HTC One (M8), review

If last year the HTC One was soon surpassed in some specifications by its main rivals and it was too long between the presentation and its arrival on the market, the Taiwanese manufacturer has not fallen into the same errors and has solved them at a stroke showing the World its HTC One M8 after revealing its two main opponents and going on sale just a few days after being presented.

In a few days the HTC One M8 will arrive in Spain and in Xataka we have been testing it for a while to show you in detail and depth what this new Android is capable of. Has HTC managed to make an almost perfect smartphone in design and finish? How about the double camera? Do you have arguments to compensate for the resolution and larger sensors of some rivals? Do not stay with the doubts and continue reading our analysis of the HTC One (M8).

HTC One (M8), video review

Although we are going to describe point by point what the HTC One M8 is capable of throughout this analysis, we recommend that you first take a long and paused walk through its video review in Spanish where you can get to know it very closely and with everything luxury of details:

Main features of the One M8

Beyond specific aspects and personal preferences, the characteristics of the HTC One at a general level are undoubtedly placed in the high-end Android of this 2014, with components and specifications that will sound a lot to you:

HTC One (M8), technical characteristics Physical dimensions 146.4 × 70.6 × 9.4 mm, 160 grams screen SuperLCD3 5 inch Resolution 1080p (440 dpi) Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2.3 GHz quad-core RAM 2 GB Memory 16 GB expandable with microSD Software version Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) with Sense 6 layer Connectivity LTE, NFC, WiFi 802.11ac, BT 4.0 LE Cameras 4 MP main (Ultrapixel) with Duo Camera Flash LED system (5 MP secondary and wide) Battery 2,600 mAh (non-removable) Price The officer is 729 euros

Design

HTC has a good history of attractive terminals. An example that I personally like a lot is the HTC Hero. It cannot be said of this company that its designs do not add personality. So to say that the One from last year was an interesting model from an aesthetic point of view is not being crazy. The consumer has considered all of 2013 as an example to follow in design and finish, so we are not surprised that HTC maintains that line of work. Even as we already told you in our contact, at the risk that the user does not feel that the terminal has changed and sees a change justified.

HTC has chosen the assault at the top of the Android ecosystem betting on excellence in design and finish, and not for a more competitive price than those that are now at the top

So starting we can say that the new HTC One M8 is continuista compared to the 2013 M7. Almost identical design and metallic finish as a hallmark. That is the goal of HTC: to offer the best-finished, premium smartphone in the Android ecosystem far above any rival right now. A risky bet for me because I consider that at the marketing and media level the company is still one notch below those it wants to overcome. But HTC has chosen to pursue that level step to the top through excellence especially in design and finish, and not at a competitive price point as logic might indicate that it is more feasible. His decision is certainly commendable and we will see at the end of the year, when the cards of all the contenders are on the table, the result of such a strategy.

Indeed the new HTC One M8 is almost nailed to the One M7, but with even better finish. It's possible? You are right. Except for the upper edge, where the power button that acts as an IR emitter goes, and the connectivity of the terminal has the window to the outside world, the entire body of the HTC One M8, including the edges, is aluminum. That leads us to tell you that the weight of this terminal increases to 160 grams, also motivated by the 0.3-inch rise on its screen.

Is it noticeable compared to last year's HTC One? Not at all. I can even tell you that personally I have found it even more comfortable due to the work and grace of a design where the edges have been rounded to perfection in that regard. The HTC One M8 you are going to want to touch it and it will never seem a cold terminal despite the metal of its body, nor too heavy. In hand it is balanced and pleasant but the polishing of both the back and the edges makes it prone to that, if you are not careful, it ends up sliding to the ground from your hands. In me it has almost suffered a fall, for other reasons, from a height of one meter and a half, and falling face to the screen, no problem beyond a tiny and priceless notch on one edge.

What does HTC have to improve on your One at the design level? Well basically try to reduce the overall dimensions of the terminal, because as you see in the following table, other brands achieve more contained dimensions even with larger screens. If we consider that HTC is not going to eliminate the front speakers, at least they could think of reducing the frames a little more and especially eliminating the part where the logo now goes, especially when the Android buttons are now integrated into the screen.

Right now, only the Xperia Z2 offers a similar optimization (in negative) of its dimensions, while the clearest example to follow is the LG G2, for now unbeatable in relation to screen / physical dimensions:

We would also like the on / off button to no longer stay on the top right. In such a long terminal this situation unnecessarily complicates one-handed operation. If we have to juggle that button, the terminal is likely to end up on the ground. It is time for HTC to decide to unlink the IR sensor from the home button and it is placed on the side, both above and, better, in the middle, as the large Lumia do.

More design things. The difference being subtle, the sound controls on the side now have enough relief to "feel" what we do with them and they remain very discreet and, of course, with a completely premium finish. And if you look, there are two slots that are only accessible with a tool: the space for the nanoSIM card (which in fact is double, although doubleSIM is not enabled in all markets) and for the microSD card. Yes, HTC is committed to reducing internal memory and opening the expansion to external cards.

HTC already has with its One M8 a terminal that borders on 10 in design but with the optimization of physical dimensions as the main pending improvement

All these elements of the edges of the HTC One M8 are perfectly integrated, and the continuity is only broken by the upper edge with the plastic area to output the signals and escape from the metal cage of the rest of the body of the HTC One, as well such as the bottom edge, where the microUSB port and headphone jack are located. There is no physical button for the camera but we can easily use the volume controls.

Regarding the colors in which the One M8 is available, it is expanded this year with two novelties: a gold / champagne that seems more copper to me, and the one you can see in this review, a spectacular polished metallic gray.

HTC One M8 is IPX3 certified, which means it can get wet but not submerged

I would like to clarify the issue of water resistance of this HTC One M8. From HTC with they confirm that the new One is IPX3 certified, which means that we can use it in the rain or catch it with wet hands when leaving the pool or bathroom, but it is not prepared to resist the immersion, as it Contrary to S5 or Z2.

Screen and sound

When I started writing this review in my head I was surprised to have so little to tell about the One M8's screen. And that doesn't have to mean something bad.

The first thing to mention is that the diagonal increases from 4.7 inches from last year's model to 5 inches. Like its travel companions in the highest range of Android this beginning of 2014, it does not go beyond 1080p resolution, which leaves us with slightly less pixel density than the One M7, but you will hardly notice it.

The density of 441 dpi is more than enough to not appreciate pixels and have the detail that we like so much in everything we see on the screen, be it video, photos or pure text.

The panel is still a SuperLCD3 (protected by Gorilla Glass 3), a symbol of the latest HTC. Why change if it has been very successful? The brightness is slightly better than last year's model, standing at 490 nits, a value that places it among the best on the market.

It looks good outdoors, color reproduction is faithful without exaggerating saturation, and the response to touch is pleasant and perfect, very fast. The automatic brightness adjustment works without any problems, too.

Like other companies, HTC includes gestures on the screen of your One M8 to avoid having to use unfathomable physical buttons, as in your case I have told you that it is the power and lock. Although it is difficult to think naturally of them, in a few days they will become an ally.

To start we have the double tap on the screen in charge of activating the terminal, although we have found that it is a gesture that works better on other terminals. In our case, the two touches have been more effective if we do not do them so quickly.

There are also gestures to directly access the desktop if we swipe from right to left, to the Blinkfeed home screen by moving from left to right, to the last application we were using if we swipe across the screen from bottom to top, and finally, direct access to voice control if we repeat that gesture from top to bottom.

More prominence has the sound in this HTC One. Now without Beats in between, the BoomSound system takes over commercially, which combines well-placed and finished speakers in the front, with an improved amplifier that offers sound richer in nuances and a power 25% higher than the One M7 according to the brand itself. With this, the difference that already existed between the sound of the One and that of the other smartphones (the sound is the great forgotten of the specifications of the smartphones) is sidereal. It could even compete from you to you with the sound of some ultrabooks.

If you consider that speakers are not important in a phone, perhaps it is because until the HTC One none were really worth it

And is it a functionality that can make a difference with the number of external speakers that are available? It is likely, but once you test it, you no longer want to know anything about additions to listen to content in the terminal. Or in other words, maybe you don't use your smartphone with the speakers because you can't be satisfied. With these of the One M8 you will undoubtedly do it and in my case, usual for external speakers for unexpected moments where I want to listen to music from the smartphone as a relaxed shower, with other terminals I always resorted to compact solutions by bluetooth and with the One M8 I have had no need.

The sound we get is not only very powerful (at maximum volume the sound really impresses) but offers balance and clarity. With headphones (HTC includes some that are not bad at all), the sound is also a highlight of this terminal and the output power has been increased considerably compared to the One of last year.

Performance and autonomy

The large franchises already have few details at the level of basic hardware with which to stand out or rather, make a difference with rivals. You can check it in the comparison we made of the HTC One M8 with the main rivals under the Android operating system.

Except for some clueless that is presented before time, as happened with the One of last year, in this 2014 the formula is going to repeat itself and is known to all. We are therefore glad that talking about performance in the high-end is not usually for bad. Of course, at the price of a gram of a high-end smartphone, it is not something that we think could happen.

In the HTC One M8 the manufacturer has chosen a combination that will be the standard this first half of the year: Qualcomm's 801 processor accompanied by 2 GB of RAM and internal capacity, which, in the case of Spain, will be reduced by only one option. : 16 GB.

Of this basic capacity for a high-end smartphone, the user has an average of about 10 GB, something that seems little to us if we are intensive users of applications, as well as the camera of photos and videos to reproduce, something completely logical in a terminal like the new One M8.

With this configuration and Android 4.2.2 tuned just a little by Sense 6, the One M8 is fluid on a day-to-day basis, without any problem of delays, and ready to enjoy multimedia content or the games we throw at it.

If we put data on the table, these are the results obtained in different tests and the comparison with previous models analyzed in Xataka:

After a first phase of the smartphone era in which the battery was almost forgotten before a race of specifications in favor of power and screen increase, with this flight forward already on hiatus, autonomy takes center stage.

2600 mAh for a 5-inch terminal, as you see in the table above, does not seem a promising figure, since all its rivals except the Nexus 5 take advantage of it. But it is an error to think like this because the combination of Qualcomm's 801 screen and processor makes it possible for us to even extend the use of this terminal to more than a day, always depending on the use we make of the equipment.

In the HTC One M8 we find an energy saving mode in which the CPU use is moderated, the screen brightness is reduced, the vibration response is deactivated and the data connection is suspended when the screen is turned off. Any of these four options can be activated or deactivated individually.

Although 2,600 mAh input seems few for the One M8, in reality we have verified that the One M8 complies although without fanfare

The novelty of the HTC One M8, in the line of the large franchises, is called Extreme Energy Saving Mode, which we can manually activate or make the terminal do it by itself when the remaining battery reaches values ​​of 20, 10 or 5%. In this mode the use of the phone is limited to calls, text messages, email, calendar and calculator. We cannot add new or different elements or remove any of these options, but it is simple and straightforward to exit this way in case you want full functionality of the terminal again.

software

If a few years ago we had thought of an HTC Android terminal with the sixth version of its Sense customization, at the rate they were going, we would have thought of a kind of fork total. But HTC returned to good sense and now that Android is better alone than accompanied (then the strong customization of HTC terminals were a reference - mainly visually -) the Sense 6 layer is barely noticeable. And that is, as we have been repeating in the latest analyzes of Android terminals, excellent news.

In fact, in the HTC One M8 almost the only rest of Sense that we are going to notice intensely is Blinkfeed, a desktop in the form of a river of updates that it introduced with the One M7 and that this year comes very polished and improved.

Using it is not heavy, we can customize it quite a bit, there are additions with strong integration such as Fitbit (which, as in the case of the iPhone 5s and we already mentioned in the contact after its presentation in London, works with the HTC's own terminal sensors. ) or Foursquare (HTC confirmed that more is on the way) ... and we can disable it if we want!

Other additions provided by HTC improve the experience on Android 4.4.2, and that's always good news. We have, for example, the gestures on the screen that we have already discussed, quite useful once you get used to that flow of operation or Zoe. And of course the camera interface, which as you will read below, is among the best and most powerful of all platforms.

See complete gallery »HTc One M8 screenshot (8 photos)

A rather practical curiosity that the One M8 introduces is the functionality of a case that does not have a window but a pixel-like design that together with the screen ensures that we have basic notifications, time, time, or best of all, alarms and calls Starters that we can manage without opening the case, simply with gestures on it. Its price will be about 30 euros.

Camera

Last year's HTC One took a risk with its bet on a 4-megapixel camera worried about the light reaching the sensor but it did not reap the expected results. Neither at the marketing level to compete with more millions of pixels of the other terminals under Android or in real performance (with the clear limitation of the detail that we could obtain with that 4 MP sensor), so it quickly fell into oblivion and ended up engulfed by the other high-end in that section. Really only in design and screen the HTC One was able to maintain the type in 2013.

This year at least I expected HTC to continue betting on its Ultrapixels but with an increase in resolution that would strengthen the camera and compensate for its limitations. However, HTC has insisted on the most different of the high-end market and instead of trying to find a balance between sensor size and pixel count, it introduces a second camera.

The camera of the One M8, for the good but above all the bad, maintains the risky bet of the One M7. And the second camera does not really provide a differential value for which it is worth

But let's start first this analysis of the photographic section reviewing what the main sensor can offer us. And we regret to have to say that, with the same mistakes as last year, we fear that once again we will not finish due to more forceful bets from the rivals.

The camera of the HTC One M8 fails in two already known sections and I believe that they are basic: level of detail that we can obtain from the images, and performance in non-ideal conditions.

In the first case, everything is due to the lower resolution of the sensor, which means that when we look for details, we want to reframe an image or zoom, there is not enough information. If we are not going to go to these situations, the result is worth us.

On a general level the performance of the camera of the One M8 in the day to day is satisfactory, but we sincerely expected more. For example, when we have scenes with high contrast, especially bright lights such as those in a sunny sky, it will be very difficult to get a decent photo. We are going to go to one extreme or the other, and even the HDR mode is not going to be able to solve it in a really satisfactory way.

In scenes with a lot of contrast there is no middle ground. Or burnt parts or absolute black

As for night scenes, it maintains the type as last year, and we can have very acceptable low-light images, with not too much noise but where point light sources wreak havoc if we are not careful. In those cases the Ultrapixel technology plays against the HTC One M8.

With controlled spot lights, good result in night scenes

But not everything is a little positive in the "simple" camera of the HTC One M8. It is the fastest smartphone camera on the market, both in focus, really fast, and in taking pictures. There is in fact a burst of about 5 photos per second up to a maximum of 20, being able to choose the best one ourselves afterwards or leave the decision to the terminal.

In the distance, the selective approach seems acceptable, but when we look at it, we realize that the results leave much to be desired.

Furthermore, the interface is very complete as well as intuitive and quick to use. We have from creative modes to basic controls, but also the possibility of taking full control of the camera with a fairly complete interface:

Interface for manual control of the camera of the HTC One M8

And the Duo Camera function? How are you? Well let's go with it. That second sensor that HTC has attached to its main camera doesn't really take photos. What it does is an analysis of the depth of different planes of the scene that we want to photograph and incorporates this information into the main 4-megapixel image.

Simple but not perfect bokeh effect

This allows the user to "play" with the photo after taking it. We do it at the focus level, but beware, this does not mean that we will be able to solve a previous focus problem: if the general shot does not have the main subject, usually in the foreground, correctly focused, we will not be able to solve it in the editing .

What we are going to achieve is a very striking bokeh effect but in very specific conditions. Right now, and we hope that HTC can solve it by fine-tuning the system at the software level, achieving these effects effectively is complicated. It is necessary to practice to know the system well, and shortly after we look we can see that the edges of the focused elements are not well defined. On the smartphone screen we can see an acceptable result but when we get to a larger screen we will notice the deficiencies of the system.

Focus in the foreground (left), in the middle (center) and rear view mirror in the background (right)

Also when the scene is not very clear about the different planes or is especially complex due to the number of elements, the blur may not turn out as we expected.

In complicated scenes where the different shots are not very clear, the second camera only goes crazy with the refocuses

By the way, the One M8's camera allows natural blurs quite easily, but in those close-ups or macro scenes, the system automatically cancels the possibility of applying any subsequent refocusing technique.

Macro mode is one of the best results has given us

Other possibilities offered by the double camera are already more creative and we fear that they will end up being forgotten after the first few days playing with them. But they are pretty well executed if the scene is adequate. With the information of different planes that we have in each photo, it is easy to get good effects with a philosophy that reminds us of the layers of advanced photographic editors.

Original, close-up focus and layered editing with the HTC One M8

Something to be careful about when taking pictures with the HTC One M8 is not to cover that second camera. Unfortunately it is located very close to the edge of the phone, so it will not be strange that when we grab the phone in landscape mode, we cover that second sensor.

The dual LED flash has been enhanced with five automatically selected power levels and a dual tone so using it is not a nightmare but something more natural.

The video mode is diminished by the elimination of optical stabilization, which we did not notice in the photo, but in the video we did miss it. For the rest, there is a slow-motion mode with 720p resolution, ideal for training culinary skills as in our example:

Here is a gallery with more sample photos from our tests:

See complete gallery »HTC One M8 samples (32 photos)

The opinion and note of the HTC One (M8) in Xataka

HTC has decided to go all-or-nothing with this One (M8) and play with the strengths of design, finish and camera to qualify for the throne of the Android ecosystem. But after this analysis, the One M8 can only do it right now at the level of design and finish, because it is where it makes a difference with the rest of the terminals. And that is the path of exclusivity without lowering the price chosen by the manufacturer.

And what about the camera? Well, simply that it has not advanced compared to last year in its great defects (high contrast scenes and sensor resolution), and that in addition, the Duo Camera function we do not believe that it provides value where users are looking for it. It is fun but for now they have not managed to be well executed according to the results.

HTC now has market launch almost at the same time as its main and powerful rivals, and a unique challenge: to convince the premium Android consumer that if they want the best terminal in design and finish, the One is their choice. But for now it's the only thing they take advantage of.

8,8

Design9.5 screen Performance9.5 Camera8 Software8.25 Autonomy8

In favor

  • Exquisite, premium and ergonomic design
  • performance
  • Camera interface and capabilities
  • Multimedia experience with screen and speakers

Against

  • Overall performance of the main camera
  • Refocusing and real functionality of Duo Camera
  • Terminal height in relation to its screen diagonal

The terminal has been loaned for testing by HTC. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises.

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