News Column

The HTC One M8 is everything you want in a smartphone, and more

May 6, 2014

By Richard Hall, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City



May 06--If you've been on the fence about what new smartphone you should buy, then be thankful for HTC, because they just made your decision a lot easier: Buy the HTC One M8.

Easily the best Android phone I've ever used, the One M8 is the perfect combination of design, functionality and technology. It truly is the latest-and-greatest piece of phone hardware out right now.

A quick glance at the general specs of the phone might not reveal anything Earth-shattering, but digging deeper shows why you shouldn't judge the One M8 by its on-paper specs alone.

It has a 5-inch IPS LCD 1080p display that blows away the competition in terms of color balance and contrast. Everything looks crisp on this thing, including high-definition video.

The One M8's nerve center is a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 quadcore processor, fueled by 2GB RAM and Android 4.2.2, with internal storage for up to 32GB worth of music, movies, photos and apps, and microSD expandable storage up to a whopping 128GB.

It also houses a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and an HTC Duo Ultrapixel rear camera, which essentially shoots images with two lenses and dual LEDs.

Picture perfect

In fact, the Ultrapixel camera is one of the best things about this device. As one lens captures the image, the other captures the scene, which bolsters the final product's depth. Once the image is snapped, users have the ability to manually manipulate the image by doing things like cutting people out of the image just to drop them into another, adjusting the background and adding in visual effects.

While it's not something most users will use a great deal, the good thing is it works well, like a PhotoShop-lite prebuilt into the camera app.

Since the photos are basically a 4-megapixel composite, don't expect high resolutions you'll find on other devices. Photographs are generally good enough, if not a little overexposed and noisy. The thing is, HTC is giving users a camera that is perfect for social media and other forms of digital sharing, so large resolutions aren't necessarily vital.

Operating at lightning speeds, the One M8 is easily the fastest phone I've handled. The Snapdragon has a lot to do with that, but KitKat has to be given its props in this discussion because it streamlines a lot of the operating system's processes. After that, HTC's Sense UI picks up the pieces and never gets in the way of functionality or snappiness.

One thing I love most about this device is it doesn't rely on gimmicks we see pop up more and more with others: The One M8 doesn't care about your pulse and it doesn't come with a boatload of bloatware. It simply wants to give you a great experience, and it excels at delivering.

Media savvy

In terms of the Sense UI, the BlinkFeed feature is a standout. It blends social and news streams that can be activated by swiping the screen to the left. If you're synced up with any social media, like Facebook and Twitter, BlinkFeed will show you the latest updates from those services.

Sense also gives us some new gesture features that work relatively well, but take some getting used to so you're not accidentally executing a gesture when you don't mean to. Swiping up unlocks the screen, and double tapping shows the phone's lock screen. This saves time, and wear and tear on the phone's physical unlock button.

Then there is the Motion Gestures feature. I didn't use it too much because it's not complementary to how I use my phone, but the ability to launch into an app by the way you hold the device is a nice touch that I think many will find a way to inject into their daily lives.

If you're like me and often have Netflix, YouTube or Hulu Plus running on your phone while you're working on a laptop, then you're going to like the One M8's BoomSound speakers. They're definitely above and beyond the speakers on my Samsung Galaxy S4, and I was pleased with their admirable performance during my tests with the device.

Battery life is also impressive. Even with heavy use this thing gave me 18 hours. I can definitely see the One M8 lasting an average user a complete day, and maybe even into the next morning. The only negative thing about the battery is it's not removable. I like being able to carry around a charged spare, just in case, and I really wish HTC would have given me that capability here.

Of course, a phone has to look good, too, and lucky for us, HTC nailed the phone's aesthetics. My review model was a gunmetal gray and felt incredibly good in the hands. Its sleek lines and metal exterior is easy on the eyes, and a step up from the typical plastic phones that are synonymous with Android.

The HTC One M8 is currently the king of Android Mountain. HTC worked wonders with a powerful and expandable device that's beautiful on the inside and out. And for $199 on contract with AT&T, you'd be remiss not to give it a chance.

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Source: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City)