HTC One M8 hands-on review forces iPhone 6 quandary

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We were sent the HTC One M8 by the lovely people of giffgaff so that we could offer our honest review, and even before we got started there were some very high hopes. Last year’s version of HTC’s flagship smartphone was one of the best of 2013, although there were clearly some areas that needed attention, and upon early inspection HTC has delivered.

On a personal note, I have been holding out for the iPhone 6 because of its rumored larger screen, but holding the HTC One M8 in my hands has caused a bit of a quandary. Okay, so I know I am an Apple man and will take a lot to pry me away from the iPhone, but the M8 could be the device to do it, depending on how HTC’s latest and greatest smartphone to date performs in this hands-on review.

HTC One M8 design – It is getting harder for phone designers to come up with something that looks different while trying to also offer a bit of familiarity. However, HTC has managed to do just that with the M8 because it is very similar to last years model, but now is made from more metal than last year, 90 percent aluminum compared to 70 percent. This means that this is a huge tick for the HTC One M8 in terms of its design because it feels even better quality than before, and when compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5 design, the M8 has it beat.

HTC One M8 hands-on review

Sticking with the design aspect, the HTC One M8 measures 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm and weighs in at 160g, and while it is not the lightest in its class, it is one of the best in terms of build quality, although it doesn’t feel as solid as the iPhone 5S.

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I did notice that the volume button feels a little loose and so rattles a bit when you move the phone around, although this is only a minor issue, one that I have experienced before with an iPhone 5 I once had.

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Speaking of things on the side of the phone, I was very pleased to see that the HTC One M8 comes with expandable memory, something that was a huge negative for the 2013 HTC One. This was also something holding me back from moving away from the iPhone. Okay, so I know that other Android handsets come with expandable memory, but none of them pushed my buttons like the M8 does.

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It is clear that even before I get started on what makes the HTC One M8 tick, it seems to be making all the right noises as far as its design goes, as well as rectifying one of the issues from last year’s model.

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Key HTC One M8 features – One of the main features of this latest Android smartphone is Blinkfeed, which has been upgraded, along with the Sense 6 UI. Blinkfeed was one of those features that seemed to be ahead of its time, and it is nice to see that even more content is available on the M8. The system is still not perfect though because I found myself not using it after a few days.

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One of the reasons is because choosing new topics when booting can often take too much time, and we all know how important time is. We ask that you take a look at the first video below that gives you greater insight into the updated version of BlinkFeed for the HTC One M8.

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Battery life is one of the most important features of a smartphone, and I know only to well how much trouble the iPhone has had over the years, although the HTC One also suffered badly from poor battery life. Thankfully, HTC has listened because during testing I noticed a significant increase in battery life with the M8, although you do need to make certain that you turn Fast Boot off, as that drains power fast.

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The larger 2600mAh and improved software and advanced Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset helps to manage battery consumption much better, and therefore makes it possible to go through an entire day without charging, unless you watch too many videos of play games throughout the day.

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The camera is a very important tool to me on a smartphone because I love spending time with the grandchildren, and you know there are times when you need to capture the moment. However, there are times after taking a picture that the phone focused on the wrong subject, so it is a nice touch for HTC to include Duo camera and smart flash technology.

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What this means is that you are able to take a picture, and if the image in front has been focused on, all you need to do is touch the image that appears elsewhere on the phone and that will come into focus instead. To learn even more about the new camera technology on the HTC One M8, then we ask that you watch the second video below.

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Over the past few years HTC has put an emphasis on sound, and the HTC One M8 is no different with its improved Boomsound. I have never tested this sound before and was very excited to do so, but for some reason I was left feeling a little disappointed. For some reason I was expecting this amazing sound, and while it is far better than the iPhone 5S, I would not make this a deciding factor to purchase the M8.

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One of the things that has always put me off getting an Android handset is the interface, as it has always seemed to feel less organized when compared to iOS. I am the first to tell you that the iPhone lacks in key areas and more often than not its features are a year or two behind. However, the user experience seems to be more seamless when compared to Android. Although the HTC One M8 and its new Sense 6 UI does makes things run smoother than before, although it still seems to have that cluttered Android feel, which isn’t a bad thing once you get used to it.

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Key HTC One M8 performance – Last year’s HTC One proved very well when pitted against the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 at the time, but seeing as though Apple and Samsung upped their games with the iPhone 5S and Galaxy S5, HTC had to as well. We have already seen some impressive performance from the M8 in recent benchmark tests, although in real world tests this is often not the case.

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However, after using the One M8 for several days we can safely say that HTC could put its money where its mouth is because the performance is truly astounding. The iPhone 5S is no slouch, but the M8 does have the edge, although the 5S is using 8-month-old technology.

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I have noticed that the HTC One M8 seems to boot up rather quickly, but once Fast Boot is turned off, the Galaxy S5 does have a bit of an edge, and as for the iPhone 5S, well the M8 did embarrass it a bit.

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HTC One M8 verdict – While there is much more to the M8 than what I covered, we pretty much know most of it with the amount of video reviews on YouTube, one of which giffgaff conducted. I can tell you that it is going to be hard to put the HTC One M8 down and revert back to my iPhone, especially as it is much slower and smaller, although I still prefer the build quality of the iPhone and the easiness of iOS.

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The design of the HTC One M8 is still better than any other Android handset on the market and the improvements to its battery are a huge plus, as is the addition of a microSD card slot.

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However, it is not all positive because there are still a few areas where HTC needs to do better, and the first is the battery life. Okay, So I did say this was also one of the positives, but the HTC One M8 battery life still lacks behind some of its competition. Take the iPhone 6, I expect Apple will tackle the battery life issue and make it even better than its rivals.

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While the camera is an improvement over last year, there is no getting away from the fact that the Galaxy S5 has a far superior camera compared to the M8, as well as a better display.

Saying that, the HTC One M8 is still a fantastic phone and given the choice of that or the Samsung Galaxy S5, the former will win all day long because the design more than makes up for those shortcomings.

Will I stick with the HTC One M8 when the iPhone 6 finally arrives, well that is one dilemma that I am unable to answer, maybe come back and I will be able to answer that in four months time?

    Main HTC One M8 specs:

  • 5-inch 1,920×1,080; 441ppi display
  • 2.3GHz quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
  • 4-Ultrapixel, 1080p HD rear-facing and 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16, 32GB storage
  • 2,600mAh battery
  • Android 4.4 with Sense 6.0 UI

If you are interested in the HTC One M8, then head over to giffgaff in the UK, who offer some pretty decent deals when compared to rival networks

Also See: HTC One M8, M7 Android 5.0 Lollipop update looms

HTC One M8 hands-on review forces iPhone 6 quandary