I have a confession to make. I have never used a HTC smartphone. Some of my friends own one, and I’ve always kind of looked at one from a distance, but I’ve never really spent much time digging deep into any particular model. Well, today that changes, and I’m here to give you my first impressions of the new HTC One M8.
Holding the HTC One M8 make me feel this is what Apple would envisage an Android phone to look like. It’s got a unibody enclosure, and the cool metal feels very nice, it’s a definitive sensation and I have to say, very different to the types of materials I’m used to holding on the Nexus, or Xperia or Galaxy phones.
It’s also a little heavier than what I’ve been used to at this screen size, but the heft of the HTC One M8 makes sense with the metallic body – too light and I’d probably think it was a fake painted plastic. You definitely don’t feel like any effort has been spared to make this a premium positioned smartphone.
The curve at the back is very welcome, contrasting from the sharp edges of the Xperia Z series or the plastic back of the Galaxy Series. I think I’d know a HTC if I handled one after this.
Now the one thing my friends have always raved about with their One has been the front firing speakers. And I have to concur. Hands down, this HTC One M8 is the best, loudest, clearest sound I’ve heard coming out of a smartphone. Playing a game like Riptide 2, the soundtrack becomes a much larger part of the experience. Watching Youtube videos, especially music videos in my case, like the Vevo app have never been this good.
While we’re on the front screen of the HTC One M8, there’s a 5 megapixel camera pointing in my direction, and this would be great for two reasons. One, the obvious, is the selfies and come on, we’re all guilty of it, but at 5 megapixels they should turn out better than most, and they do look very good. The second part is video calls, hangouts and Skype and the like, I’m yet to find out if this camera makes a big difference to their experience of seeing my mug, but theoretically it should make a solid difference.
So then we turn it around and we have the rather intriguing two camera setup. Now I’ve used Nokia’s refocus tool, which allows you to select focus or defocused areas after the shot’s been taken, which is a very Lytro thing to do. But this camera does take it to another level.
So first, we have Ultrapixel, in which the sensor of the main camera contains pixels double that of other smartphones, which can gather up to three times more light – this means clearer, more impressive low light shots. It also has a fast auto focus, as fast as point 3 seconds. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to test this out further for you.
The secondary camera of the HTC One M8 is a depth analyser, providing more information in a kind of 3 dimensional way. You have height, width and depth. This feature provides some cool post shot tools. First is the selective focus feature that lets you choose what aspect of the picture to focus or blur, the foreground or background. Being a person that likes photography, I appreciate the use of depth of field in photos and this feature I’d use a fair bit, especially in portraits or face dominated compositions, but it can be extended to any scene where there is a definitive background and foreground.
Because the foreground and background has been defined, the camera software can then locate and modify the background of the shot, or even copy the foreground subjects and place in another photo with defined depth of field. What this means is more creativity and possibilities on a smartphone. Put simply, the front camera is facebook friendly, the back duo camera is Instagram friendly.
Now there is plenty more to talk about but my initial thoughts for the HTC One M8 is that of a smartphone clearly made with care, precision and a fair dose of pride – factors that make the HTC more emotively-driven than feature-driven. I get the sense, pardon the pun, that someone who has those design and quality values won’t need as much convincing as those who like every possible feature crammed into a device. This is a refined and focused piece of tech.
Case in point, the camera. Your average smartphone user might question why the front camera actually has more pixels than the back one, when every other phone out there is quoting double digit resolutions for their main camera. Now you might convince them, but chances are it’s the person who has already done the research that will go for this phone.
So that’s my initial thoughts on my very first HTC review – based on what you’ve seen, is this smartphone on your shopping list, and what is it contending with for your well earned dollars?