HTC One M8 Review: Android's Answer To The iPhone

Reviews Paul Briden 11:50, 17 Apr 2014

After being the most leaked handset in history, the HTC One M8 is finally here! So was it worth the wait?

Rating: 
4.5
Typical Price: 
£529.00
Pros: 
Beautiful design and build, Great screen in normal conditions, Excellent audio, Fast performance, Clean UI, Android 4.4 KitKat, microSD, Good battery life, Good camera
Cons: 
Aluminium body is delicate, Screen suffers in sunlight and viewing angles are not the best, Camera is good but not best in class
Verdict: 
A really compelling premium smartphone. This is Android's answer to the iPhone with a gorgeous design, fluid interface and performance, and a capable spec sheet

The HTC One M8 is surely one of the most hotly anticipated handsets of 2014 and one of the most leaked phones we’ve ever seen in a long history of incredibly leaky devices. While the original HTC One received a boatload of praise from critics and better sales than any previous HTC handset, it wasn’t enough to drag the Taiwanese manufacturer out of its rather precarious business position, or pull it into serious competition with rival industry giants such as Samsung – which is currently cleaning up in the Android space.

The HTC One M8 then, has a lot of work to do. So have HTC’s changes with this successor model made a significant difference?

I’ll confess, I was not a massive fan of the original HTC One. I appreciated the aluminium build and the overall aesthetic, but there was something clunky and uncomfortable about the handset during operation, the battery life was poor and then there’s the camera.

Although HTC’s Ultrapixel technology managed to get impressive results considering the 4-megapixel rating and sensor size, it still wasn’t up there with what you could typically (and reasonably) expect from a premium flagship, and its contemporaries left it in their wake.

So it’s with some nervousness that I approached the HTC One M8. The leaks said the camera had a very similar spec, and when it launched it emerged that not only was this largely true (on paper at least), it had also lost a few features (more on that later). The body had been re-designed, which was of course a positive thing, but the battery had only been boosted from the HTC One’s 2,300mAh to 2,600mAh – a good deal short of the 3,000mAh and above we’ve been seeing on many rival flagships, which consistently seems to deliver decent use-time. What else was new? What else was significant? Was this all enough

Design and Build

During a briefing with HTC it was made very apparent that the key selling point for the HTC One M8 is its build and design. HTC is hedging its bets on the idea that consumers want a beautiful, luxurious and finely crafted smartphone, and unless you’re some kind of puritanical pragmatist it’s very difficult to argue against this line of thought. The success of the iPhone supports this theory more than anything else.

As a result, much of HTC’s development of the HTC One M8 has focused on the exterior, build and aesthetics – and to be sure the result is a beaut. If you’ve seen an HTC One in the flesh (metal) before you might look at the HTC One M8 and think: “It looks the same.”

You’d be dead wrong, however. Although the overall design ethos is similar – curved aluminium back, end-caps with punched front-facing speakers – the feel in the hand is a world away from the older model. Visually there are enough differences too, though you might only start to see them when you get the two side-by-side. This being the case, we’ve taken a bunch of snaps showing you both old and new models paired up together and have peppered them throughout this review – we’re nice like that.

I thought the original HTC One was quite cumbersome in the hand. It was, in truth, a fairly blocky phone; the corners were slightly curved, as was the back panel, but the edges were thin and flat, giving a slightly brick-like feel despite its slinky profile. 

With the HTC One M8, curves are the name of the game. The back panel has been re-jigged with its curvature (from left to right) becoming much more pronounced and as a result it now fits flush to your palm, unlike its predecessor. The corners have a more rounded design too and, importantly, rather than having the back panel sitting on a flat, plastic surround to form the edges, the HTC One M8’s backing tapers round in one continuous piece to form the smooth, curved sides. These are still nice and thin, but much more comfortable to hold.

The original HTC One had no problems with feeling flimsy, it was incredibly solid with a well-built feel in the hand and that’s something HTC has managed, unsurprisingly, to maintain with the HTC One M8.

It’s not perfect, however. Still being made of aluminium has its advantages and disadvantages. I can’t say I’ve seen any indication that HTC has made the build any more durable than the original model. I managed in the space of a few short weeks to scratch the screen and cause a few light scratches to the metal rear panel.

Another minor gripe with the design is that when gripping the phone you may find your fingertips come into contact with the touchscreen’s edges and can cause the display to be switched on via the motion gestures, or you can inadvertently activate apps or menu items near the edges of the screen.

Again though, minor gripes; on the whole the phone looks really slick. The punched speaker grilles still give it a cool edge which you don’t really see elsewhere, while the black banding on the rear panel also looks sharp. The One M8 is a little heavier than its predecessor but it’s not unwieldy by any means. The power button has shifted across to the top-right, making it much easier to operate, and the headphone port is now in the base of the device.

The buttons have been improved too – they still have the same solid feel and operation as the HTC One’s setup, but no-longer fit flush to the phone’s surface. While that was a nice touch visually it wasn’t very easy to use; now you can find and operate them simply by feel. The keys are also slightly rounded for a softer appearance and, as per the pre-launch rumours, the capacitive navigation controls on the front are gone in favour of on-screen Android ones.

HTC One M8 "Dot View" Case

It's not unusual for manufacturers to launch their own case for a new flagship these days, and certainly in HTC's case with a somewhat delicate metal phone it makes a good deal of sense.

For the One M8, HTC has produced the Dot View case, available in blue, red, orange and black. We've also got a grey one, but it's not listed on HTC's official product page - go figure.

So what’s the Dot Case all about? Well it’s a soft-touch plastic flip-cover which fits nice and snug to the handset’s back panel. The front cover is attached via a rubber leaf along one edge and the front panel itself is perforated with hundreds of little dots. The purpose of these dots is to allow you to see parts of the display underneath – when the case is closed the phone knows about it through some kind of sorcery (or perhaps sensors - who can say?) and displays the time and weather through the dots when you activate the handset.

Many of the Motion Launch gestures still work through the case’s front panel even when closed – you can answer calls without opening it and simply raise the phone to your ear, or you can double-tap to wake the phone and see the date/time/weather. Other functions are still available as well.

While this stuff is quite nice, I do have a few gripes with the Dot View cover. Firstly, the rubber leaf holding the front cover doesn’t allow you to fold it back flush to the rear of the device, which makes grip awkward. Perhaps more importantly, the cover design seems at odds with the design of the HTC One M8 – you immediately lose all of that lovely shaped metal. I can’t help but think case manufacturers will probably come up with a more elegant case which will properly compliment and emphasise the handset’s exterior while still providing protection. And they probably won’t have that annoying issue with the flip cover not folding back properly either.

Display

HTC was somewhat evasive about what display technology it had crammed into the HTC One M8. Previously the HTC One had used a Super LCD3 (SLCD3) at 4.7-inches with a full HD 1080p resolution at 469 pixels-per-inch (ppi), and at the time it launched this looked fantastic. Colour was rich, brightness robust with very pure whites, and things were nice and sharp with text being particularly clear. HTC has only hinted that the new phone features updated and improved display technology from its predecessor, but wouldn’t name it as SLCD3, SLCD4 (does that exist?) or indeed any other specific title.

Either way you’ve only got to look at the pair side-by-side to see the improvements are evidently there. The new screen is a larger 5-inch panel, again with a full HD 1080p resolution, which brings the pixel density down to a slightly lower, but still respectable, 440ppi. The screen is brighter and colour is much richer.

Viewing angles are better than its predecessor, although not the best I’ve seen. Additionally the phone is just about usable in bright sunlight while the HTC One’s screen is barely visible at all, but again, I’ve seen better phones for sunlight use than the HTC One M8 – viewing angles in these conditions also go downhill.

In normal conditions it’s a fantastic screen for your typical smartphone tasks. Videos, games, and websites all look vibrant and clear and it’s a joy to watch full-length feature films, Youtube, or TV shows.

Hardware, Storage and Connectivity

The HTC One M8 is following the same path as several other recent Android flagships by opting for 16GB of onboard storage and backing this up with microSD support for cards up to 128GB.

There’s two things worth noting here. Firstly, the HTC One lacked microSD, so it’s great to see it added aboard the successor. Second, there is a 32GB onboard storage variant of the HTC One M8 in existence, however, at present it is only available in certain markets – namely Asia and with certain US carriers. At time of writing HTC has not revealed any plans to launch the 32GB model anywhere else. Could it come to the UK eventually? Possibly, but in the meantime we’re going to have to assume it won’t.

Connectivity is pretty standard stuff for a high-end Android model: you’re looking at full 4G and 3G mobile data support and the handset takes a Nano SIM. Wi-Fi support includes Wi-Fi Direct and Wi-Fi Hotspot, as well as DLNA, and you also have Bluetooth, NFC, microUSB, MHL TV-Out, GPS, and an enlarged infrared blaster along the top of the device.

This handset has a few extra hardware tricks up its sleeve too. The phone is fitted with a motion co-processor in a similar vein to Apple’s M7 chip aboard the iPhone 5S. HTC has built a number of features around this based on motion control. You can wake or sleep the handset by double-tapping the display, or answer a call by simply holding the phone up to your face.

Other gestures are designed for waking the phone while also readying a certain function. With the phone in portrait orientation, swiping in from the left of the screen wakes it with BlinkFeed ready, while swiping down from the top activates voice dialling, prompting you to speak a contact’s name. Meanwhile, in landscape mode, pressing the volume up key wakes the device with the camera ready to go. The gestures are called “Motion Launch” and can be toggled on or off en masse in the settings menu, but you can’t individually toggle them.

Personally I found the call answering and camera activation useful and easy to remember. The double-tap had its moments, but the rest seemed a bit superfluous.  Additionally, all too often I found the handset was getting activated in my pocket or simply when picking it up, and I ended up turning the gestures off as a result. Hopefully HTC can iron out a few of these kinks with a software update in the future.

Another key hardware area is the audio equipment. HTC has revived its BoomSound speaker technology with a tailor-made amplifier, which it says has improved the audio quality as well as provide a maximum volume as much as 25% louder than its predecessor. With previous BoomSound-equipped HTC handsets I’ve found they’re plenty loud and clear enough as it is – you’d only let your alarm go off on anything above half volume once, because let’s face it, no-one likes dealing with angry neighbours.

It’s a similar story with the HTC One M8: audio quality is excellent. The front-facing speakers really do make a difference (why isn’t every manufacturer doing this?) and you can happily leave the phone playing music on your kitchen counter to good effect; it will fill the room well and without a trace of tinniness. Range from bass and treble is also very nice. The speakers enhance other multimedia options too, as well as complimenting the gorgeous screen; watching films or playing games is a great experience for both your eyes and ears.

Put quite simply, while there are plenty of phones on the market with good speakers HTC has managed to maintain its lead with the HTC One M8 – there is no better built-in mobile audio experience out there right now.

Battery

I was not expecting great things from the HTC One M8’s battery. A phone with a faster processor and a larger, brighter display, yet only a 300mAh increase over its predecessor (which offered poor battery performance anyway) did not look like a promising recipe on paper.

HTC has clearly done some extensive fettling to improve the situation, however, because the HTC One M8 actually doesn’t fare too badly alongside its contemporaries.

Our usual Django test – running all of Django Unchained for 2 hours 45 minutes on full brightness and with Wi-Fi and mobile data toggled on, from 100% charge – chalked up 50% battery remaining when the credits rolled up.

That’s not too far off the usual 60% or so we’ve typically seen from 3,000mAh cells inside rival devices. You can probably expect to get at least 5 hours 30 minutes of video playback from one charge, while more casual use (a spot of social networking, browsing, and the odd call) should net you about a day and a half without needing to plug in.

As usual, gaming is one of the most intensive things for the battery and I found that a 15 minute stint of Real Racing 3 saw a consumption rate of roughly 1% per minute of gameplay. At the very least this means you can easily calculate how long you can spend gaming before things go kaput.

Processor and Performance

The HTC One M8 runs on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor (MSM8974AB), an upgrade from the Snapdragon 800 commonly seen in rival handsets from late 2013 and into 2014. It uses Qualcomm’s Krait 400 core architecture clocked at 2.3GHz with 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 330 graphics processing unit (GPU). While the HTC One’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chip was well-optimised and delivered smooth performance at time of launch, the difference with the Snapdragon 800 family is noticeably smoother. In terms of actual use scenarios gaming is ridiculously good; not only are the graphics console-like but the zero-latency delivery is very reminiscent of what you’ll find in one of the big-name game boxes, with absolutely no hiccupping whatsoever.

HTC has also clearly optimised  the Sense 6 UI and Android KitKat very nicely with the hardware; something we saw before with the HTC One, but this time round of course it has a lot more power to play with. Google’s “Butter” enhancements are quite evident here as screen transitions animations and menu elements glide around with ease – that’s not so unusual these days, but here they have this almost floaty, ethereal quality which is rather special. It really is a fluid UI.

As with other Snapdragon 800-based devices you can happily stack a boat-load of apps on top of each other running in the background with not so much as a squeak from the handset. The multitasking is tackled virtually effortlessly.

In short, this is a powerhouse of a handset.

Software

Regular readers may be aware that I’m a bit of a stock Android aficionado, so generally I approach custom UI overlays with a few reservations. However, Sense 6 is one of the few interfaces which I’ve actually grown very fond of having played around with it for a little while.

What’s won me over? Well, probably the elegant simplicity and slick stylishness of it all, which I feel fits very well with what Android’s all about. It doesn’t really feel too far removed from Google’s Android; more like a genuine alternative version of it. HTC has a couple of font choices on offer, both of which are riffs on the stock Android style font and are nice, simple, and clean. White text, icons and other UI elements are everywhere and keep in with the minimalist theme.

Speaking of themes, you can also select from a range of pre-made ones which set the wallpaper and menu colours for the handset (including the BlinkFeed interface). These all look great and the whole design is truly cohesive. HTC’s custom icons are simple and tidy and it really is the little things which make a big difference here, such as the way certain menu elements fade in or fade out fluidly; the way menu selection presses are registered – it’s all airy and light with a slightly sci-fi edge. The look of the Sense 6 UI is one thing, as you can see from these screenshots, but seeing it in motion really is something else.

It’s not perfect though. The multitasking section, for one, does look great but it’s not as practical as stock Android on account of the screen previews being WAY too small to be useful. The handset also lacks a native file browser, meaning you’ll have to grab a third party app to go rooting around for things.

Camera

Like the battery, this is another area where the HTC One M8 delivered above my expectations. In our review of the original HTC One, then Reviews Editor Basil Kronfli praised the handset’s low-light capabilities and video capture, and added that, for a 4-megpixel sensor, it was punching well above its weight. However, he also observed that it lacked detail compared to competing flagships and speculated the same tech with an 8-megapixel sensor (and indeed, I’d add, perhaps a larger sensor size) could well net some fantastic results.

So, here we are with the next-generation. What’s new? Well the bad news is the optical image stabilisation (OIS) from the previous model is gone. The sensor size has also not changed and it has the same 4-megpaixel “Ultrapixel” back-illuminated sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. The good news is that, through some kind of voodoo magic, the all-round imaging quality has actually improved tremendously regardless. Detail is better, while contrast and colour are also punchier. Having an HTC One to hand we even captured some shots on both devices to show the difference.

Despite this noticeable improvement, there are of course other cameraphones on the market which can outperform the HTC One M8. Sony’s Xperia Z1, Z1 Compact and Xperia Z2, and Nokia’s Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520, and the new Lumia 930, to name but a handful. That said, the quality is, I think, going to prove satisfying enough for the majority of users. Sure, if you’re the type to print your snaps out as a poster you may find it still lacks what you’re after – but for sharing holiday snaps on Facebook it’s pretty good.

Low-light performance remains as robust as before in spite of the removal of OIS. One thing which really helps is the new dual-LED flash with both amber and white LEDs, this is similar to the iPhone 5S’s setup and the phone uses the flash intelligently to provide the best lighting conditions for a shot in the dark. The images below were captured in our podcast dungeon with the lights switched off and it was near pitch black.

HTC's also implemented some extra trickery here. That dual camera lens you may have spotted in leaks (or indeed, on these very pages) is not actually a second lens but a depth sensor and its job is to take in a sweep of spatial data every time you snap a picture. This data is stored in the image file and doesn’t expand the file size too much either.

What’s this good for? Well a number of things, actually, but the most prominent in HTC's marketing push is the Lytro-style “U Focus” which allows you to select a new focal point on the photo after capture. Each time you pick a new focal point and save the image it will save it as a copy – which cannot subsequently be edited – but the original can be re-focused and duplicated in this way as many times as you like.

This should be useful in enabling the HTC One M8 to be very much a “fire and forget” cameraphone, and we’re sure that would appeal to a lot of people who don’t want to have to faff to get the perfect snap. However, it's not quite as good as it could have been. You can see U Focus in action in the images below where I shot a picture of Cut The Rope’s OmNom mascot and selected a couple of different focal points.

And a picture snapped in Westminster, where I just managed to grab the nose of a passing Lotus 7 (shame I didn’t get the whole thing), which shows how you can bring the image’s focal point from the background – where it accidentally focused at time of capture - and pick the car instead, which is what I actually wanted to get in the first place.

But the problem is it doesn't really work.

Look closely at both pictures and you'll notice that most of the image hasn't changed, the Lotus 7 has the same clarity in each version - all that selecting it as a focal point has done is blur out the background.

Likewise with OmNom, I selected the keyboard as the focal point and yet it's the same clarity in both images, all that's happened in the edited snap is that OmNom himself and other surrounding areas have become more blurry. Again, hopefully HTC can improve this with a software patch, but ultimately this doesn't impact on the basic image quality, which is decent.

Other features include a 3D mode which uses a parallax effect to simulate a 3D hologram, meaning you can rotate the camera slightly around a subject. This doesn’t work very well for landscapes or groups of people, as it ends up looking like a flat image being tilted. However, for individual objects such as a cuddly toy or a pint of beer it works very well indeed. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to demonstrate this here using picture samples as they will lose their 3D-ness if not viewed on the phone’s display.

There are a number of other editing modes and features which are less focused on the depth sensor’s data, as well as the usual set of filters, frames, and effects which can be applied directly to the photo.

The camera interface is very simple and streamlined, making it remarkably easy-to-use with its minimalist white, black and red menu elements and large icons. In capture mode the majority of the interface is given over to the viewfinder, but you can easily bring up a menu to tweak the mode setting (macro/night/auto etc.), ISO, white balance, filters, and exposure value with icons along the bottom. The flash control is ever present in the top left.

Another button in the bottom right opens up another set of options, including the regular camera, video capture, HTC’s Zoe camera (for capturing images and video simultaneously), a dedicated selfie mode, a dual-capture mode for using both front and back cameras simultaneously, and a “Pan 360” mode for panoramic capture.

There's also a 5-megapixel front-facing secondary camera which performs well in the dedicated selfie and dual-capture modes.

All told, the HTC One M8’s camera is a very comprehensive setup, but more than that it’s clearly been designed for the needs of your average phone user who wants a decent camera but doesn’t require something a pro might drool over. That means all the tweaks and tools onboard have been designed with quick and easy capture and editing in mind, and it’s a refreshingly effortless device to use as a result. Imaging quality is not the best on the market but it’s still better than its predecessor and is pretty damn good overall.

Well done HTC.

HTC Opens Up Dual Lens SDK To Developers

HTC has revealed its plans to open up its dual lens technology to developers. The firm announced its Dual Lens SDK Preview, which can now be downloaded by eager developers with an HTCDev account.

Speaking to Pocket-lint, HTC said, "Our hope is that developers will use this SDK to tap into the power of the Duo Camera and come up with their own cool, creative ideas for the depth sensor. Use of the SDK is free and open to any developer."

Hopefully this will mean you'll soon be able to download new applications and plug-ins which can do interesting things for your photography via HTC's depth sensor.

Conclusion

The HTC One M8 is a difficult handset to judge. On the one hand, you have the paradox of a device where the emphasis is very much on the good-looking exterior, and yet it seems too fragile to survive for long without cladding it in a protective case – a move which effectively undermines all that visual flair in one go. But, is that enough to counter all the other positive stuff?

I’d argue no. You see, it’s a pretty fantastic setup when you factor everything in: incredibly fast, smooth performance, a beautiful UI, an excellent display and speakers, a really very capable and easy-to-use camera, microSD support, good battery life...the list goes on. The HTC One M8 is every bit the high-end, premium flagship model even without the stylish bodyshell. It’s a big improvement on its predecessor and can stand toe-to-toe with most of its contemporaries. Taking all these features into account I find it difficult to imagine myself being deterred purely on the basis of fragility.

For one thing, I’m used to treating phones like some kind of ancient heirloom because I know they have to go back to the manufacturer in one piece and actively being as careful as possible can indeed work (don’t put your phone in the same pocket as your keys, for example). But aside from that, there are other far more expensive things which you could, potentially, damage very easily – and yet people still buy these things. We’ve all heard of people driving a new car out of the showroom straight into a truck, but would that stop you from buying a new car? Ultimately you’ll have to decide yourself on whether it’s worth the risk (you could always grab some insurance), or whether you’re happy simply covering up all that lovely curved metal with a rubber or plastic casing.

But either way, the rest of the phone is top-notch and well worth a look, it's simply a really enjoyable device to use on a daily basis.

HTC One M8 Release Date & Pricing 

Phones 4U

You’ll be able to get your hands on the HTC One M8 from Thursday in Phones4U stores all over the UK. From Phones4U it’ll be available on a 4G contract for £42 a month or SIM-Free for £529.95. It’s also available in either silver or gray, so still no word on a UK retailer stocking that very good looking gold version. 

Three UK

The HTC One (M8) will be available for an upfront cost of £49 and a choice of four different 24 month price plans. These start at £38 a month for 600 minutes and 2GB of data, up to £44 a month for all-you-can-eat data and all-you-can-eat minutes.

Sylvia Chind, head of devices at Three, said: “We are excited to be ranging the latest flagshipsmartphone from HTC. It’s a really impressive, premium and beautifully crafted device that is perfect for those seeking one of the best handsets on the market today. Combined with our all-you-can-eat data you can make the most of all its features without worrying about bill shock.”

EE

The handset will be available from EE in Gunmetal Gray and Glacial Silver across a wide range of superfast 4G plans, via the EE online shop and EE telesales on the 26 March, and through EE stores on the 27 March. Customers who buy the HTC One (M8) on a £37.99/pm EE Extra plan (£29.99 up front cost) before 10 April will receive a special launch offer giving them twice the amount of data of EE’s standard 4G plans - taking their monthly limit up to 4GB - for the duration of their contract. This also includes unlimited minutes and texts to use both in the UK and Europe.

Sharon Meadows, Director of Devices at EE, said: "We’re excited to be stocking the new HTC One (M8), with its exceptional user experience setting a new benchmark for smartphones. The new HTC Zoe video sharing and remix features are a great way to relive incredible moments with friends, and are a perfect match for our superfast double speed network – the UK’s biggest and fastest.”

Vodafone

It will available from 6PM on the Vodafone website and will deliver the handset from Thursday onwards. Pricing wise it’ll cost £42 a month on a Red 3G plan which gives you unlimited calls and texts. If you’re in the first 3000 customers you’ll also get a free HTC Boombass but you’ll have to be quick!

Carphone Warehouse

It’s available from Carphone Warehouse for £42 a month with no up front cost. You can also buy it SIM free for £549.95. To get your hands on it just head to the Carphone Warehouse website.

A Carphone Warehouse spokesperson said, “Carphone Warehouse is proud to be one of the first to have the new HTC handset in our stores and offer the latest tech to customers as soon as it’s announced. With the HTC One (M8), HTC has taken what was a very impressive phone and built on that with even more attention to detail in both design and specifications.

“The HTC One stood out for its design and this new version has an improved, durable, high-quality metal unibody surrounding a 5-inch full HD display which will continue to set the bar even higher for smartphones in 2014. Additional features like the Duo Camera and improved BoomSound™ will help cement HTC’s future as a heavy-hitting smartphone manufacturer.”

HTC One M8 In Gold Coming To The UK

When the HTC One M8 launched we got to see the gold edition which would be launching in the US but there was no word on whether it’d make its way to the UK. One retailer in the UK, Carphone Warehouse, then revealed it would be stocking the handset but you’d have to wait until April 7.

Now Carphone Warehouse has revealed it will start shipping Gold versions of the handset from April 2. Phones4U has also revealed it will stock the gold version of the handset from April 3.

Clove has chimed in to reveal it will eventually stock the gold version of the HTC One M8 but it’ll be quite a wait as it’ll be in early May.

We have to admit the gold version of the handset does make that aluminium unibody look even better. Expect the gold version to be snapped up fast.

HTC One M8 Google Play Edition Coming Soon

Want a HTC One M8 and live in the US? You can get your hands on a Google Play Edition of the handset which allows you to have the handset without all those bells and whistles.

The edition is available to pre-order now on the US Google Play Store, it’ll cost $699.00.

Google posted on its Google+ page about the One M8 Play Edition and said, "Congratulations to our partner HTC on the launch of their highly anticipated HTC One (M8). With its high quality metal unibody, this is a premium Android smartphone that sports great design. The HTC One (M8), Google Play edition, will be available for sale on Google Play soon."

It’s the same hardware as available on the normal version of the HTC One M8 but you’ll be receiving much faster updates. It currently has Android 4.4.2 KitKat but Google is good at updating its handsets at speed once 4.4.3 comes around.

Budget And Mini HTC One M8 Editions On The Way

In our review of the HTC One M8 we congratulated the company on creating a gorgeous handset with its premium aluminium body. Of course, beautiful design comes at a price which is why HTC is apparently looking at releasing a cheaper plastic version of the M8.

G4Games says the cheaper version will be “the same phone, but of different quality” as it leaves the premium aluminium build behind for cheaper plastic. From that quote we expect the specs won't see much of a change apart from the look of the handset.

In China you can currently pick up the One M8 for 5299 yuan, which converts to about £510 or $853. It's rumoured this new affordable One M8 will launch at 3000 yuan which is a dramatic drop in price. If true, that converts to £289 or $483.

Would you forego the beautifully designed body of the One M8 for a cheaper handset? Well if you would you shouldn’t have long to wait –– the handset is tipped to launch before the end of May.

Meanwhile, rumour has it there will be an HTC One M8 mini, and it may come sooner than you might expect. A source within a popular UK retailer has claimed the handset will launch at some point during May 2014. That’s less than 2 months after the original M8 was announced.

Rumour is it’ll have a smaller display and lose the duo-camera, but will keep the aluminium uni-body design. It’s possible it will come in at a lower price than the HTC One M8 as well, head here for the full article on the HTC One M8 mini.

HTC One M8: What To Read Next

Specifications

Length 146.4mm
Width 70.6mm
Thickness 9.4mm
Weight 160g
Screen Colours 16 million
Screen Size 5-inches
UK Launch March 2014
Phone Style Touchscreen
Typical Price £529
Camera Resolution 4-megapixels with "Ultrapixels"
Video Resolution 1080p
Flash Dual-LED Two-Tone
Music Formats MP3/WAV/eAAC+/AC3/FLAC
Music Player Yes
Song Storage Yes
Speaker Stereo Front-Facing BoomSound
Radio Yes

Disqus - noscript

It is better than S5 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Far better in every angle, inside and outside....I love HTC one m8.

Love my one m8 I just switched from an iPhone 4s to this and fell in love within the first 10 minutes of owning it

Call someone from this phone and any other. S5 sounds terrible, 5S has an echo, Nokia is muddy. This phone is crystal clear. If you are in business, you want the people you are calling to hear you clearly. The reviewers seem to forget you are buying a phone, not a tablet. Everything else is a cut above. Samsung is clunky to operate and Apple still has a tiny screen.

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