HTC is launching its 2014 flagship, the new HTC One (M8), and continuing its trend of creating powerful, well-built handsets. With the Android world being dominated by Samsung’s Galaxy devices, can HTC’s latest go up against some stiff competition?
- 2.3GHz quad-core processor
- 5-inch Full HD display
- 16GB or 32GB internal storage
- UltraPixel camera
- 9.4mm thickness
- 160g weight
- 2600mAh battery
- Android KitKat
Design and build
In terms of looks, HTC comes out ahead of pretty much any other smartphone maker. The One (M8) has one of the greatest form factors we’ve ever seen, with its brushed aluminium backplate being sleek and stylish in an understated way.
At 160g, the device seems satisfyingly heavy and its overall feel is that of a very well-built handset. HTC can boast better build quality than any other Android smartphone around, and while we do find its size to be a little uncomfortable for one-handed use, the HTC One (M8) certainly feels a step above most other handsets.
Also included in the distinctive frame are the BoomSound front-mounted stereo speakers, which offer outstanding audio performance that beats pretty much any other handset around by a country mile.
We have been dazzled by the HTC One (M8)’s display, a 5-inch Full HD offering that manages to be incredibly bright without being harsh on the eyes. There is a huge dynamic in the colours that show on screen, with them contrasting well without becoming garish, and in terms of visual power, this handset puts many others to shame.
At 441ppi, anything shown on the display is crisp and clear, be it photos, videos or the handset’s regular UI functions. HTC has created one of the best displays we’ve ever seen on a smartphone, and it compliments the handset’s overall design very well indeed.
Under the hood
There is a huge amount of processing power tucked inside HTC’s flagship, with the handset being powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM. While many high-enders can boast this kind of power these days, the One (M8) can certainly hold its own against any of them and its performance is seamless.
Packed with a 2600mAh battery, the handset also impresses when it comes to battery life. Many firms now seem to set themselves that target of making their handsets last a day with moderate use, and while the HTC doesn’t really break this trend, it certainly lives up to it.
Operating system and user interface
HTC has long offered one of the best takes on Android available, with its Sense UI putting an attractive design on top of Google’s stock software. The latest version, Sense 6, continues this trend, offering a brilliant user interface that is less cluttered than many others.
The Taiwanese firm’s most striking software feature of late, BlinkFeed, is tucked away to one side and accessible with a swipe to the right. We like it more in this less intrusive position, which gives us the option of quickly flicking to it rather than having it imposing on us constantly. The feature can still be personalised with different services and social networks and while we’re not a fan of its green-theme background we do like it overall.
Elsewhere, HTC has introduced an unlocking feature which means you don’t have to press the lock button before swiping a finger across the display. This reminds us of one of the best features of BlackBerry 10 and while it takes some getting used to its fantastic when you do.
Beyond this, the UI has a brilliantly simple, uncluttered notifications bar that gives you easy access to updates and everyday settings. HTC’s gallery also works well and while its layout is a little complicated it looks fantastic.
Camera and video
HTC has included two cameras in its flagship, opening up some interesting possibilities. Feeding into the UltraPixel camera, the twin-lens setup powers features like the 3D function, which creates an almost three dimensional image around which you can move by swiping across the screen.
However, this made us a little dizzy and its use in everyday life may be limited. More useful is UFocus, which allows you to change the point of focus of an image after taking it. This works with very little distortion and allows users a lot of leeway when capturing shots.
Overall, images are of a very high quality, being saturated and clear. Low light performance is particularly impressive and remains mostly free of noise, with the camera doing a very good job of picking up ambient light.
Performance and verdict
HTC has created one of the best Android handsets we’ve ever used. The physical form of the device is outstanding and the way in which it works matches, offering a brilliant vehicle for all your high-end smartphone needs. In short, anyone who is considering a Samsung Galaxy S5 should definitely give the HTC One (M8) some thought.