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Living with the HTC One M8: climbing up the ladder

Introduction


If you haven’t read my colleague Chris’ article about living with the Samsung Galaxy S5 just yet, then you better do so because he provides some good insights about Sammy’s prized smartphone. There are the good, there are the bad, so it’s inviting to see it from a different perspective. Although I haven’t necessarily made the Samsung Galaxy S5 my daily driver of choice, I can relate to many of his intimate experiences with the phone – some more so than others, of course.

For the majority of last year, and even up until very recently, I made the Samsung Galaxy S4 one of my daily drivers. I preferred it over the HTC One M7 primarily because I was really impressed by the whole package, how it was able to soundly satisfy my particular requirements in what I look for in a daily driver – like having a high quality camera. Interestingly enough, the tides have turned this year, as I’ve recently decided to choose the HTC One M8 as my phone of choice at the moment.

Now, before I dive in deeper into this article, I have to stress the point that I’ve been using the HTC One M8 since late March, giving me plenty of time to appreciate and digest its full arsenal. At first, I was using an international gunmetal grey version, which was eventually replaced by Sprint’s two-toned Harman Kardon Edition. Internally, the guts are basically the same, so there’s no particular one that has a specs advantage. The noticeable differences between them, naturally, are the paint jobs and the audio-centric enhancements put into the Harman Kardon Edition. So why go with the HTC One M8? There are plenty of other fantastic flagships to call my own, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the Sony Xperia Z2. Who knows how long HTC’s flagship will remain as my go-to device, but let me fill you in on a secret, I really dig what it has to offer.

The premium, iconic design proves why it’s so beloved


Let’s get straight to the point here folks! Amongst the flagship smartphones announced in the first half of 2014, the HTC One M8 is the indisputable king when it comes to design. Very few phone manufacturers, past and present, opt to use high quality materials for their smartphones. On one hand, it’s not really all that surprising to know that the HTC One M8 climbs straight to the leaderboard when it comes to design, seeing that it readily improves upon the distinct design language of its predecessor.



Flaunting an even more metal unibody construction, the HTC One M8’s astoundingly defying because of the premium element attached to it – and there are few phones that come close! Namely, the Sony Xperia Z2 comes to mind, but I don’t find its design evolution as profound in comparison to HTC’s offering. Every time I pick it up, I can’t help but admire its meticulous attention to perfection. It’s a metal constructed phone, which automatically gives it a more premium element over the plastic based bodies of its rivals.

Water resistance, it’s the new fad


Indeed, as much as I admire it for its impeccable design, there’s one single thing that comes to mind with the HTC One M8’s design. Quite simply, it doesn’t have the water resistant properties to make it survive a submersion under water for an extended amount of time – like some of its highly esteemed competition. To an extent, it can be safely protected from minor excursions with water, like using it in the rain for phone calls, but don’t press your luck expecting something greater.

Many people feel the same way regarding this, but who knows how getting it would’ve modified the design of the phone. Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve loved to use this for special moments. Recently, I took a vacation to Walt Disney World and used the dual capture features of its camera to capture my first-person experience on several rides. However, for the water-soaked rides or having fun around a pool, I had to rely on another device for the occasion.

Then again, I hardly see myself being in a whole lot of situations where I’d be inclined to use my phone when water is involved, but nevertheless, the feature is something useful to have just in case. And I can’t emphasize that just in case feeling.

Missing the finger print sensor


One thing becoming especially popular since the holidays is the finger print sensor in some of today’s phones. You’d think it’d be a staple amongst the elites, but interestingly enough, it’s still a rare occurrence. Yes, we know that HTC already has a phone with a built-in finger print sensor (think the HTC One). Prior to its official announcement, many folks were expecting to see the flagship incorporate a finger print sensor as well – whether it’s the same implementation found in the HTC One max or something new.

Needless to say, it would’ve been swell to see it on board with the final product, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a deal breaker. In fact, after fiddling around with the Samsung Galaxy S5’s implementation, I’m happy to stick with the usual security measures we’re familiar with Android.

Sense: it’s simple, gorgeous, and uncomplicated


HTC Sense 5.0 stirred things up tremendously when it was introduced with the HTC One M7 last year, so when its successor came rolling along with the HTC One M8, I wasn't expecting a dramatic overhaul. Thinking more about it, HTC Sense 6.0 continues the company’s principle of delivering a simple Android experience – sprinkled with a modern design that’s arguably one of the best looking Android skins. Functionally, it doesn’t deviate from providing me access to the stuff that matters to me the most with the experience. HTC BlinkFeed isn’t anything extraordinary over the handful of dedicated social networking apps we sometimes choose to use, but nonetheless, it’s nice just having that quick peek functionality.

Speaking of some of its new features, Sense 6.0 brings forth a few Motion Launch gestures that try to streamline some processes. As for myself, now that I’ve put on a pattern lock on the phone, the Motion Launch gestures aren’t as useful if I simply had a swipe unlock. Instead, every time I execute a Motion Launch Gesture (aside from the double tap to turn on the display), I’m required to bypass the pattern unlock first before it’s able to finish executing the function. It serves its purpose, but like other similar functions, its usefulness is best experience with no locks on the phone.

Seriously, unless you care about cropping, the camera is good enough to use


Alright, this is where some hardcore fans of the phone might show their passionate dedication to the phone. In several of our own camera comparison articles, the HTC One M8’s camera lags behind the competition in terms of overall quality. Frankly, its biggest flaw is the lack of detail captured by its 4-megapixel “Ultrapixel” camera. I get that, seriously. Some folks would rather have a higher count camera, so they have the flexibility of cropping images afterwards without any significant loss to detail.

However, in my experience, if there’s something I truly want to capture and preserve, I would whip out my mirrorless camera to shoot it – not this phone. Everything else, though, I really can’t complain about using it for quick sharing via my social networking accounts. With the aid of that second camera, and its set of Duo Effects, you’d be surprised by the kind of photos it can produce. For what it’s worth, I really can’t fathom why people are so harsh or opposed to this camera. It takes good looking photos, especially when its bokeh effect gives the background that out-of-focus appearance.



Looking to the horizon


It’s funny how things go sometimes. Like I said, I favored the Samsung Galaxy S4 over the HTC One M7 last year, but the tides have turned. Regardless of that, I can’t totally count out what Sammy is doing with the Galaxy S5 either. At the core, it’s a solid phone that’s filled with several new features, but as my colleague Chris pointed out in his article, some of them do nothing more than to give it some geek cred. Clearly, the HTC One M8 isn’t as feature filled – both in terms of hardware and software. That’s exactly what I like about it, though, seeing that it focuses its attention more on things that I care about most.

It’s not perfect, of course, since it’s already being eclipsed in various hardware departments. For example, the LG G3 is about to make its presence in the space with its class-leading display resolution. In addition, nearly every single announced flagship smartphone blows the HTC One M8 in the details department with their cameras. Despite that, I still choose on making it my daily driver – for the simple reason that it works great. Yeah, we can say the same thing about other phones, those that are out or about to arrive, but for me, I feel that HTC has crafted something that’s capable of revolving around MY lifestyle.

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

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