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HTC One M8 review: Easily the most premium ‘Droid in the market

Price

49900

Tech2 Rating

9

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Showing the world how you make a flagship droid
1
By Roydon Cerejo /  22 May 2014 , 18:33:26

HTC has a real talent for carving up highly pretty phones out of nothing. That fact has stayed true till today with the introduction of the One M8. The successor to the One (M7), the M8 is an iterative update over its predecessor that refines the winning design further and adds a couple of unique features into the mix.

The big question on everyone’s mind is however, is it better than the Sony Xperia Z2 and the Samsung Galaxy S5? That’s what we’re about to find out.

Design and Build

The HTC One M8 feels like a stretched and flattened down One M7. It measures about the same as the One in depth but gains a few pounds due to the larger display. The 5-inch Full HD panel makes the phone feels longer, which in turn makes single-handed use a bit cumbersome.

Exquisitely finished from top to bottom
Exquisitely finished from top to bottom

With more than 90 percent of the chassis made of metal, the One M8 gives the iPhone 5s a run for its money. It feels exquisite and you only need one glance to know it costs a bomb. We love the detailing that HTC has brought to the table, right from the brushed metal finish to the fit and placement of the buttons and speaker grills.

Putting this in a case would be crime, and you could get arrested for it
Putting this in a case would be crime, and you could get arrested for it

HTC has thankfully added memory expansion and you can add up to a 128GB microSD card to it. The One M8 also requires a nano-SIM instead of the standard micro-SIM.

The M8 can handle up to 128GB SD cards
The M8 can handle up to 128GB SD cards

The only plastic bit on the phone is the strip on the top which houses the power button and IR blaster. Aesthetics aside, the new design isn’t very ergonomic as the old one. First off, the polished finish on the metal makes it incredibly slippery to hold confidently. The edges are also a bit too rounded which doesn’t really offer much grip.

Designed to stun
Designed to stun

Features

The One M8 packs in the same SLCD 3 panel from last year’s model, which continues to be one of the best we’ve seen. Colours are bright and punchy with inky black levels and great viewing angles. The sunlight legibility is also very good and Gorilla Glass 3 makes it highly scratch resistant.

The new Sense v6 is super slick
The new Sense v6 is super slick

The One M8 also debuts with Sense 6 which is a more polished version of their earlier skin. The pastel shades within the theme give it a very slick and fluid look. The new flattened toggle switches in the notification bar are in keeping with the new look. There are new features added like Extreme Power mode, which shuts down any unwanted processes and presents you with a basic interface. However, you’re just left with basic apps like calling, message, mail, calendar and calculator. We wished there was a way to add apps like WhatsApp in this mode like you can with the S5’s extreme power saving mode.

Some of the new gestures added to the M8
Some of the new gestures added to the M8

‘Do Not Disturb’ will block incoming calls and basically turn of notifications for a designated time. You can of course add exceptions to important contact that’ll still be able to reach you. This is very similar to Motorola’s Assist app.

The M8 also gets new ‘Motion Launch gestures’. With it enabled, you can double tap or slide your finger up to wake the screen up. Swiping right activates BlinkFeed while the left activates the widgets screen. An upward swipe simply unlocks the phone. Swiping downwards activates voice dialling.

Strong performance across the board
Strong performance across the board

The HTC One M8 rocks the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset seen on the Xperia Z2. However, the M8 is clocked a bit higher at 2.4GHz. Needless to say, the One blitzes through benchmarks like a stabbed rat. You also get 2GB of RAM for apps and the OS. Thankfully, Sense v6 isn’t as heavy as TouchWiz so at any point, you have about 900MB at your disposal. The one downside of having a full metal body is that it gets too hot to handle at times. The entire chassis heats up quickly when gaming or shooting images.

Media

The new music player is simple, yet quite powerful. We love the clean, stripped down look of it. You can sort your tracks in different ways, look up lyrics and album art and stream them through DLNA directly from the player. BoomSound cannot be turned off in speaker mode. The loud speakers are simply amazing and are as good as budget portable speakers. Not only are they loud, but the quality is simply brilliant considering its size.

A powerful player despite its stripped down looks
A powerful player despite its stripped down looks

You get about 10.5GB for media out of the 16GB onboard. Video playback is also very good thanks and the larger display is ideal for media consumption.

Connectivity

The Indian version of the One M8 is said to be compatible with the TDD LTE that will be rolled out soon. This makes it the first Android flagship launched this year to support LTE. You also get quad-band 3G and 2G support, Wi-Fi ‘ac’, Bluetooth v4.0, NFC, GLONASS and USB Host. You get a bunch of productivity apps in-built as well like HTC Guide, Remote and Scribble. Call quality is good and we didn’t face any issues with dropped calls.

Some of the productivity apps onboard
Some of the productivity apps onboard

Camera

The 4MP Ultrapixel camera makes a comeback with an even slicker interface. The camera modes are broken down into six segments. You have your stills, video, Zoe, Selfie, Dual capture and Pan 360. The newest addition however, is the secondary camera above the main one which gathers depth information with every photo you click. This is only applicable in normal mode and not in Zoe mode. Once captured, you can shift the focus around, add 3D effects or even shift perspective of the people in the frame. The latter doesn’t really work too well most of the time.

The redesigned UI is very easy to use and navigate through
The redesigned UI is very easy to use and navigate through

While all these features are gimmicky at best and you’ll probably forget about them after a weeks usage, the Ultrapixel camera really hits its stride once the lights go down. Switch to manual mode around dusk and you can really have some fun with the shooter. You get a bunch of sliders which lets you manipulate the ISO, shutter speed and focus range in real time. Thanks to the lightning fast capture speed, you can get some pretty impressive low-light shots.

Burst mode in action
Burst mode in action

Despite the low resolution of the photos, the images look quite stunning and can be easily shared to social networks thanks to the small size of the image. The clarity is not the best when you zoom into it but for typical usage, it’s actually not bad. It seems that HTC has improved the algorithms quite a bit to squeeze out the best from the sensor.

Shot using manual mode
Shot using manual mode
Macros come out really good too
Macros come out really good too

The M8 might have 4K recording but it does get 1080 at 60fps. This seems to work pretty well in low-light and in good light but the frame rate would slip slightly when you move around.

Battery Life

The beefed up 2600mAh battery easily lasts you an entire day. After running through our 8-hour loop test, we had about 25 percent to spare. With the Power Saver mode constantly on, you should easily be able to extend this further.

A class apart
A class apart

Verdict and Price in India

HTC launched the One M8 at Rs 49,990 however, you can find it everywhere for about Rs 47,000. This is easily the only Android in this segment currently, that feels like it belongs here. From the exquisite looks to superb attention to detail, the One M8 is in a class of its own. The real standouts are the metal design, slick and speedy interface, excellent sound, good battery life and very good low-light camera performance. It might not be water proof or have tons of fitness sensors but it achieves its primary goal in spades – to be a premium smartphone.

It’s tough to pick the best out of the current three flagships as they are far from all-rounders. The Sony Xperia Z2 probably comes closest to being the jack of all trades but its current price is a bit of a put off. Also, the LG G3 launch is just around the corner and if the rumours are true, it might just give everyone a run for their money. The wise thing would be to hold off on you purchase till at least the end of the month. If you still can’t wait however, we’ve got a 3-way battle between the current flagships in the works, so you don’t want to miss that.


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