Thursday, March 27, 2014

My First Impressions on the HTC One (M8)

htc one m8
For years android phones have been criticized to be ugly looking and does not have a premium look and feel to it. But in 2013, that all changed when HTC announced the HTC One (M7) which featured an aluminium build which was solidly build and many said it was the iPhone of android phones. The original HTC One (M7) turned out to be the company’s best selling phone of all time and throughout the year, HTC grabbed numerous awards for the industrial build quality of the device. Fast forward to the present day, the successor to the original HTC One (M7) is announced and not surprisingly, HTC calls the new device the ‘HTC One (M8)’.


HTC One M7HTC One M8 gunmetal gray

INTRODUCTION

The new HTC One (M8), is the company’s 2014 flagship device and the new device shares a lot of similarities to its predecessor. Prior to yesterday’s launch event, the device was leaked pretty seriously and it’s probably the most leaked phone ever, behind of the iPhone5. Well, the leaks were inevitable because early last week, HTC has sent out review units of the M8 to reviewers all around the world so they could get their reviews up and ready after the device is officially unveiled. This is actually part of HTC’s marketing campaign for the M8, i’ll talk more about this in a future article about what HTC is doing to promote their flagship device this time around.


HARDWARE

2014 HTC One (M8) 2013 HTC One (M7)
DISPLAY 5” FHD Super LCD3 (1920 X 1080) ~ 441PPI 4.7” FHD Super LCD3 (1920 X 1080) ~ 469PPI
PROCESSOR 2.3GHz/2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600
CAMERA DUO Camera ~ 4.1MP Ultrapixel + 2MP depth sensing camera 4MP Ultrapixel
STORAGE 16/32GB; microSD support upto 128GB; 2GB RAM 16/32/64GB; 2GB RAM
ANDROID Rev. Android 4.4.2  with Sense 6 Android 4.4.2 with Sense 5.5
DIMENSIONS 146.4 X 70.6 X 9.4mm ~ 160g 137.4 X 68.2 X 9.3mm ~ 143g
BATTERY 2600mAh 2300mAh
COLORS Gunmetal Gray, Glacial Silver, Amber Gold Silver, Black, Red, Blue, Gold
Like other Spring 2014 flagship devices, the M8 also has Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 801 processor which is clocked in at 2.3GHz (2.5GHz for asian models). HTC paired up the M8 with a feasible 2GB of RAM and other hardware specifications include a 5” FHD Super LCD3 display which has one of the best color reproductions on a smartphone screen. The M8 this year comes in 16/32GB storage options (64GB option coming soon) and also comes with a microSD card slot which can accept upto 128GB cards so you don’t need to pay a crapload more to increase your storage, This year’s HTC flagship comes with the latest android version which is 4.4.2 Kitkat and on top of it is Sense 6 or as HTC likes to call it Sixth Sense (pun intended, LOL). The front and back camera on the M8 have been upgraded if you compare it to its predecessor. The front shooter is now a 5MP wide angle camera opposed to the 2.1MP one on last year’s model; The rear camera is now a 4.1MP + 2MP depth sensing camera opposed to a 4MP rear shooter on the M7. The overall dimensions of the the device has been increased if compared to the M7, the most obvious difference between the M7 and M8 is the weight. This year’s model is 17g heavier and that might be because of the new redesigned speakers and the larger 2600mAh battery.

DESIGN

HTC One M8 BoomSound speakers As you already know, the M7 was one of the best looking android phones until the M8 was announced yesterday. The new flagship device from HTC, builds upon the aluminium build of its predecessor and this year more than 90% of the device is made out of aluminium and the company says that for this year’s model there is far less pieces compared to last year’s model. The design of the M8 is unmistakably the design of the M7 with more rounded edges and more pronounced details. With the M8, HTC is once again redefining the essence of a premium handset; Chamfered edges around the camera hole(s) on the rear of the device shows that the company is putting in the fine details to make the handset look more presentable. Another design change which HTC made with the M8 is the new brushed aluminium look on the front and back of the gunmetal gray model which makes the device look more sexier. The two other color options (gold & silver) however do not feature any fake textures but they do look good by any means especially the gold one. You can read more about the HTC One’s design philosophy in The Verge’s exclusive interview with the designer’s behind this successful design.
“same old look, but more polished and refined”

HTC Sense 6 (AKA “Sixth Sense)

HTC Motion Launch Gestures
HTC Sense 6 screenshotSense 6 is actually not much of a big leap forward, unlike from Sense 4 to Sense 5 last year. This year, HTC is focusing on perfecting what they did wrong last year, that’s why Sense 6 looks identical to Sense 5 in many ways. Flat UIs seem to be the trend these days and HTC has made their skin as flat as possible with a couple redesigned icons and some minor font changes. Overall i can say that HTC has made their skin as flat as possible to suit the ongoing trend. Another thing which the company is doing with this year’s iteration of their Sense skin is modifying the status bar, white icons have taken over the entire status bar after years of having a green battery indicator. White icons on the status bar is not the only change in HTC Dot View CaseSense 6, color oriented status bars which blend in with the apps like in iOS7 is also present on Sense 6. Numerous HTC apps like Blinkfeed and the gallery have been altered to make it more easier to use and brings the content front and center. In a similar move like Motorola, HTC is making their the system apps like blinkfeed more modular; this means that HTC can push out updates to fix certain bugs and push out new features to certain system apps via the Google Play Store to make the lives of users more easier. With this HTC is also allowing non HTC users to download the apps via the Play Store but that will only be coming in Summer 2014. Additionally, SDKs for Blinkfeed and the stock HTC camera is available to developers so they could create or integrate HTCs solutions into apps and thus enabling M8 users to do more with their phone. Motion Launch Gestures is one of the new features present on Sense 6 on the M8. Basically, this software tweak is similar to LG's knock code and Nokia’s glance screen feature but HTC’s implementation takes it to the next level. Not only can it unlock your phone by using a predetermined gesture, but it can launch the camera or open blinkfeed and even answer calls. The new feature also works seamlessly with HTC’s new dot view case by allowing you to view relevant information or showing notifications from stock applications just with a simple gesture.
“less gimmicky features”

My Thoughts

I remembered last year when the original HTC One launch, i was pretty much excited about the device because it had a refreshing new design and the front facing speakers theory really got to me. In my article about the M7 last year, i said that blinkfeed, boomsound and ultrapixel was going to be the forefront of the M7 and i was spot on. This year around HTC is recycling the successful features of the M7 and putting it into the M8. There’s really a lot to like about the M8 and if i were to list out all of them, it would take me some time. But out of that, the motion launch gesture is the thing i’m genuinely excited to try out. That software tweak alone and the dot view case is enough to make me excited about the device. The inclusion of a microSD card is surely a pleaser because having an option for removable storage is always better even if you don’t use it. I’m also really liking the HTC Advantage program because that reassures to the prospective buyers that their brand new phone will last at least 2 year and the warranty looks really lucrative. The instant availability of the device is also a big plus because usually devices will only be released one month after the official launch. Prior to writing this article,  i read numerous reviews of the M8 and there is one thing which i can conclude; which is that the battery life of the M8 is superior compared to other flagship devices and that the camera on the M8 is nothing special. However the feature set of the stock camera app somehow makes up for the mediocre camera performance. Manual controls (like the one on the Nokia camera) on the stock camera app is also a big plus. Another thing which i found out is that there are quite a lot of new software enhancements which HTC added to the M8 and somehow i feel that HTC is beginning to become like Samsung by adding a bit too much of software tweaks (well they have not reached Samsung’s extent). There’s even a selfie mode in the stock camera app and i doubt that users won’t use the 3D effects for a long term period. There are certain things which i did not like about the M8, which is the logo on the front of the device. I believe that most of you out there will agree with me that having the HTC logo on the front somehow interrupts the front design of the device. I was quite disappointed to find out that the M8 did not come with pogo pins which was present on the HTC One max to complement HTCs power case to provide extra battery for the device.

Conclusion

Overall, i think the HTC One M8 is a solid device and i can recommend it to anyone who wants an android phone which will bring you the extra mile. The phone is essentially the M7 but supercharged, would i recommend you to upgrade to the M8 if you have the M7, my clear answer is NO! It’s really not worth the upgrade. I really can’t talk much about the device since i have not tried it out yet but as soon as i try it out, i’ll write a separate article about my impressions on the device. Anyways, i’ll end this article here and do tell me in the comments section what do you think about the device; Do you like it or do you think the Galaxy S5 or Xperia Z2 is a better choice for a 2014 flagship phone.

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