Call Quality, Accessories, Options, And Availability
Let's talk about one of the phone's most basic and essential functions: audio quality during a call. I did some testing with an iPhone 5 and Lumia Icon, and found that the HTC One (M8)'s microphone is about as good as its competition. When it comes to the speaker element, though, there seems to be a smaller sweet spot your ear needs to be over if you want to hear the person you're talking to at an optimal volume. Once you're accustomed to this, it becomes second nature. However, it's an idiosyncrasy unique to the One.
HTC sent over the Dot View case to go with our One (M8). There's also a Dot View case available for the E8. If you're not familiar with this accessory, it's a thin cover that protects the smartphone from scratches. But it also has a special ability, illustrated below:
The perforations allow the One's screen to display blocky 8-bit-style data when the cover is closed. HTC's hardware senses the accessory and changes modes accordingly. Touch input is recognized in this configuration. You can double-tap to see time and weather information, or swipe to accept (or reject) incoming calls. The feature is undeniably cool, simultaneously delivering on its promise to prevent scratches.
Fun though it may be, the case isn't perfect. First, it's not designed to open all the way. You're prevented from taking pictures unless you make sure the cover doesn't obstruct the camera; to do that, you have to fold it at an odd angle. It doesn't lay flat on a table with the case attached. Instead, it flops around at about a 20-degree angle. There's a cut-out for the front-facing camera, but the camera turns off with the case closed, so I haven't figured out a way to use it that way.
On one hand, those weaknesses are almost a deal-breaker. On the other, it's such a cool accessory that owners of the One (M8) and (E8) are going to want to at least try the Dot View case out. I'd recommend you give it a shot.
I also want to bring up the One's speakers, even though they're neither accessories nor options. HTC redesigned its drivers, and I have to say this is one of the best-sounding, loudest phones I've heard, as a result. Obviously, there's not enough room to generate meaningful bass. But the volume, clarity, and depth are impressive for a pocket-sized device. I watched the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer at full volume, and my wife came in from two rooms away because she heard my test so clearly. This phone isn't going to replace a nice discrete wireless system. However, it might replace entry-level Bluetooth-connected speakers.
In North America, the One (M8) is available from all major carriers, including Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. Two-year contract pricing ranges from free to $200, depending on your provider. Or, the hardware can be purchased outright for $450 to $670. Again, I'm hoping the One (E8) makes its way to North America as well; it costs almost half as much as the One (M8)'s MSRP in some markets.
The phones are compatible with a wide range of cellular bands, but are configured differently depending on your geographic location. The options include LTE (700/800/850/900/1700/1800/1900/2100/2300/2600 MHz) and HSPDA (850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz).
In addition to cellular connectivity, HTC's One (M8) and (E8) are equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi radios. I used a Bluetooth-attached mouse and keyboard with the phone and both worked flawlessly.
The only accessories included in the M8's box are an AC-to-USB adapter for charging, a USB-to-microUSB cable, earbud-style headphones, and documentation.
As for options, most are determined by whether you go with the M8 or E8. Again, the M8 comes with 32 GB of storage capacity, a metallic body, the dual-lens camera system, and an IR blaster. The E8 has 16 GB of flash, a polycarbonate chassis, one rear-facing image sensor, and no IR blaster.