Here's why we love the HTC M8.
HTC today unveiled its newest flagship phone, the HTC One M8 in New York City. We already knew a lot about this phone ahead of the event thanks to numerous leaks over the last few months. However, today's event did fill in a lot of the gaps. We knew the phone would have the new Duo Camera, but we didn't know a lot about the technology, just like how we knew the battery would be better, but didn't know if that meant bigger or just more efficient (the answer is both). So, now that we know all about the phone, here are the top five features. You can also check out the review over on our sister site, Laptop Mag.
The HTC One M7 (from last year) had a beautiful metal body, and HTC promised us more metal with the M8. The company is calling this a breakthrough in design and quality, re-crafting the design to be "more approachable" while also keeping a premium feeling. The company compared the phone to a high end watch or a piece of fine jewelry. We don't know if we would we go that far (can't compare apples to oranges, after all), but the build quality is absolutely stunning. No part of this phone feels cheap or flimsy, and HTC says the casing is 90 percent metal.
HTC didn't talk a lot about the M8's display, which you might think is kind of weird. That's because the display is the same 1080p display we saw in the HTC One M7. It is bigger, though, measuring in at 5 inches. Given its larger size, the pixel-per-inch count doesn't quite match that of the M7 (which packed 468 ppi) but at 440, it's not a huge step down. The display on the M7 was fantastic with deep blacks and bright colors. The M8 matches that with bright, vivid colors that aren't washed out or exaggerated as well as deep blacks.
This is a big one for us, because it's a problem that plagues so many smartphone users, and it's something a lot of manufacturers are guilty of ignoring. Things are getting better, with bigger batteries (what's up Ascend Mate 2?) and more efficient battery technology (something Samsung talked a lot about with the launch of the Galaxy S5) but there's room for improvement. HTC has increased the size of the battery and made the phone more energy efficient. There's also an extreme power saving mode, which you can set to kick in once your remaining power hits a specified point (e.g., 20 percent). The battery still isn't huge (2600 mAh compared to 2300 mAh powering the HTC One M7), but HTC is promising a lot. The company claims two weeks on standby with a full charge, 60 hours of standby at 20 percent battery, 30 hours on 10 percent and 15 hours on 5 percent battery. What about actual use though? HTC didn't give much info on that (likely because it doesn't sound as impressive as 60 hours of standby), but our friends at Laptop Mag say they got 10 hours out of the phone, so it will last all day. It's worth noting that the HTC One M8 also supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0 but you have to buy the required Quick Charge 2.0 adapter separately (the packaged one is for Quick Charge 1.5).
One of the most notable features of the HTC One M8 is the camera. Or cameras, we should say, since there are two. The M8 uses the same 4.1-megapixel UltraPixel camera as the M7, but the strength of a good camera isn't measured in megapixels, and HTC doesn't want us to focus on that number. In fact, the company didn't even mention it today. Instead, HTC has thrown in a rake of neat features and tricks that will help you take better photos.
One of these is the additional camera for faking that shallow depth of field you see in photos taken with higher end cameras. This is similar to what Lytro offers in its camera, and what Nokia's camera app can do. HTC argues that since the work is done via a hardware solution as opposed to a software solution, the phone doesn't have to 'decide' which areas to blur. We took it for a spin and liked the effect. You don't need to shoot in a special mode to take these pictures, which is awesome, because not everyone is going to remember or want to switch that feature on all the time. The results aren't perfect. Take a look at this picture of yours truly (a very tired yours truly). You'll notice that when my face is in focus, the background is out of focus, but the M8 can't seem to decide what to do with the shoulder of the lady beside me. Then, when the foreground is out of focus and the focus is the man's pants in the back ground, the blur effect on her shoulder isn't quite as soft as it was when it was accidentally blurred in the first photo. Something similar can be seen with the Bono-like character behind me, but he's never in focus, so it's easier to forgive the differing levels of blurriness there.
The camera has a 300ms focus time and video is shot at 1080p and can do multiple cuts in one video. Video also has selective slow mo, so you can slow down certain parts of your videos for a more dramatic effect. Burst mode takes 20 photos in quick succession, and there's the usual bevy of effects and filters as well as manual controls for factors like white balance and exposure. HTC's Zoe makes little movies out of your photos and clips and is now cloud-enabled for easier sharing. You can also now add your own music, and Zoe uses a dynamic beat mapping to match your videos and photos to the music you choose.
According to HTC, the average person checks their phone roughly 150 times a day. HTC wants to make it easier to quickly check the time or weather or snap a photo while also reducing the effect all of this constant locking and unlocking has on the phone's battery. Motion Launch lets you bypass the power button and the unlock process using taps and motions. Double tap turns the screen on and off. Picking up the device in portrait and swiping down will launch your dialler, while swiping up will wake the device. A swipe from left to right launches BlinkFeed, and right to left launches the Widget panel. The camera app can be accessed via the volume button when holding the phone in portrait mode. You can also answer the phone by just holding the ringing device to your ear. HTC’s Dot View case was leaked a few weeks ago and displays time, incoming calls, weather and other functions using little dots of color.