Apr 15 AT 9:12 AM Sean Riley 32 Comments

HTC One (M8) review


In the past, there’s been a set formula for developing a flagship Android phone. Grab all the latest hardware components you can get your hands on, cram them into a body that’s somewhat attractive, sprinkle on some customizations over the latest Android treat and call it a day. But HTC decided to change things up a little with the HTC One (M8). The phone still has an amazing spec sheet and the obligatory software tweaks, but HTC has spent a lot of time fine-tuning the hardware and software experience to deliver the best Android smartphone the world has ever seen.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been Piecing Together the HTC One (M8) Review. We’ve explored the phone’s design, hardware, performance, camera, accessories and battery life to give you an up-close look at how the phone performs. We did run into a few issues, which HTC will probably address in a future device, but you’ll need to forgive us if the HTC One (M8) brings smiles to our faces.

Design: dem curves


HTC One (M8) Design and Hardware: Iteratively Brilliant

The designers at HTC had a hit on their hands with the M7. Opting not to break from that mold this year was a wise decision. The changes they did make were for the most part in response to some of the limited criticisms that existed regarding the M7. The hard edges of the M7 are softened into gentle curves on the One (M8), resulting in a phone that is more pleasant to hold. The finish on the One (M8), particularly the Gunmetal Gray version, looks fantastic and is a clear departure from any of the competition. Even if you removed the logo, the One (M8) couldn’t be mistaken for another phone–a far cry from the sea of black slabs of a couple years ago.

My two complaints about the One (M8) design are that it is too tall and the power button placement is terrible. The height of the phone is at least partially due to the BoomSound speakers that you can pry from my cold dead fingers. But if they had traded a bit of height for width in the One (M8) design that would have been preferable in my mind. And the power button issue is made tolerable by the new wake gestures.

Camera: UFocus?


HTC One (M8) Camera Experience: Blurring Out the Competition

The Duo Camera on the back of the HTC One (M8) is comprised of two sensors — a 4.1 megapixel (UltraPixel) main sensor and a 2 megapixel depth sensor. That’s right, the secondary camera on the back of the new HTC One isn’t really used for much besides recording how far different objects are from the camera. The information captured from the depth sensor can then be used to apply a handful of effects to your pictures that involve blurring the background.

While most of the software features tied to the Duo Camera are gimmicky at best, UFocus does have a certain appeal. The bokeh effect can look really good, but only if the image if framed just right. The 5 megapixel front-facing “Selfie” camera on the HTC One (M8) is the best we’ve ever used. Pairing the large sensor with a 88-degree wide angle lens produces selfies that are actually worth sharing with your friends.

Is the Duo Camera on the HTC One (M8) perfect? Not one bit. But neither is that $1,200 DLSR that  you were checking out last week. Each camera has pros and cons that you learn to live with. Having an inferior camera may actually force you to become a better photographer. It all comes down to what you’re looking for. Do you need a phone that captures pixel perfect images, or a phone with a camera experience that allows you to capture sharable moments?

Performance & specs: moar power!

HTC One (M8) Performance: Benchmarks vs. Reality

This one is simple. The HTC One (M8) will handle any app you throw at it for the next year or so without breaking a sweat.

Software: common Sense


The HTC One (M8) Software: a Sense of Evolution

The true essence of a phone isn’t revealed in the subtle curves of its aluminum unibody design. You find it in its software. In how the phone interacts with you. Overall, we came away quite impressed with HTC Sense 6′s new look and functionality. Features like BlinkFeed and the outrageously bright colors throughout the UI can be off-putting, but they tend to grow on you once you spend some quality time with the device. Some seem to think that in a perfect world, HTC Sense would not exist. If that’s your stance, we’d encourage you to take a look at the Google Play edition HTC One (M8). Sense 6 still isn’t perfect, but we’d definitely recommend the HTC One (M8) with HTC’s full software experience if you want to take advantage of every last feature the phone has to offer.

Accessories: add-on gizmos

htc-one-dot-view-case (7)

HTC One M8 FitBit Integration: Survival of the FitBit

The Smart Sensor Hub is really the star here, and FitBit is the first 3rd party to take advantage of it. While ultimately I felt that using the FitBit app natively on the One (M8) just made me crave the more rich and accurate data available by using the FitBit Flex, I can imagine for many users it’ll be enough. You’ll notice if you’ve had a sedentary day with the app alone and that is really the point after all.

HTC One (M8) Dot View Case: A Flippin’ Delight

When it comes to the HTC one (M8) Dot View case, we’re a bit torn. The dot matrix information that displays on the case is as cool as a flip case can get, and the way you can interact with the device without flipping the case open is pure genius. But the design issues with the Dot View case make it harder to hold the HTC One (M8) in one hand while using it. If you’re willing to live with a few tradeoffs, we’re sure you will be delighted with the Dot View case. We can guarantee your friends will be astonished the first few times they see it in action. Just be sure to pick a color that’s more exciting than the gray model we were given.

Battery: c'mon, die already!


HTC One (M8) Battery: It Keeps Going and Going

HTC has equipped the HTC One (M8) with a battery that gives enough power that you can go through a full day without ever worrying about finding the nearest outlet. Yes, the 2,600 mAh battery may last you less than 10 hours if you’re constantly watching YouTube clips or trying to beat The Walking Dead in a single session, but that’s pretty much par for the course.

On our highest use day, we managed to kill the HTC One (M8) in just under 12 hours. But that’s the worst case scenario. Over the past 16 days, we’ve managed to use the phone 12 full days (from the time we woke up until the time we went to sleep) without worrying about the phone’s battery charge. On most days, the battery still had 15-20% charge. We also spent a few days to see just how long we could extend the life of the phone by not playing any games, capturing pictures of watching video. We finally plugged the HTC One (M8) into its charger after 39 hours. the remaining 3% charge could have gotten up to the 40 hour mark, but the One (M8) had already proven its point.

Call and audio quality: boom, boom, boom


Let’s not forget that the HTC One (M8) is still a phone. That’s right, you can make phone call with this thing too (who knew)! Over the past two weeks, we have had zero issues with reception or call quality. Audio during calls comes through clear and crisp. People on the other line have always been extremely impressed with the noise cancellation even when we’re calling while walking down a  busy street in the middle of rush hour.

And then there’s BoomSound. The front-facing speakers on the HTC One (M8) may look the same as what we saw last year on the HTC One (M7), but don’t be fooled by appearances. HTC has equipped the One (M8) with new speakers, larger audio chambers and upgraded amplifiers resulting in a 25% increase in volume. If you thought BoomSound on last year’s HTC One was good, you’ll melt when you hear the front-facing stereo BoomSound speakers on the HTC One (M8) in action.

HTC One (M8)9 / 10

With the similarity in appearance to the original One people might be inclined to suggest that HTC was playing it safe with the One (M8). But after a couple weeks with the phone, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. Despite a couple quibbles, this design taken as a whole is perhaps the best we have seen.

Where the original One let down in a few areas once you got past the beautiful exterior, the One (M8) is nearly the equal of that design once you start using the device. The performance is virtually unmatched at the moment and yet the battery life is excellent. Sense is better than ever, but remains an acquired taste or at least a flavor that is not for everyone. For those people the Google Play Edition thankfully exists.

The camera is one area that could prove a misstep with the One (M8). While we still found it excellent for most normal use, it feels like the resources put into the Duo Camera could have been better spent elsewhere.

We’ve been over this ground before, but HTC has created an excellent option with the One (M8) that we feel most users would thoroughly enjoy.

We’ll just have to wait and see if this time around the sales figures can match its accolades.

Via: HTC One (M8) (Amazon)

Source: HTC One (M8) (Google Play Edition)

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

    Nice review, I love my HTC one m8. I’d give it a 10/10. I’m 19 and I’m not into professional photography, so this phone is amazing for me. Hopefully on the successor there is at least a 13 UP Duo OIS camera. Amazing phone. I would recommend it to techies and non-techies.

    • Tariq Ali

      Hi could you or anyone else tell me if it’s good for A4 documents to photo and send. I have a nexus 4 and most of all I use my camera for documents. I’ve seen the same photos taken with a Samsung s4 and they’re much better. How does the one m8 compare. I’m stuck between the HTC one and the Samsung s5. Help anyone

      • Marc Levine

        It’s very good considering it’s only 4.1mp camera

      • Christian M

        I have last year’s model HTC One M7 and use it for document scanning too. I don’t know about the new model but mine works great using an app called CamScanner! I’m told that the M8 has an even better sensor so it should work that much better! Hope this helps.

  • redraider133

    Nice review. Definitely can’t go wrong with any of the new flagships that are coming out. Hopefully this propels HTC into some profit this quarter and helps them to build upon and improve for next years htc one.

  • SGB101

    Nice review, this was the first phone since the note2 that really peaked my interest. But strangely it didn’t last long enough to make we want it.

    It was mainly the camera that excited me, but the reviews dampened that within the first week.

    • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

      It’s not as bad as some reviews have made it out to be, but it was definitely the one piece of the device that stood out as not quite meeting the same standards.

      • SGB101

        It’s not because it’s bad I’ve gone cold on the phone, it’s because it’s not as good as first thought.

  • matt

    Love my new HTC One (m8). It’s by far the best phone I’ve had. I had previously owned the lastest generation of Samsung Galaxy and comparing the quality of both phones, HTC one wins hands down. The smooth metal texture is at a high level finished quality, unlike the plastic feel of the Samsung. The weight of the HTC is surprisingly light for all metal, and is at a good weight where you feel you are hold a “phone” in your hand but at the same time comfortably stays in your hand with little effort. The HTC one blew me away with the screen quality, it’s bright and clear, and I would say better display quality than my previous Samsung. I believe this phone is water proofed too, although they don’t even try to advertise it. Overall, I’d give this phone a 9.8/10. And my previous Samsung a 8.5/10.

    • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

      It’s water resistant rather than waterproof so it can be splashed and would no doubt survive a brief submersion, but it’s not to the same degree as the Galaxy S5 or Sony phones.

      And that’s great that it is such a perfect fit for you. We felt compelled to give an overall score, but I would certainly prefer people read the separate pieces of the review to come to their own conclusions. Like you they may find things that bother us for one reason or another aren’t a problem at all for their usage.

      • bishop33

        They did a video actually where it was submerged for three hours and came out working fine.

        • Larry Whorley

          I saw the same video and was very surprised by the results. I picked up my M* yesterday, trading in my M7. It would be very hard to explain the differences in the two unless you could compare them side by side. The M8 will absolutely blow you away.

          I use TMobile and was in one of their local stores. The whole store was set up to promote the S5, which really pissed my off. I compared the two while I was there and the difference is astounding.

          Why would anyone by a Samsung phone when they could have this beauty?

        • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

          I did see that video, I would just be a bit weary of long term issues as the level of resistance stated by HTC’s own people makes it clear that water did get inside that phone.

  • Larry Whorley

    M8 on the first line.

  • Steven R

    I’d like to know how you achieved such great battery life, I use my phone regularly for texts, calls, a few business type apps and the occasional video. I don’t play any games on my phone. It will last days if I never pick it up, but I only get maybe 3 hours of constant use. I love this phone and would love to have a better battery life, so this is an actual question…

    • Galen20K

      Well in that case you must have a defective unit, the general consensus is that the M8 has stellar battery life for anybody who’s use it for a measurable amount of time.

    • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

      It depends on a lot of different factors. The brightness of the display, your cellular network reception, background data all play a huge role in battery consumption. While the battery on the M8 does last longer than most, it will still only last 3-4 hours of constant use. That number goes up if you’re just watching video since the processor load is fairly low for that.

  • Eddie Harrington

    Have the unlocked version. Hands down best phone I have ever owned. Fast, responsive and so damn good looking. I’m afraid what HTC will come up with next cause I am sure I’ll want it but won’t have the $$$.

  • qessar raja

    I bought my HTC m8 and was not disappointed. What can I say, it is near perfect, 10/10 for sure. HTC is No.1 and this handset proves that……

  • Charles Bandiera

    Solid review… sounds like good phone but I think I will upgrade to the galaxy S5 or wait for the note 4. Currently using note 3 after having a great experience with the S3. But thanks for really well done review.

    • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

      I think the one thing that may convince you to buy this phone is going to a store and holding it in your hand. There’s nothing else like it. The phone’s performance and features are on par with the S5, but the industrial design of HTC’s handset is what truly sets it apart.

  • Rose

    I have had every Evo and the last HTC One M7. This is by far the best phone I’ve ever had.can’t wait to try one of the dot view cases just don’t want black and can’t find any other colors yet.

  • Morgan Casteel

    Don’t forget the audio quality when using headphones. Noticeably better than the m7. I’ve been testing both for a couple weeks. You can really feel the sound a lot better. It’s really incredible.

  • Igaal

    Went to the Telstra shop and held the phone for the first time, I didn’t go there to upgrade just to compare to my M7 and 5 minutes later I was the proud owner of the M8 much to my wife’s happiness… What a phone! I enjoy every second of it! And the camera is excellent don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise!

  • Inquiring Mind

    Handling contacts is key to any phone I would own. This is never mentioned in any phone review or comparison.

    I purchased an HTC One and tried to upload my contacts from my old Droid3. It was impossible. The contact info fields HTC offered were pedantic: as I recall the phone number field for example allowed “home, mobile, fax, other” and nothing else – take it or leave it! My old Droid3 permitted customization on virtually any field so I could identify for example “Fred Mobile 1,” Fred Home,” “Fred Office,” “Fred Office Main #,” “Fred Secretary,” “Fred’s Wife Home,” etc. Call up Fred’s contact info and all of this was available on screen so I could direct my call precisely.

    I replaced the HTC One with a Galaxy S4. I was able to transfer nearly all of my contacts from the Droid3 to the S4 and found it had many more fields as well, ALL CUSTOMIZABLE: Phone #, email, Notes, Groups, Ringtone, Message Alert, Vibration Pattern, Phonetic Name, Organization, IM, Address, Nickname, Website, Events, Relationship. This enables you to enter and look up virtually anything you might need on your contact.

    Sorry, I guess I’m just “old school” and believe the primary use for a phone is to contact people. Any phone I buy has to make that easy! If the new version HTC has released doesn’t address this issue I wouldn’t even consider buying it or any other phone, for that matter!

    • Brian

      I have an S3 and the customization you describe is on it as well… but I can’t see how it would be missing on a modern HTC One M8… after all it’s using the same OS under the hood… with just a HTC skin.

      What you probably were experiencing was an old HTC model using a customized and old android os, and when you moved to S4, you’re using a android OS like jellybean/kitkat that has more customization.

      I find it hard to believe that a M8 wouldn’t have this. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it did strip that functionality out. I don’t know. I find my S3 pretty confusing. It’s so confusing to my wife, she can’t use it… which for some husbands, that’s probably a good thing :P She’s like “let me see who’s sending you messages…” and then is baffled how to actually get to txt msg’s… it’s certainly a learning curve, mainly because it’s over customizable… there’s like a million ways to do one thing. That’s both a benefit and a negative, depending on how you view it. I like it… some hate it.

  • Brian

    I really like what you said here, “Do you need a phone that captures pixel perfect images, or a phone with a camera experience that allows you to capture sharable moments?” I think that sums up a cell camera to me. I see a ton of reviews bashing the M8 and praising the S5 with side by side comparison photos that really don’t show much difference. It’s not like comparing two DSLR’s with varying degrees of quality. It’s a cell phone camera for crying out loud. When I see reviews that go, “Ok at 100% crop we see more detail in the S5…” O…K… but, how sharable and fun is it to take images?

    I have a S3 right now. straight out of the camera, every shot I take is flat and lifeless. I have to use Snapseed to make the images fun and engaging. When I look at shots taken with the M8 on Google+ and Flickr, I’m really impressed with the quality. Yes, 4MP won’t let me crop much, yes it is kinda a turn off… but look at how great uFocus works compared to selective focus on S5 or defocus on Z2… Zoie is pretty cool, and the built in effects like HDR look great.

    I’m not bashing S5. It’s a solid phone, but samsung cameras bore me. S3/S4 cameras just produce flat images out of the phone. I’d like something to give me a cool shot out of the phone…. without spending 20+min with snap seed on every image. I think the M8 might get me there… the uFocus is pretty good. I see it fail in about 30% of the shots I see online. I seek S5 selective focus fail in about 80% of the shots I see online… Z2 has a great defocus feature, but it requires so much preplanning, it’s a moot point for me.

    Again I like your review, I think keeping this in mind as a phone with a camera for sharable moments, is more important then it’s pixel perfect and color perfect reproductions.

  • donger

    Seems like a solid phone.

  • Auwolf79

    I just got my HTC One M8 last week. I am an Apple user but don’t do the what I call in between upgrades. For instance I have the iPhone 5 but to me the 5s is not that big of an upgrade. Since my contract is up I decided to get the M8 until the larger iPhone 6 comes out (if the rumors are true)! I admit it is a bit different transitioning from iOS to Droid but with this sweet phone I will have the hang of it soon. My biggest thing from switching is figuring out which is the better place for apps Google play or Amazon. So any information with that is welcomed! I really like the M8, the power button being up top is not a big deal to me since the iPhone power button is up top and I am use to that. As far as length and size goes I happen to like it. When it comes to the camera well I have Never been a phone camera fan so to me they are all the same. They each have their own flaws some where, besides when I am going to be taking serious pictures I use my Canon Rebel T2i. In close I think this is a sweet piece of equipment and look forward to using it more each day!

  • Bob

    I’m still waiting for an update to deal with the purple tinting that appears in photos taken with the HTC One M8. Very annoying, especially when all my friends have camera phones that take great pictures. No one likes my pictures, except the purple people eater. The screen seems to be inconsistent when I touch apps and navigation buttons. Sometimes I have to touch more than once, sometimes I have to hold my finger down to get it to respond. Calibration did nothing to change this. Other than the camera and the touch screen the phone is fine. For the money, I expected a really great phone. I got a good phone and a really lousy camera. Maybe the M9?

  • brandon bernabe

    anyone know what The purple light by the front camera and the speaker is for?

  • Tammy

    I absolutely love my M8. I don’t like the dot view case though, just like the article states, It is to hard to use one handed.