HTC One M8 review
As of publication, I have had the HTC One M8 (Sprint edition) for about four weeks, which I consider a decent amount of time to do a review. My emphasis in this review is performance, look, feel, and root capabilities.
My comparison is the HTC EVO 4G LTE. There has been another flagship since then (the original HTC One, which my wife has); however, I’m not allowed to mess with her phone, which is a good four OTA updates back from current. Also, since a large chunk of the readers here are from GoodAndEVO days, you probably are familiar with this phone.
Coming from a rooted dual-core EVO 4G LTE running Android 4.3 and pushing the limits in every way the root world knew how, to the quad-core HTC One M8, I expected the tasks I performed in my daily routines would be significantly faster. I was wrong for the most part.
Don’t get me wrong, the One M8 is somewhere in the neighborhood of five times faster than the EVO ever was, and applications that do graphic and CPU intensive operations feel like they’re blowing by. Unfortunately, my tasks generally involve making nandroid backups, flashing ROMs and mods, and copying large files. These are things that read and write to the SD.
The file I/O operations feel painfully slow on the One M8. As near as I can tell, the SD write/read is the same speed as it was on the EVO 4G LTE, although the base ROMs has gone from an 800MB stock for the EVO to 1.4 gigabytes for the One M8’s Sense 6.0 and very little else.
I find it odd that a ROM without a ton of packaged bloatware has increased 75% in size over the EVO’s, in which bloat was included if I remember correctly. I’ll point out I don’t think any phone has markedly increased the SD speeds, so in comparison this isn’t an issue.
The display is good. I don’t know what they did, but it’s a bit easier to see in sunlight. For the size of the screen, the resolution is fine. There’re higher PPI out there, but I’m a pixel snob and I don’t even care.
This is the first time in two years I’ve also had a display that didn’t have a stuck pixel, so I’m pretty fine with that. You don’t want to hear about color reproduction from a colorblind man, so we’re going to skip that.
Camera (front facing)
I suspected this from the first selfie I took, but I started noticing more and more that the wide-angle lens (seen here in the small window) was distorting things at the edges of pictures. The most extreme example of this I captured on dual camera mode in which I ended up with a Jay Leno chin and a flattened face and stretched head.
Unfortunately this seems to be the case with anything at the periphery of the front facing camera. It’s stretched out in sort of a fish-eye fashion. People on the edges appear thicker when it’s in landscape mode, thinner in portrait.
A wide-angle lens should mean that everything looks thinner in landscape. This leads me to believe that the lens may be warped, or the software that’s piecing the image together is not seeing things correctly, or I completely misunderstand the wide angle lens.
If you want to take a selfie of four people, make sure the ones on the ends don’t have preexisting weight perception issues, as at least on mine they’re going to get fatter and flatter.
It’s relatively low resolution compared to the megapixel beasts. If you’re the type of photographer that uses post-processing to make your photos pop, you’re not going to like it.
If you’re like me and the pic you take is the pic that you’re keeping, it’s great. I do photos for pictures and for product shots. I don’t need to crop or blow up an image so I can see nose hair. Your mileage may vary. This is an entirely subjective need on a cameraphone.
One thing I do notice is people look different in different lighting conditions. Faces tend to flatten when the ultrapixels kick in for low light. However, it’s really good in less than ideal lighting situations.
One of the largest complaints about the Ultrapixel tech on the original HTC One was the purple/pinkout in low light conditions. This was most evident when you were using the phone to the point it got heated up a bit and then took low light shots.
The conditions that most favored this seemed to be bad signal+use+photos – i.e. out with friends at a bar. I read one place that it was a heat issue, but there never was a statement of what to do to fix it.
I personally haven’t seen the issue in my M8, although I’m colorblind, and my wife’s M7 will show it under heavier use and low light conditions. You can see for yourself what a photo on the M8 looks like in low light. It should be noted it was actually pretty hard to see anything in this room. This image is better than I was seeing things.
But once again, I’m colorblind. If there’s a color shift there, it’s not as evident as it is on my wife’s M7, where the entire screen looks to have been taken over by a purple haze.
About once every other day I have a problem with hazy photos. There’s nothing to protect the lens from moisture or fingerprints so I end up cleaning it quite often and that fixes the haze.
Depth sensor camera
I have not found a use for this, other than some cheesy post-processing effects. I have a feeling this will be made use of in a better fashion soon, but the ability to tilt-shift/smudge to add faux depth of field, not particularly amazing to me.
WiFi seems better. I assume this because I can listen to streaming music off my network while I’m out mowing the lawn now. This seems to extend a good 20 more feet than it used to.
NFC seems like the tag point is larger. I was able to successfully use Google Wallet without multiple taps. Then again this could have been because the reader was better, or that the Wallet software launched quickly.
Call quality, I can’t tell for certain. Sprint absolutely bombs in my neighborhood. The sound is less glurpy on my end, I think, but it takes two to tango.
I notice LTE is being picked up in more areas, although my average LTE speed test on Sprint caps at about 1.1MB down, which places it at about 1/3 the max speed of 3G, but then again I’m on Sprint, so this should be no surprise. There’s no backend in place where I’ve tested.
On Sprint, due to the tri-band LTE issues there, when you get on a phone call you lose data unless you’re connected to WiFi. This may be an issue for some. This also may eventually be corrected on Sprint’s side, as it’s the only carrier that seems to have the issue.
The sound on the Boomsound speakers is better than a lot of wireless Bluetooth speakers I’ve played with. I can’t accurately compare it to the M7 as honestly I don’t have a good comparison test and I’m still recovering from being half deaf for a month. Some have said the M8 sounds tinny in comparison to the M7, but to me the M7 sounds like it has the airplane effect on and the M8 sounds pretty good. The tinny sound may also be on the non-Sprint versions. And also, as mentioned, I’m still suffering from some hearing problems.
One thing to note is that the
Sprint versions of the One M8 are supposedly much better with the inclusion of Harman/Kardon speakers and may have a forthcoming software update to enable Harman/Kardon DSP functionality. Currently there’s only the RUU on the horizon from Sprint, but this minor change doesn’t rule out an OTA. We’ll know more in the near future.
Update: The audio DSP sounds a little bit better than the BoomSound DSP on the built-in speakers. There’s also a black edition coming out with different headphones, supposedly with Harman Kardon branding.
I noticed when I was making phone calls the audio never was where I wanted it to be. It turns out the speaker is further back than I generally put my ear( it seems to be at the top left of the phone instead of top middle). Sound seems good, but network seems to play most of the role in that.
I’m told we’ll have HD Voice soon, but then again I bought a phone nearly two years ago and was told the same thing.
It’s pretty good. I get a full day use out of it generally with only hitting a low battery indicator when I’m ready to hit the hay, generally. It’s not the best, though.
The extreme power savings mode will get you out of a jam if you need it, which is nice, but it would have been cool if they managed to pack a battery in there that was capable of going a complete day of my use without being near the end by bedtime. Then again, I’m a power hog.
And actually, after putting the thing in extreme power saver mode and then going out into no-man’s land, I didn’t see extreme power savings. I saw the same savings as if I just had the screen off and data turned off. I burned through 10% in two hours. Not bad, but not great.
One of the things I despised about the EVO 4G LTE, especially the failed Android 4.3 update, was that the task killer would kill off an application if you went into something else about half of the time. Of course, this depended on how much memory the application was using, how much free you had, and other factors, but the end result was you didn’t really have multitasking – you had sometimes multitasking.
Swapping out to answer a text message usually meant I had to reload whatever I was in.
With 2GB of RAM available, I don’t seem to be hitting that limit very quickly with the M8. I have hit it, but it takes some larger apps.
In the notification area (Sprint versions), unless you’ve rooted and changed out ROMs, you’re going to have unhideable GPS, NFC, Bluetooth, LTE/Spark (Sprint), voice signal strength, and time icons. This is roughly 2/3 of the notification area taken up by things you simply don’t need to know.
Add in a couple of persistent notifications from apps such as XM and Tasker and you’ve got room for maybe two more notifications before you’re overflowing.
I don’t care that GPS is on, NFC is on, Bluetooth is on. I could use one notification for signal/LTE, and I do want the time. I can get rid of these with a custom ROM or Xposed, but the notification congestion is kind of absurd.
I’ll point out that I rooted my phone, and some of these could have come from complications with that.
- If you root before claiming Google Drive storage, you lose the offer.
- Stickers in camera app appears broken.
- Sn Sprint, tri-band LTE disables data.
- Verizon’s version is not HTCDev unlockable yet.
- The keyboard switches languages due to ES/EN button, which is not hideable.
- The calculator and flashlight are missing, depending on the carrier.
Room for improvement
Coming from the EVO 4G LTE, I’ll say that any device with the media capabilities that this possesses needs a kickstand. Also, the glass doesn’t seem to be completely flush with the body. It’s not bad, but it does tend to snag a pocket lip occasionally.
Too many photos of the HTC One M8
It’s a good phone. It was the second phone that’s actually tempted me away from the EVO line. Unfortunately, the other phone doesn’t have a release date.
The One M8 is probably the first Sense device where I haven’t been chomping at the bit to get off of the stock ROM. It’s got a lot of issues, but when you put them up against a phone that performs as well as this one does, those issues don’t seem particularly bad.
It’s not perfect, it’s not an EVO, but it is a very good phone and the development community is large.