Daddy's back, Samsung | In the heydays of the smartphone market, HTC was once a prominent leader.
In the heydays of the smartphone market, HTC was once a prominent leader that released one quality device after another. Perhaps the most successful was the HTC HD2: giant screen, powerful guts, and quality construction. Even to this day, there is still a small market of people who swear by their devices. Then for one reason or another, the company dropped from the top; HTC spent a couple of years releasing not necessarily inferior products per se, but they just seemed to lack a certain je ne sais quoi about them that never quite captured market share the way its competitors did. Last year though, HTC launched the HTC One, a rediscovery of their classic formula and to say the device sold well would be quite the understatement. But now, HTC is hoping to repeat their success with the HTC One M8.
The new device improves on their previous all aluminum unibody design language. The phone features a large and vibrant 5” display with a resolution of 1920×1080. The magic number that everyone is after is the PPI – crunching the numbers, the phone features a staggering 441 PPI. The One M8 features an all aluminum unibody construction with a non-removable battery. The left side of the device is completely clean save for a small MicroSD slot, which requires a pin to access it. This could be a bit of an annoyance when trying to swap cards on the fly. However, the device accepts cards up to 128gb in size which should limit the number of times this would actually be a problem. The right side features the volume buttons and the MicroSim slot. There is a 3.5mm port conveniently bottom mounted and similarly so is the charging point. The top houses the power on/off button. Having handled this phone for over a month, I’ve got to say, it feels extremely solid in the hand. Build quality is fantastic with no creaks or flexes in the device at all. My only two complaints would be that the power button is a bit too squishy, and the smooth finish of the device can make it quite slippery in the hand.
HTC has updated their Sense UI to go with the phone as well. The new software (Sense 6) features plenty of updates and fixes to software that’s bundled with the phone. To this writer, what’s best is the simplicity of the Sense software. Far less silly names and gimmicks compared to other companies (Ahem ahem, looking at you Samsung) equates to a more stock Android experience. Some of the neater apps include Sense TV (a remote control for your TV) and FitBit integration built into the phone. I particularly found the Car App to be quite useful.
What the app does is essentially turn the large 5” screen into a number of tiles, which in turn house core functions of the phone. For example, some of the tiles found include the Dialer, Music, and Navigation. While the app is running the device won’t turn the screen off (so I suggest you have it plugged into your car) and what’s best is that you can add more tiles based on your more frequently used apps. Personally, I stream my music through Rdio and was able to add the Rdio app to the tiles and stream my music while I drive. The app does max the screen brightness as well as increase font size so that everything is legible during the day. Keep in mind, with navigation and music playing, the phone does charge slower than normal.
Looking past the HTC skin, the device features Android KitKat (4.4) and HTC has already promised an update to Android L within 90 days of release. Call quality has been solid, although people on the other end did tend to sound a little bit tinny. Battery life was actually pretty good by my standards. I managed a full days use with 40% of battery left, something I can’t quite manage with my iPhone 5S, which is generally dead by 9 pm. While my usage isn’t particularly heavy, it does involve a couple of hundred texts sent, 30 minutes worth of music streamed, and lots of Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp throughout the day.
Overall, the HTC One M8 has been a step up across the board from its first generation predecessor. With its great battery life, curated Sense 6 skin over Android KitKat 4.4, and a corporate culture that promises to keep up with the latest versions of Android it’s honestly no wonder that the phone is the current fan favourite among most Android users.