The new HTC One M8 Review
After seven-years of testing and manufacturing dozens of new designs, offering customers countless new hardware configurations and software choices, smartphones are slowly starting to normalize.
Although there still are a few concept-variations, the standard design for popular smartphones offer a 5″ to 6″ screen, a powerful processor to run the latest preferred platform, and a storage-base that now tends to begin at 16GB. With normalization and enough customer feedback, manufacturers can focus on improving what works and what customers enjoy in a smartphone (granted this doesn’t mean they always get it right).
At the top of most consumers’ checklists is the display, its what we spend the most time looking at and it is easily one of the most important factors when buying a new phone. The HTC One M8 has one of the best displays on the market, not just on paper, but I think it will speak for itself the moment you test one.
The 1080p screen is vertically 5.76 inches tall, an improvement over the previous version, but it’s the actual display that I think will win people over. If you check the specs yourself you might be perplexed by the drastic improvement that you see on the screen. Last year’s model actually had a better ppi, but the new display is one of the best on the market thanks to new design choices from HTC.
If are like me and constantly find yourself holding your iPhone while not realizing you are covering the speakers, you will love the BoomSound speakers placement on the HTC One. Not only are they well placed, they are well designed. Although most of us only listen to our phone with headphones, you might have had an experience or two when you realized smartphone speakers aren’t all made equally. The HTC One M8 outperforms any of the speakers I’ve tested in the past, and although they won’t be as perfect as your headsets, its nice to have a well sounding option.
If you are a constant app-switcher, video watcher, or game player then the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor fitted with 2GB of RAM will keep you swiping and shifting-apps faster than ever before on an HTC; or even other top-brand models that you may have tried in the past.
The phone’s battery lasted well over a typical day for me on normal use, and about 20-24hrs on heavier use watching some videos and researching websites for load-speed and app testing. There is even an emergency power-save mode that allows you to halt all of your phones fancier applications and allows you to still receive calls and texts. Perfect when you need it, turned off when you don’t.
The camera choice for the new HTC One is a bit of a mystery, it’s the same one HTC offered last year, only with a few decent tricks and a better UI to use it with. It remains as a camera that aims to do better in low-light situations, but doesn’t offer the best stats when compared to other phones when compared spec-sheet to spec-sheet. The phone offers nice touches like built-in filters for you photos, easy to use ‘selfie-taking’ apps and easy to use manual settings, if you want to get creative. The camera isn’t bad, its just not as updated and refreshing as the rest of the phone.
Although the camera itself may not be as updated as I would have liked, the software is still one of the best in the business, and getting even better. The new phone brought with it UFocus. While utilizing a second lens on the back of the phone, the lens is dual-recording while you take pictures, so you can do some amazing work in post-editing. You can refocus your photos, even when they are already taken, blur out the foreground or the background, there is so much that you can do, It’s really innovative, and simple to use. You can play with tilt-shifts, alternate macro-shots, used forced-perspectives and more. It’s an awesome feature and one I suggest you try out when shopping around.
All of these inner-workings are wrapped in either a silver or gold frame, there is also a brushed-silver if you prefer an antiqued look with your electronic devices. While thin (9.35 millimeters) it comes in at 160g and it isn’t the lightest phone to have in your jacket pocket. All of this comes from the plastic to metallic upgrades that the new HTC One has over the previous version. The metallic substitutes aren’t just better looking, the phone is far more durable and should feel solid and well designed in your hand.
With a new phone comes a new case, there is the new Dot View Case, one that will allow you to check some notifications, the current time, weather conditions or other quick-view data and it is a remarkably well thought out but not exactly an elegant design. It is by no means necessary, but if you normally put a case on your phone, this might be the best functional option you can find on the shelves. Here is a quick video of the features with the case.
Like many features that come pre-installed on smartphones, there a few new services and built-in features that you will either love or not use. BlinkFeed was a personal favorite of mine and one that I hope really catches on with users. Sitting just a motion-swipe away from your home screen is an endless supply of articles and information, perfect for that short wait online at the drugstore, or while waiting for the next train.
It is designed to be just a quick self-updating feed, but one that is informative and interesting enough that you will actually want to check it. Think of it as an info-banner at the bottom of a newscast, not the focus, but useful and fun/informative to watch every now and then.
One of the popular features shown at the press-event was how easy the universal remote app works, I was amazed it is just as easy as advertised but I still think people like to use their phone as a second-screen to keep themselves busy while they watch a movie, not to use as a gadget for something else. Sixth Sense, the sixth reiteration of Sense is far more ascetically pleasing than the previous versions that came before it, so the move from another Android device should be much simpler.
Other interesting perks can be found in the software and hardware choices in the new HTC One, including the functions that will fill up most of your day-to-day operations. The HTC is a workhorse that is fun to use and even nicer to look at. Jumping from Android to Android a lot of the functions should be second nature, but event when I was jumping from iOS to the HTC (though I’ve tested out dozens of Android power phones) I think new users will have an easy transition with the wonderful screen, the powerful sound and well designed UI that HTC delivers in the new One.
Now I do think the standard backside camera might scare off a few potential buyers, but that will come down to how much you use your camera, and more importantly what you use your smartphone camera for. I think that cameras in phones became so important so fast, that most shoppers aren’t exactly happy unless the wheel has been reinvented all over again and the numbers are better than the last version. If you spend a lot time recording your life and capturing the light and subjects around you, and you often find yourself angry by the composition capabilities of your phone, then you should test this out first. If you find that you mostly use cameras to take a picture, then post that picture on a social-media site, then I think you will find this camera easily will fit within your needs.
As for the HTC One as a whole, its the best phone that the company has made to date. I think it will lure-in a lot of buyers looking for a better UI to take pictures with and new, more functional features. At any rate it should be a phone on your comparison list if you are looking for a new one.