Mar 31, 2014 Abbas Jaffar Ali
The HTC One has been the best selling phone that HTC has ever produced and for a good reason. Winning numerous awards for best phone of the year, including one from us here at tbreak, HTC showed the world that they’re capable of pushing boundaries when it comes to creating phones. With a metallic design, an Ultra-pixel camera with Zoes, BoomSound and BlinkFeed, the HTC One was a revolutionary product for HTC. Problem with revolutionary products is that people start expecting more and it is almost impossible to come up with one year after year. A better road to take for a follow-up product is to tweak, refine and improve upon the original and that is exactly what HTC has done with the new HTC One M8.
Last year’s HTC One was and continues to be one of the best built phones but with the new M8, HTC continues to increase their lead over their competitors. Simply put, it is stunning. With a 90% metallic finish, tapered edges and a curved back, the HTC One M8 not only fits well into your hands but feels feels incredibly premium. It’s available in three colours- Gun Metal Grey, Glacial Silver at launch with Amber Gold to follow in a couple of weeks. The Gun Metal grey that I received for review has a beautifully polished brushed aluminium finish that is so smooth that it feels like it might slip out of your hands- although it hasn’t escaped my grip in the few days I’ve used it.
Measuring 146.4 x 70.6 x 9.4 mm and weighing 160 grams, the new HTC One M8 is noticeably taller and heavier than the outgoing model. However, with the curved edges, the phone fits better in your hands and gives an impression of being thinner than the original even though its not. The only design decision that puzzles me is the presence of the black bar below the screen with the HTC logo. On the previous model, HTC had capacitive buttons for home and back on this strip, however these buttons have moved on-screen and there really is no need for this strip to exist.
Like the older HTC One, you have a power button on top and volume keys on the right, but unlike last year’s model, HTC has raised them a little and they’re not flushed within the chassis making it easier to find these keys using your fingers. The 3.5mm jack has been relocated from the top to the bottom and now sits next to the USB port. Above the volume keys on the right you have a MicroSD slot that will now need a pin to pop-out like the SIM tray which sits on the left side. The size reserved for the SIM tray suggests that a dual SIM version of the HTC One will follow soon. HTC has switched to the nano SIM format with the new HTC One M8 which makes it easy to switch from an iPhone 5/5S.
The HTC One M8 is equipped with the latest quad core Snapdragon 801 processor running at 2.3GHz and bundled with 2GB RAM. This makes the HTC One sit somewhere in between the two Sony and Samsung flagship products which are the Xperia Z2 and the Galaxy S5 respectively. The Sony Xperia Z2 features 3GB RAM while the Samsung Galaxy S5 comes with a faster 2.5GHz variant of the same processor. The following table compares the three phones.
Coming to the benchmarks, I have yet to receive the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Xperia Z2 so can’t really test how well the HTC One M8 compares to them but I do have the Xperia Z2 Tablet which boasts similar specs to the Xperia Z2 phone. Using AnTuTu Benchmark X, I’ve also put the results from the original HTC One to show you how much faster the newer model is.
|HTC One (M8)||HTC One||Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet|
|UX – Runtime||3532||2530||3506|
The new HTC One M8 uses the same Super LCD3 technology as last year’s model and I have no problems with that as it is a beautiful display with excellent viewing angles that is also very readable in direct sunlight. Also like its predecessor, you get a full HD 1080 x 1920 display, however the physical size of the screen is increased from 4.7-inches to 5-inches. This gives the new HTC One M8 a slightly lower pixel density but honestly, it’s not something that most of us will notice. What does strike however, is that the new Sense UI brings onscreen Android buttons so you lose a bit of a screen space taken up by these buttons.
Coming to the sound, the HTC One no longer supports Beats Audio but continues with their BoomSound stereo speakers located on each end of the screen. With the M8, HTC has improved the loudness by 25% as well as the quality of the sound. Louder music is not as distorted anymore and you get a much richer sound compared to the older version. The following clip compares the M8 to the older HTC One.
Last year, HTC introduced us to Ultrapixels- focusing on taking better pictures but not increasing the pixel count but the size of each pixel. That same trend continues with HTC One M8, however you no longer have an Optical Image Stabiliser and to compensate that HTC has used an improved image sensor that is very fast at focusing (under 300ms) and taking pictures. An additional camera that is purely dedicated at measuring depths of objects in your photos is also added allowing for some pretty cool post-processing effects. The placement of this secondary camera right at the top of the phone makes it a bit inconvenient on how you hold the phone but luckily, the camera app shows you a notification when it detects that this lens is covered by your finger. The following video showcases some of the effects possible with the new depth sensor.
And here are some sample shots from the HTC One M8 during different lighting conditions. As you can see, the results are a bit varied with some shots coming out really nice in dark light while some shots show grain even during broad daylight. Overall, I find the camera on the Sony Xperia Z1 to be a better one which tends to produce sharper shots- especially in lower-lit conditions. If I had to chose one area where HTC could have improved upon on the the M8, it would have to be the camera. If nothing else, HTC should have included a 6 or 8 Ultrapixel camera to allow for higher resolution shots that greatly help when zooming or cropping photos.
HTC mentioned that the M8 has an improved the battery life that last almost 40% longer than the original. This is done by equipping a bigger battery which now has a capacity of 2600mAh (compared to the original’s 2300maH) but more importantly, the software is much more optimised when in battery saving mode. Also, a new battery saving mode is expected to be released within a couple of weeks that will further help with keeping your phone going when it is low on charge. There was not a single day during testing of the HTC One M8 that the handset ran out of power which is pretty amazing. It should easily last you over a day of normal or even slightly heavy use.
It is also worth mentioning the new Dot Cover that HTC has introduced with the HTC One M8 and was included in our review sample but will be sold separately. Let me quickly say that I’m not one who likes phone covers and prefer carrying my phone without one. Yes, that increases the chances of the phone getting damaged but my philosophy is that when your phone looks at beautiful as the HTC One M8, why would you want to hide that? Nevertheless, if I was to purchase a cover for it, it would surely be the HTC Dot cover. It turns the front of your device into a dot-matrix like display showing the time and weather as well as notifications from the email or calendar apps- but not Google apps, or at least not yet. And it looks incredibly cool. See the video on top of this post to learn more about it.
Wrapping things up, the HTC One M8 improves upon almost all areas over the original HTC One. The updated design is simply gorgeous and new hardware makes the phone fly when it comes to launching and moving between applications. The larger screen and larger battery are also noticeable and so is the audio from Boom Sound speakers compared to the older HTC One. But even with all these tweaks over the original, there isn’t anything substantially new for me to recommend a current owner of the HTC One to go out and buy the new HTC One M8. Your current HTC One is still an excellent product and you can find comfort in the fact that HTC will continue selling the older model as well as issue an update to bring many of the software related features to your phone.
However, if you haven’t purchased a new smartphone in over a year and are looking at the Android eco-system, the HTC One M8 is a mighty fine device that will leave you extremely satisfied. I cannot tell you how it compares to the flagship products from Samsung and Sony because we haven’t received the Galaxy S5 or the Xperia Z2 for review until now. HTC was not only the first to send us their latest phone for review but will also be the first to start selling the phone before their competitors. The HTC One M8 is expected to go on sale on the 4th of April through all power retailers and major carriers such as du, STC and Mobilly in the Middle East at around AED/SAR 2500.
Founder of tbreak.com, Abbas has been living and breathing technology before phones became smart or clouds started storing data. You can contact him at [email protected]
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