HTC One M8 – REVIEW

HTC One m8

The HTC One M8 is the latest attempt by the flailing smartphone manufacturer to shore up some of its recent losses in the face of growing competition from the likes of LG, Apple and particularly, Samsung – who have managed to vacuum up almost all of the former giant’s lead. Last year’s HTC One (M7) was considered a somewhat iconic design, and was the company’s best selling handset, ever. However, it didn’t buck the downwards trend that the company faces. The One M8 it is hoped will change all of that.

 

Released in Ireland, and the world earlier this week, the M8 is available on all major networks. The Dot View Case has not been released yet, however some sites now offer this on pre-order in five different colours.

 

But just what is the M8 like?

 

The Box

An unboxing video is to follow, however – the box itself is pretty neat – larger than it really needs to be, but clearly taking a more Apple oriented direction – very slim, and very simple. With the phone, comes a basic rubber case, headphones, charger cable and standard plug.

 

The Hardware

When you first pick up, what looks like the rather sizeable phone, what strikes immediately is just how well built the device really is. The back is gently curved, not enough to offer much rocking, but it fits comfortably into the hand. The single aluminum slab feels great, the machine-drilled speakers blend in well. The device front looks a little more cluttered when you come from a Nexus device, which is blank on the front. It’s a little heavy, but not in an uncomfortable way, it feels weighty in a very solid sense.

 

The only irk I would have when it comes to build quality, would be the volume rocker – it’s a little flimsy by comparison and could be a bit more solid, same goes for the power button – but thanks to gesture controls, it rarely gets used.

 

The camera blends in nicely – it looks a little odd to have two lenses at the back, but it’s integrated well overall. Speaking of the camera, a lot of people (including myself) have been worried about the 4 ‘Ultrapixel’ argument – thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised, the camera is, in my opinion, better than the Nexus 4.

 

The screen to show off these pictures is gorgeous, it blends in with the overall device, you’d never even realize it was there – when switched on, it’s very sharp, text is crisp and pictures look just stunning – the extra real estate really helps.

 

Topping and Tailing the screen, is a pair of fairly gorgeous speakers. They’re loud, really loud and clear. Some music came across as a bit tinny, but overall the speakers were clear, sharp and a song being played in the living room, I could clearly hear in the next room.

 

Coming from the Nexus, a range which has been plagued by poor batter life, the M8 is simply amazing in terms of battery. It lasts well over a day on moderate – heavy usage, with the screen brightness up and the 3G/WiFi on. It charges nice and quickly, certainly tasks that would drop the Nexus 4 by 10%, only really use up 5% or less from the M8.

 

The Software

Turning on the phone, I was very worried. Previously using Sense had been somewhat of a disappointment especially when coming from stock. However I have to say, Sense 6 is slick. The gestures, such as lifting the phone to your ear to answer a call, are genuinely useful, rather than Samsung’s bloatware which gets ignored. Sense is definitely a nice overlay to the Android OS, It’s a lot more background and simple, making sure that it doesn’t intrude too much on how you interact with the phone.

 

Some things I really like coming from stock, is the greater flexibility of the notifications centre, there’s a lot more functionality when double swiping, the ability to easily drop widgets into any section or homescreen is quite nice. Blinkfeed is really quite nice also. Flipboard like functionality and easily accessible, it’s a nice feature to read while you’re waiting on something, aggregating items from several of your news sources.

 

The Camera

I wasn’t convinced by the ‘Ultrapixel’ argument at first, it seemed like quite an easy cop-out to have an amazing phone, with one major Achilles heel. However, having used it and taken quite a few snaps, the quality is actually pretty good. The screen doesn’t hide much, but images are sharp and crisp, certainly more than enough for social sharing and Instagram.

Filtered shot from the camera

The camera also features some pretty handy things, Zoe is a little bit of a gimmick, but it’s a nice touch to allow the creation of your own Vine like GIF, the ability to refocus an image after shooting is very nice, and it’s something I have been using a lot in pictures, especially if the object I want to capture isn’t the centre.

 

While the features are nice, I liked that Nexus allows you to browse your auto-backup images within the gallery by default.

 

Images though are really, lovely – the gesture of holding your locked phone in landscape and hitting the volume button is really a nice touch to snap a quick shot on the go.

 

Wrap up

Overall, I’m hugely impressed with the M8. The handset itself I would say almost surpasses the iPhone in design, it slips into the hand neatly, rather than a block working against it. The gestures and overall intuition are top notch, the camera is more than decent and the speakers are pretty powerful. While I do think I still prefer stock, just about – the HTC One M8 pretty much trumps it.

 

After having it for about four days, I wouldn’t even hesitate in giving this phone a 10/10.

Advertisements

HTC makes Nexus One Replicant and a host of other handsets.

HTC, the Taiwanese phone manufacturers have started the year off well by announcing their three newest phones; the HTC Legend, Desire, and Mini running Android and Windows Mobile.

The new phones contain a number of new design features, setting them apart from the rest and are certainly easy on the eye.

HTC are most famous at the moment for producing the Google Nexus One phone earlier this year, and the first Android phones in 2009 which have begun to slowly make their mark on the technology world, and presenting the biggest challenge to iPhone dominance to date.

Desire

HTC Desire handset

Nexus One replicant (nice little Blade Runner pun there)

The Desire is a 3.7inch OLED display running Android 2.1, and is closest in technical terms and features to the Nexus One.

A 1-HGz Snapdragon processor offers oodles of speed and comfort while not waiting an age for the phone to catch up with your commands, Adobe is also kept happy with Flash 10.1 support for the phone which certainly gives the Desire an edge over it’s biggest competitor, the iPhone which famously snubs flash in favour of HTML5.

Also included in the phone are a host of standard features such as a 5-megapixel camera, with flash, geotagging, FM radio, GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi and 3G.

A new feature in terms of the phone’s design is an optical joystick, instead of the trackball in place on the Nexus One, which can be clumsy looking and ruin the overall look and feel of the phone. The optical joystick on the other hand is a smooth and comfortable way to get about, and definitely improves overall usability.

Legend

HTC Legend smart phone

HTC Legend, looks like a MacBook case/Nexus One body/next iPhone design?

Design is also what HTC hope to make more grounds on with their latest releases. The HTC Legend is a unibody aluminum casing, not unlike the MacBook Pro line, and looks all together one of the prettiest phones from the manufacturer.  The handset is lighter than the iPhone weighing 4.4 ounces and comes with a 3.2inch display running Android 2.1

Some believe that this unibody design is a pre-emptive strike against Apple’s latest iPhone evolution which may very well go along the lines of the MacBook range, and follow an aluminum casing, it will be interesting to see how much take up there is of the new design as it’s certainly much better looking and comfortable than previous HTC phones.

Mini

HTC Mini smart phonew

Mini and light, perfect for the pocket.

The third, and final phone announced was the HTC Mini, which is the only one of the three new releases to be running Windows Mobile, signaling that HTC hasn’t let go of the Windows platform yet.

The phone is similar dimensions to the Legend, with a 3.2inch screen and weighs 3.8ounces. The handset also packs most of the features found standard in the other models, with the notable exception of a flash on the camera and geotagging.

It is a bit of a surprise that the phone doesn’t support the newly announced Windows Mobile 7 operating system, which has certainly blown off a few cobwebs from the OS, in light of Android and iPhone OS making such big splashes in the market.

All three handsets will be available available through Vodafone in Europe in the first half of the year, including Ireland.

The models released are good phones, packing a lot of nice features which we do miss from some other popular smart phones, however in the coming age of touchscreen it does feel that there are too many un-necessary physical buttons on the HTC phones, which take away from what could be more screen space.

Vodafone already stock a few HTC Android phones and are also preparing to sell the iPhone, just in time for the latest model to be announced this summer; the long awaited iPhone 4G.

Just what the 4G will mean for the phone market and the average consumer remains to be seen, but if previous experiences with Apple are anything to go by, HTC and Google should begin rolling up their sleeves for a long, hard fight for a market share.


iPhone OS3.2 big features for a big updates.

A glimpse into the future iPhone has been, today, shown to the world; Engadget have reported that several new features in iPhone OS 3.2 have been leaked.

Reportedly there will be several brand new features popping into the popular phone’s operating system. Most interestingly perhaps is the potential support for video conferencing, which could indicate the future presence of a forward facing camera just above the screen.

The video calling feature is also supposed to allow for only part of the screen to be taken up, allowing for… Wait for it, multitasking. Features such as the video phone support for the iPhone have also given rise to the potential that Apple will make their phone a multi-tasker, which would rub over a lot of headaches coming from nay-sayers.

Video calling, any point, really?

It has always been a point of criticism that Apple has only allowed multi-tasking on the iPhone to its own apps, in a very limited way when compared to what other smart-phones in the market can do in terms of multiple apps running at once. Another very tasty feature which would be fantastic to see would be upload/download support for files from Safari.

If true, then it would mean that files could be downloaded straight from your browser and stored in your phone much like on a computer, and use the files in other apps. These updates could be precursors to OS4.0 which could be released after the iPad is sent out to shops, and giving support for multitasking to the iPad more so than the iPhone. Indeed many of these features would be useful on the larger device which is aimed more at the average consumer who needs neither a laptop nor a smartphone.

Other features which have been rumoured include; address book integration to spell checker, expanded dictionaries for the phone, USB host support, expanded Bluetooth support, handwriting keyboard and potentially location sensitive ads in Maps.

In general these updates do seem long awaited, multitasking in particular, but when iPhones are still selling like hotcakes and have outdone even their biggest rivals, do Apple really need to add a camera in which no one would really use anyway? It seems like most of these updates are for the sake of the iPad, which could certainly do with them more given that the iPhone is an established name and is going no where, and the iPad is still to impress many people.