After reviewing the Sony Xperia Z2, I didn’t think there was an Android phone that could beat it especially with it’s excellent camera, performance, and battery life. The HTC One M8 had stirred quite a bit excitement during it’s initial announcement but the one thing that made me cringe was that it was still using the same 4MP “UltraPixel” camera. I’ve had the M7 before, loved it’s build quality, design and Sense interface but the inconsistent camera was unacceptable. This year’s HTC One M8 promises improvements all around, including the camera so after reviewing and using the Xperia Z2 for about a month, the bar has been set pretty high. To be fair to HTC, I’ve also spent a month with the M8 as my daily driver. Here’s a quick write up on it!
- Snapdragon 801 Processor with 2GB RAM
- 5″ 1080 x 1920 IPS HD Display with 441 ppi
- 5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37 inches (146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35) at 5.64 oz (160 g)
- 4G/LTE Dual Band WiFi / Bluetooth 4.0
- Android 4.4 KitKat with Sense 6.0
- USB 2.0 Connectivity
- “Boom Sound” Stereo Speakers
- 4MP “UltraPixel” Rear Duo camera
- 5MP front facing camera
- 32GB Internal Storage
- 2600Mah Battery
Here it is! I had to get the T-Mobile version because the Developer Edition DOES NOT support T-Mobile’s 3G/HSPA+ AWS bands which sucks because I hate carrier bloat. Oh well, nothing that a custom ROM couldn’t fix! The Google Edition, however DOES support all bands including T-Mobile’s AWS but I didn’t feel like paying an extra $50 something dollars if I didn’t have to. One thing cool about the T-Mobile version is that it does have WiFi calling capability.
Some really nice services that the HTC One M8 includes are a 6 month cracked screen replacement as most accidents happen in the first 6 months of owning the product anyway! Also it comes with 50GB of extra storage of Google Drive for 2 years!
And here it is in all of it’s glory, taken right out of the box! It’s a really beautiful and well made device. It’s well built, feels solid and it weighs about the same as the Xperia Z2. At 160g, that’s 48g more than the iPhone 5S (112g) but it doesn’t feel that much heavier since the weight is distributed pretty well throughout the M8.
The HTC One M8 has a 5-inch IPS display that looks brilliant indoors. Outdoors, the screen doesn’t fare so well and the glare is pretty bad which is on the level of the iPhone 5S. Aside from the outdoor glare, movies, photos, text look share on the screen and it is a joy to look at. I enjoy looking at this more than the Sony Xperia Z2 even though it has a slightly larger sceen.
On the front of the M8, there are stereo “Boom Sound’ speakers that sound great for a mobile device and it’s loud enough to fill a small room. While not on the same playing field as the Beats Pill or the Jawbone Jambox, it can hold its own. If you are expecting strong bass, you will be disappointed and some songs sound hollow. Again, it’s just a mobile device!
Notice the black band where the “htc” logo is at? It does absolutely NOTHING except waste space on the device.
The M8 feels comfortable holding thinks to the curves, unlike the Xperia Z2. It’s light and thin which score some points but unfortunately the device is too slippery to use without a case and it gets easily dropped, like what happened to me with just less than a week of using it! As you can see it’s already dinged 🙁
A few days later, the HTC Dot View case that I ordered finally came in! Ugh I could have used it on Day One of getting the M8 but these things are were hard to find at launch which is a lot of lost revenue for HTC! It would have definitely helped their profit margins because this thing was $60! I managed to find one on the Verizon store online thanks to the help of people on the Android Central forums!
The Dot View case is a really neat concept. It took me back to my younger years of playing with the Lite-Brite when I was a kid when I was look at the dotted lit info on the M8 which displayed time and weather. You can also answer and reject calls with the front cover on. It was cool at first but I found it rather gimicky. The case itself was somewhat flimsy and the front cover doesn’t fold all the way back in a more comfortable manner so it was a pain in the ass to use. Definitely less than what I had expected from such an expensive case!
Next case that came in was the Spigen Slim Armor. I’ve had the Slim Armor for my iPhone 5S and liked it a lot so of course my expectations for this case was very high.
As expected, this was solidly built and it matches the gray M8 perfectly. I liked this case a lot except there for one problem… it adds a significant amount of bulk to the device. My beautifully thin M8 had become a brick.
Next case I tried was a $9.99 case from Ditztronic that I got on Amazon. It’s made of a high quality TPU and it protects the M8 pretty well while keeping it as light and thin as possible with a case. Ironically this was my favorite case out of the three so I stuck with this when I was using the M8
The HTC One M8, has a MicroUSB for sync and charge. Unfortunately, it is not USB 3.0 capable like the newer Samsung Galaxy devices and it does not do wireless charging. In this day in age, it should come standard!
I’ve been a fan of Sense on the HTC since using Windows Mobile phones back in the day. Not many people like it but I’ve always enjoy the iconic HTC Weather Clock. Sense 6.0 is HTC’s latest and best version of their Android skin in terms of aesthetics and function. This is my home screen on the HTC One M8 and I like the fact that you are able to have a static wallpaper right out of the box instead of a scrolling one, which gets irritating depending on the wallpaper you use.
Introduced in Sense 5.0 on the HTC One M7, Blinkfeed is still present but very muched improved and customizable on adding your own newsfeeds and social networks. It’s so customizable, that you can actually have it removed completely from your Home Screens. It’s good to know that HTC listens to some of our feedback!
Swipe down on the screen and you get a variety of useful settings instantly I really like how organized and how easy it is to read on Sense. This is also customizable!
A look at my app drawer… I like things in alphabetical order. If you are not a fan of stock Android, Sense 6.0 is the best Android experience out there in my opinion. It’s not too clunky and bloated like TouchWiz and plain and overly simplistic like Sony’s interface. Using Sense on the HTC One M8 is actually quite fun and it doesn’t get old. Even with the animation and scaling turned on, it doesn’t lag and is one of the snappiest Android phones I have used.
If I had to complain about something on the HTC One M8, I would immediately complain about the camera. Like the HTC One M7 before it, the M8 features a 4MP “UltraPixel” rear camera to capture photos. HTC zealots will argue that 4MP is plenty good enough for a camera phone, and it probably is but if you are one like many others who use their phones as their main or only camera, it doesn’t come close to cutting it if you need something to capture those precious moments and want to share or view on the big screen. I am not saying the camera is bad in any way, in fact it is quite good on some occasions especially with macro shots and it is one of the fastest photo taking camera phones out there.
The camera interface is one of the best I have ever seen. You can easily access many of the major camera settings all in one screen and I’m quite shocked how much better it is to use than some cameras.
You can select different camera modes Selfie, camera, Dual Camera, video, etc.
After snapping a photo, you can edit your photos adding some really cool effects. Again, loving HTC’s interface!
Some key features are UFOCUS which creates a really neat Bokeh effect thanks to the second rear camera.
Using the foregrounding effect. I used the sketch effect which is pretty neat!
The M8 does a good job taking food photos depending on the lighting situation
Of course, it takes cat photos too!
Unfortunately, some colors become too easily overexposed. Look at the flower for instance. It’s pretty bad and it takes some extra effort sometimes to take a decent photo. When you want to capture an important moment, you don’t have time to fiddle with the settings, especially with a camera phone.
Look how the clouds in the sky disappear on both photos. You can thank the UltraPixel technology for that. Ugh. Not loving the inconsistent camera performance at all.
The M8, CAN take nice photos. It really depends on the lighting conditions and the settings you use. I love the camera software but HTC should have stepped it up and should have AT LEAST upped the megapixels to 8 stead of keeping it at 4. This is a 2014 phone, lets not live in 2004!
For more photos taken with the HTC One M8, you can check it out on the Flickr Album I created here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjWWKCTP
The HTC One M8 is powered with with the latest Snapdragon 801 2.3Ghz quad-core processor with the Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM. What does that all mean? With similar processors to the Xperia Z2 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, this will take any graphic intensive game you throw at it. What I noticed was that the phone is slightly more responsive than the Z2 even with the same processor. That could be that Sense 6.0 is more optimized than any of the Android skins. The same games that I tested on the Z2 and Nexus 5 such as Asphalt 8, Zen Pinball, and Dead Effect ran very well on the M8. Multitasking is also not an issue since this comes with 2GB of RAM which is more than most of the newer Android phones. You can launch apps all day and not have to worry about any lagging.
The battery life on the M8 was on par with the Z2 even though it has 600Mah less. The HTC M8 on default settings. Like the Z2, I did the same routine with the HTC by going through a full work day which is moderate to heavy use for me. Making calls, sending emails, checking up on news and social media, looking up reports on the web and watching videos while working out at the gym – all the usual stuff which lasted a little over 14 hours on default battery settings. There is an Extreme power saving mode which I have not tried yet but I am sure you will be able to squeeze out some extra hours with that on.
Overall Rating: 4/5
- Excellent overall performance
- Solid, thin design and excellent build quality
- Sense 6.0 is the best Android experience outside of stock Android
- Good sounding stereo speakers
- Excellent battery life
- Refined, intuitive software such as the camera’s
- MicroSD card support
- Can be too slippery to hold without a case
- Still stuck in the past with 4MP camera
- Photo quality is inconsistent and photos can be too overexposed
- No wireless charging, still on USB 2.0