HTC One M8 Harman Kardon Edition hands-on

Ah, remember the days of exclusives? AT&T once claimed the iPhone, Verizon armed itself with DROID, T-Mobile started a relationship with the myTouch, and Sprint evolved with the EVO. The days of exclusives are gone, evident by how phone manufacturers are now given the authority on what’s given to the carriers. The HTC One M8 has been making a lot of noise since its launch, but interestingly enough, Sprint is claiming a special edition of the beloved phone – the HTC One M8 Harman Kardon Edition, so you can say it’s sort of an exclusive.


Grazing over the HTC One M8 Harman Kardon Edition, the only different thing separating this new model over the one we all know and love by now, is its two-toned paint job and the Harman Kardon name plastered in the rear. Aesthetically, it employs the same unibody aluminum construction we’re already familiar with, so exudes a sturdy build quality. Looking at it from the front, it looks exactly like the amber gold version of the handset, but in the rear, it’s rocking a dark gunmetal finish. Honestly, the combination looks rather tacky – it would’ve better if the finish were uniform.


There’s nothing different here with the Harman Kardon Edition, as this newer model is sporting the same 5-inch 1080p Super LCD-3 display. Obviously, it’s detailed, sharp, and punchy with its color reproduction – delivering a pleasant glow as we feast our eyes over it. Did we really expect anything different with this one? Not really.


True to fashion, the HTC One M8 Harman Kardon Edition is running the beloved HTC Sense 6 UI. Again, there aren’t any major customizations with the experience here, but it’s worth noting that Sprint’s presence is highlighted throughout the interface thanks to its preloaded wallpapers and some Sprint-oriented widgets. Beyond that, things like HTC BlinkFeed and those Motion Launch gestures, are all in full form with this one.

Processor and memory

Powered by Qualcomm’s latest chipset, a quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 SoC, it delivers the oomph and speed to give everything we throw at the handset that fine level of finesse and responsiveness. It’s quick, very quick indeed, so you can expect it to handle even some of the most processor intensive things without a whole lot of degradation to its performance.


Love it or hate it, the same Duo Camera system is in place with this particular edition. In addition to its primary 4-megapixel ‘ultrapixel’ camera, it’s complemented by a secondary rear camera that’s used to gather depth information. Essentially, the second camera helps to cast that cool blurring or ‘bokeh’ effect to shots. Sorry people, it’s more of the same here with this new edition of the HTC One M8!

Harman Kardon AE-S headphones

Included with the purchase of the phone is a pair of Harman Kardon AE-S headphones, which we’re told to have a retail value of $149. The number alone is up there, but we wouldn’t necessarily think that these pair are actually worth that much – mainly due to its less than pleasing looks. Far from the modern or colorful design styles from other headphones, this pair doesn’t do enough to spark our interest. First and foremost, they’re not tangle-free wires, causing it to jumble up into a mess after spending a short time in our pocket. Secondly, the outer portion of the ear buds mimic the look of jewelry, but feeling them tells us that they’re nothing more than plastic. Despite the dated looks, it’s the audio quality that’s the center of attention here. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to hear it in action.

Harman’s Clari-Fi feature

One unique thing that separates this model from the normal HTC One M8 is Harman’s Clari-Fi feature. We’re told it’s not hardware related, like some sort of new amplifier, but instead, it’s audio software baked into the phone. Basically, the audio feature restores and “rebuilds” music quality due to fidelity loss stemming from audio compression. Therefore, it delivers a richer, deeper, and clearer sound quality.

In a demo of the feature, we’re able to audibly listen to the improved audio quality of a track. Whether you’re using the stock music player of the phone, or a third-party one, the Clari-Fi feature will kick in to enhance the quality of those songs. In fact, there’s going to be a toggle in the settings, much like the former Beats Audio one in the original HTC One M7, to toggle on/off the Clari-Fi feature when headphones are used.


Sprint had to be different, but we’re hesitant to say that this one is going to be a major shaker in the space. Audiophiles are undoubtedly going to eat up all of the audio-centric features and enhancements that are present here, but general consumers aren’t going to find anything dramatically new or different with this one. If you’re on the lookout for the Harman Kardon Edition of the HTC One M8 for Sprint, you’ll be glad to know that it’s going to go on sale starting on May 9th for the 2-year contract price of $229.99 with a 2-year contract – or $0 down with 24 monthly payments of $28.34 with Sprint Easy Pay.

Related phones

One (M8)
  • Display 5.0 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 4 MP (Dual camera)
    5 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 2600 mAh
  • OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow
    HTC Sense UI



25. DisCHORD

Posts: 35; Member since: Apr 25, 2014

This is one of the biggest piles of bs I've ever heard! Phonearena doesn't know crap about audio apparently! All it is is a marketing gimmick. You can't get back what isn't there in the first place. Think of clari-fi this way: You take a car. You take it apart, and leave only the door. Do you know what the original car looks like? No. There is no way to know exactly what the original car is. Just like what Harman claims, can you take a 320 kbps song, and put it back into a 4000 kbps song? The difference between the the two bit rates: 320 kbps is 1/13th of the original file. Can you piece together what something looks like with 1/13 of the data? And the ear buds... Who cares? They may look old, but a 40 year old akg k240 sounds better than any new stylish headphones! New headphones aren't made for sound quality. They are made for portability and style. Don't believe anything this website says about audio. They are all probably using beats by Dre... Which, are some of the worst headphones I've ever had the displeasure of hearing. Its not the sound in itself, just the price to performance ration. Beats pro doesn't even compare to 140$ sennheiser HD 558's.

24. uncfan44

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 24, 2013

what isnt being said is that sprint is also dropping the price on the Harmon cardon onyx studio speaker which retails for 399.99 to 99.99 with the purchase of this phone. not sure if its in select markets or not, but got email about that yesterday. So if your a sprint customer, or prospective sprint customer with sprint easy pay you can walk out paying around 140 (depending on state taxes, in va itd be 145 at our 6% tax rate)!!! pretty sure thats a great deal.

23. rizevnarastek

Posts: 349; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

I think the color match looks absolutely fantastic. It looks like a genuine Harman/Kardon product. Gets my hopes up for a black version as well, so, Yaaay!!

19. ilani

Posts: 90; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

SUCH B.S! just like beats audio was. the trick is that there is not really an OFF setting for the software enhancement. Its just an equalizer set on a good setting when its ON, and the equalizer purposely set on a bad setting when it's "OFF" to make the ON setting seem sooooo amazing!

18. Marienx

Posts: 124; Member since: Aug 27, 2013

****FAIL*** He couldn't hear the sound on the last video because the audio jack was being used. LOL

11. cheeseycheeser

Posts: 413; Member since: Mar 24, 2011

That is absolutely hideous. I like gold phones, but nobody seems to be able to do it right.

10. AJagtiani

Posts: 466; Member since: Apr 24, 2014

My S4 looks way better than this piece of garbage.

12. papss unregistered

I'm guessing you are blind and use brail?

13. AJagtiani

Posts: 466; Member since: Apr 24, 2014

Oh i'm sorry. I didn't know that i am blind for voicing my opinion.

14. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Welcome to PA where the users troll, bash, and praise OEMs for attention.

15. papss unregistered

Listen up... If you are going to call something garbage that is generally regarded as one of the best designed phones and a plastic Frisbee that general gets no praise for design I'm going to call you on it

16. maherk

Posts: 7084; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Don't get me wrong, the M8 is a piece of heaven when compared to other phones, specially the gunmetal version. But this color ruins all the beauty of the phone, very very poor choice of colors.

17. papss unregistered

I agree that the color isn't great... But garbage seems to go too far .

20. willard12 unregistered

I agree with the trolling label placed on the comment. But, the whole "Samsung is ugly" thing is a cliché that gets 1000 posts each device they release. These phones are rectangles with rounded corners that Apple's lawyers insist confuse consumers to the point that they buy the wrong phone and cost sales. If Samsung's design is indeed "generally" bad, then consumers will generally not buy it and choose the "generally" beautiful recatangle from HTC.

8. JC557

Posts: 1927; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

My mini review of the AE earbuds from Harman Kardon (which is very similar to the ones included with this phone save for the button layout) : The build quality is very nice and aesthetically pleasing but the rectangular shape can irritate the ears at times, especially if you're one to get the best seal possible by placing the phones further into your ear. The sound quality is very good in which it has a moderately deep but natural bass presence while keeping very clean highs without getting sibilant. The mid-range is also very present and not recessed as found in other competing earbuds. These buds aren't meant for bassheads and they are colored a bit so extreme audio purists might want to look elsewhere. Sound isolation is pretty good but there are others that do a better job at it. For a majority of people these would be a good choice if the price is right and the wearer isn't bothered by the rectangular housing shape. They have a lower priced model that's almost as good SQ wise but it's not really worth the $100 asking price.

6. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Meh. OG M8 + AudioTechs if I had a choice.

5. maherk

Posts: 7084; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Way to ruin that gorgeous phone with such a horrendous color combination

4. andynaija

Posts: 1268; Member since: Sep 08, 2012

I'm pretty sure Apple has always claimed the iPhone since 2007... I remember recently when a user said that you authors don't proofread your articles which I've started to notice as well.

3. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2365; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

Harmon kardon is great, I have a Harmon kardon 7.1 receiver ,

7. JC557

Posts: 1927; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

I actually gave those earbuds (in the M8 package) a try once before. While the sound quality was very nice, accurate yet punchy, it really wasn't worth the $150 asking price. I would place it in the $80 - 120 range (and that's pushing it) but if it doesn't add to the price of the phone then the buyer is definitely getting a really good deal since the included Beats earbuds included with previous phones really sucked. Instead of using software based audio processing they should just solder on a high quality DAC from Wolfson or similar.

9. papss unregistered

I don't really like the ones that came with my m8 tbh.. Maybe I'm used to using my bose earphones? Not sure if that is the reason but i expected more

21. JC557

Posts: 1927; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

I never liked the beats that came with the Rezound and while the set in the M8 box is miles ahead I'd still rather use my othe in-ears. The amp in the One is great and is the first time I used my phone for my extended music collection. My iPod Nano still serves as my daily music player.

22. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

Harman/Kardon is a true premium audiophile brand. Blows Beats Audio out of the water. H/K's Clari-Fi technology will be debut in the 2015 Lexus NX.

2. GoBears

Posts: 456; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

I would much rather have Harmon Kardon plastered on the phone than Verizon haha. Hopefully the fine devs at XDA will be able to extract the audio enhancing software so we can all install it.

1. a_merryman

Posts: 749; Member since: Dec 14, 2011

Apple once claimed the iPhone? Don't you mean AT&T? Pretty sure Apple still claims the iPhone :P

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