The HTC One of 2014 (M8) is an evolution of a solid phone many praised as the best Android handset of 2013. I reviewed the first HTC One 10/2013
The case on this metal and glass beauty is well fitted and finished.
However, unlike some of it’s rubbery rivals, I found the polished aluminum case slippery and… woops!
My hands are construction tools on my non-paid journalism days, so maybe soft and sweaty hands will offer more traction. With glass that is within a couple millimeters of the sides, this is a candidate for a protective case.
A case for the 2013 HTC One won’t fit this phone. It is a tad taller and about the same width.
The bold, front facing speakers are back with their sweet, stereo sound. The best speakers in any smartphone I have tested. Front facing sound means it isn’t muffled by sitting on a blanket. It’s hard to go back to any other phone for Netflix; a crisp, in your face audio experience on the M8
Three cameras in one smartphone
The M8 has one rear facing camera and two front facing that all work together in different ways.
The front facing camera(s) is a 4 MP shooter that has extra large pixels to suck in light in dark situations, but with a smaller overall sized image than many current high-end smartphones – 2688 x 1520, suitable for web and most printing. Larger megapixel smartphone cameras tend to be better when you are zooming in.
The low light capability seemed about the same or a little better when I compared it to a Moto X, that has a 10 MP camera and clear pixel (low light) technology. Moto X Review 10/2013 However, the 10 MP Moto X is better for zooming.
A two tone LED flash balances flash with ambient light giving you a nice blend when confronted with several light sources with different color temeratures. The flash also assists auto focus in dim situations.
The auto focus works well with good macro control without having to zoom in to get close.
The two front facing cameras work together in a post-capture edit function called UFOCUS.
UFOCUS allows you to pick what you want in focus in the photo after you have shot the picture combining images from both cameras.
The original photo is brought into the editor and then you tap on the areas that you want in focus to be saved in a separate finished image. You can go back and refocus the image.
If you zoom in you will see some artifacts in the transitions between your sharp and blurred areas. A skilled Photoshop user might nitpick, but as something new on a smartphone, it works pretty well.
Google just released it’s own universal camera module that can be used on any Android 4.4+ KitKat phone including the M8 running 4.4.2 on Verizon. Google Camera interface also has Lens Blur effect that works differently than the M8 by using a single camera. More on the new camera module later.
There is a 3D function that allows you to tilt the smartphone while viewing after the picture is shot to give a 3D depth to a 2D still photo.
The Pan 360 camera option is a panorama camera and Photosphere combination giving you wide angle and stitched spherical images.
Images created with the panorama function can be panned in full-frame by moving the smartphone around.
To use the Pan 360 camera interface, point on the horizon and then match up the floating red box with a floating rectangle and move on to the next one. The screen masks out what hasn’t been covered as you create a panorama or Photosphere effect. The floating squares keep your horizon true and prompt you to correct if you rotate the smartphone.
You can make either the front or rear camera the dominant image, re-size the the smaller image and place it wherever you want before you start rolling video. This could be a handy tool for journalists always looking for new ways to compress the edit.
Charging is fast. It brought the battery up from 10% to 64% in about an hour. When I plugged in another Android charger it told me to use it’s own charger for minimum charge time. The M8 will also notify you if you are covering over the second camera with a finger, which isn’t noticeable from the screen.
The phone ran a couple days on standby receiving email notifications, and had power to spare. Excellent overall battery life.
The screen is exceptionally bright in outside light, and has good color rendition.
It’s a different way to manage many of your social/information streams and can appear as the main page when you unlock your phone.
Feeds from Facebook, Twitter, G+, your calender, Associated Press, CNN, YouTube, The Weather Channel, Restaurant recommendations, LinkedIn, Instagram and other streams to configure the customized information stream. It’s an interesting way to scan though the information you want to see without opening individual apps. In addition to that, HTC lets third-party apps in on the BlinkFeed action
The HTC One (M8) is a high-end Android with alot of HTC specific personality.