Review by Andrew Kameka on Monday April 07, 2014.
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The HTC One is a thing of beauty. The tech media fawned over itself when discussing the 2013 model for its aluminum body, large display, and above average design. The 2014 model follows the same path and will undoubtedly receive similar plaudits. But as much as people loved the exterior of last year's HTC One, they still had issues with the interior aspects of the device. The HTC One M8 is HTC's attempt to get things right and deliver the best phone on the market. Repeating that feat may be tougher than expected.
Hardware and Design
The 2013 HTC One ended the year with a bevy of design awards, so it's little wonder that the HTC One M8 doesn't veer far off the path set by its predecessor. The phone once again has an aluminum body with a cool metal finish that can occasionally run hot. HTC made the edges and the back of the phone slightly curvier, so if you're a strange person who describes phones as "sexy," the M8 has emerged from winter showing off a body more attractive than last season. It's also more practical because the volume buttons have been raised slightly and no longer are flat surfaces. The power button is still annoying at the top of the device, which creates some awkward adjustments to turn the phone on or off, but the front panel has a new feature that can wake the phone by tapping twice on the screen.
The top of the HTC One M8 also reflects how HTC spent its time refining the One design rather than trying to reinvent it. The IR blaster that was once a small sliver along the head of the device now spans the entire top of the phone. The change gives the M8 a futuristic look and makes controlling a television and cable set-up much easier. That has also necessitated putting the headphone jack and an MHL-capable micro USB charger at the bottom of the phone. The BoomSound front-facing speakers are still among the best ways to listen to music, watch videos, and have phone or video calls on a smartphone. The chambers are smaller but more efficient because they're able to produced 25 percent more sound than the previous model.
The only design fault one can mention is the amount of wasted space. HTC traded in its capacitive navigation buttons for the virtual kind, but they kept the large logo and bezel seen on the previous model. This was necessary for the behind-the-scenes circuity, but the bezels seem larger than ever. Wouldn't it have made more sense to engineer the phone in a way to be short or have thinner bezels rather than have large areas of black anchor the display?
While I would have much rather have seen an edge-to-edge display, the M8's screen quality is still strong. A 5-inch Super LCD display with 1080p HD looks excellent. Even when I set the phone to low brightness in order to conserve battery life, the screen was still luminous and had beautiful colors. With consistent viewing angles and undetectable pixels from any reasonable distance, i have no reason to complain about anything related to the display.
There are no surprises when it comes to the HTC One M8 performance. With a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, the phone has no choice but to be fast. The fact that the processor is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, a slightly faster and more efficient version of an already awesome processor certainly doesn't hurt either. Synthetic benchmarks, which are not reliable beyond establishing a shaky baseline for comparisons, predictably show that the HTC One M8 is among the fastest phones in the market. More importantly, real world experience shows that the One M8 does most things in the blink of an eye. I experienced some apps loading slower than other, namely Blinkfeed refreshing and the preloaded carrier apps, but that's a failure of select apps rather than the device.
- 2.3 GHz quad-core processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801)
- 2GB RAM, 16/32 GB storage (24 GB accessible)
- 128GB microSD slot (FINALLY!)
- 2,600 mAh battery
- 4-megapixel rear cameras with Duo Cam features
- 5-megapixel front camera
- Size: 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm (5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37in)
- Weight: 160g (5.64 oz)
- IR blaster, NFC, MHL, Bluetooth 4.0, 2.4 & 5GHZ Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.