2013 was an interesting year for HTC with their release of the HTC One (M7). One of the main reasons was that HTC had been known to make various models and gear them towards certain carriers. Sprint for one stood out with their HTC Evo line and was hailed as some great devices. HTC would continue this with One X (AT&T), S (T-Mobile), Droid DNA (Verizon) and countless other models. For them to create one universal model was something different in their playbook but I think helped them create one of the best built phones the mobile industry had ever seen. The M7 was praised for its aluminum unibody, terrific screen and not too big size. They did take a gamble with the UltraPixel camera tech, which some liked and others panned (such as myself).
A year later and several awards (including here at G Style with Android Smartphone of the Year) received, HTC has given us the successor to the HTC One dubbed the “HTC One M8”. I’m glad they didn’t go with the “All New” title as it sounded cheesy. With an all-out release on all carriers (T-Mobile hits on April 11th), HTC has made easy to get in the hands of all consumers at one time and get a feel of the new One. Is the new HTC One (M8) up to the task of being the best again?
First of all when you pick up the M8, you will feel just how excellently built this device is. Last year the M7 had a nice unibody with plastic on the sides, the M8 has been smoothed out in all aspects and there isn’t one ounce of plastic on it besides the top where the power button and huge infrared sensor reside. Flip over to the bottom and there is a microUSB slot and headphone jack. On the front of the M8 you have those wonderful dual speakers known as BoomSound, nanoSIM card slot on the left side and what I was so happy to see is a microSD card slot expandable to 128GB. Expandable memory should always be an option on smartphones and glad to see HTC brought it back. Now if you are used to the HTC One M7 and while they do look similar, the size difference may take getting used to. The M7 came in at 4.7” while the M8 grew some legs and is 5” and is slightly heavier. Also with the phone being polished and smoothed out so good, it may be harder to get a grip on it. I haven’t had much problems with it, but I know some have found some issues, unless of course you add a case then that could give you the best solution.
As mentioned earlier, the display on the M8 comes in a decent sized 5” of 1080p goodness. While it is 3” longer than its predecessor I think it’s a perfect size. The M7 used an S-LCD 3 screen with the M8 using an IPS LCD display. Images look sharp and offer realistic color detail while checking out HD video on it is clean and crisp with apps such as HBO GO or Epix. A cool feature to note on the M8 in accordance with the display is something called “Motion Launch”. While the display is off, you can easily wake the M8, by either swiping left to bring you widgets, swiping right will give you Blinkfeed, up gives you the option to unlock it, or down lets you do voice dialing. If you just want to make it up, executing a Double Tap will help as well. These are all achieved while the phone is in landscape mode. These options are great and can help if you have problems reaching that power button on top with it being a larger phone to hold. Rotating the M8 to landscape and pressing the volume button brings up the camera. These shortcuts help get things done quicker and faster.
I been putting the HTC One M8 through its paces since its release last Tuesday and I have to say I’m impressed. I have received zero lag, and been able to blaze through apps with ease. Whether it was watching clips on YouTube, playing Candy Crush Saga (yea I’m a victim of addiction), or even hopping from that to Chrome, I can’t make a complaint. It could be thanks to the processing power of the M8, using Qualcomm’s newest Snapdragon 801 chip, 2GB RAM, and 32GB internal memory (also available in 16GB). Underneath as well is a 2600mAh battery. While it’s not in the 3,000mAh ranges such as the G2, Note 3, or Xperia Z1S, it’s not even needed. I have gone close to a day using the M8 on several occasions. And this was without using the Power Saver option. If you pick it up here and there you should be fine, otherwise I have made it throughout a work day. The power saver option is just as good though and am still waiting to check out their Extreme Power Mode HTC boasted about at the event. One thing you will notice with the HTC One M8 is that it can heat up at times. Not to the point that you can’t handle it, but you realize this based on the build of the phone which is aluminum. Like I said, it doesn’t make it unbearable like the S4 I used to use heavy and get hot at times. T-Mobile services have been great on this phone as far as using voice calls over the 4G network and even with WiFi calling. I haven’t expected any drops and the person on the receiving end could hear me clearly. Data wise I have gotten blazing speeds throughout New York City and around 30/MBps.
Sense 6 is your OS on the HTC One M8 and runs along Android’s latest version which is Kit Kat 4.4.2. I haven’t used Sense in a while as the last HTC device I covered was the Droid DNA, but I’m becoming a fan of it. It’s not too cumbersome and you can see as the software just works and doesn’t lag. It actually reminds me of the Nexus 5 in terms of functionality, speed, and layout. Getting to the options does take a couple more presses than using Samsung’s TouchWiz which always has shortcuts in the menu, but realistically if you think you need to get access to WiFi, Bluetooth options or other various features just add a widget toggle and problem solved or do a double finger pull down for the menu. Going back to those mentioned, I have synced it with Bluetooth speakers, used it for hours on WiFi, and received no problems.
When I saw HTC kept the same UltraPixel (4MP) camera, I was surprised. I’d expect them to least push it up to 8MP. Also gone that was included in the M7 is OIS. This was done to make way for the addition of the depth sensor. Combining both together you get what’s dubbed as “Duo Camera”. With this feature you are able to take a picture and make some manipulations to the main focus of the image or what’s around it. So you can shade out a background, change the focus, or add some effects. It takes getting used to but it’s a pretty fun camera mode. It doesn’t work with low light or flash shots though. What makes the 4MP convo more interesting is that the front facing camera or what HTC has dubbed the “Selfie” camera has 5MP. Can’t recall the last time I seen a FFC with higher resolution then its main shooter.
Going back to the UltraPixel camera itself, while it sits at 4MP, it does take some nice shots and that’s because of the UltraPixel sensor. It grabs more light and snaps pictures so fast you wouldn’t even know they were taken. I have warmed up to the camera using it the past week though. While one of my camera’s still resides on the G2, I found myself using the M8 more just for speed and color detail. If you like recording video on the M8, it comes in four different modes and is in 1080p. Normal, Fast Full HD (60fps), Slow Mo and Video HDR. I have tested the first two, but didn’t have time to check out the others. I’ll try and come back and give those swing later. If you check the reel below, I tried them both in normal daylight settings and then late at night. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-sx8lVTerfjCAIt1XZ4oEQfqdzDaE-w7 Once again the cameras of the M8 aren’t my favorite but they have vastly improved over the M7 last year whether for picture-taking or recording video.
The HTC One M8 is one of the best smartphones I have used in a while. From its build quality to snappy processing speeds, it’s hard to find a complaint about the M8. The size and buttery smooth feel some may have to get accustomed to, and the UltraPixel camera images aren’t at the resolution for picture framing on your wall but they do look good. The simplicity of Sense 6 makes newbies feel welcome and the battery life is awesome for those long days at work. I think HTC has really put all in with the HTC One M8 and should hold its own against upcoming devices such as the Sony Xperia Z2 and the Samsung Galaxy S5.
The HTC One M8 is available now on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. T-Mobile will have it available on April 11th. Can’t choose a carrier? Unlocked & Developer Editions of the HTC One M8 are also available starting at $649.99 Check out the Review of the HTC One M8 Harman/Kardon Edition Here Check out the Review of the HTC One M8 Dot View Case Here