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Digital Life

HTC One (M8): Unmatched design aesthetic with some good hardware and software

Published on May 5, 2014 5:35 AM

One year ago, long-time Android handset maker HTC came up with the HTC One, a beautiful device with an aluminium back that was a standout against a sea of plastic handsets.

Since then, no other phone maker, Android or otherwise, has managed to match this design wonder that blended polish and prestige, leaving the Taiwanese company with the added pressure of besting itself.

It has proven to be up to the task. Its new HTC One (M8) is like a reboot, retraining the features that made the original stand out, but packing in many new features.

The 5-inch phone has the same front-facing speakers offering unparalleled audio from such a compact device. While they add a little to the phone's overall length, the One (M8) is the same length as Sony's new Xperia Z2, which uses a downward-facing speaker on its bottom edge.

Instead of a metal rear, the aluminium alloy of the One (M8) flows edge to edge, covering the top, bottom and sides of the device.

HTC heard the pleas of HTC One buyers and has added a microSD card slot for expandable memory up to 128GB. It also uses the smaller nano SIM and both cards reside in trays that pop out from the edge of the phone. A pin tool is needed to eject the trays from their housing.

The biggest change for users, though, would be in both cameras, or rather, the three cameras. The front-facing camera, popular for selfies, is now an upgraded 5-megapixel one, which ensures sharper selfies, as well as photos with a slimmer profile, thanks to the wide-angle lens.

For the rear camera, HTC has included two lenses in what it is calling its duo lens. The support of a secondary lens means more details are captured, which allows for greater options in photos.

The first is in keeping with the new rage of snapping pictures and then choosing the focus of objects in the final photo. This way, a user can choose to focus on subjects in the background or foreground, even if that was not the one selected when the shot was taken.

There are other filters which make use of the secondary lens, and HTC said it will add more options in future updates.

What is nifty is that this depth of field feature is the default, so all your pictures have the data needed to enable the option to change the focus or create a simple 3-D image. On phones such as the LG G Pro 2 and upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5, users must first select this feature as an option. Otherwise, the photo taken will just be a regular one.

HTC has long pushed for smartphone makers to stop chasing the megapixel count, and it is standing its ground by sticking with the same 4-megapixel lens and 1/3-inch sensor used in the original HTC One.

This does not mean the camera has not been improved. It uses a new lens module. The image quality is apparent, as pictures taken at night or in low light pack in more details and colour, though the autofocus is still not as sharp and some blurred images do pop up in night shots.

Like LG, HTC has adopted a screen tap approach to wake the device up from sleep mode. A double tap or swipe can wake the phone up, while another double tap puts it back on stand-by.

In benchmark tests, the phone scored 25,408 on Quadrant Standard and 38,535 on AnTuTu, which puts it up there with the current crop of new high-end devices.

Battery life is also strong, lasting more than nine hours in our tests.

  • The HTC One (M8), with an unmatched design aesthetic, and backed by some good hardware and software innovations, continues to deliver the best of what HTC has to offer.

This story was originally published in Digital Life on April 2, 2014. 

Background story


Price: $998

Processor: 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801

Display: 5 inches, full high-definition 1,080 x 1,920 pixels (441 pixel density)

Operating system: Android 4.4 KitKat

Cameras: 4-megapixel 2,688 x 1,520 pixels Duo Camera HTC UltraPixel (rear), 5 megapixels (front)

Memory: 16GB (expandable microSD up to
128GB), 2GB RAM

Battery: 2,600mAh


Features 4/5

Design 5/5

Value for money 4/5

Battery life 4/5

Overall 4/5