The Android market has changed radically in the past couple of years. Where we once had a spec war, with manufacturers racing to release ever-more powerful smartphones as quickly as possible, now it’s turning into a marketing battle — and Samsung is winning by a mile. HTC, by comparison, isn’t doing so well. The company has learned some important lessons about not flooding the market with iterative designs, and the culmination of that is the aptly-named HTC One. It’s HTC’s flagship, the one device it’s putting all its weight behind.

It might seem a little reductive to only consider the HTC One in comparison to Samsung’s as-yet unseen Galaxy S 4, but the truth is that the HTC One can only succeed if it can steal back some of the marketshare it lost last year when the One X, which we found superior to the Galaxy S III in many ways, failed to compete with Samsung’s device.

The playbook this year looks surprisingly similar. The HTC One has top-notch hardware design and specs that are as good or better than anything else on the market today. But that’s long been the case with HTC, and it hasn’t been enough. So instead the company is making two gigantic bets: a surprising camera that rethinks how you take photos, and custom software that reimagines the home screen. Both features are likely to be polarizing, but the real question is whether the buzzwords, features, and HTC’s technical “innovation” add up to enough to convince consumers to give the phone a chance.

A quick note: HTC tells me my review unit isn't a retail model. That should mean only that it's not in retail packaging, but it's possible that there are slight software changes coming over time. I'll update here if that happens.