MRU's HTC One M8 Review 2014

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by MRU, May 7, 2014.

  1. MRU, May 7, 2014
    Last edited: May 7, 2014

    MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
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    #1
    HTC M8 review 2014

    Firstly let me lay down the guidelines for this review and the expectations of what you may have in something even called a review...

    Firstly, this review is not about minute details such as the physical dimensions down to a millimetre, those specs can be found anywhere and I urge you to go read about them. This review is about how the device feels, operates and responds in my lifestyle.

    This review is like all reviews utterly subjective, and not trying to pretend opinion is fact for all.





    Introduction.

    Coming from my experiences with the original HTC one from 2013, I had pretty much made up my mind 'not to purchase the M8'.... This was based on a few small factors and one major one - well at least major to me.

    Last years M7 was a beautiful looking phone and it was one that bowled me over when I first saw it, but it was a flawed design. Great build materials and build quality are not always the same thing and my experience with the M7 was that whilst it was indeed made of great build materials,the build quality had some issues. Firstly the plastic ring that surrounded the front and back was not of a great standard, with small gaps between casing and for me an area I noticed particularly prone to scratching and distortion/abrasion was the Micro USB. Additionally the metal grills whilst beautiful initially were very prone to scratches, as if he the metal was very soft / light. Also my first HTC M7 had developed a crack along the camera lens within 24 hours which was clearly a manufacturing defect, and had to be replaced. So yes... I did have build quality issues with the original M7, and so whilst on paper the M8 looked beautiful and striking, my concerns over last years model had me worried.

    Secondly the biggest bug bear of the M7 was that ultrapixel camera. It just was not up to the task, even in areas it was supposed to excel, it faltered. I blamed a lot of that down to its measly 4 megapixel count.

    So when the M8 was unveiled officially and upon hearing its specs, I was happy to see HTC address the issue with the plastic middle bezels but disappointed to see them hang on to the 4 ultrapixel camera. It was then I decided that I would not get this phone as the camera results were so poor on the previous model, I didn't think I could put myself through that torture again....

    By the by, it happened upon chance that I got my first hands on with the physical hardware when taking my Galaxy S4 GPE into the local repair shop to have its SIM card reader replaced.

    On first picking up the device it felt premium, especially after using the S4 for a number of months both last and this year. The new brushed aluminium exudes style and panache only matched by a few manufacturers like Apple. It also feels like a tougher / denser aluminium than the previous version, and whilst still susceptible to scratches, it doesn't feel like it would scratch as easy.

    I decided to take a chance on the device, especially as I was offered a respectable discount on it's off contract price. And so I returned home with my new M8 ready to put it through its paces.




    Design,

    Whilst the metallic construction persists, the major design change is the fact the metal enclosure now sweeps around the device completely this year. Resigning the plastic bezel of last years model to the annals of history. This is a good thing. The micro USB port no longer suffers from the signs of wear the previous model was plagued with even after just a short time with the device.

    Whilst slightly taller than previous phones, I personally think the difference is negligible. However I have been using a Note 3 for 6 months and a Lumia 1520 for a month or two as well. Coming from bigger devices the height / weight of the M8 was not an issue for me. Indeed comparing the amount of bezel on my iPhone 5 to the M8 it doesn't feel any more disproportionate than that. So if you can deal with the iPhone 5/5S's bezels, the M8 shouldn't raise too much concern, and at least on the M8 those bezels are offering you the fantastic boom sound experience. It feels like a trade off - but one that at least offers something back in trade.

    The camera on the back has been joined by a depth sensor which whilst on one had 'novel' it personally feels to me conversely (dynamically opposed to the trade with bezels & speakers) that the focus camera is a bad trade off. A passing novelty that is meant to take some of the hurt out of the decision to still go with a 4 ultrapixel camera rather than beefing up the camera optics like every other smartphone on the market.

    The HTC One M7 had a great super LCD screen, and this years M8 features another fantastic panel. Whilst increasing dimensions to 5" - HTC have decided to dr the capacitive buttons from its M7 in favour of the on screen variety with the M8. This actually means in normal usage physical screen real estate actually feels very similar to the M7, and indeed makes it a device which for me one handed operation is entirely possible.

    I was very unsure of on screen buttons - but after a couple weeks with the device I am comfortable with their implementation. I do wish those times when your want full screen immersion such as games - that they would all hide them, however this's is still not the case and it's only in those instances do they irritate me.


    Software and day to day use...

    Whilst the snapdragon 801 inside the device and 2gb ram are pretty much standard fair for a 2014 flagship device, when partnered with HTC's Sense 6 software they make a very speedy pairing. Indeed Sense 6 which is basically a refinement rather than generational leap over Sense 5/5.5 feels like one of the most optimised skins on any Android device I have owned. This includes stock androids own stock skin, where it adds options and customisations (even basic ones) that Google has still failed to add into the stock android experience.

    There is also a consistent design language that HTC utilises in all it's own stock application, ones that include swiping to flow into the next category of an application be it the dialler (swipe to recents & Favourites) or the clock (swipe to alarm, stop watch) music player (swipe to visualiser, information) email (swipe to folders and unread) ... It's a consistent design philosophy and one that on an actual day to day basis of using the device makes it's an incredibly enjoyable and coherent device to use.

    What's more this extra functionally in core applications makes them a joy to use and never feel like the extra features are there as gimmicks, but indeed are there to service the users experience with the device.

    HTC should be commended in the way it's added all this additional functionality whilst keeping its memory footprint as close to stock android as possible. It results a dynamically fluid operating system and one that never falters even under a lot of stress / hard work.

    Apps open instantaneously, button presses are likewise respondent. Needless animations and transition effects are non existent. If it doesn't service your user experience in a positive way - it's gone.

    It's the polar opposite of what Samsung has done with Touchwiz, even in Touchwiz latest guise. Comparing memory footprint of the operating system alone we can see the HTC one operating some 600-700mb less in resources.

    Whilst some would say that unused memory is wasted memory, the reality and end experience is contrary to that assumption. When running with 9 apps all open, one can multitask like a champion on the M8 where it's low OS memory over head allows applications to stay in memory without reloading. That is noticeable in day to day use. You are never waiting for your device, it's always ready when you are.

    Compared to Samsung's recent flagship which often finds itself reloading apps when multitasking due to the excessive and aggressive memory usage of the operating system itself.



    Camera...

    HTC's decision to stick with the 4 ultrapixel camera is still a puzzling one. The inclusion of the depth sensor adds little to the experience that could not be offered in software, indeed Nokia Refocus on Lumia devices arguably works better than ufocus on the M8.

    There is some good news however, in general day to day use the M8 does take better pictures than the results I had from last years M7. Indeed many of the heavy compression artefacts and general murkiness of the 4mp images of last years M7 are greatly reduced or simply not an issue on the M8.

    I still find HDR too aggressive, indeed many auto shots have produced better results. The shutter speed on the M8 is lightning fast, making it ideal for capturing fast moving objects, and with not too much learning curve the M8 can take some very nice images.

    Landscape shots are improved over last years M7 which simply could not cope with them.

    The fundamental issue however still persists, whilst it may indeed now offer the best 4mp digital camera ... It's still only 4mp. This means for blowing up images or if you want to crop in after the event, you have no wiggle room.

    Careful subject framing and an understanding of what you are trying to capture works wonders and can like I say produce great images. But in general day to day usage there is no doubt in my mind that the consumer would have been served far better by an 13-16mp camera with OIS.


    Battery life & charging...

    HTC faced flak last year from users of the M7 when it came to lengthy charging times. With a bigger 2600mAh battery - & thankfully with the 801 chipset HTC have embraced quick charging... But... the charger that comes with the HTC M8 isn't powerful enough. Whilst still able to charge your device far faster than last years model, the more powerful HTC charger that supports quick charging is yet to be released and will remain an optional extra. That feels stupid to me in a device that retails at €600 off contract.

    Battery life itself on the device has for me been on par with all the lastest flagship devices. I'm able to rock through two days of decent usage on 1 charge, and heavy users should have no trouble seeing out the day.

    There is no wireless charging with the HTC M8 due to its metal construction.




    Accessories,

    Every manufacturers new piece of hardware seems to bring its own brand of accessories to the table and this years M8 is no exception. This year HTC introduced the dot view case, a slim and very light weight flip case with holes (dots) on the front. When placed on the HTC M8 it provides a simple easy way to see notifications, check time and weather, answer or reject calls all without taking the device out of the case. Being able to take or reject a call by simply swiping up or down on the case itself has proved to be very handy. It saves on battery life, and offers protection whilst out and about. For €39.99 it's an expensive case, but one that I have found myself liking more than the S-View covers I had for my S4 & Note 3.




    Conclusions,

    There is a lot to like about the new M8. HTC have addressed a lot of the critics of the M7 and have provided a device which whilst not packed with all the features of something like the S4/S5 (air gesture-smart scrolling etc..) it feels like all the features it does have are there to serve your user experience. HTC sense skin may still polarise some people who will prefer the stock android experience, but it's a credit to HTC to at least produce an OS Skin that keeps within the memory footprint of stock android, whilst offering a large array of extra features and customisations.

    From a day to day usage view point the M8 never falters or hiccups on its user. It doesn't require user intervention to speed it up, it doesn't make the user feel the need to constantly check task manager and clean up the OS. There are no extraneous manufacturer messaging services, push systems, marketplaces that need managing or disabling. Turn on the device and it works, use the device and it works. There is something to say for that experience and it's one that feels like it's making amends for the M8's weakest point, that being the camera optics.

    The HTC one M8 is a stunning phone, but one that whilst not necessarily crippled by its biggest flaw (4mp/up camera) it does feel like it's hampered by it. The camera may be a deal breaker for many, but it is an improvement over the M7 - images tend to be better on he M8 over last years M7.

    Whether the device is right for you against its competition , it depends on how much you value a flowing software experience and consistent design coherence over seldom used features we often turn off, and a memory heavy bloated OS, but one with fantastic camera optics...

    Is there a perfect device in 2014? Not yet.

    So close HTC .....

    8.5/10
     
  2. Robster3 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2012
    #2
    Not sure how they can claim its a 5" screen, since i have had the S5 i have noticed it, the on screen buttons take up 1/2" and make it a 4.5". I like the buttons but they should be where the HTC logo is.
     
  3. MRU thread starter macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #3
    Same as any nexus device really.
     
  4. bmac4 macrumors 68040

    bmac4

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    Atlanta Ga
    #4
    MRU's HTC One M8 Review 2014

    80"]

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    [/COLOR]
    Great review Mac. So you mentioned battery life being about on par with all the other flagships. I have seen a lot of reviews saying it is better than the S5, and very close if not the same as the Note 3, and G2. Do you think they over stated the battery life, or everyday use it much different than review usage?[COLOR="#8080
     
  5. AppleRobert macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2012
    #5
    Time to pull the trigger. I passed on my co-worker's S4 regardless of the good price they were offering.
     
  6. fr4c macrumors 65816

    fr4c

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    #6
    So Mac, which phone will you be keeping? S5 or M8?

    I have both right now and each have their pro's and con's. One of them is going back but I haven't decided yet.
     
  7. scott craft macrumors 6502a

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  8. Tig Bitties macrumors 68030

    Tig Bitties

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    Sep 6, 2012
    #8
    Good review. I have the M8 too, and battery life has been great. Yesterday I got 14 hours total time, but that was very extreme heavy use, on it all day long, no WiFi, all 4G, and was using everything.

    I have the Glacial Silver, such a beautiful color, really stunning looking phone. And the screen is gorgeous very bright outside.

    I had the Galaxy S4 previously, and this M8 runs circles around it, night and day faster. And battery life is easily 1/3rd longer on the M8 compared to the S4.
     
  9. MRU thread starter macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #9
     
  10. bmac4 macrumors 68040

    bmac4

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    #10

    Oh ok that's sounds like a reasonable battery life. I thought the M7 was not too bad on battery life, so this has to be even better.

    I really want to get one, but I am trying to hold out for the next iPhone. This would just be a secondary phone to my iPhone 5s. Just can't pay $600 for it.
     
  11. MRU thread starter macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #11
    Yeah, had I had to pay full € I likely would not have done so. Because I got a great price I took a chance and I really like it. :). That being said I'm certainly more interested in the iPhone 6 this year. It's got a lot of expectations to live up to :)
     
  12. bmac4, May 7, 2014
    Last edited: May 7, 2014

    bmac4 macrumors 68040

    bmac4

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    #12
    MRU's HTC One M8 Review 2014


    Yeah and let's hope it lives up. I payed full price for my iPhone 5s, so I am trying my best to get all that I can out of it. Still loving it to this point.

    Also another question. Are you using the Dot case daily, or do you use the phone naked most of the time? With me M7 I never put a case on it.
     
  13. Tig Bitties macrumors 68030

    Tig Bitties

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    #13
    My concern on the iPhone 6 would be battery life. With Apple being so obsessed with ultra thin lightweight smartphone, I just can't see how it will have excellent battery life ?
     
  14. MRU thread starter macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #14
    I leave it in the Dot View case the vast majority of the time .... :)
     
  15. MRU thread starter macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #15
    Yeah, though they worked miracles with the retina iPad mini 2 so we live in hope.
     
  16. The Game 161 macrumors G5

    The Game 161

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  17. Robster3 macrumors 68000

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    #17
    I am using both too, if the M8 had a true 5 inch screen, a notification light that doesn't stop after 5 mins, and the screen was viewable with polarised sunnys, i would give it a 10/10.
     
  18. williamwilson macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 7, 2014
    #18
    Are you frequently outdoors for days at a time? Most people have access to electrical outlets and car chargers. Battery life shouldn't be a big concern in this day and age.
     
  19. TechGod macrumors 68040

    TechGod

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    #19
    What the hell? The buttons at most take 0.2" of the whole screen.
     
  20. Robster3 macrumors 68000

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    #20
    Try nearly 1cm = 0.4", the S5 is 1.4 cm bigger = 0.6" just measured them.

    M8 = 4.5"
    S5 = 5.1"

    ----------

    No but waiting for your phone to charge in the middle of the day is.
     
  21. Fernandez21 macrumors 601

    Fernandez21

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    #21
    Awesome review. I agree, HTC was so close in making the perfect device, a better camera, smaller bezels making the phone smaller, and slightly larger battery and HTC would have nailed it. As is, its still the best android phone out IMO, and maybe the best smartphone out period.
     
  22. MRU thread starter macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #22
    Thanks :)


    Next week... the S5
     
  23. Dr McKay macrumors 68040

    Dr McKay

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  24. MRU thread starter macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #24
    Lol.... Giggle of the day :D
     
  25. TechGod macrumors 68040

    TechGod

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    #25
    :d
     

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