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Why HTC One M8 is 2014's best smartphone!

Last updated on: May 09, 2014 12:04 IST

Why HTC One M8 is 2014's best smartphone!

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Himanshu Juneja

One would have thought it near impossible to improve upon 2013's much-acclaimed HTC One, but with the new One M8, HTC has achieved an incredible feat, says Himanshu Juneja.

Not only have they made it faster they have improved the feature set as well.

With better ergonomics, better battery life to last through the day, and a memory card slot, HTC has made a strong bid to grab top honours in the market.

Time to look into HTC's latest offering.

Specs:

  • OS: Android v4.4.2 (KitKat)
  • Display: Full HD 5 inches, Super LCD -- 3 @ 1080 x 1920 resolution
  • Processor: 2.3 GHz Quad-core
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Camera: Primary -- 4MP with dual tone LED flash, Secondary -- 5MP
  • Memory: 16/32 GB, microSD up to 128 GB
  • Battery: 2600 mAh Li-Po (Non-removable)

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Image: HTC One M8
Photographs: htc.com

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Design and built

The first thing one notices is the stunning brushed metal texture given to the phone. HTC has left no stone unturned to make the phone look like an absolute stunner, and their efforts have paid off.

The phone oozes class and its looks is bound to attract masses.

But there is more than visual appeal to this device. The phone has been given a curvy back to make it rest more nicely in the palms, offering a better grip to hold the phone.

The memory card slot ought to delight many prospective buyers. The main sore point of the HTC One launched last year was the missing card slot.

The right side of the phone houses the microSD card tray, and the left side sports SIM card tray. At the bottom of the phone, one finds the Micro USB port, as well as the headphone socket.

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Photographs: htc.com

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The power button has been placed at the top.

Peculiarly enough, the left top side of the phone carries the power button, which really is not the ideal place to be putting a button on a fair sized device.

One will have to try out few manoeuvres to be able to power up the phone and getting used to it.

As mentioned earier, the phone is made up of classy looking brushed metal chassis, but the phone's extreme end parts are plastic. This is due to the fact that the top end houses the antenna and the rear part houses the Wi-Fi component, and plastic casing.

This helps signals to pass much easily compared to a metal housing. HTC has a good reasoning in place for not going in with a full metal body.

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Photographs: htc.com
Tags: HTC

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Why HTC One M8 is 2014's best smartphone!

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Display

The 5" inch Full HD screen, operating at 1080x1920, is an absolute treat. The viewing angles are great, colours don't seem to be exorbitant and hence not too harsh on the eyes.

There seems to be a conscious effort to keep the saturation level at a more realistic level than boosting it to some super high mark. The blacks are deep, and the white levels too shone nicely on this display.

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Photographs: htc.com
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At ~441ppi density, the SLCD screen delivered nicely while displaying text or images alike. Web browsing was made an enjoyable experience thanks to the screen's brilliant contrast levels.

It is indeed refreshing to see HTC achieving this sort of sharp levels even with an SLCD display unit, while not going in for the extra vivid colour palettes.

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Photographs: htc.com
Tags: SLCD , HTC

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Why HTC One M8 is 2014's best smartphone!

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OS and features

The HTC One M8 runs on Android 4.4 right out of the box and carries the all new HTC Sense 6.

Thanks to the all new Snapdragon 801 chipset, the OS and its functionalities are much smoother than what they were in HTC One. This is a huge compliment, considering that HTC One itself was no slouch by any stretch of imagination.

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Why HTC One M8 is 2014's best smartphone!

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The Blinkfeed remains an important component of the HTC sense.

It has undergone a few changes itself though. For instance the buttons have been changed to software ones. The Google favourite button of accessing recently run app has been included too.

The last one was an automatic choice, going along with the trend.

Apart from this, the Blinkfeed now scrolls in a flow based style than pages and looks comfortable with this new change. Another change is that the clock from the top of Blinkfeed is gone.

HTC of course has been considerate enough and those who do not prefer the Blinkfeed can remove the Blinkfeed altogether.

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Speaking of clocks, the Sense 6 brings forward a very simple clock than the usual one which users have got accustomed to.

There is something for the users regarding the customisation as well, with Sense 6 now offering the choice of different colour themes to spice up the things on the screen.

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Also, the Gallery now has a timeline feature for photographs, which means the photographs clicked will show up lined up according to the date they were taken on.

But, the most interesting update to Gallery has to be the one where users can search for a particular person's picture by choosing an example.

Something which works on the principles of face detection. In the age of countless photographs being clicked by the day, this surely will find its dedicated fans.

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Photographs: htc.com
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Sense TV

Another feature which will prove useful is the Sense TV app. Not only does this nifty app come with a TV guide of the local channels, it fully makes use of the IR blaster on top of the phone as well. It also turns the phone into a remote.

One just has to supply the manufacturer's details of the intended device and the remote is ready for usage after the configuration settings are taken care of.

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Camera

The most interesting feature for the HTC One M8 has got to be the camera. HTC has again gone for the Ultrapixel technology, which really shouldn't surprise too many.

What really should is that a layman can easily mistake the phone to be having two lenses at the back. In reality, the M8 comes with a single primary lens and the second lens-like set up is actually a second sensor which the M8 uses for its primary camera.

The second sensor provides information after scanning the scene for depth. This information is essential for the neat effects which a user can provide to the final picture like changing the background, making photoshop-like edits of copy-pasting subjects into a different photograph altogether, etc.

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With this, HTC has tried something different and the results are very impressive.

The camera brings in interesting feature of UFocus, which allows the user to tap on part of a screen to bring it in focus, blurring the rest of the screen.

This feature works, and works very well. Even a novice user can render some great effects to make the shots look great.

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There are few other features as well which will keep the users interested: the Zoe feature allows users to take small amount of video footage instead of clicking tons of photographs to capture a scene.

While the HDR mode is included HTC seems to be laying less stress on that. Also, lack of image stabilisation does ensure that one has to be careful while handling the camera else you will get shaky results.

But otherwise, HDR provides a good option which can be exercised to avoid light issues. The mode will combine different shots with varying levels of exposure to deliver a better picture.

Users also have the advantage of two-toned flash provided as well as the option of saving their preferred settings for aperture, focal length, ISO setting etc for later usage.

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Photographs: htc.com
Tags: HDR , HTC , ISO

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There is one area where the M8 is bound to draw some flak.

While the photos are good enough for day-to-day life shots, with good amount of options to render different effects, the problem arises when they are viewed on bigger displays, especially while zoomed in, revealing shortcomings in terms of lesser resolution.

HTC really should have allowed better resolution output from its camera.

Having said that, the camera massively impresses with its low light photography.

With the HTC One M8, the motion gesture to execute the camera app makes an appearance as well. One has to hold the M8 phone in portrait mode with the screen being locked and simply rotate the phone to landscape mode with volume key being pressed down.

The camera app will be called though this might need good amount of practice.

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Media

The M8 has been provided with two music players. One is part of the Google app and the other is HTC's own app. This could confuse the user; but to
keep things simple, the Google app is used to play the cloud based content, and the HTC app is provided to play local content on the phone.

HTC also seems to have given a good deal of importance to its Boom Sound speakers with this iteration.

One notices instantly the better bass produced by the in-built speakers. Apart from the bass, the general clarity is very impressive and makes movie-watching or listening to music that much more blissful.

The prowess is not limited to the BoomSound speakers only. Plug in a good quality headset, and one gets a taste of clear sound with punchy output. The amplifier used here is of top quality and it boosts the sound to high levels.

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Other features

Fitbit

HTC has picked up the trend and has boarded the fitness wagon with the Fitbit app in here. The fitness conscious will definitely be looking up to this particular app, and with loads of gadgets available now offering various fitness apps, this definitely seems to be a good addition.

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Photographs: htc.com
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Tap to wake

This feature works pretty nicely. The task of waking up and putting the device back to sleep becomes very convenient. One just has to double tap on the screen to achieve either of the tasks.

However, one should expect to receive a software update, for the feature somehow forgets its job while the phone is placed on a flat surface. The feature works just fine when the phone is held in the hand.

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E-Motional caress

HTC has made provisions for the user to execute actions when swiped at the screen.

For example: Swiping to the left will lead one to the home screen, a swipe to the right will bring up the blinkfeed.

A swipe upwards leads to the last app used, and lastly, a swipe downwards will initiate a phone call.

Although common fare now, it is good to know that these are onboard the latest from HTC.

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Kid Mode

To prevent curious kids from accidentally venturing into the prohibited areas of the phone, or accidentally using your Google wallet, the Kid Mode comes in particularly handy.

Simply let the Kid Mode active when a kid has to handle the device, and one can sit back without any worries of unauthorised access.

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Battery

The phone comes with a very capable 2600mAH battery. This means, that along with a more optimised Snapdragon 801 chipset, the device is bound to give more
backup.

Not surprisingly, the phone lasts for an impressive 20 hours of talk time.

HTC also supplies two power saving modes.

The power saver mode ensures the battery lasts for another day by cutting down on CPU power, turning off the vibrations and data to a minimum when the screen is turned off.

The other mode ensures the phone lasts for those extra few crucial hours, enabling you to get near to a charger.

When activated, it massively restricts the data flow, and allows only access to five apps for the user. The measures prove good enough to make the phone make it those few crucial hours.

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Verdict

HTC One M8 is a worthy successor to the HTC One. The brushed metal looks and better specs under the hood makes up for a very impressive combination.

The phone shines not only on the aesthetic front, but also combines rich feature set, a rarity of late.

The updated Sense 6 shows off some thoughtful changes and other software based add ons present a case where HTC clearly has given enough thought to make the experience much better for the end user.

The memory slot addition is a proof for that among other things.

Not to forget the effective camera, which takes outstanding snaps in low light conditions along with a beautiful screen and impressive battery, the phone does packs quite a punch.

The HTC One M8 has taken from where the HTC One left, and improved upon a critically acclaimed phone.

If the user is fine with photographs which will be limited for consumption on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, this phone right here is the one to grab.


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