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.

Why Apple making a watch would be the ultimate Shark Jump.

Image

There have been plenty of rumours flying around about Apple designing a new watch; sites up and down the web are suggesting that Cupertino may be about to shake up a market which has stood for over a hundred years. More than likely a massive Red Herring, these rumours have annoyed me; completely ignoring the nature of Apple, a company that traditionally doesn’t pander to flights of fancy.

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[REVIEW] HTC One S and Ice Cream Sandwich

Recently I decided to make the jump over to Android, leaving my iPhone 4 to the storage bin that is the zip pocket in my satchel. As someone who loves pretty much everything Apple, I was hesitant about making the leap. However, I was pleasantly surprised by my changeover. The HTC One S is part of a range of One phones, including the larger brother the X and the smaller V. I opted for the S as besides the screen size and resolution, there isn’t a huge amount of difference to the X, and I prefer a smaller, slimmer phone.

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[APP REVIEW] SnapSeed makes photo editing a snap!

If you downloaded the Apple 12 Apps of Christmas, then you’ve been lucky enough to have your phone stocked with some great apps, games and music (One Direction, swoon!). But for me, one app really stood out. Not being much of a gamer, Snapseed was my by far favourite, and an absolute gem in the app store crowd. This handy photo editing app allows you to edit images into any style you like, bringing amateur photography to a whole new level, which Instagram can’t even touch.

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Lumia 800 sets the Market Alight

The Nokia Lumia 800 is due to shortly hit our shelves here’re in Ireland, and might just hit out heartstrings. Nokia’s first Windows Phone 7 handset is seen by many as the ailing mobile giant’s last chance to turn it’s luck around, as well as the clock and rise to the top of the league again. It’s not an easy task, that’s for sure. We’re all getting pretty comfy with our snazzy iphones and androids, so it’s going to be tough to woo people away and back to what is still seen as ‘the old reliable’.

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Sony’s Slanty Stab at a Tab

Today I’m having a look at the Sony Tablet S. One of the newest Android tablets on the market, this device really sets itself apart from the competition in so many ways. Let’s look at some of the best and key features on the Sony Tablet.

At first glance, it’s one of the most uniquely designed tablets, with a nice folded and slanting design which creates a much more comfortable usability and browsing experience. The slanted design cleverly hides the huge host of ports, which allow you to connect more devices and share data seamlessly. These include; volume buttons, data ports, SD Card slots, mini USB port, IR Port, headphone jack and power port. This all gives the device a nice seamless look, without distracting you with various buttons and slots from the screen. The screen itself is a gorgeous 9.4″ gloss screen with a 1280-800 resolution.

Sony Tablet S

Smooth, sleek and slanted...

Under the (very) sleek hood, this tablet is packing a lot, with; 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, an impressive NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, gyroscope, DLNA technology and a front and rear facing camera not to mention a solid 8 hours of battery life with standard usage. You really can take everything with you wherever you go. The true black, 9.4″ screen also means that you can browse websites, magazines, newspapers, photos and movies with a crystal clear image in stunning quality.

But it isn’t just the hardware that’s impressive. Running Android’s powerful 3.1 Gingerbread, with the option to upgrade to 3.2, this is not only a well designed tablet, it’s also easy to use for a host of different things to suit whatever you need to do. The user interface is sleek, clear and easy to navigate, offering all of your most important apps right where you need them. There’s already a lot of handy apps natively installed on the tablet, including YouTube, Gmail (with an improved interface) and the Android Marketplace which allows you to download any of the thousands of apps available there such as the Universal Remote Control app, allowing you to take control of any of your home devices. The build-in browser offers a web experience, which is second to none, offering full Flash support so that you can see the web as it’s meant to be seen.

Sony decides to run Android Gingerbread

Sony decides to run Android Gingerbread

Sony Tablet is also Playstation certified, meaning that you can play your favourite titles with ease from the online store. This is probably one of the biggest selling points for the app, and really is the big draw for Sony to play on. The iconic and powerful brand really adds weight to what this tab really is all about and helps attract some of the more serious gamers away from the likes of the iPad, which already has a growing reputation for more and more advanced games.

While the Sony has made a really solid attempt at a tablet, there are a few drawbacks; my big one is the shape. While I genuinely find it actually quite attractive, the teardrop slant means that portrait is very uncomfortable, and I like my tablets (along with a lot of people) in Portrait mode, for magazines and newspapers particularly. The other is the overall interface, coming from iOS to Sony’s Android interface; I found it comparatively messy, lacking the organized simplicity that comes naturally to Apple products.

While I won’t be ditching my iPad anytime soon, as the app environment is still that bit ahead of Android, the Sony Tablet isn’t a bad start. But with Amazon having jumped in the game, Sony really have lost out, and it’s a shame as this really is a nice product.

iPhone 5 cometh…

With Apple’s conference confirmed on the 4th October, and the iPhone 5 all but a certainty, just what can we expect the new CEO Tim Cook to unveil to us? Here’s some of what we can be expecting from the conference next week.

iPhone 5

Maybe? Probably not...

The iPhone 5 is largely expected to undergo some kind of redesign in terms of the hardware. While it’s expected to look very much the same as the iPhone 4, the internals are expected to address the hazardous antennae issue which gave Apple so many headaches not long ago among other things which aim to generally give the new iPhone a bit more Oomph. Some speculation over the thickness of the handset has arisen, suggesting that the actual handset will be thinner and lighter than previous models. There has also been some comments over the phone’s screen size which is expected to increase to match the growing displays from rivals like Samsung and HTC. Personally I think Apple did well with the iPhone 4 in terms of design, it’s a usable size with little weight and feels good to hold so I can’t see any hugely outlandish overhauls in this field.

Some of the internal changes however aside from the antennae fix, will be big ones. It’s expected that thus iPhone will be made even faster, getting rid of the already short lags present in the current range of iPhones. It’s expected that with the larger screen, Apple will need to invest in much punchier processor power as well as some updates to the excellent Retina Display. Another internal change which would be welcome is the inclusion of an NFC chip, which would allow for contact-less payments to be made. Google already allows this in their own Nexus handsets, and last week activated the feature allowing people to pay for items with Google Wallet, through their smartphone and it’s expected that more and more Android handsets will begin carrying this soon. With PayPal already working on their own apps it makes some sense to do this. But we’ll have to see, Apple tend to wait until a method is more tried and tested.

There has also been some discussion around the possibility of the new iPhone being 4G, I personally don’t really see this as being a major deal breaker, most people won’t have anything above 3G connection and really don’t care much about 4G. So while this might be a bit of Future-proofing on Apple’s part, like the Thunderbolt connection on the new MacBook Air, it’s really not something to get excited about yet.

It will be an intersecting presentation, marking the first major product launch that Jobs hasn’t helmed. iOS5 will also be released to customers in and around, which looks set to add a host of new features to the iPhone. I for one, won’t be buying the new iPhone, I think the iPhone 4 with iOS5 will be able to do much of what the iPhone 5 will be packing.