HTC is launching its 2014 flagship, the new HTC One (M8), an upgrade on the excellent device that the Taiwanese firm introduced last year. We’ve had some hands-on time with the device to get a feel for how it performs.
Design and build
On first impression, the handset looks very much like last year’s device, with a few subtle changes. The brushed aluminium backplate looks fantastic, and its curved contours sit well in the hand, with the overall feel being one of real quality. The new HTC One (M8) appears to be a very well built device.
On the front is the 5-inch Full HD display, which rivals the best we’ve ever seen on a smartphone. HTC has impressed us with its most recent screens, and this handset is no exception, offering a bright and crisp viewing experience that isn’t tiring on the eyes.
Sitting above and below the screen are the BoomSound stereo speakers, offering some of the best sound quality we’ve heard from a smartphone. We’ll be testing them further in our full review, but on first impression they better pretty much anything else available.
Power comes from a 2.3GHz quad-core processor with 2GB RAM, enough to tackle the most complicated of tasks, and a 2600mAh battery means users are well prepared for heavy use.
Android KitKat has an upgraded version of HTC Sense on top of it, and we love what we see here. The most distinctive feature of the software’s last iteration, BlinkFeed, has been moved away from the homescreen so that it’s accessed with a swipe to the right. The personalised news feed is a better offering than those by other Android-based manufacturers, and isn’t quite as intrusive as it may have been before.
Outside of this, the usual stylish design that is now expected of HTC spreads throughout the UI, and the new HTC One (M8) has some of the best looking software we’ve ever seen. The firm has brought in a brilliant feature that allows you to unlock the display without having to press any buttons, swiping upwards on the screen instead. This echoes one of the best features of BlackBerry 10, and we like it a lot.
On the back of the new HTC One (M8) sit two cameras, an unusual setup for any smartphone and one which the manufacturer calls Duo-Lens. This expands camera functionality, allowing images with greater depth to be captured and also gives users the option to alter the point of focus after taking a shot.
The fact that you can alter a shot so much after taking it gives you a lot of control over what you’re doing. We’ll be testing the handset’s photographic functions at greater length in our full review, but we’re impressed by what we’ve seen so far. The full suite of Zoe functions are also in place, and images from the Ultrapixel camera are of an excellent quality.
The new HTC One (M8) is a substantial upgrade from what was seen on the firm’s 2013 flagship, bringing in new features and expanding on those that were already there. The Duo-Lens setup is impressive, and we look forward to testing it further, as we do the latest version of HTC Sense. Overall, this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting handsets of this the year, and looks like one of the best Android devices we’ve ever seen.