A first look at the HTC One M8: Gadget Watch

HTC was an early pioneer in the Android smartphone market. In fact, Google chose the company to build the very first Nexus phone back in 2010, which was known as the Nexus One.

However, despite its reputation for quality designs and good build quality, its early lead was overtaken by South Korean tech giant Samsung.

As Samsung’s Galaxy series of devices increasingly came to dominate the Android market, HTC has found itself getting squeezed out.

Meanwhile, having recently purchased Motorola from Google, Chinese electronics firm Lenovo is set to become a much tougher competitor.

As SmartCompany recently reported, the tough climate saw the company report monthly revenues in February of just $NT7.225 billion ($A266m), down a massive 36.45% from $NT11.37 billion a year earlier.

This week, the company announced a new flagship smartphone called the HTC One M8, and the company desperately needs it to be a success.

So can it succeed? It’s time to look at some first impressions.

Hardware and features

The HTC One M8 is a 4G Android smartphone running HTC’s proprietary Sense interface.

The new device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, and includes NFC, 2 gigabytes of RAM, along with 16 or 32 gigabytes of storage, which is expandable to 128 gigabytes through a microSD card.

As an introductory offer, HTC is also offering 65 gigabytes of cloud storage on Google Drive free for two years.

The device also includes a 5-inch full-HD display, with a resolution of 1080p, a 5-megapixel rear camera with a second camera to capture depth information, and a 5-megapixel front camera.

The device also supports DLNA wireless streaming media, and includes a micro-USB 2.0 (five-pin) port with mobile high-definition video link (MHL), which allows for HDMI video output with a special cable.

Aside from outright purchase, it is available for pre-order from Optus, Telstra and Vodafone, with Optus promising delivery from April 1.

Optus is offering the device for $23 per month on a $35 plan, Vodafone is offering it for $10 per month on a $65 plan, while Telstra is offering it starting from $81 per month.

What’s the consensus?

Gordon Kelly at Forbes is impressed by the bigger screen on the One M8, especially when compared to its predecessor:

The most obvious is the switch from a 4.7in to 5in 1080p Full HD screen which brings the M8 in line with the LG Nexus 5 (5in) and closer to the Samsung Galaxy S5 (5.1in) and LG G2 (5.2in). HTC is keeping quiet about the screen technology inside the M8, but with the bar already raised high the handset matches the razor sharp images of its rivals and appears to have better colour saturation and even wider viewing angles than the already excellent M7.

Another key new feature of the device that impresses Kelly is its ‘Dot View’ case:

I’m not a great fan of cases being of the ‘just be careful’ mindset, but HTC has produced a genuinely useful case for the M8 with the ‘Dot View’. It is a somewhat descriptive name because the Dot View case does exactly that: show useful at-a-glance information by lighting up the dots in its material.

Functionality is limited at this stage, but a user can double tap it to see the time and weather and incoming calls light up. Cleverly you can answer these calls without needing to open the case as it will react to gestures meaning you can take a call on the move while still protecting your phone front and back.

Android Community is impressed with the build quality, which is one of the strong points you’d expect from a HTC device:

The overall build quality of the HTC One (M8) is solid. Of course, those who have played with the previous generation One will likely not find that at all surprising. To that point though, HTC made mention about how this One (M8) sports more metal in the frame. Last year’s model was a housing made of 70 percent metal and this year HTC stepped it up to 90 percent. The One (M8) housing wraps all the way around the sides — right up to the edge of the display. The back is then slightly curved, and sporting a brushed look which gives an overall solid appearance.

Finally, while SiliconRepublic is impressed by the device’s dual-camera technology, it remains somewhat limited – especially until third party developers take advantage of it:

Playing with the Duo Camera function on the HTC One M8 is something all users will do straight out of the box. Refocusing images after they’ve been captured is easy with UFocus, though, as you can see in the example below, sharpness deteriorates even when a short distance separates you from the farthest subject. I suspect that the performance of UFocus will ultimately depend on the quality of the original image.

Foregrounder effects, which apply cartoonish filters to the background only, are juvenile, but with the Duo Camera API opened up to developers, there’s potential for this feature to do much more. That’s where the excitement lies.

Should I get one?

If you’re use a HTC and are looking to upgrade, it’s time to put in your pre-order. It appears the Taiwanese smartphone maker has delivered a solid improvement on its previous flagship smartphone.

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