There is a new competition for the Android top dog on the market the HTC One (M8), the latest from the Taiwanese firm.
Are you wondering what is “M8” means? It stands for metal the eighth – generation of HTC.
The original HTC One was a design statement. The company decided not to mess with the formula for its successor, with an all-metal design, faster internals and a larger screen. You could easily mistake the new M8 handset from the old one, until you turn it over and spot the unique dual camera.
A more impressive metal design, bigger display screen and the best software with HTC Sense 6 and running a top Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat version. The new HTC One is simply the best smart phone HTC has ever made.
The result offers up something that can compete with Samsung on the technological front yet still stand toe-to-toe with Apple, arguably the producer of some of the best-looking devices of all time.
The HTC One (M8) is the best in terms of the design. No other company does a better job of highlighting and distancing itself from the common plastic rectangle look. It has a similar frame with the Apple than with any other Android OEM when it comes to the look and feel of its latest phones and the new M8 is no exception.
HTC took great pains to point out that the One (M8) is the phone that builds on the heritage of last year’s One, but improves in just about every arena. The metal chassis is still there and the aluminum casing now makes up 90% of the frame up from about 70% previously. This is probably the most significant change, along with the fact that the back and sides are now more curved, as it brings a really impressive feel in the hand.
For instance the M8’s bezel (where the screen and phone edge meets) is alluringly reflective and convincingly conveys that you’re holding a luxury handset. Even so the bezel is not polished to the same eye-catching sheen as the first One.
The HTC One M8 comes in two additional color options the silver and gold, which don’t have the brushed metal pattern (which HTC calls “hairline”). For us, if you like the sleek feel machine engraved line that can be seen across the back of the phone, best to have the same metal grey finish but for the arctic silver and amber gold feel has a different stylish aesthetic attitude story to tell.
The M8’s BoomSound audio system has a powerful pair of stereo speakers, located on the front display of the phone, the mesh/grill appearance belts out a ton of sounds. The M8 is definitely a louder one and it produces way more quality presence than last year’s model. Expect M8 to be a better version since they enhanced the BoomSound audio system by cranking up the volume by 25% and improved its frequency range.
The headphone port has been moved to the bottom. For some users they will find it undesirable. I think maybe it is because of unintuitive place to add the port, as I’ve become used to having it at the top. Arguments that it makes it easier to slip in and out of the pocket don’t hold water, and it makes the phone hard to hold in portrait when listening to music.
It’s worth mentioning that with the new HTC One, we’ve moved to a nano-SIM card. It’s likely smaller than what you have before, so you might need to swap down in size. You’ll need a SIM-card adapter if you ever need to size back up.
Also new is the addition of a microSD card. Its back after a couple generations on the sidelines — and it comes at an interesting time for external storage. The new HTC One supports cards with up to 128 gigabytes of storage.
Despite the phone’s larger display, the device remains roughly the same size, thickness, and weight. Tipping the scales at 5.4 ounces (154.2 grams) the M8 understandably stands a little taller yet is just slightly heavier than the older One (5.04 ounces, 142.9 grams). It’s heavier than the Galaxy S5 too (5.1 ounces, 145 grams) even though the M8 lacks extra hardware such as a heart rate monitor and fingerprint scanner.
Be ready to pay top dollar for the HTC One (M8), but once you hold and feel it you will definitely say that it’s really worth the price.
The M8 is no finger-stretching giant – rather, it’s had a fairly modest size increase from the original One’s 4.7 inches to a new 5 inches display panel. While it can’t produce the same deep blacks and vibrant colors conjured by the OLED displays you’ll find in Samsung Galaxy handsets such as the Note 3 and GS4, the M8’s IPS LCD has a lot going for it.
With a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels for photo, video and text were also crisp on the phone’s screen even if it has a lower pixel density than the original One specifications of 4.7-inch and 1920 x 1080 pixels.
The M8 looks incredibly sharp even the smallest font size is legible with fantastic image quality the natural colors and pure bright whites can be seen along with impressively deep blacks for an LCD panel. A peak brightness of 491cd/m2 and sRGB color spectrum coverage of 93.7%, the M8 is among the best LCD screens we’ve seen in a smartphone, competing with the iPhone 5s in terms of brightness and contrast.
Speaking of the camera, that’s another big new area of improvement for HTC with this device. While with cutthroat competitors like Samsung and Nokia are pushing out 16 MP and 41 MP rear shooters, the HTC One’s has a mere 4 megapixels. The difference here is the pixels are bigger. HTC labeled the specification as “Ultra Pixels.” They changed the hardware and introduced the ‘Duo Camera’ twin imaging sensor. It performs some neat trips determining background from foreground, and can apply filters to different part of the image and has the ability to refocus images after they’re taken.
The larger M8’s eye supports the main camera and it handles the usual photo duty, while for the smaller lens (which sits next to it) is meant for an altogether different purpose.
In reality, you will simply use the feature called U-Focus and that is to bring background blur to your shots to give them a more professional radiance and it works really well.
Utilizing the volume key and motion option at the same time is possible. If you’re holding the phone in portrait mode and it’s locked, you can hold the volume down key and twist the phone through to landscape and activate the camera.
Another area of improvement is the Zoe camera feature, which makes a return to the HTC One (M8) after mixed reviews on the first phone. It’s a clever feature that allows you to take a small amount of footage to capture a scene rather than just taking loads of photos.
There’s a huge range of camera options to offer here and you can even add in your own settings and save them as ‘lenses’ in the camera option box. This means you can set the aperture, focal length and ISO setting of a photo for a certain scene type you like, and then save it to use again later. Or you can keep things a little simpler and use the excellent HDR mode as well as tweaking things like white balance and exposure individually.
The M8 has an improved front-facing camera compared from the old One. Most smartphone’s front shooter hover around the 2-megapixel mark, but the M8 cranks it up to 5 MP. It shows that the M8 capturing the sharpest-looking selfies of any smartphone camera I’ve seen.
HTC says it’s not focusing on the megapixel race, however, and so long as you’re looking for social and digital sharing, the camera should suit you very well.
As for the performance level you will expect the new HTC One packs in some of the fastest smartphone internals available in early 2014. Powering the phone is a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor which frankly just rolled off of the assembly line. But China and some other parts of Asia will get a slightly faster 2.5GHz model — still a Snapdragon 801.
In fact the One M8 is the first of a new crop of flagship phones for 2014 to feature the Snapdragon 801 which includes the Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2. The Galaxy S5 will bring a 2.5GHz processor and the users will hardly notice the difference.
Built by dominant mobile chip maker Qualcomm, the company says the 801 offers 25 percent faster graphics than the Snapdragon 800 that powers devices like the Note 3 and LG G2. This means a speed browsing gameplay and swifter Web surfing.
Whatever speed processor your HTC One (M8) uses, it’ll be backed up by an ample 2GB of DDR2 RAM, and 16 or 32GB of internal storage. There’s no 64GB model this time around, which is unfortunate for those wanting a massive helping of built-in flash. But at least you’re able to plug that gap with up to 128GB of microSD storage, which can be used for the two major smartphone memory hogs — photos and music.
HTC One (M8) Tech Specs
Operating system – Android 4.4.2
Processor – Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 @ 2.3GHz
RAM – 2GB
Screen – 5in LCD, 1920×1080 resolutions (441ppi)
Camera – 4.1UP and dedicated depth sensor rear, 5MP front
Storage – 16/32GB (microSD expandable by up to 128GB)
Connectivity – 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX
Battery – 2600mAh
Dimensions/weight – 146x71x9.4mm/160g
Software and Interface
The HTC One (M8) is running an all-new version Android 4.4.2 or KitKat for the confectionery-minded among you.
This has the effect of, once again, making things easy with speed under the finger and it also appears in a transparent menu bars and a greater prevalence of full screen windows for some apps.
The interface of the HTC One (M8) does it better – being able to equally offer easy to follow directions as well as giving the Android skin an identity. Layered on top of that is HTC’s most recent revamp of its Sense UI, version 6
Too bad on the notifications bar it’s not so good as it is on other brand handsets – you have to swipe down with two fingers instead of one to be able to toggle the likes of Wi-Fi on and off.
With every new flagship phone HTC re-tools its custom Sense interface and the launch of the One M8 is no different. For this latest re-think of Sense, version 6, the company says it has cleaned up the look of the Android skin to give it a freshened appearance.
Essentially the overall layout of Sense 6 remains the same. You have numerous home screens to customize to your heart’s content (now five instead of six that were in Sense 5.5) with app shortcuts and widgets.
A surprising feature HTC unveiled with the previous One last year was BlinkFeed, a magazine-like news aggregator in the vein of Flipboard. It’s designed to pull in articles from a vetted pool of media outlets and websites, and then serve everything up fresh via one vertically-scrolling panel.
BlinkFeed is set as the left-most homescreen, though unlike the first iteration of the feature (later fixed in Sense 5.5), users can disable it if they find no use for the function. Additionally, BlinkFeed is no longer mapped to phone’s home button as it was on the original One device.
The biggest change to BlinkFeed though is that you now have the option to search for and add custom topics to the service. HTC has also brought support for notifications from third party apps Foursquare and Fitbit into the BlinkFeed fold.
Lock Screen Shortcuts and Motion Launch
HTC has added some additional functions to the lock screen in Sense 6. You’ve got the usual app shortcuts — by default they’re phone, HTC text message app, HTC’s browser and the camera — which you can open directly from the lock screen.
Motion Launch is the new hotness, and it comprises five actions that will wake the phone:
1. Double tap the display to wake the phone. (Yes, just like what LG’s been doing for some time.)
2. Swipe left to “wake the widget panel” which means open to the homescreen.
3. Swipe right to wake the phone and launch BlinkFeed.
4. Swipe up to simply unlock the phone and return to whatever you were doing when it went to sleep.
5. Swipe down to wake the phone and turn on voice dialing.
Note that these all only work when the phone’s in portrait mode.
Equipped with a 2,600mAh battery, the HTC One M8 isn’t as well-endowed in the juice department as the big Galaxy Note 3 (3,200mAh), Motorola Droid Maxx (3,500mAh), or even Galaxy S5 (2,800mAh). The M8’s battery is a tad larger in capacity compared with the previous One (2,300mAh).
That’s impressive, but over a weekend we found ourselves charging the One M8 just as much as the regular One – it’ll last the day but not much more. Unless, that is, you deploy its genius Extreme Power Saving mode, which kills everything apart from a Kids Mode-style screen of Phone, Messages, Emails, Calendar, Calculator and a big Exit tile. More than worth it for a 40% longer battery.
Dot View Case
The HTC One (M8) debuted alongside a special new case for the smartphone, the Dot View case; this accessory offers a rubberized, perforated cover connected to a back shell for whole phone protection. The front cover offers pass-through touch input support, and displays notifications, time and weather using a dot matrix-style point display lit up by the phone’s LED.
If you need to answer an incoming call, you can swipe up to take it or down to reject, with the latter motion still used when you’re on a call – plus you can just hold the One (M8) to your ear to take the call if you’ve enabled that feature too. Using the phone with the case on and the cover open can be a challenge, especially if you want to do anything one-handed, as the front flap doesn’t fold snugly to the back.
HTC has played it safe with the HTC One M8; it isn’t a radical departure from the HTC One, but makes all the necessary upgrades in order to compete with other flagship handsets in 2014.
HTC is making the Android phone available through all major carriers simultaneously this time, had already started online and by April 10 in retail stores. Verizon customers don’t have to wait months, as they had last year. In an apparent concession, Verizon is the first to get them in stores.
The new phone, known officially as HTC One (M8), will cost about $200 to $250 with a two-year service contract, or about $650 without a contract.
HTC One M8 nailed the basic smartphone experience which include the outward appearance where they took a lot of effort in creating an exquisite design and easy to grasp phone and for that they deserve the reward of high praise for having done so.
And, above all, it continues to do what it does best: Bring us the best smartphone it possibly can.