HTC One M8 Review
With so many Android phones on the market to pick from HTC had to step-up to the plate and produce a device that could stand-out amongst the competition and I think - for most purposes - they pretty much nailed it with the HTC One M8!
Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5 you really do feel like you are holding a premium handset! For example its brushed aluminium finish has a grade of quality that I have only seen previously on the Apple devices. While the additional touches, such as the stereo BoomSound speaker grills mounted at the top and bottom of the 5” (1080 x 1920 pixels ~441 ppi pixel density) SuperLCD display feel like they belong to the handset, rather than simply being bolted on.
At the top of the phone there is also the front facing 5MP/1080p camera and at the back you have the HTC Logo beautifully etched into the chassis; while directly above this you have a 4MP camera with dual lenses and dual-led's (dual tone-flash).
Black bars at the top and bottom are also etched at the back to finish off the premium feel!
microSD card slot
What’s also great to see is that HTC have added a microSD card slot to boost the internal storage (16/32GB). The microSD card slot (situated on the right side) supports up to 128GB cards so this handset has a lot of storage potential! However to complement the design the latter card slot is hidden behind a faceplate which is seamlessly integrated into the right side of the case. Similar to the left nano-sim slot you need a small tool (supplied in the box) to remove it.
While this is awkward for fast access it does act as a handy dust shield and it also maintains the aesthetic quality of the phone. To be honest just having a microSD card slot in the first place (HTC were renowned for removing this) is a big bonus!
Despite the 5” display the latter screen dimensions are in a widescreen ratio so this helps give the device a slimmer look (a bit like the Apple iPhone 5s does) and it feels a lot easier to handle as a result - in comparison to the larger Samsung Galaxy S5. Surprisingly, despite the brushed aluminium finish it did not feel that slippery either (well I did not have any issues). However in heavy use the phone (see battery tests) can get pretty warm at the back. But on the whole I think HTC have done a great job with the design.
Setup & Interface
The HTC boots – from a powered off state – really quickly, but first you have to do some basic setup which involves the option of configuring a HTC account. Thankfully you can now link this to your Google Account to speed up the operation. Having a HTC account is useful for tapping into the software that comes with the device, such as HTC blink feed.
Additionally for the privilege of setting up an account you get 50GB of online storage (used as well to backup/restore your phones settings), which makes the M8 pretty much a solid platform for storing documents/multimedia - both locally and online - on the fly!
As for the Interface this uses the latest HTC Sense 6 which feels more streamlined than previous incarnations and thanks to the 2.3 GHz Quad-based processor and 2GB RAM the operation i.e. multi-tasking, swiping between screens and manipulating applications, is pretty much effortless.
HTC have also provided a pretty useful notification bar, so with a touch of the top right icon from the latter screen you can access a host of features quickly such as turning on the Wi-Fi or heading to its dedicated settings. Alternatively you can adjust brightness, turn off your Mobile data, enable power saving options (more on this later) and that sort of thing.
You can also access several phone functions from the lock screen, so you can quickly head to the new camera interface for example.
On top of the Android 4.4.2 OS HTC have provide their own software. As mentioned earlier one of these is the HTC Blink feed which can be accessed from the lock screen or via a swipe from the left side of the Home screen.
In HTC Blink feed you get a series of news highlights by default, but you can also add additional feeds to the Blink interface via the top left menu. For example apps like Facebook, Restaurant recommendations, Twitter, Instagram images or even use the Add content option to insert Game related content, that sort of thing.
It’s a pretty useful app if you want to keep up-to-date with what’s happening. It also links to your Google+ account - if you have one - so if you follow a YouTube user you can see their videos.
HTC Guide is a portal from where you can find options to help diagnose problems with your phone. The trouble shooting section for example gives you several icons, such Camera, with a list of Q&A responses to help resolve most known issues.
But the most useful option is found under the 'Contact US' option as the support representative has the ability to remotely connect to your Phone (I think it uses LogMeIn Rescue) to help resolve problems.
There is even Parental Control software onboard called Kid Mode which provides the option for parents to lock down the phone i.e. what apps and browser activity they can do.
Of course HTC do provide some standard style apps and the Music variant in particular is pretty good. Not only can it handle missing Album art, but it also provides you with a visualiser, lyric support and a fantastic pair of stereo BoomSound speakers!
Sound quality is definitely one of the M8's main strengths and the quality easily outperforms my monitor’s speakers, no problems! They are also loud to, but the only downside is that you don’t have an equaliser. Mind you when a pair of headphones are attached this will enable a BoomSound profile to boost the base a touch. However the quality is good without any need to mess about with an equaliser, so to me this is not a major downside.
I could spend more time talking about the HTC software but on the whole it’s a good bag. You even have apps such as the Car mode which provides huge chunky icons to access the phone dialler or navigation software while you are inside your vehicle. Additionally there is a TV app which turns the phone into a remote control for your TV/Cable box.
The only omission is a dedicated video app so you have to open videos from the Gallery and this only provides basic playback controls. However it’s not that difficult to add a 3rd party alternative from the Google Play Store.
Note: While you can’t remove the pre-installed apps, the interface does allow you to hide them if you don’t want the icon(s) cluttering up your display.