HTC One M8 Review
Can the HTC One M8 beat the Samsung Galaxy S5?
Written by Charlotte Kertrestel
Update: Take a look at our hands on with the HTC One M10
The HTC One has remained at the top of our leader board since it was launched last year, fending off the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s. But can its successor, the HTC One M8, do the same?
And how will it compare to Samsung's new smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S5?
If it's a toss up between these two smartphones, check out our Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 comparison.
The build quality of the original HTC One was in many ways its strongest feature, and the M8 is no different.
With a beautifully crafted brushed metal casing- which is made up of 90% aluminium- and the same curved back that fits perfectly in your hand, the HTC One M8 is perhaps the most premium-looking Android smartphone on the market.
Although weighing in at 160 grams, the device is perhaps slightly heavier than other flagship phones, it doesn’t feel bulky to hold in any way, probably due to its slim-line feel.
The HTC One M8’s display is almost edge to edge, making the most of its 5-inch screen with an impressive 441 pixel per inch ratio.
Phone Set Up
Much like the HTC One, the One M8 features BlinkFeed, HTC’s dynamic user interface which updates with news stories, social media posts and articles in real time. This is a particularly great feature, as it allows users to access all of their most important information without having to open a single app.
With Sense 6, or Sixth Sense as HTC is calling it, you can change the background behind your BlinkFeed, as well as being able to customise it even further with your own personalised topics. Another great feature of HTC Sense 6’s BlinkFeed is that it no longer takes you to your internet browser when you click on an article, allowing you to take a look, return to your BlinkFeed and then continue browsing.
With the inclusion of Android KitKat on the HTC One M8, there are additional changes to the appearance of the device’s user interface. Firstly, as on the Nexus 5, the M8’s control buttons appear on top of a translucent bar which sits on the phone’s home screen. On top of that, there are now three control buttons rather than just two.
Also, rather than enlarging app icons which appear on your app screens, HTC has decided to make the empty space around the icons more plentiful, in order to make it easier to find apps fast. Although I understand HTC’s thinking behind this, as a Nexus 5 user, I much prefer having larger app icons rather than small icons which are more spaced out on the screen, and just see this decision as a way of making Sense 6 further stand out from stock Android.
Want to find out more? Take a look at our top 5 favourite Sense 6 features!
One cool feature which I personally love about the HTC One M8’s new user interface was its keyboard; whilst most smartphones will offer haptic feedback when typing, on the M8, the keys change colour when you press on them, which is a really nice, and helpful, touch.
Finally, like the LG G Pro 2, the HTC One M8 allows you to ‘wake up’ the device without having to use the unlock button; simply double tap on the phone’s screen when it’s in sleep mode to get to the lock screen, or swipe to the right or left to access your BlinkFeed or home screen. This is a great battery, and time, saving feature which I think is a pleasant addition on the M8 compared to the original One.
HTC has joined up with various partners to launch the One M8, and one such partner is Fitbit.
Fitbit is a fitness tracking app which comes pre-installed on your HTC One M8. The app works in conjunction with Fitbit’s range of fitness tracking devices, including smartwatches and smartbands which allow users to stay healthy and get in shape.
Kid Mode was a cool feature that we first spotted on the HTC One. With children learning how to use technology from an early age, limiting access to age appropriate content is crucial. That’s why, with Kid Mode, you can keep your children safely locked in, where they can only open child-friendly games, puzzles and books.
Dual frontal BoomSound speakers
The dual frontal speakers which adorn the M8’s crisp 5-inch display are fitted with HTC’s infamous BoomSound technology. This means that not only do you get crystal clear audio which is 25% louder than on the original HTC One, but the sound is also protected from being muffled, unlike most other smartphones.
So if you love listening to music or watching movies, then the HTC One M8 is perfect for you!
Sense 6 TV
Another feature that we saw on the HTC One M8’s predecessor, was Sense TV, and now with some minor improvements, the app is a stand-out feature on HTC’s newest smartphone.
Not only can you use your M8 as a TV control, changing channels and turning up the volume, but you can also get alerts when your favourite programmes are about to start, too. Not only that, with social media integration, you can join the conversation with other like-minded people during your favourite shows or sports matches.
Camera & Video
The camera on the HTC One wowed the world last year, boasting a 4MP UltraPixel rear-facing lens which took impeccable photos. And despite rumours of a 16 megapixel camera adorning the back of the M8, HTC stuck to its guns with the same Ultrapixel lens.
When testing out the HTC One M8’s camera, we found very similar results as we did when reviewing the original HTC One in that it took incredible sharp, bright photos in seconds.
But what really stood out to me was the M8’s range of in-built camera modes, which were simple to access and easy to apply after you had taken your photos.
For instance, the selfie mode makes the most of the phone’s 5 megapixel front-facing camera (rarely seen on even a flagship smartphone!), generating a countdown for the user to perfect their pout before the final shot is snapped. For a self-proclaimed selfie lover, this is a great feature, as it eliminates the chance of your finger covering half of the camera lens!
In terms of camera editing features, the One M8 offers the usual sketch, zoom blur, cartoon and colorize modes which make it fun to play around with your snaps. The device also offers a dual camera (similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S4) and a season mode, which lets you add cool animations of autumn leaves, snow, or blossom to your photos. Maybe not the most regularly used camera features, I’ll admit, but they are quite fun to play around with.
One HTC One M8 camera feature that has been highly praised is ufocus. Ufocus mode makes your photos look truly professional by blurring the background and focusing on the most important object in the picture.
Thankfully HTC decided to include the popular HTC Zoe in the One M8’s camera, which allows you to take really cool 3 second bursts of video to accompany your photos. These can then be shown in your Zoe Highlights, which is essentially an automatically-generated video with music and effects selected by your phone.
A new addition on the Sense 6 version of Zoe means that you can even add your own music and various effects and filters to your Zoe highlights to make them even more personal.
One feature which was talked about extensively at the HTC One M8’s launch event was the device’s impressive battery. With a slightly larger 2600mAh cell compared to the HTC One’s 2300mAh battery, the M8 can keep going for as long as you can.
We found that even with taking a number of photos, videos and updating the BlinkFeed regularly, there was still juice left in the tank at the end of the day.
And if you do feel that your battery is running low throughout the day, with power saving mode, which dims the screen, turns off the vibrate function and disables your data connection, your phone can keep on going for hours. In fact, on 10% of battery, your M8 can last for a further 30 hours!
And with extreme battery saving mode coming this summer, we can only expect big things from the HTC One M8.