HTC One M8 review

9.2

Daniel Bader

April 6, 2014 3:10 pm

There’s a popular idiom reinforced in schools every year to millions of students: two heads are better than one. The thinking goes, one person is an island, and smart as he may be, there’s always another way to look at a problem. With the second HTC One, the M8, the Taiwanese manufacturer worked closely with chip designer Qualcomm to create a device with two cameras that work together to seamlessly solve one problem: depth.

While there’s no question that the all-metal One M8 is beautiful, fast and well-made, some of HTC’s decisions, including that dual-camera array, provoke more questions than they answer. That there is so much to like about the phone makes its failings even more frustrating — and disappointing. This is the year HTC needs to make its comeback, and with the One M8 as its vehicle, can the once-leader of the Android market regain its footing?

Specs

  • Android 4.4.2 with Sense 6.0 overlay
  • 5-inch 1920×1080 pixel Super LCD 3 display
  • 2.26Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC w/ Adreno 330 GPU
  • 2GB RAM / 32GB internal storage + microSD slot up to 128GB
  • Duo Camera (4MP main “Ultrapixel” sensor + secondary sensor for depth) / 5MP front-facing camera
  • 1080p video capture (front + rear)
  • WiFi (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • 2600mAh non-removable battery
  • HSPA+ 850/1700/1900/2100 LTE 700/AWS/2600
  • 146.3 x 70.6 x 9.35mm
  • 160 grams

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Design & Display

The HTC One M8 is dense. It is taller, wider, thicker and heavier than last year’s model, and where the M7 was all smooth and angular the 2014 model is fuller, the power forward to its point guard.

That extra size is a direct result of HTC putting more into the phone itself: more antennas, faster chips, a large battery, and a higher proportion of metal. HTC says this year’s One is comprised of 90% metal, compared to 70% last year. Managing to overcome the attenuation issues associated with antennas bundled into metal chassis — the company went through countless prototypes before getting it right — the new device feels much more solid as a result.

The finish, though seemingly a result of the metal, is actual artificial, and purports to hide scratches through myriad horizontal valleys. In reality, the not-quite-glossy finish is slippery, at least on the Gunmetal Grey version I reviewed, and makes it imperative to either buy a case (HTC has you covered there) or take extra care when shifting the phone in your hand. The 5-inch 1080p display is excellent, but the larger size over last year’s model does make it feel rather unruly; I truly noticed the size increase, and find myself lusting after the relatively compact form factor of the original One after weeks of using the M8.

Like last year’s model, HTC continues to offer one of the best mobile displays on the market. This is a standard full-RGB LCD, which means that viewing angles are superlative and colours are accurate, even if contrast isn’t quite as thorough as the new crop of Super AMOLEDs from Samsung. But even’s Samsung’s improved Galaxy S5 display can’t match HTC for colour accuracy, which is where the screen excels over its competitors. The One M8’s screen is slightly more well-calibrated than its predecessor’s, and boasts extremely high maximum brightness, making it a cinch for outdoor viewing, but it’s no longer alone at the top of the pile; Samsung, LG and even Sony have managed to secure or manufacture extremely high-end screens of their own for the S5, G2 and Xperia Z2 respectively.

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The One M8 is certainly nicer than the M7, but I’m still unconvinced the choices are wholly positive. Despite the presence of on-screen buttons, the device is too tall for my liking, owing to the dual stereo “BoomSound” speakers and accompanying circuitry therein. The bezels around the screen are larger than the latest crop from LG and Samsung, too, which makes the M8 feel gangly, like it’s wasting space. While that inference is not necessarily true, the average consumer may see it next to an S5 or G2 and declare it too big. What’s worse is that the power button, relocated to the top right of the device, is still too difficult to reach. Samsung understands this and continues to place its power buttons parallel to the volume controls on the right side of its Galaxy devices. Even with Motion Gestures, which lets you turn on the screen by double-tapping or swiping, powering off the device still involves some readjustment.

Other areas of the device have seen substantial improvements in usability. The volume rocker protrudes more, making it easier to press and the rounded sides and chamfered edges are deliberate and playful; like the amount of metal in the body, the M8 appears 90% complete, whereas the predecessor felt naked, more raw. For better or worse.

Ultimately, this is one of the most well-made devices on the market, one that will likely stand a beating and may even look better for it. Whether it’s a more attractive phone than last year is up for debate — personally, I don’t think so — but it’s still gorgeous, and better-looking than most smartphones on the market.

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Performance and Software

I never disliked Sense, but this year I love Sense. HTC has taken the best of Android 4.4.2 and heaped spoonfuls of colour in measured doses, expertly taking advantage of the various new APIs offered by Google.

There are a few quirks that I’m not yet sold on — the staged-scroll vertical app drawer, for one — but HTC has a sense of app design shared by few of its peers. The software feels like it was built specifically for the hardware, much like iOS 7’s pronounced colours and flat UI was matched by the neon colours of the iPhone 5c. The launcher is familiar but for one main difference: there are on-screen navigation buttons, the first for an HTC product and a sea change from a company that resisted integrating them for so long. Martin Fichter, HTC’s VP of Product and Operations for North America, told me it was the integration of Immersive Mode, another under-appreciated feature of KitKat, that convinced the company to make the change. In fact, they were months away from releasing the M8 with capacitive buttons, and had prototyped both versions just in case.

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Many of the new Sense’s best features are hidden away in the Settings, but once discovered are extremely useful. Motion Launch gestures, for instance, let you turn on the screen by either double-tapping or swiping up from the bottom. Putting the device in landscape mode and tapping once on a volume key immediately launches the new camera interface (which is a big improvement over Sense 5.5). These are phenomenally useful improvements to the Android experience that build on the addition of a low-power “sensor core” to the Snapdragon 801 SoC. HTC worked with Qualcomm to build out the Motion Gestures, which use a negligible amount of battery; using a combination of accelerometer and gyroscope, the Snapdragon “wakes up” one of its cores when it detects the phone is being held — the gestures don’t work when the phone is lying on a table — and quickly puts it to sleep again.

Existing Sense features have also been fleshed out in version 6.0, though none of them continue to be as contentious as BlinkFeed, HTC’s would-be consolidator of news headlines, lifestyle articles, Tweets, Facebook updates and whatever else you happen to enjoy. Like the Gallery, Calendar, Dialler, and other first-party apps, BlinkFeed has been “flattened,” its chrome and excess textures eliminated in favour of solid blocks of colour and easy-to-read typography. And, as with many infotainment apps like Flipboard, Zite and even Google’s own Play Newsstand, BlinkFeed attempts to summarize what’s important, and despite being more customizable and less busy than its former incarnation, I still prefer separate versions of apps to accomplish the same thing. That Samsung felt the need to match HTC with its own My Magazine feature means that there is certainly commercial potential here, and my reticence to use it is less about the feature itself than amount my workflow. I can see “average” smartphone users (read: non-hardcore nerds like me) quite enjoying it.

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That the HTC One comes preloaded with Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box means that it’s easy to compare performance next to other products running the same software. But whereas other manufacturers like Samsung have ceased their benchmark-cheating ways, HTC still activates a High Performance Mode when certain apps are run, making it impossible to do apples-to-apples comparisons. That said, there is a lot more in the Snapdragon 801 than a few extra megahertz in each of the four cores.

That is, however, a good place to start. Last year’s M7 came with a Snapdragon 600, which was a slightly higher-clocked variation of the S4 Pro. But, like that 600 to the S4 Pro, there are a number of more subtle hardware improvements in the 801 that make it far more than a “marketing” upgrade over the 800. For starters, even though the 2.26Ghz CPU core speeds remain the same as the Snapdragon 800, both the graphics processor and RAM are significantly faster — 28% and 15% faster, respectively.

So too is the ISP, or image signal processor, which facilitates Zoe’s constant capture and UFocus’s ultra-fast rendering speeds. Anyone who’s used a Snapdragon 800-based device may not notice an appreciable speed bump on the One M8, but users of the M7, which used a last-generation Snapdragon 600, will most certainly enjoy the extra headroom.

Subjectively, the One M8 was a pleasure to use. It loaded apps quickly, and maneuvered between windows with ease. Where it faltered was where all high-end Android devices did: in badly-coded apps that scroll poorly. It appears that Android hardware is outpacing the platform’s developer tools, and many apps are still built with cement in the white spaces.

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Camera

The Duo camera will forever be the most contentious aspect of the One M8, mainly because HTC chose to reuse the same 4MP Ultrapixel sensor as last year’s M7. In fact, the sensors aren’t exactly the same, but the specs are: a 1/3″ sensor with 2µm pixel size and a wide-angle f/2.0 lens with 28mm equivalent focal length. In theory, as HTC often reasserts, the relatively large sensor (for a phone), coupled with larger individual pixels in fewer numbers (four megapixels means four million individual pixels; in contrast, the iPhone 5s has an identically-sized 1/3″ sensor with eight million pixels) equates to more light being captured, and higher-quality low-light shots.

That was last year’s pitch, too. And it worked, some of the time. Most photos shared on the internet are, indeed, lower than 4MP, and when working within those limits the One M7 acquitted itself brilliantly. But the moment you compared a shot taken in good lighting conditions with any other high-end smartphone, from an iPhone 5 to a Galaxy S4, the lack of detail became very apparent.

This year, HTC’s newest trick is the combination of a smaller second sensor, hence Duo camera, with a much faster ISP inside a higher-clocked SoC. The former does not explicitly capture photos or video — there’s no way to isolate that second photo — but instead the camera uses the extra data to create a depth map of the scene, facilitating a number of interesting editing features. Many of these will go unused, but the most impressive is UFocus, which uses the extra metadata to blur out the background of a photo, or conversely refocus the background at the expense of said foreground object. It doesn’t always work, but when it does the results are absolutely wonderful. I really, really enjoyed playing with this.

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The issue with the Duo camera is that although the quality of the 4MP photos are generally better this year than last — the sharpening algorithms are more accurate, and there’s no pink hue in the middle of the photo — they’re still just that… 4MP photos. The second camera does not magically combine with the first to create a 6MP shot, and while the One M8 is capable of capturing some superlative images, especially in less-than-ideal lighting conditions, the lack of detail relegates the camera to “point-and-shoot” status when I’m looking for “prosumer.” In short, when doing any sort of cropping or post-processing, you quickly lose much of the photo’s fidelity, and you’re stuck with a cropped photo just over 3MP.

Punctuating the irony of the situation is the fact that the front-facing camera is of a higher resolution than the rear one. The 5MP front shooter also has a wide-angle lens, and though it lacks the large pixel size and dual-toned flash of its rear counterpart, it’s quite a consummate selfie shooter on its own.

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But let’s move back to the rear camera(s) for the remainder of this section. Does the HTC One M8 take great photos, in daylight or night light? Yes, most of the time. The lens focuses quickly — again, much faster than the M7 — and the entire camera experience is just wonderful. Truly, no one designs camera interfaces like HTC.

The new camera app is great for a number of reasons. The UI gets out of your way until you want it; when you do, there are a host of manual settings for exposure, maximum ISO, white balance and more. Custom camera settings can be saved as presets for quick retrieval later. Like Nokia’s Camera app on Windows Phone devices, when in manual mode these settings appear in a vertical slider, making it easy to adjust ISO or change white balance. The issue is that, like any digital viewfinder, the screen approximates your final image, and at high ISOs the frame rate suffers tremendously. That the maximum ISO is 1600 means it’s possible to take decent photos extraordinarily dark circumstances, but let’s not kid ourselves here: this is still a smartphone camera, and there is mud and grain aplenty when trying to decipher a smiling face in the dark.

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When artificial light is needed, HTC has sprung for a dual-tone flash, and like the iPhone 5s, it’s very good at adjusting for skin tones in the murky-lit indoor. Like all small LED flashes, it does still have a tendency to wash out faces, especially if the room is completely dark, since the sensor has no reference point for its subjects, but for the most part it works well.

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Returning to HTC’s Duo camera editing suite, the good outweighs the bad, but it’s hard to overcome the fact that despite two cameras and plenty of metadata, this is very much a digital salvo. For example, UFocus only captures two planes of data, and sometimes the transition from foreground to back sacrifices some fidelity in the middle. In the case above, which has been crudely laid out in animated GIF format, you can see the changes that happen from a well-executed UFocus capture. The foreground is plainly in view, and the background defocuses, creating a gorgeous blurring without sacrificing fidelity.

Because the depth of field is artificial, though, stray objects often get caught in the middle of the front and back camera, and the software isn’t sure how to handle it. In most cases, the background (or foreground) blur is well executed, but you’ll occasionally find situations where part of the background is still in focus, tripped up by perspective.

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As you can see from this shot above, sometimes UFocus attempts to create a tilt-shift effect, but fails because the two camera sensors overlap in their detail. The effect is interesting, but jarring; it’s fun, but not always useful. UFocus works best when there’s a single foreground object to focus on, using the background defocus a bokeh simulation.

The Duo camera allows for other editing effects besides UFocus, though none that I use on a regular basis. Foregrounder lets you set the background as a painting, or cartoon; Seasons adds real-time 3D effects to your photo; and Dimension Plus is both the most interesting and most useless because it proves that using two sensors can facilitate some interesting three-plane effects.

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Of course, Zoe share is back with Sense 6.0, and is significantly improved over the previous version. The feature, which allows you to capture moments of photos and video at the same time, is not only versatile but fun. The resulting videos, similar to Google+’s Auto Awesome output, uses one of 12 themes, combined with music, for an easy-to-share video clip. Later this summer, HTC will release a dedicated Zoe Share app to Google Play, allowing its community to not only share their own Zoe but remix those of friends and family.

As for video, because the sensor is just under 4 million pixels in width, it’s impossible to match the latest crop of Android devices capturing 4K video. Subjectively, this isn’t a huge loss: I have no use for such high-resolution video, and will unlikely found one over the M8’s lifespan. But it’s certainly a mark against HTC on paper which may not be able to shake the Ultrapixel stigma when comparing photo quality next to the iPhone 5s, Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2.

Then there’s the omission of optical image stabilization, which helped the M7 produce steady, blur-free photos in situations where other devices couldn’t. Due to the complicated internal design of the Duo camera setup, HTC had to leave out the hardware stabilizer, and the results are immediately apparent, especially when shooting video. While the company claims that its digital stability algorithms do just as good a job, they don’t. Period. And it’s another mark on an otherwise great experience.

The TL;DR version of the camera is this: the HTC One M8 can and often does capture some outstanding photos, and is still one of the best for low-light photography in the smartphone market. But this year, Samsung, Apple and Sony stepped up their games significantly, and what was once a great, albeit low-resolution camera, is now merely a good one with interesting software quirks. The second camera sensor is intriguing, not essential. Next year, hopefully HTC understands this.

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Battery Life & Connectivity

Despite sporting a battery only 300mAh larger than last year, the M8 often lasts twice as long as its predecessor. The M8’s uptime is fantastic, and while it doesn’t compare to the LG G Flex, more often than not it competes with, and occasionally surpasses, the uptime of the 3000mAh LG G2.

In real-world testing, the HTC One M8 was the third in a new cohort of Android phones I’m taking to calling the “Oneplus Generation” (which has nothing to do with the device manufacturer of the same name). These Oneplus devices will almost certainly last from morning to night without needing even the slightest recharge. And on the heavier-use days, we’re looking at a good 14 to 16 hours of good, solid use. This Oneplus Generation lasts, as you would expect, one or more days on a single charge, and it’s absolutely lovely.

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In our video looping tests, where we take a clip at medium brightness and loop it until the battery dies (and yes, we know that “medium brightness” varies from device to device — we’re working on getting a light meter for this very purpose), the HTC One M8 lasted approximately 12 hours, a quarter more than its predecessor on the same clip running the same version of Android.

HTC has continued its foray into battery-saving measures with the M8, even if it’s not as necessary this year. A Power Saving mode allows users to tame the CPU, brightness levels and vibration intensity, either manually or at pre-determined battery levels. In a future update, the M8 will be able to go into Extreme Power Saving Mode, which shuts off all non-essential radios and functions to prolong the wisps of a fading battery cell. HTC was contrite about its absence in US and Canadian M8’s at launch, saying that the regulatory process took longer in North America than anywhere else in the world.

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BoomSound, HTC’s proprietary front-facing stereo speaker and high-power amplifier combo makes a return, and cements the company as providing the best aural experience on the Android market. While the speakers alone are not going to fill a room with tubthumping bass, they reach decibel levels, without clipping, that other devices couldn’t dream of. Moreover, the headphone amplification has been boosted since last year — 2.25 volts compared to 2V on the M7 — allowing it to push higher-impedance headphones while maintaining a full, rich sound.

Most people don’t take smartphone sound too seriously anymore; the combination of low-quality streaming audio files and crappy bundled headphones has significantly lowered the fidelity bar. But HTC and Apple appear to be the two companies making strides in this area, and we’re happy to see Android represented.

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A few more thoughts:

  • LTE speeds in Toronto were excellent on Rogers (the demo carrier I used). The device supports triband LTE (700/AWS/2600) along with quad-band HSPA+ (850/1700/1900/2100) so it will work on WIND, Videotron and Mobilicity, too.
  • There’s a microSD card, something that HTC said was added after receiving small number of very loud, adamant requests. Supporting cards up to 128GB, it’s a great way to add local storage to Android, but as we’ve talked about before, the OS is no longer as friendly to external media as it used to be.
  • I played around with the Dot View case for a bit, and it’s absolutely fantastic — until you open it and try to use it. Because of the tight hinge (which may loosen over time) it’s difficult to use the M8 when the case is open.
  • The device uses one of those newfangled nano-SIM cards. Where have we seen those before? Ah, yes: the iPhone 5. The new card standard is slowly expanding its reach, available on the iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s and Motorola’s Moto X. Hopefully devices from other OEMs will begin shipping with the standard soon, as it’s been annoying having to flip back and forth between micro- and nano-SIM for my main line.
  • Call quality was excellent, as one would expect from a modern smartphone. It’s not the clearest sound I’ve ever heard, but it’s good enough.
  • As with the M7, the One M8 has an IR blaster in its power button to facilitate home theatre, TV and game console controls. The Sense TV app is once again powered by Peel for its TV guide listings, but the design has been given a nice makeover in line with the rest of the first-party apps from HTC.
  • As part of the HTC Advantage, the company promises to keep its devices updated to the latest version of Android with 90 days of its release from Google, for two years after coming to market. That means the One M8 will likely receive the next few versions of Android long after some other companies discard theirs for something newer and shinier.
  • The M8’s bootloader can be unlocked through the HTC Dev portal, though there aren’t many reasons to do so at this point. Still, it will be nice when custom ROMs are released.

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Conclusions

The HTC One M8 is a better phone than the original, but it’s no longer easily the best high-end Android smartphone. Samsung, Sony and LG have cleaned up their acts, announcing and releasing stellar devices in recent months. Motorola came out of nowhere in August with the Moto X, and even the Nexus 5, a device half the cost of the One M8, is a contender.

And yet the M8 is holistically delightful: its well-built frame and intuitive software often overreaches, and where it succeeds, the experience is superlative and unmatched. The issues with the camera are built into the framework of what makes the One a One; it’s something you either have to get over, or avoid completely. There is no middle.

Everything else, from the performance to the display to the seemingly-endless battery life, is top-notch, and we’re so, so excited to see HTC at the top of its game. While the company’s future is still shaky, at least we know through the tumult they’ve been building and crafting an excellent Android device.

9.2

Final Score

9

Design

8.5

Software

9.5

Display

9

Performance

9.5

Build Quality

8

Camera

8.5

Connectivity

9

Battery Life

  • Lukeiphone

    Just wow….

  • gab_gagnon

    The video was kinda painful to watch… Know what you want to say before shooting

    • stevedion

      I gotta agree, I love this site, I visit it multiple times in a day. But the videos are painful. Daniel, you need to brush up on video skills and prepare better. Just constructive criticism.

  • Jahmal Brown

    I’m a happy owner of the M8. It’s refreshing!

  • jellmoo

    It’s certainly a nice device, I just don’t like some of their design choices. By going with on screen buttons and leaving the black bar, the device just looks off. It’s like they have this big area of wasted space. I really don’t think this was a good move. They had an opportunity to improve on the design of the M7 and use the HTC logo as a home button, but didn’t. It’s just there…

    The device size overall is also a big turnoff. It’s just too big. I don’t believe that one handed use is possible for most people. Increasing the screen size but then losing that size some of the time with the on screen buttons doesn’t seem worth it.

    At the end of the day, the reality is that the camera is lacking, and the really gimmicky feature they tacked on doesn’t help. It *can* take really nice pictures, but that stops the second you need to zoom. You lose wayyy too much detail when zooming when compared to other high end smartphone cameras. The loss of OIS is also ugly, especially when it’s tied to that gimmick lens.

    For me, it just isn’t a great follow up to what many people thought was the phone of the year. It makes sacrifices instead of offering pure benefit. The build quality is still through the roof, but is that enough to steer people away from the competition? I personally do not think so.

    • wahwah

      If you would have researched the reasoning behind the extra space below the screen you’d have found out it is for antenna and circuit placement. Due to the fact that the phone is over 90% solid metal it was necessary in order to have all the radios function properly. Apparently they went through dozens of refinements to the design before settling on this one.

    • jellmoo

      I already knew this, but thank you for the input. That still doesn’t make it a “good” design decision. They still had the option for using the capacitive buttons in order to lessen the waste of space. Just because they went through refinements doesn’t mean that they came up with an optimal solution. Having a large black bar with zero functionality on the bottom of a device that makes it overly large and inhibits one handed use simply is poor planning.

    • wahwah

      Your forgetting that its NOT zero functioning. Just because you can’t see what it’s doing doesn’t make it not do something. Give it a rest or build a better phone yourself. That’s right, you can’t, and apparently no one else can as of yet either.

    • jellmoo

      It has zero functionality for the user. The M7 made use of that space. It gave the space purpose for the user. The M8 could have followed that same path, freed up screen reals estate, and improved on the original. It did not. And I’m not allowed to critique something? Why on earth not? Isn’t that the point of a discussion board?

      No one else can do better? Look at either the S4 or the G2. Devices that make good use of their space, without wasting a bunch of it on the bottom of the screen and making the device overly large.

      The M8 is a beautiful phone. No doubt. But it isn’t a perfect one, and it made some sacrifices. The design of having a non functional area on the bottom of the device is one of them.

    • Sayersttu

      I think it’s better they made a design choice and left with a phone that worked, than shipping a phone to millions of consumers without realizing that bridging two piece of metal on it with ur finger would drop calls. I don’t really see what your point is, it seems u dont really understand what functionality is because that black bar defimitely does have functionality for the user.

    • jellmoo

      Okay. Listen. If you disagree with me, that’s cool. I’m more than happy to have a discussion about something. But is it necessary to go into the “it seems u don’t understand…” stuff? It sounds incredibly condescending, and that doesn’t help your point.

      And again, no it doesn’t. It is a black bar that contributes to massive bezel underneath the phone. Massive. Yes, I understand that there are internals underneath it. But it is still a massive bezel that exists on the bottom that has zero interactive functionality.

      By all means, feel free to disagree, but I stand by the notion that it is a terrible design decision, that becomes *very* noticeable when you put the device next to an M7. They had an opportunity to improve on the design of the M7, and instead regressed. For me, that is not a logical extension of the evolution of a flagship device.

    • TrainAss

      “I think it’s better they made a design choice and left with a phone that worked, than shipping a phone to millions of consumers without realizing that bridging two piece of metal on it with ur finger would drop calls.”

      *cough*Apple*cough*

      Seriously, you were just holding it wrong!

    • David Lam

      ^ well said – I’ve always been a fan of HTC (I had a Desire before the M7 I have right now) and I have to say that I don’t really they way they changed it. I don’t know if I care for the 90% metal when that’s the sacrifice that has to be made. Hopefully the next gen HTC fixes this, because as is, that bottom bezel is a dealbreaker. :(

    • realitycheck

      so if someones opinion does not match yours, you question their ability to build a better phone? how about your counter their point with your reasoning?

    • wahwah

      Because I don’t give an f what some doofus on the internet thinks or says. I just explained the reasoning why so others would understand that they didn’t leave the space there for no reason. It serves a very valid function.

  • silver_arrow

    With those kinds of LTE speeds on a current carriers plan you could blow through it within seconds, seriously a 500mb or 1 gig plan with 100mbps is insane.

    • ScooterinAB

      I think you might be confusing data speed (megabits) and file size (megabytes). Megabits (mbps) are a speed metric, not a measure of file size movement over time.

    • Dylan Kuehl

      500MB @ 100Mbps, still 12.5MBps.. that’s still under a minute (40 secs) of solid downloading to burn though an entry level plan.

    • Frosty

      Right. But why would you download a 500MB file size on a 1GB data plan? You wouldn’t regardless if your speed was 1MBps or 100MBps.

      The rate at which you download/load sites is faster. But that is independent on how frequently you browse website and what file sizes you choose to download.

      It’s not difficult to understand.

    • Dylan Kuehl

      Someone thought there were on Wi-Fi? A kid who doesn’t care as long as he gets to play that 2.5GB game right now? Canadians have been give the speed to do things crazy fast, and if so help us if we use it.

    • Techie01

      Perfectly said sir. People are dumb and trolls like this guy add to the confusion. let’s help technology speed progress and silence the dummies out communicating that having a fast connection means you’re burning through data in 5 mins.

  • Dylan Doucet

    How’s the charging speed? Is it still limited to 1 Amp? That will be a deal breaker for me. I find myself cursing that more than anything else on the HTC One, which I love otherwise.

    • Daniel Bader

      Something I didn’t mention, but it’s actually quite a lot faster. The device supports Quick Charge 2.0, though the charger that comes in the box is only a 1.0. In other words, it’s much faster to charge than the M7, but when QC 2.0-compatible chargers are released later this year, it will be more than twice as fast.

    • Dylan Doucet

      Good to know! Thanks for making the decision between this and the S5 that much harder.

    • wahwah

      HTC stated that the next batch of models shipping will have a larger capacity charger. They also stated they would mail out the new one to those that request it when its available, and for free.

    • Dylan Doucet

      That’s good, nothing worse than getting a lower quality product because you bought early.

    • TrainAss

      SCORE! I hope finding the info to request it is easy to find.

    • Sascha WerwilldasWissen

      It has quickcharge 2.0

  • GordonGartrell

    I’m due for a new phone, but after being an owner of 3 HTC devices, I need a change. Beautiful device though. I hope it will finally be HTC’s successful phone to aggressively compete with Samsung.

    • TrainAss

      My first 2 Androids were HTC (G1 and Magic+). I’ve been on Samsung since, and am tired of them. TouchWiz is driving me nuts, 4.3 on my S3 is slow and clunky (I can run 4.4.2 CM11 and it’s smooth as silk) plus the design hasn’t changed much since the SGH-i9000 (Galaxy S), plus with them all but abandoning their phones a year after release (I think it’s been due to a large outcry from consumers that they’ll eventually release 4.4 on the S3… probably once Android is a version or two higher). I’m heading back to HTC.

  • southerndinner

    Enjoy the last phone by this company before they’re absorbed by another or file for bankruptcy. They don’t have the cash stockpile that Blackberry does

    • J-Ro

      HTC makes great devices. They aren’t going anywhere.

    • southerndinner

      They make pretty phones but that isn’t helping them any. When you lose over a billion in a quarter and have no cash stockpile, it’s just a matter of time before you’re done.

      RIP HTC

    • chris

      Good to know you have facts and citations to back up such a bold statement.

    • southerndinner

      Fact: they just reported a billion dollar loss last quarter.

    • yddtime

      Fact: That’s NT$1.88 billion which is only $62.6 Million US. Get your facts straight.

  • monsterduc1000

    Too bad they decided to keep the ultrapixel count so low. You think with a year of r&d they could have got it to at least 7up :) (I wanted to say 8up but I couldn’t pass on 7up).

    Comparisons between other high end phones show very little benefit (if any at all) of the ultrapixels over other phones cameras in low light situations, and a huge disadvantage in clarity for outdoor and well lit indoor shots.

    So other than a nice looking phone (the lower bezel still baffles me) that will be hidden with a case (by the smart people anyway), this phone offers nothing significant over the other top flight phones being released within the next few weeks.

    • talarico

      I completely agree! I have the M7 and will NOT be upgrading to the M8. It just doesn’t offer enough for to shell out money for it. The camera is a major let down. Louder speakers are a great touch but I don’t use my current “boomsound” speakers very much on my M7…I rock my earphones 98% of the time. It’s a complete pass for me.

      Oh and…nice job on the 7up bit! LOL

    • L Joel

      same way i felt about GS3 to GS4.. not enough. And probably how GS4 to GS4 owners feel. Not a bad thing. Just need 2 years between devises to be blown away :)

    • monsterduc1000

      Yeah, those poor gs4 to gs4 owners. Gotta hate upgrading to the same phone. :-)

    • realitycheck

      gs4s

  • krazyking

    The day i take a review from Mobile Syrup without a grain of salt is the day pigs fly. If anyone wants a REAL review visit Phone Arena, Android Authority, Pocketnow or GSM Arena. Giving the M8 a rating this high with such a poor camera is ridiculous. 8 pts for the camera? Ya ok. Clearly this guy likes metallic built devices because iphones and HTC Ones are always the best rated. I was looking forward to the M8 but with the same crappy 4MP as the M7 this phone is DOA. HTC is heading for bankruptcy. Besides a bigger screen and better processing there is no difference from the M7. HTC had a chance to really make a splash this year but they blew it.

    • jellmoo

      I’m sorry, but if you want to criticize the reviews here that’s fine. But for the love of heck, don’t recommend Phone Arena reviews ahead of them. I completely agree with GSM Arena, but Phone Arena does some of the worst reviews in the industry.

    • krazyking

      That’s a matter of opinion as was mine. However I have to disagree. Mobile Syrup provides by far the worst most bias reviews around. I come to this site for Canadian mobile news and that’s it. Any reviews or device news is reserved for the sites I mentioned earlier.

    • jellmoo

      Sorry, but I have to disagree myself. PA has, by far, the most biased reviews available, along with a completely random and arbitrary scoring system. Mobile Syrup at least gives you a breakdown of their scoring and thought process. PA gives you a random selection of items (which varies by author) and then a random number at the end with absolutely zero context.

      For my money, GSM Arena gives the most detailed and in depth review, but Mobile Syrup does a pretty good editorial review.

    • krazyking

      GSM Arena is good but I don’t like the fact that they don’t give a number rating. Phone Arena usually has pretty much the same review as GSM Arena but give a number rating. If u like Daniel’s biased uninformed reviews then so be it. To each his own.

    • Ravishing Rick Rude

      GSM arena does give pretty detailed reviews, but have you checked out anandtech reviews? They are insane, definitely the best reviews in the game!

    • jellmoo

      I do like Anandtech reviews as well, especially when it comes to more technical measurements. I tend to like the layout of GSM Arena a bit better, and tend to find them a little more enjoyable of a read. Definitely good stuff there too though.

    • Toron James

      Lisa Gade from mobiletechreviews is the only editor who I’ve seen who does very neutral reviews. Its quite obvious that WP was doing flat tiled like UI and bright colors years before iOS even did it in iOS 7 yet the editor has the nerve to compare it to iOS 7 when they dropped Skeuomorphism for flat design just last year. HTC one Blinkfeed clearly looks like a generic version of Live Tiles as compared to iOS, Blinkfeed is a news aggregator however thats not makes it like WP live Tiles its the fact that its large Tiles that updates information in real time thats colored. The editor is clearly biased, it sad when some individuals are clearly more fanboys that editors with editorial integrity.

    • officebob

      Then what are you doing in this comment section… Lol.

    • Toron James

      Looking for a bit of honesty,guess its easier to appease others by being dishonest.

    • Ravishing Rick Rude

      I generally agree with MS reviews, which reviews specifically do you find bias?

    • hyperhyper

      You are entitled to your views but if you feel that way, why do you bother to read the reviews and then comment on them? If this was the straw that broke camels back, i will then assume we won’t be seeing you post anymore on reviews that MS does right? ;)

      For the record, I like Daniels’ reviews. They may not be super technical like some other sites but he gets into the real world usage and he does a good job at explaining it which is more important to me than latency reports and in depth charts about wifi strength (if something is off on those, I would assume he would post something like “the strength is not up to par” and then i can dig further on that).

      I think he does a great job on the reviews and as a result, i tend to read each review – even if I’m not in the market for a new phone.

    • alphs22

      What are you on about?

      iPhones 5s, HTC One, and Nexus 5 were all rated very well here (with scores of 9 and above) because they -are- the best phones on the market. I’m sure the S4 would have received a similar score, except it was released at a period of time when MS stopped giving scores on reviews.

      Of all those sites you listed, Pocketnow gave the M8 a 9.1 and PhoneArena an 8.8 – both in the neighbourhood of MobileSyrup’s score. The other two didn’t provide scores but also gave positive reviews.

      So exactly what are you whining about?

    • chris

      You’re entitled to your opinion, and so is Mobile Syrup. If you think there is a single absolutely unbiased factually accurate review in the world, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Reviews are opinion, and therefore, they are inherently biased. There are going to be some people who tend to agree with Mobile Syrup on a majority of their reviews, and there will be some like yourself who don’t. In this case, diversification works in our favour, we can stitch together different opinions and see different points of view. Why would you always want to read blogs that you agree with?

    • alphs22

      Completely agree.

      An unbiased review is a spec sheet. Any review talking about user experience in any way will be biased.

    • southerndinner

      I agree the camera is garbage but Phone Arena is the worst

    • Patrick Do

      I mean seriously the camera is not the best camera on a phone, but it isn’t garbage. It gets the job done, and some picture can even look decent on it. Its not great, but it ain’t crap either.

  • Toron James

    The Blinkfeed UI pretty much looks like Windows Phone Live Tiles, they even have colored themes for those Tiles just like Windows Phone and in app continuous scrolling, its an imitation.

  • J-Ro

    I like everything about the phone but the design and size. I wish HTC would make phones for guys like me with small hands, like they used to. With that said, I wouldn’t mind getting this to replace my GS3.

  • Jon McIver

    This was an absolutely great review and very accurate. I completely agree about the camera, either you live the phone so much and don’t use or need the camera….or you want a phone with a double digit mp count.

    This is a beautifully crafted device, great performance and ui.

    • Sayersttu

      Or you love the phone and use the camera??? Why Is that not a Possibility?

    • Jon McIver

      I don’t think I said it wasnt a possibility. Comment was more for those who want to buy a phone for it’s camera megapixel count (those who only/mainly care about the camera).

      If my phone has a camera…it is getting used.

      I would have also said…those who care about sound quality and loudness should buy this phone, but doesnt imply that this is the only phone with good sound quality and loudness.

      Don’t read too much into comments, they are just quick summaries of what people want to say…not the full explanation. That is what the post was for.

  • Khristopher Ranger

    Very handsome guy ;)

  • vn33

    A Pentax shooter !
    Someone who knows how to get the best bang for the buck :-)

  • AndroidRootGuy

    Hi @journeydan:disqus , what other devices are part of this “Oneplus Generation” in your view?

    • Daniel Bader

      Anything running the Snapdragon 800 or higher. That includes the LG G2, Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, and the upcoming Sony Xperia Z2.

  • Eduardo

    Great review.

    Nice to see it referenced on the Rogers website!

  • Benjamin

    The much discussed black bar towards the bottom of the screen, for me as a HTC fan, really presents no problem at all. It hasn’t bothered me once. Overall I’ve found much improvement from the M7, it being a larger device is something I find refreshing and easier to use. The cameras fantastic, for what I need it for. At first I prefered the m7 design however after using the m8 for over a week I could never go back to the m7. I work with phones daily in the telephony market, handle pretty much all devices and this is the one that combines everything that I want from my content in a stylish, well sounding , great screen quality device. 10/10

  • Bum

    How does this get 9.2, when the nexus 5 got 9.4.

    • Stylinred

      because the N5 is better for half the price

  • Roland S.

    Nice detailed review! But no mention of it’s ability to charge wirelessly.
    It would be awesome if it could or with a physical add-on. It’s something I
    would expect from a modern smart phone. Regardless, I’m leaning towards
    getting this jewel of a phone. Hopefully, once in hand, it would be worth all the
    hype. Now let’s wait for the S5 review.

  • jay

    just so bad. go to htc canada and you only can get it from these i****s and then asking 229$ on contract but if i go cross the border i can pick it up for 699$ unlocked. is always like that ether iphone or nexus is the way to go. well think they start selling blackberrys unlocked.

  • knize10

    Its a great gadget. I grade it a 10.

  • Mathiew Huberdeau

    Thinking of getting this phone tomorrow! Hopefully they have it in stock and it’s not to pricey to buy out my contract.