottom-left corner of the screen and then select Camera Options > Auto Upload. Select which service you'd like to upload the images to, and you'll never have to worry about backing up your snaps again.

5. Make your photos come alive

'Zoe' is HTC's flashy name for a new kind of image capture. Zoe images are a few seconds of video and 20 different images, and these really bring your photo gallery to life. To enable Zoe mode, simply tap the camera icon on the left side of the screen, in the middle. You can tell when you're taking a Zoe shot as the camera symbol slowly changes colour to illustrate that capture is in progress.

6. Customise your app drawer layout

Don't like the arrangement of icons in your app drawer? Why not tinker with the layout to suit your tastes? In the app drawer, simply swipe down slightly to reveal a row of settings. You can choose to arrange icons in 'Alphabetical' or 'Most Recent' order. You can also create a custom arrangement by moving icons around and creating folders.

7. Control which notifications fire up the phone's LED

Although you sadly can't pick the colour of the LED notification light, you can tell it what notifications you want it to flash for. This is handy if you're concerned about missing a text message, but aren't bothered about being told you have an inbox full of unread emails. Go to Settings > Display, Gestures and Buttons > Notification Flash to pick and choose.

8. Fill BlinkFeed with the content you want

BlinkFeed comes with a selection of pre-determined content sources, including The Guardian and CNET (naturally). You can customise what content is displayed in your BlinkFeed stream by pulling down on the stream and then tapping the three dot icon which appears on the right-hand side. You can select to have your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn status updates appear in the stream, as well as various news topics.

9. Disable Beats Audio

The HTC One's aural experience is powered by Beats Audio, which offers deep, rich bass for those times when you're simply itching to work your way through Dr. Dre's entire discography. This booming quality isn't for everyone, and those of you who like listening to lighter stuff -- Keane or Fleetwood Mac fans, anyone? -- will be relieved to know you can turn it off. Simply go to Settings, scroll down to the 'Phone' section and switch Beats Audio to off.

10. Use your HTC One as a TV remote

Is there anything this phone can't do? Using the pre-loaded HTC TV app, you can make your handset mimic a remote control, which means you'll never have to struggle down the back of the sofa to find that remote again.

11. Perform a hard reboot

Back in the old days, when your phone crashed you'd just pop the back off and pull out the battery to reset it. This method is being slowly phased out, however, with the advent of totally sealed phones. Thankfully there's still a way to reboot your HTC One on the rare occasions it decides to lock up entirely. Simply hold down the power button for 10 seconds and the phone will perform a hard reboot.

12. Enable Sleep Mode to save power

When your phone is in your pocket it doesn't need to keep sucking juice. Sleep Mode switches off 3G connectivity when your phone is inactive for long periods of time, and this saves an incredible amount of power. To turn it on, go to Settings > Power > Sleep Mode.

13. View the Web fullscreen

When using the HTC Web browser, tap the top of the screen to reveal the URL bar and then tap the three dot icon. Select Settings > General and then tick the 'Fullscreen' box. You can also force the browser to display the desktop view by ticking the box in the Settings menu. After all, who wants to view a mobile version of a site on a phone with such a massive screen, right?

14. Install a custom keyboard

One of the great things about Android is that if you don't like your phone's on-screen keyboard, you can install one of your own. There are loads of alternatives available on the Google Play store, and once you've picked and installed the one you like you simply have to go to Settings > Language and Keyboard and select your new option. Before you ditch the default though, make sure you try out the wonderfully intuitive 'trace to type' option -- you can enable it from the Language and Keyboard menu.

15. Customise your homescreen dock icons

Across the bottom of the screen are four icon shortcuts which allow you to access your phone book, messages, Internet and camera. You can customise these shortcuts to suit your own personal tastes, and even add folders to increase the number of apps in the dock. Simply long-press an icon and drag it away from the dock to remove. To add an icon, locate it in your application drawer and then long-press to pick it up and drag it down to the dock. You can create a folder by dragging one icon over another.

16. Find an app quickly

If you've downloaded loads of apps and games from the Google Play store then finding the one you want is easier said than done, especially if you're in a hurry. To save yourself searching through the entirety of the phone's app drawer, simply tap the magnifying glass icon and type in the name of the app you're after.

17. Use your phone as a torch

Trying to unlock your front door in total darkness isn't a fun task, but with the HTC One you can get a bit of illumination to help when you return home from your late-night activities. The Torch app boasts different brightness levels, too.

18. Keep your kids safe when they're using your phone

The HTC One comes with Zoodles Kid mode pre-installed, which means you can keep your little ones safe when your phone is serving as an all-important entertainment device on long, dull car journeys. Kid Mode selects content appropriate for the child's age and won't allow them to use apps which could potentially put them at risk online.

19. Transfer your content from your old phone

Getting a shiny new handset is one of life's simple pleasures, but the process of getting all of your information from your old phone to its replacement is often a painful affair. Thank goodness then that the HTC One comes with a handy tool to make things easier. Go to Settings > Transfer Content and select which kind of device you're upgrading from. It doesn't even have to be an Android handset -- you can port over content from your iPhone, Windows Phone or Blackberry.

20. Extend the phone's stamina with Power Saver mode

Modern smart phones are veritable powerhouses of cutting-edge technology, cramming Wi-Fi, 3G, super-bright screens and powerful graphics chips into their svelte frames. The downside of this is that battery life isn't as good as it could be, which is why you'll want to use the HTC One's built-in Power Saver mode to ensure your phone gets through an entire day before gasping for a top-up.

This mode is based around four key areas: CPU Power, Display, Vibration and Data Connectivity. You can choose to activate one or more of these to dial-down the phone's ravenous appetite for power.

21. Backup your phone's settings to the cloud

Misplacing your phone is one thing, but losing all of the valuable settings you've spent weeks perfecting is almost as annoying. Thankfully, you can backup this valuable information to the cloud which means that if you do happen to lose your handset, you can configure the replacement in a matter of seconds.

22. Share media content with other devices

You can effortlessly share images and video to your TV using the HTC One's media sharing capability. You'll need a HTC Media Link box, or a device on the same Wi-Fi network which has DLNA support. Predictably, HTC's option is a little slicker, as it works with the phone's touchscreen to make the process even more intuitive. To share a photo to the TV, all you have to do is place three fingers on the phone's screen and 'fling' the image upwards.

23. Shut down unused apps

Because the HTC One lacks a multi-tasking button, to access the standard Android multi-tasking menu you have to do things a little differently. Simply double tap the home button and you'll see a grid of running apps. To shut one down, simply place your finger on it and then swipe upwards.

24. Switch off unwanted applications

The usual strategy when you have an application which annoys you is to simply uninstall it, but some applications can't be removed. Thankfully, Android now allows you to disable irksome programs. Go to Settings > Apps > and then swipe across to the 'All' panel. Find the app and tap the 'Disable' button. Be wary of turning off key system apps, as this may cause your phone to behave strangely.

25. Secure your phone's lock screen

If you've lost your phone, what kind of sensitive data could a stranger discover on it? Work information in your emails? A link to your online banking? Your name and address? Too many of us are content to leave our phones unprotected, which is why you'll want to engage some kind of lock screen security when you get your HTC One.

By default it is set to 'none', which means all you have to do is slide up the lock icon to gain access. To change this, visit Settings > Security > Screen lock. You can select from a pattern lock, a numerical pin, a password or even your face. Face Unlock uses your mug to grant access, but it's not 100 per cent foolproof -- it can be overcome using a photo of you, so don’t rely on it too much.

Thanks to Vodafone for providing the handset used to create this feature.