HTC One M8 vs HTC One: Metallic Magic

Vs Paul Briden 15:06, 9 Apr 2014

The HTC One M8 is HERE. But how is it different to 2013's HTC One?

In 2013 HTC released a kick-ass, A-list smartphone in the form of the HTC One. It followed it up with a few variations, including the One mini and the One Max but now the company is back with a revamped version of its flagship: the HTC One M8. It’s certainly not the catchiest name on the market but the visual design is pretty much unrivalled.

HTC has attempted to improve everything on the new model and make the successor an even better smartphone than the original. The real question is did it succeed? There’s only really one way to find out by comparing the two. Here we break down every element of the brand new HTC One M8 and compare it to the original handset.

If you want a full news rundown of the HTC One M8, head over to here to find out more.

We quite liked the original, enough that we gave it a 5-star review on the site. You can’t really get any better than that, but it’s been a whole year now, mobile technology has moved on drastically. Now let’s find out if HTC has done enough to impress with the successor to the HTC One.

Design

For many, the HTC One's aluminium unibody was one of the main draws of the device. Certainly the handset cut a dashing figure with its premium metallic finish, eye-catching end-cap design and punched, front-facing stereo speaker grilles. The HTC One still looks good amongst the current crop of new competitors – it's thin and lightweight, but also solid to handle. KYM's only criticism remains that the aluminium chassis does scuff up quite easily, which detracts from that premium look.

HTC is not a company which is happy to rest on its laurels, however, so with the HTC One M8 it effectively went back to the drawing board. The basic shape and design of the HTC One M8 is very similar to the HTC One, but refinement is the key word here. HTC has re-shaped virtually every surface of the handset. Edges and corners are carefully contoured to be comfortable in the hand, as well as looking very elegant like a high-end sports car. The unibody now extends around the sides of the handset in a single piece, which looks neater and also adds some extra rigidity to the device. HTC's given the handset a brushed texture together with a smooth clear coating – the end result feels much more high-grade than the older HTC One.

The distinctive end-cap design is back, along with the punched speakers. Meanwhile, HTC has ditched the black colour variant seen on the HTC One, the HTC M8 only comes in colours which compliment the metallic finish: Amber Gold, Metal Grey and Arctic Silver.

HTC One M8 Mini Rumoured

Thinking of picking up an HTC One M8? Well just as an FYI there's word that HTC also has a One M8 Mini in the works which could be launched as early as May (ie: next month!).

According to a report from 3G.co.uk, an anonymous tipster from a UK retailer said the HTC One M8 Mini will feature the same aluminium unibody design as the flagship device but naturally it'll be a bit smaller. It's thought it will pack a 4.5-inch display, possibly with a 720p resolution.

It's believed it will not have the Duo Camera depth sensor, so won't be capable of the HTC One M8's visual trickery.

While last year's HTC One Mini had a lower spec than its contemporary flagship equivalent, recent moves have seen Sony launch the Xperia Z1 Compact with almost as high-end a spec line-up as the regular Xperia Z1 flagship. Similarly, Samsung is rumoured to be working on a Galaxy S5 Mini with similar specs to the full-size Galaxy S5.

So, we may yet see the HTC One Mini with a high-end set of hardware, although nothing is confirmed at this point.

Display

HTC consistently delivers pretty fancy displays on its high-end models. The HTC One features a gorgeous 4.7-inch Super LCD3 (SLCD3) with a full HD 1080p resolution at 469 pixels-per-inch (ppi). It's incredibly bright with excellent white purity, clarity is fantastic and text stands out very well, while overall colour saturation and contrast gives things plenty of pop.

With the HTC One M8 the display has grown to a full 5-inches and features the same 1080p resolution at 440ppi. HTC hasn't detailed what screen tech is actually in use here, other than to say it is improved display hardware from its predecessor. At any rate, it does at least retain all the positive traits from the HTC One and is a really vivid, punchy and clear display panel which is a joy to use.

As you can see from these pictures however, there are a few problems. Both handsets have pretty good viewing angles in normal lighting conditions, but usability in direct sunlight does take a hit in straight-on viewing and completely goes out the window for anything at even a slight angle. The HTC One M8 fares slightly better here, but it's still not great.

Processor

This is one of the major upgrade areas from the original model. The HTC One carried a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core chip clocked at 1.9GHz with 2GB of RAM.

This was impressively quick hardware at the time and remains a very competitive setup, however, the emergence of the Snapdragon 800 shortly after has shown things can be noticeably smoother. The HTC One M8 features the latest Snapdragon 801 quad-core chip, an upgraded variant, but it still features 2GB of RAM.

HTC One Vs. HTC One M8: Key Differences

HTC ONE HTC ONE M8
Display 4.7-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution (469ppi) 5-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution (441ppi)
Processor 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
Camera Sensor 4MP UltraPixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture 4MP UltraPixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture
Front Facing Camera 2MP 5MP with f/2.0 aperure
Depth Sensor No Yes
Size 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.33mm, 143g 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35mm, 160g
Expandable Storage No Yes – up to 128GB
SIM MicroSIM NanoSIM
Battery 2,300mAh 2,600mAh
Navigation Keys Physical Keys On-Screen

Camera

With the HTC One you get a 4-megapixel back-illuminated sensor (BSI) using larger pixels called "Ultrapixels", designed to allow in more light alongside an f/2.0 aperture and optical image stabilisation. The end result is very good in low light conditions but fairly average otherwise. Video capture is 1080p and the setup features an LED flash. Interestingly the front-facing 2.1-megapixel camera also features optical stabilisation.

On the HTC One M8 this setup has been re-used with some modifications. The optical stabilisation is gone in favour of a dedicated depth sensor above the main camera lens. This enables some interesting features, such as the U-Focus function which allows you to re-select a photographs focal point at any time. The hardware now features a dual-LED two-tone flash with amber and white LEDs. HTC also claims to have improved overall imaging performance and quality at the software level. The front-facing secondary is now rated at 5-megapixels and features and f/2.0 aperture.

Hardware

The HTC One has options for 32GB or 64GB of onboard storage but no card support for expansion. It's fully connected with 4G, 3G, Wi-Fi (Direct/Hotspot), DLNA, GPS, NFC and MHL. HTC's One M8 echoes the connectivity but now has 16GB of onboard space and microSD support for cards up to 64GB. A 32GB internal storage model will be available in specific regions but it's not thought this variant will hit the UK, at least initially.

Another interesting aspect of the HTC One M8 is its built in amplifier – or BoomSound, as it’s more commonly known. The speakers look the same and are still located on the front of the handset. The only difference is that now they’re 25% louder, and that’s significant given the clout of the HTC One’s setup, which could pretty much wake the dead when accidentally left on full power.

HTC One M8 Google Play Edition

When HTC announced the One M8 it also revealed there would be a Google Play Edition - a version which runs stock Google Android and which will be sold via the Google Play webstore.

This model can currently be pre-ordered in the US and has exactly the same specs as the regular edition - the only difference is the software, which means it doesn't have HTC's custom Sense 6 UI.

It'll cost you $699 to put in a pre-order, and the product description on Google's site suggests it will still support HTC's Duo Camera features.

 

Crank it up and you really do hear that extra 25%; Mastodon, John Hopkins, Converge, MF Doom – everything sounds great. So whether you’re into hip-hop, dance, metal or punk, the One M8’s .85cc top and .80cc bottom speaker chamber are perfectly suited for beach and hotel room listening – just don’t be one of those people who use it on the bus. 

Software

The HTC One M8 already ships with 4.4 KitKat and an updated Sense 6 UI, which introduces many of Android's new tweaks such as transparent notification and navigation bars, new fonts and a more muted colour palette for status icons. HTC's additions let you change the font style and colour themes, and also features the BlinkFeed where you can aggregate news, social networking and photos in a customisable stream of tiled updates.

HTC said handsets in the One family will eventually receive KitKat and the Sense 6.0 UI update, but it’s currently not clear when the handsets will be getting it. It’s also possible some of the features which are included in the UI on the M8 won’t make the jump.

Motion Launch gesture is included on Sense 6.0 on the One M8 but the original One doesn’t have the hardware capabilities to fulfil the feature. That doesn’t mean the update will be obsolete though, it’ll still bring with it the updated BlinkFeed and that much nicer, even cleaner interface.

Conclusion

The HTC One was a solid handset with a good looking design and enough features to keep most users happy. The upgraded display, camera and processor on the M8 give it a real boost. The loss of optical image stabilization in the camera is a real shame but there’s loads more innovation in the snapper department. The M8 is a fully realised step up from the original One handset.

Reactions From Around The Web

“This is a phone that has been exceptionally well thought out, with a design that puts its rivals to shame. It boasts a clean and simple look that you rarely see from Android” – Digital Spy.

“It's still at the top of our list, but its slick finish makes it uncomfortable to hold. What's more, we'd like to see some more improvements to the One's display and HTC's UltraPixel technology, which were once among the best in their class.” – Engadget

“In short, the HTC One M8 does everything you could possibly ask of a high-end smartphone, and does it incredibly well.” T3

“The smartphone that changes everything… again” – BGR

Of course, different users will have different priorities in terms of what makes them pick up a handset. While the camera tweaks are fun and the quality may be good enough for casual users, photography buffs will likely still want to look elsewhere.

Meanwhile, those who are really sold on looks may have found their perfect Android phone as this is easily the most attractive model to date and a massive improvement from the original handset.

However, consumers who are pleased by the increasing number of handsets with water proofing could be dissapointed by HTC's more vulnerable build.

While the HTC One M8 doesn't make a leap ahead of rivals in terms of processing power it is a big step up from its predecessor, so in many ways is more of a true upgrade than competing handsets from other manufacturers, which feel somewhat incremental going from a Snapdragon 800 to a Snapdragon 801. Going from the Snapdragon 600 to Snapdragon 801 is a far more respectable jump, and performance is incredibly smooth. The addition of microSD support is also a massive plus point for the One M8 over its older brother.

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