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.

Google to take on Apple? Again?!

Google looks set to release their own pad computer following Apple’s release of it’s long expected iPad on Wednesday.

If the rumours and mock-ups are true then it brings Google’s attempts to jump into the hardware industry and tackle Apple’s might into the foreground.

Looks like an iPad, a... G-Pad? Too many jokes right there...

The software giant may be taking advantage of the criticisms being thrown at Apple over the iPad, such as lack of flash and webcam integration, and the manufacturers well-known strictness when dealing with apps and software which need to be approved before appearing in the app store for download.

Google’s open source nature may deal a serious blow to Apple’s attempt to take over the ebook and new found pad market (even if it is just the old tablet market with a new lease of life), using a pad running its open-source Chrome OS which the device will probably run on but is still to be tested on any major scale in the consumer market.

Whether or not Google’s device could be an iPad killer is yet to be seen, if it is released at all. The search giant’s much awaited Nexus One was expected to be an iPhone killer when it came out earlier this year, however take up has been poor and failed to dent the growing iPhone market which is showing little or no signs of being slowed by a competitor.

Google definitely don’t bring the wow factor or coolness to the table that Apple does, or even the hardened experience and solid production that Microsoft brings, but at the very least it they show the computer world that Google is tenacious and wouldn’t be put off by a let down by a larger competitor, even if they can’t match the hype levels that come with Apple launches.

Battle stirring among mobile operators for Nexus

The Nexus One is set to be shipped out in the coming months. However the questions that seem to be on people’s minds are, “What carrier?” and “What price plan?”

It looks like mobile giant, Vodafone is an early leader for gaining the retail rights to Google’s first ever smartphone, however whether the search engine is likely to stick with just one operator for very long is unlikely.

Vodafone is known to be one of the largest, and probably more expensive networks available in the UK and Ireland. What exactly the price plan is and other details regarding the potential contract between the two companies, haven’t been announced yet.

Vodafone also recently gained the rights to sell the Apple iPhone, after O2 having exclusivity up until 2010 and has already set it’s own price plan for the popular smartphone.

The Nexus One will be running off of the verizon network in the US.