You’ve heard about how darn beautiful the HTC One is, about its thoughtful aluminum body and its abandonment of the megapixel myth. We’ve previously held it in person, on a controlled show floor. But now we have one in our office, and wow, this is exactly how a smartphone should be made.

Over the past few years, companies have put an enormous emphasis on big screens, more megapixels, faster specs. That was good for a time. But we’ve reached a point where every device can be lumped into a crowd of sameness. Samsung has been the most successful at differentiating. HTC is hoping its One gamble will similarly pay off.

The One is lovely to look at, and equally as pleasing to hold; the phone is strikingly well-made. The engineering behind it is absolutely supreme. The screen is incredible—that’s no surprise from HTC—as we knew it would be because of how great the DNA’s display looked. It’s 4.7-inch Full HD screen puts the entirety of the device at a comfortable size, not too big or small, and the curved back piece is ergonomically pleasant. It just feels good.

We just got the phone so we haven’t been able to run through BlinkFeed, or HTC Sense 5 as a whole, but everything so far looks just fine. At the moment it all seems very fluid and zippy, but this is brand new, fresh out of the box, so that could change with increased usage. We don’t expect things to get too bogged down, though, especially since the One is running Android 4.1.

This is a big release, although the timing is getting dangerously close to the Galaxy S IV, which we’ll see unveiled on March 14. Either HTC is confident the One can do battle with Samsung’s next big thing, or it’s absolutely nuts. From what we’ve briefly experienced, we’d go with the former.