HTC One (M8) Review
A lot of emphasis has been put into its new duo camera, providing photos with some snazzy bokeh effects. However, the general quality of its shots doesn’t dramatically improve upon what we’ve previously seen with its ‘UltraPixel’ 4MP camera.
The facts point to the obvious, HTC is continuing to bet on its ‘UltraPixel’ camera. First introduced last year with the HTC One, we’ve seen it become a staple feature in HTC’s flagship portfolio of late. It features the same size 4-megapixel 1/3” sensor, resulting in larger-than-normal 2-micron pixels. However, this comes at the cost of having a relatively low image resolution of 4 megapixels, while rivals offer 8, 13 or even 20MP ones. As before, the camera comes with wide, f2.0 lens, but this time the flash is updated to feature two differently colored LEDs, called “Smart Flash”. Gone is the optical stabilization, replaced by “Smart Stabilization” that is said to rival the optical ones.
Placing our attention to the primary rear camera, It’s not to say that we’re a bit perturbed by the lack of any changes with the specs, but we were at least hoping to see something marginally better – to make up for the year long wait. The bigger question here is how the new ‘duo camera’ will be able to factor into enhancing the quality.
HTC has rearranged the camera UI with the new HTC One M8 by giving it a cleaner and more organized layout. Well, it’s wonderful that we can quickly launch the camera app while the phone is locked/turned off by utilizing the new motion launch gesture. Gone is the unified menu system that combined options for photos and videos, which are now separate from one another to reduce headaches in differentiating settings for either more. Of course, it’s blessed with a myriad of manual controls and shooting modes that really add some fun post photo.
Let’s first talk purely about its general image quality. From the looks of it, little has changed with the quality here. Outdoor shots turn out fairly sharp (but not oversharpened) with a good handling of dynamic range, where it balances out dark and light areas properly – and without under or over exposing certain elements. Despite the charming results, the ‘UltraPixel’ camera can’t capture fine details as good as higher resolution cameras. Sadly, purple fringing artifacts can often be noticed in high-dynamic areas. Meanwhile, macro shots tend to be delightful with that profound bokeh effect being cast to the area surrounding the object in the foreground.
However, photos taken indoors or in low lighting situations, produce underwhelming shots. Indeed, those large, 2-micron-sized pixels help to draw in more light into the camera, simultaneously giving our shots a brighter appearance and minimizing noise, but colors are washed out looking. In addition, details are once again soft and speckled looking.
Somewhat untraditional, the HTC One’s front-facing camera actually has more megapixels than the rear one – it's a 5-megapixel, wide-angle FF snapper. Not only does it play nicely when it comes to cramming in more people into the shot, but we’re pretty impressed by how good-looking the photos turn out.
1080p video recording quality in general is pleasing to the eye, as long as there’s sufficient lighting around. By default, the phone has its focus locked when recording, which means that adjusting it is done via touch focus. Turning it off, though, the camera is constantly adjusting the focus on the fly. Frankly, it’s a nice option, but it seems a bit too sensitive – causing certain situations to become out of focus. Under low light, we’re content by how bright the videos turn out, but yet again, we’re simply faced with softer details. Regardless of that, audio recording is impressive, since it’s fantastic in capturing depth in low tones.There's also the ability to capture panoramic and 360-degree images, which adds depth to the camera shooting experience. Even though the quality follows what we’ve talked about already in different lighting situation, the process in making them is a pretty simple one.
Along for the ride again are those memory making Zoe video highlights from before, complied and created automatically by the phone using a collection of captured images and videos. Choosing instead to do it manually, we can use the “Zoe Camera” mode to capture the collection of content by tapping the screen to take a photo, or holding down the camera button to start recording video. From here, Zoe highlights will capture a burst of 20 hi-res shots during the first 3 seconds. Again, not everyone will take advantage of this feature, but it’s something to bear in mind at least.
1. HTC One M8 Sample Video 1
2. HTC One M8 Sample Video 2
3. HTC One M8 Nighttime Sample Video
As we’ve detailed already, the secondary camera on the rear is strictly used for depth information. If you love bokeh effects (the blurred background behind the object in focus in shots taken with a DSLR camera) to the max, you’ll absolutely love how the second camera is able to attune the effect into the shots. When it comes down to it, the second camera allows us to select what areas of our pictures we want to be in focus – while the rest of the areas have that dreamy bokeh effect applied to them. Now it should be noted that this is only enabled with shots taken with the 16:9 aspect ratio.
Once a shot is captured, we can go back and apply the various ‘duo effects’ – they include ufocus, foregrounder, seasons, dimension plus, and touchup. Amongst them, the ufocus effect is what dishes up the most intriguing results, seeing that tapping anywhere on the photo adjusts the focus accordingly. Essentially, that riveting bokeh effect is composed to the area outside of the focus point – giving images that professional-like touch.
In addition, the foregrounder effect is carries along some amusing post effects too that replaces the usual bokeh with other enhancements. There are other effects too, like the copy and paste feature, that deliver Photoshop-like qualities by allowing us to ‘Photoshop’ ourselves into other photos with celebrities. However, the 'seasons' and 'dimension plus' effects seem rather tacky – just thrown in for the fun of it.
A warm, fuzzy feeling creeps in whenever we apply these various duo effects, primarily because of the sleek professional touch they splash onto our otherwise normal shots. Still, this isn’t a feature that’s necessarily new to a smartphone, since there are third-party apps that can achieve the post bokeh effect. Nevertheless, the seamless operation in bringing the effect to life is an inviting touch for the new HTC One.
Duo Effects Sample Images
Bigger screen, louder speakers, and a speedier performance makes the new HTC One more of a multimedia powerhouse.
Although the bulk of the Sense 6.0 music player functions and appears similar to its predecessor, it’s undeniably one of the more stylish music players out there. In fact, it has a more discerning dynamic quality to it, evident by the cool 3D-filled visualizer player and its ability to display lyrics as a song is being played. If the Sense 6.0 music player isn’t your cup of tea, the Google Play Music app is preloaded as an alternative.
Audio fans have a lot to rejoice about with the new HTC One, just because the signature dual front-firing speakers with HTC BoomSound and built-in amplifiers are back for another ride. Showing us it’s serious, they deliver a pounding level of audio quality that’s unrivaled – while maintaining a pleasant audio level that’s accompanied by some subtle bass, making them sound fuller compared to the speakers of most rival phones. Meanwhile, its 3.5mm headset jack also proves to be a venerable thing in making the experience such a joy.
Keeping it simple, HTC didn’t tinker too much with the video player. Indeed, it’s a tantalizing thing to behold with its larger and sharp looking display, as high-definition 1080p videos fill every nook and cranny of the screen. However, it would’ve been nice for HTC to follow suit by adding some kind of multi-tasking element to the experience, but that’s not the case here. Nevertheless, those front-firing speakers make themselves known by enabling us to adequately hear everything even in noisy environments.
Supplementing the experience’s new Motion Launch gestures, there’s actually one particular gesture that applies to media integration. Referred to as HTC Connect, the three-finger swipe gesture allows us to send music or video via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to a host of compatible multimedia devices – such as television sets, portable speakers, or other home theater devices. Quick and simple, it’s something that will gravitate towards media sharing individuals.
Back for round two, the HTC One M8’s HTC Sense TV app and built-in IR blaster allows the phone to double as a universal remote and media hub. Not only can we program it to work with an array of media players, but there’s a social element included with the app’s functionality. In true to Sense, the app ‘senses’ what content we enjoy watching and makes relevant recommendations based on that.
Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 1.28
HTC One 0.68
LG G Pro 2 0.58
Sony Xperia Z1 0.29
LG G2 0.29
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 75.2
HTC One 78
LG G Pro 2 78
Sony Xperia Z1 68
LG G2 66
20. almostdone (Posts: 119; Member since: 25 Sep 2012)
It could of been worse. With the same 4 UltraPixelated camera they should of been deducted 2 points.
47. akki20892 (Posts: 3475; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
We have to wait for camera comparison first. Because they have done improvement in their ultra pixel camera.
61. MrKoles (Posts: 321; Member since: 20 Jan 2013)
What kind of improvement?
You mean that childish faux bokeh effect?
2 minutes in any photo-app and I will do a better one.
Certainly one of the biggest gimmicks of smartphones in 2014...they should have used a different camera tech because Ultrapixel was outdated and pathetic either last year.
109. Jinto (Posts: 399; Member since: 15 Jan 2014)
The headphone jack design in
really bothers me...
73. hassoups (Posts: 345; Member since: 06 Jun 2013)
I don't understand how not being waterproof lowered the review though, Id take this over flaps all over the place. I'll wait and see if they'll treat the next iPhone the same way because I'm pretty sure it won't be waterproof.
105. Maryewww (Posts: 29; Member since: 16 Sep 2013)
It wasn't a con until sammy got involved in the waterproof department, PA are awesomely biased...
29. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)
But wasn't it unboxed a few minutes ago by Daniel P.?
54. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)
So P.A. had 2 HTC Ones?
56. HouTexan (Posts: 313; Member since: 08 Jan 2012)
They've had a review unit for awhile like most of the websites have.
62. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)
I know that. The question is how come they got 2 of them?
92. anirudhshirsat97 (Posts: 391; Member since: 24 May 2011)
They made the videos before hand and posted them together. Seriously how hard is it to get that.
69. bassof (Posts: 2; Member since: 24 Mar 2014)
BIG FAIL Phone.
Move it there's nothing new to see here.
the best phone so far this year Galaxy S5, no doubt .
78. Chunkyspudface (Posts: 10; Member since: 31 May 2013)
Eh? What new does the GS5 bring that make it stand out (that aren't gimmicks no-one uses) then? Another uninspired piece of plastic to add to the thousands already flooding the market, at least HTC are TRYING to make their product stand out. Samsung rely too much on the fact that millions will blindly buy it anyway...
79. Chunkyspudface (Posts: 10; Member since: 31 May 2013)
I'll admit the camera features of the M8 are pretty gimmicky though.
96. iushnt (Posts: 655; Member since: 06 Feb 2013)
A better camera..screen with 2nits lowest brightness and 500nits+ highest brightness, water and dust resistant, download mode merges LTE and WiFi, two WiFi antennas for better connectivity.., ultra power saving mode makes the screen black and white and only allws limited number of apps to run, also heard rate sensor is better than having 2_cameras at .. the m8 is just ahead in design and nothing else
99. Chunkyspudface (Posts: 10; Member since: 31 May 2013)
I know that the HTC One wasn't a huge leap in specs (yet neither was the s5) but they at least seem keen to innovate or try and change things. If the galaxy s5 wasn't the same (very similar) plastic slab, I would agree with you. I'm not saying the s5 is a bad phone, just simply that samsung seem to be getting complacent...
100. threeline (Posts: 256; Member since: 11 Sep 2011)
Very well put, you just sold me on the GS5 and I have the GS4. I was looking for something different this time but after the camera let down on the M8 I now realize that the upgrades the GS5 has are very useful; dual wi-fi antennae, download booster that merges LTE and wi-fi and a upgraded camera. Those are the 3 most used features for me. I really don't care if it has a metal or glass or plastic housing as long as it's well constructed.
103. Droiderr (Posts: 32; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)
well said.. but i dont agree its ahead in design too.. Comapare the dimensions and weight of m8 with s5. S5 is significantly smaller and lighter even though it has a bigger battery.
If design means only looks then it acceptable but i dont think thats the case.
102. Droiderr (Posts: 32; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)
to name a few:
1. finger print scanner
2. heart rate monitor
3. water resistance
4. better hardware and camera
6. lighter and smaller with same screen size.
now go figure!!
112. Blaze.Infernus (Posts: 16; Member since: 01 May 2014)
Maybe if you like Touchwhiz, which personally I think is garbage. Not to mention the bloatware.
71. Dude2014 (Posts: 146; Member since: 12 Feb 2014)
How come this HTC One M8 only gets 8.8 while iPhone 5Crap got 9.0? We know HTC One M8 is obviously not the best phone out there. But still at least it's much better than iPhone 5C in every way. The only three things let me down are stupid logo placement, really huge size compared to other 5" phones and of course camera.
59. 7Superman9 (Posts: 75; Member since: 17 Sep 2013)
How is it that the battery, that according to them lasted longer than the G2, which is also bigger is not a"Pro". Same goes for the 128Gb so card slot. Really, really????
3. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)
nice, great review, but 8,8 that"s bias John V.....
33. _Bone_ (Posts: 2129; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
Did you look at performance? Did you look at photos? Did you look at size, weight (BIG!) vs. screen size and battery size (moderately small)?
50. true1984 (Posts: 591; Member since: 23 May 2012)
can someone explain the weight thing to me? i don't see the big deal as long as i dont get a workout lifting the phone.
63. chebner (Posts: 140; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
I agree that the phone is a little on the large size but the BoomSound speakers have a lot to do with that.
Regarding the battery... Please tell me what matters more, the size or how long it lasts? Last year's One had a smaller battery than the S4 but lasted longer.
95. iushnt (Posts: 655; Member since: 06 Feb 2013)
Check gsmarena's battery ratings.. S4 lasted better than HTC one
4. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8300; Member since: 14 May 2012)
Went straight to page 3 to read about the camera. HTC failed again this year.
24. greathero1 (Posts: 483; Member since: 13 Jun 2008)
I thought the pics looked quite good Smurf. What part was most disappointing for you?
36. _Bone_ (Posts: 2129; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
Noise, purple clouds, lens inconsistency (nights shots, lamp post, low resolution.
64. true1984 (Posts: 591; Member since: 23 May 2012)
well, in my opinion it depends on what you do with the camera. i only use my phone camera on 2 occasions. when i first get it and when i'm on vacation. otherwise i forget its there.
27. PorkyBurger (Posts: 222; Member since: 18 May 2013)
I looked at the sample images and I got shocked because of the lack of detail. Is that even a camera for high-end phone? Zoom in and die. (BLURREEH~!) Don't get me wrong, it's a nice camera for a phone, but 4MP? No, no not this time.
Overall, pretty good phone. If I would have enough money, I could even consider buying this beauty :D
49. adecvat (Posts: 129; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)
Front camera is better than rear :)
And NO OIS.
81. rawbow (Posts: 428; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)
eh? that's what makes or breaks a "phone" for you!?
Anyways, read the other pages for your own good.
1. Sense 6.0 beats as much crap out of your sad Note 3s touchwiz as it would on the camera department vice versa.
2. The "DESIGN" with bezels beats mega crap out of Samsung again, what do you have - camera
3. Waterproof and Dustproof would have been better but who needs flaps on their phones anyways. And after the s4 active fiasco, not so confident about the s5 waterproof. I mean, i can still use my phone in the rain without it being water proof. I wouldn't go swimming with it unless you would with the s5 lol
4. I had a note and frankly I am much better off with the Nexus 7.
5. HTC One M8 is what samsung with all its money should be trying to achieve.
Oh yeah, we have people here confusing galaxy s4 with chinese(love the country) made crap and also some of the samsung low end crap = spend so much money and still look like crap is what a fail is in my book
5. chunky1x (Posts: 234; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)
How on Earth can you properly review a product after it was launch just minutes ago?!?!?!?!
8. jexxx (Posts: 48; Member since: 23 Feb 2014)
He probably had the phone for quite awhile and only able to post the review after the launch due to NDAs.
18. chunky1x (Posts: 234; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)
So Phone Arena was the source of the leak in the first place.
38. Martin_Cooper (Posts: 406; Member since: 30 Jul 2013)
Smartass ALL major tech sites had a demo unit for a week now to review it.
12. aditya.k (Posts: 461; Member since: 10 Mar 2013)
That's what I was thinking! XD
With full photos and such a big review. Not even Chuck can do that! XD
15. almostdone (Posts: 119; Member since: 25 Sep 2012)
Many people had this phone for a while but couldn't release the review until it was official.
The same applies with some stores already have them in stock.
25. aditya.k (Posts: 461; Member since: 10 Mar 2013)
Take a look at the phone pics. Date is 21/3. So they had it well before.
35. chunky1x (Posts: 234; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)
Dear Phone Arena;
Can somebody explain to us what is your basis for your numerical points system. Do you have a points tally or something not shown in your page? Many of us are confused how did you get 8.8, 9 and etc.
P.S. Don't send me an Email of a reprimand and I kindly ask for an honest answer.
46. Martin_Cooper (Posts: 406; Member since: 30 Jul 2013)
Its basically like reviewing a movie on IMDB, you give it a specific score because its above and below some other movies based on their scores. Obviously for the reviewer above having the ugliest phone of 2014, that looks cheap, has amazing camera, full of gimmicks is better than this piece of art with innovative after focus camera.
53. chunky1x (Posts: 234; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)
I wish they did category specific points(design, display, camera and etc) first then average out in the end. After focus camera is not new(Nokia and LG already have this system). I agree that when the giant band aid comes out it may have a high score with much of the dismay of the readers.
68. Martin_Cooper (Posts: 406; Member since: 30 Jul 2013)
Thats why I like theverge reviews, they put points in different categories and that helps a lot
7. MarkArigayo (Posts: 240; Member since: 18 Dec 2013)
Still, better than S5 in term of overall design. On screen keys arrangement on the 2014 HTC One makes the S5 looks so old. Lol.
9. NexusX (Posts: 119; Member since: 16 May 2013)
HTC just took their previous year model, made it uglier, gave it a marginally better processor, and a EVO 3D camera. and hope it would turn their company around from bankruptcy.
How hard is it get rid of of the stupid logo, give it a bigger battery Doesn't it already have a aluminum unibody?why not it give it a bit water resistance and wireless charging while they are at it?
40. Martin_Cooper (Posts: 406; Member since: 30 Jul 2013)
1. EVERYONE did that with the cpu. Why is HTC bad while other arent for using same CPU? 805 wont be available for months to come. 2. Uglier? Its personal taste. I read, seen 4-5 reviews in the last hour and everyone agrees how pretty and amazing looking it is. 3. It doesn't have a 3D camera, it has two cameras so you can FOCUS the photo after you take it. 4. They had a reason that there is a black bar on the bottom, engineers of the phone must have had a serious reason, instead of leaving the black space they added the logo to kinda hide it. 5. Waterproofing a phone means you have to cover all the holes and makes the usability less desirable, ALSO it makes the phone bigger and ONE is already a big phone.
55. NexusX (Posts: 119; Member since: 16 May 2013)
it's getting harder for consumer to justify an upgrade. Most current hardwares are capable of running most apps including the budget phones. If HTC wants to succeed in this throatcutting business. Their new flagship is just not up to par.If they still wanna compete with Samsung, they have to either make the best phone with all desired features and charge a flagship premium or get out of the flagship race start selling more budget friendly phones similar to the google's Nexus series. the way I see it, this phone is only worth nexus price tag.
57. NexusX (Posts: 119; Member since: 16 May 2013)
HTC's love for unibody aluminum design also compromises their abilities make a compact phone and any last minute tweaks with their hardwares to add new features. The size and heft of this phone would probably alienate a lot of female consumers (who seem less concern about phone specs and features (HTC is clearly the loser to Samsung on this one)
66. true1984 (Posts: 591; Member since: 23 May 2012)
can someone please explain the weight thing?
60. NexusX (Posts: 119; Member since: 16 May 2013)
then again ithink it's likely HTC is running out of cash to burn so they rush this into the market for a quick turn around to pay some bills so hopefully there's another flag ship coming before HTC goes out of business and get bought out by another mainland-based Chinese firm.