Today HTC took to the stage in New York City, in front of hundreds of journalists, analysts, and tech dignitaries, and announced that from now on their smartphones will look and feel different. The flagship for this new design, the HTC One, was heralded by the company as “the best phone ever”. Obviously that’s HTC’s opinion, but the phone still needs to actually deliver the experience that HTC has promised — or at least something close to it.Hardware and designOne of the fascinating things about HTC’s approach to the launch of the One is the complete and total lack of actual specs. During the presentation, the hardware that drove this new experience was only ever mentioned in ways that applied to what HTC was now able to deliver. We’ve long since heard that specs don’t matter, but HTC is the first company in recent memory to actually stick to that in their unveiling of a new piece of hardware.This aversion to specs might even lead you to think that the One offered meager hardware, but the truth is far from that. HTC has packed a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset with 2GB of RAM and a 4.7-inch, 1080p Super LCD 3 at 468 PPI. The 2300mh battery is the only questionable spec, but only a thorough review will show whether or not that’s an acceptable battery size. On paper along, the HTC One cleanly trounces the competition on the market today.When it’s in your hand, the HTC One feels the way a premium phone should. HTC basically took everything there is to love about the design of the Droid DNA and made it smaller all around while replacing the soft touch rubbery material with an all-aluminum surface. The One offers a smooth-yet-textured coating that feels just textured enough to grip your hand, but smooth enough that it doesn’t grip the lining of your pocket.The front of the phone offers the same all Gorilla Glass coating as the Droid DNA, with soft edges that make you feel like the screen ends somewhere on the side of the phone. The phone is just big enough to make you stretch your fingers a bit to reach the whole screen, but fits comfortable enough in the hand that you’re not concerned about dropping it when you do so.HTC has included an IR blaster with the One, and they managed to conceal it in a truly clever way. The power button for the phone is the IR blaster, the glossy black plastic acts as the transmission point for commands sent from the phone. This doesn’t interfere with the power button in any way, in fact both the power and volume buttons on the One are very comfortable to use while managing to be almost perfectly flush with the phone.You can comfortably reach these buttons no matter how you hold the phone, and you never interfere with things like audio playback while trying to wake the phone since the speakers are on the front. The design one the One manages to continue the evolutionary feel to the HTC line, ans well as comfortable, sturdy, and clearly well thought out.SoftwareWhile Motorola seems to be focusing on delivering a “near Stock” Android experience, HTC is definitely pulling further away from Android as it is envisioned by Google. The One is rocking Android 4.1.2, but you wouldn’t know it by looking t it. The OS still relies on touch buttons on the glass instead of software keys, and you’ll notice a severe lack of Google+ integration or an obvious way to reach Google Now.The launcher has returned to HTC’s glory days, placing all the apps in a vertical slider that you can now control by choosing how many columns are in the display. The desktop view now places focus on HTC’s “Blink Feed” first, and offers separate pages for apps or widgets. HTC has decided to focus on what they can deliver the user, and it’s clear they have no intention of allowing Google to get in the way of that.The animations for the whole OS are plenty smooth, though the inertial scrolling for the launcher and the Blink Feed make sure to stop you after about a page of scrolling, which makes the phone feel choppy if you flick fast enough. Blink Feed wants to replace your social surfing, your RSS feed, and your photo scrolling widget all in one go. It’s not a bad idea, and HTC seems dedicated to making it easy for any content provider to offer themselves up into this feed system. It’s a big RSS widget, or at least that’s how most people will use it.HTC’s camera software has made sure to be just as improved as the rest of the phone, offering all new recording and sharing tools to go with that four ultrapixel camera. While it was impossible to thoroughly test the camera in a dark and crowded room, HTC wanted to make sure we all knew that they had this whole low light thing handled. Taking photos with HTC phones is always a treat, and the One looks like it will offer more of the same.The HTC Zoe feature, which was toted as a bold new way to take living photographs, will feel absolutely new and unique to anyone who hasn’t used Vine. What sets Zoe apart from Vine is the idea that all of the work is being done for you in Zoe. You can take a look at our test of HTC Zoe right here.HTC gets agressiveBy any measure, the HTC One is an impressive phone. I’m not ready to call it the best phone in the whole world, but HTC sure is. In fact, that’s my biggest take away from the HTC event — this company has come out swinging, with every intent to either knock their competitors down a peg or go down in a blaze of glory.Right up to the launch of the phone, HTC employees weren’t just eager to show off the phone, they were proud that the phone had come to exist right now. As I left the even contemplation just how full of yourself you have to be to call your phone the best ever, I spotted the van parked outside with HTC’s new advertising platform plastered on it. HTC is intentionally targeting fanboys, giving them the ability to point at their phone and say “your phone can’t do this” and be right. It’s vaguely reminiscent of the way Samsung released ads for the Galaxy S3 bragging about how much better they were than the iPhone, only here HTC is offering that ability openly to their own users.