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Sunday, February 01, 2015

Review - HTC One m8

I have an HTC One M8…. Oooh, I hear you cry.  We thought you were a BlackBerry guy?  You wrote all those reviews for BlackBerry apps.  So what changed?
I wrote about this here, so I won’t repeat myself.

This post is my review of the HTC One m8 - my first foray into Android.  It took me ages to make the decision, and I watched loads of YouTube videos, and read lots of other reviews, and comparisons.

Comparisons? Between which phones?  Well, I couldn't decide between the Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z3 or HTC One m8.  I looked at each one.  Held each one, and to be honest, the HTC is not the lightest of them; but, and this was the deal-breaker for me, I didn’t want any bloatware.

That software the manufacturers load onto the device, thinking it will improve your experience.  It happens with laptops and PCs; and it happens with phones.  But, to me, that's just a distraction.  I wanted something that was as close to the vanilla Android experience available; and the HTC does just that.

As mentioned, this isn’t the lightest device, but that’s mainly due to the metal body.  There’s not a lot of plastic on show here.  It feels good in the hand; with it’s brushed metal finish - but it is VERY slippery to hold.  So much so, that even HTC include a generic case to use.

This is a shame, as the phone shouldn't be hidden away.

The build quality is great.  It feels solid, all the buttons remain in place; there’s no ‘give’.  There’s a single mini-usb port on the bottom, for the charger, and a headphone socket located next to it.  On the side is the rocker button, for volume control.  On the top, the power button.

Some people have mentioned the physical size of this phone.  It’s taller than its counterparts; making one-handed operation less easy.  However, this isn’t  show-stopper and you should not worry about this unless you have really small hands.

Once it’s switched on (and, let’s face it, it’s incredibly difficult to turn a phone off these days!) the 5” screen blazes into life.  It’s crystal clear and easy to read.

I use a PIN to unlock my phone, and the only gripe I have with this, is that I need to press OK to continue, once I’ve tapped the 4 digits.  Why can’t it automatically unlock when I press the last number?  It’s a small thing, but would make a huge difference.

I’m not going to go through all the specs - there are plenty of other sites more suited to that; but I will mention the main functions; starting with the camera.

This has been given short shrift in some quarters, because it boasts 4 Utra-pixels.  What this means, in reality, is that in low light, this camera is amazing.  In daylight it’s also very good.  Colours are vibrant, and the number of settings and modes are, like others, too numerous to mention.  Suffice it to say; I am not disappointed with this camera.  It’s not a 35mm, and zooming in does lose quality.  But, and this is the main point, for everyday, social media use, it’s ideal.
Even the video camera works well; and includes additional software for slow-mo recording.

Speakers.  HTC boast Boomsound in their promotional blurb.  There are two, front facing speakers, which quite frankly are superb.  They live up to their expectation and give great audio quality; whether for video or music.

Battery life is amazing.  In fact, I have been constantly impressed in the way I can make it through a working day, with more than 20% of the battery remaining when I return home.  I don’t use it particularly heavily, and I do listen to music on my commute, and use Twitter and Google+ quite heavily.  There is a battery saving mode; but I’m not convinced that it does anything - maybe I should persevere with it; although I currently don’t see the need.

The transition between screens is seamless; and the integration with Google services is, well, bang on…  it’s one of the main reasons I moved to Android.

I should add that I am running Lollipop - the latest version of Android.  I’m loving the new notifications and I haven’t noticed any lag or issues running apps or using the phone.  I know there is a 5.0.1 on the way; but I’m not crying out for it.

HTC has been touted as the “underdog” in relation to smart devices; with Samsung leading the way with Android.  I have to say, this is an unfair, and inaccurate, position.  HTC, with the one M8, and their Desire range of handsets, has a strong following in the market.  Already, people are excited about the M9!

So, for this relatively short review; based purely on my experience using it as a daily driver, I am very happy that I chose this over the Samsung or Sony.  If HTC continue with the build quality, and refrain from adding bloatware, then I can see myself staying with them as I continue my Android life.

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