HTC’s new flagship has a new depth sensor but is it a worthy upgrade to the HTC One? Read our HTC One M8 review
Update: HTC has once again launched a smaller, pared down version of its flagship smartphone in the form of the HTC One Mini 2. Previously, the brand launched the HTC One Mini as a cheaper follow-up to the original HTC One. Check out our HTC One Mini 2 hands-on review.
The new HTC One M8 has finally landed (not the HTC One 2 or HTC M8, as it was rumoured to be called) and T3 was one of the first to get hold of the phone for an extended length of time.
But can the follow-up possibly be as good? HTC has upped the ante on its new flagship considerably, with a sturdier metal body, bigger screen and a fancy hairline texture on the gunmetal grey version that feels great and oozes quality.
The latest HTC Sense 6.0 UI and Android KitKat are here, along with an improved camera with depth sensor (more on that below).
Going up against the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5, the iPhone 5S the Sony Xperia Z2 and the Nokia Lumia 1020, the new HTC One M8 certainly has plenty of competition, but what does it bring to the table?
HTC One M8: Size and build
The HTC One also won the T3 Design Award last year, so were happy to report that HTC has stuck with a similar form factor with a few tweaks. The metal build on the back of the handset now stretches over the sides of the phone, which were previously plastic.
Not only does this make it feel even more premium, its also a lot stronger than before. The buttons are also far more robust. The volume rocker on the original HTC One was a little on the flimsy side thankfully that's been rectified.
And the headphone port, previously on the top of the HTC One has been moved to the underside of the M8, which makes far more sense when slipping the phone into your pocket.
WATCH: HTC One M8 unboxing video:
The profile is very slightly thinner (9.3mm) and more rounded off than on the previous model meaning that the phone is just that little bit more comfy in the hand.
Its also slightly longer, and the soft keys have moved onto the screen, giving you plenty more display to work with.
The new M8 is available in three shades - arctic silver (the original HTC One's flagship colour) a new amber gold hue, plus gunmetal grey - the flagship colour. The latter also sports a subtle hairline texture on the rear of the phone.
Make no mistake, the M8 is a thing of beauty. It doesn't feel overly heavy in the hand, but it has a satisfying premium weight to it. The brushed metal finish on the gunmetal grey version oozes build quality, and the whole thing feels robust with a few small tweaks that improve upon the original HTC One.
HTC One M8: Features
The One M8 features a spruced up version of HTC's Blinkfeed along with the latest HTC Sense 6.0 UI [insert Sixth Sense gags here]. It's been moved across to the left of your home screen, and it feels like a genuine alternative to the likes of Flipboard, Feedly and Pocket.
It's easy to set up with whatever content you might wish, and you can tap and hold a story to save it for later reading. The new Instant Access feature means that a number of the phone's sensors are always on alert so that you swipe once to turn on the phone. Swipe left and the phone will show you Blinkfeed. Swipe up and itll open your last application, turn the phone to landscape and itll open the camera and a quick double-tap will show you the lock screen.
HTC is no longer sporting the Beats name, but the Boomsound speaker has been redesigned so that it can now amplify with a wider frequency meaning stronger bass and a clearer mid-range. HTCs claims that it's now 25% louder - we listened to Everything is Awesome from The Lego Movie and compared it with the original HTC One.
The sound is noticeably richer and clearer on the new model, and louder too.
Fitbit's app comes preinstalled and will use the One M8's sensors to act as a pedometer without a fitness band. Just log in to your account, and the M8 will track your daily activity, as well as letting you enter the food and water youve consumed, and set yourself weight targets.
As you'd expect, the phone also sports NFC and LTE (4G) connectivity.
HTC One M8: Screen
At 5 inches, the screen on the One M8 is slightly bigger than the 4.7-inch screen on the original HTC One. The screen is Full HD resolution of 1920x1080, with a pixel density of 441ppi.
How does that match up? Well 5-inch screens are pretty much the norm for the latest generation of smartphones. And the M8s ppi is better than the Xperia Z2 (424ppi), the Galaxy S5 (432ppi) and the iPhone 5S with its once-lauded Retina display clocking in at just 326ppi. Only the Nexus 5 boasts a better display, with Google's fantastic Android handset boasting a beautiful screen with a pixel density of 445ppi.
But the display on the M8 looks every bit as good as the clear, vibrant screen on its predecessor. The viewing angles are fantastic too, and that extra 0.3 inches of screen real estate makes a big difference.
HTC One M8: Camera
HTC is still refusing to be drawn into the megapixel showdown and instead sticking to the same 4-ultrapixel camera that it had on the HTC One. The camera yields great photo and video results thus far. New to the party is a depth sensor on the back of the camera which enables you to refocus your snaps after youve taken them, similar to the Lytro light field camera.
You simply tap the screen to refocus the image and blur the rest of the picture - we were very impressed with the results and how easy it was to get them. There's also a Parallax mode called Dimension Plus, similar to the iPhone 5s, where you can tilt the phone and effectively tilt the angle of the image slightly as well.
The degree to which you can tilt the picture is pretty small so we can't really see a great use for this, but its a neat gimmick to show off in the pub.
HTC's Zoe mode is back again, automatically stitching together movie clips from videos and photos that you've taken and HTC will also be introducing a Zoe app for other Android phones to youll be able to make colloborative clips with your pals.
WATCH: HTC One M8 camera demo video
The camera also now includes a dedicated Selfie mode (basically just a shortcut to the 5MP front-facing cam) and there's also a dual capture model which can take snaps from both the back and front cameras at the same time.
Or you can simply open the camera, and swipe to the right to switch from front to back with minimal fuss. You'll also get full manual controls - such as ISO and exposure - although you can always stick to the auto mode if you prefer. And of course there's a comprehensive selection of Instagram-style filters plus effects that can be added to your pics, ranging from cherry blossom to snow and flower petals.
HTC One M8: Performance
The One M8 features the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quadcore processor, with clock speed of 2.3GHz. We found navigating around the home screen and menus to be nice and speedy and we didnt see any noticeable lag.
It handles pretty much anything you throw at it, frankly. The image processing is fantastic when youre taking pictures and video, and it'll run anything on Android store with minimal fuss.
READ: HTC One M8 vs HTC One
It also doesn't seem to get nearly as hot as the original HTC One when youre running something intensive, but as we test the phone more and more this might change. Along with 2GB of RAM, there's a standard 16GB of built-in memory but you can expand up to 128GB thanks to the micro SD card slot.
HTC One M8: Battery
The new handset has a 2600mAh battery on board - a slight boost compared to the original One's 2300mAh battery. So far it holds up very well to testing. Over the course of a day, we streamed 4G and Wi-Fi video, played Battleheart and New Star Soccer and used Blinkfeed, Pocket, Whatsapp, Facebook and other apps.
By the end, we still had just over 10% battery. That might not sound like a lot, but it's the sort of usage that would drain an iPhone 5S. The One M8 also comes with an Extreme Power Saving Mode, which optimises your phone's settings for ultimate battery conservation by turning off vibration, screen brightness and non-essential CPU usage with the press of a single button.
HTC One M8: Dot View case
HTC has come up with a brand new rubber case which gives the appearance of an old-school dot matrix display. The flip cover contains magnets that correspond with the phone and turn on the screen so that it shines through tiny holes in cover to create the retro effect.
Double tap the cover and youll get some basic info time, weather and battery status without having to fire up the screen. It's very cool. It's also a bit annoying though.
You have to double tap the cover quite hard, as its not very responsive. Having the case on makes it nigh-on impossible to use the phone with one hand as well. The case closes automatically and thus gets in the way of whatever you're trying to do, and if you fold the cover over it doesn't quite fit and makes the phone rather unstable in your hand.
It's a shame that such a basic thing seems to have gone unnoticed, as the dot matrix view you get with the cover is fantastic. But the issues outweigh that, we don't think youll be using it for very long.
The case will be available in a range of colours and we reckon it won't be long before some bright sparks will come up with some form of 8-bit game to go with it (our money's on Pong).
HTC One M8: Verdict
The older HTC One will continue to be sold for the time-being (presumably at a reduced price), though it will eventually be phased out. But there's no doubt that the HTC One M8 is a fantastic improvement on what was already our Phone of the Year in 2013.
There was potential for the M8 to be the HTC's difficult second phone, but HTC has done a fantastic job identifying the small improvements that could be made on the HTC One and implementing those.
Tiny changes like moving the headphone jack, improving the build quality are all very welcome, and sit nicely alongside the big improvements to the screen, and power and photography features.
In short, the HTC One M8 does everything you could possibly ask of a high-end smartphone, and does it incredibly well.
HTC One M8 release date: Out now
HTC One M8 price: £530