The HTC One you know and love from last year is all new again in the form of the HTC One M8. Yes, it’s really called that. Here’s everything you need to know.
It’s Called What?
First, the name: it’s officially branded the HTC One (M8). Those leaks saying that HTC were working on something called the M8 were spot on.
Basically, HTC have called it that because the internal code-name for the original HTC One was the M7. The follow-up to the M7 is therefore dubbed the M8.
Cue every Australian saying ‘maaaaaaaaaaaaaaate’ when they pull the new phone from their pockets.
When it comes to hardware, the new One M8 is no slouch.
The new One M8 has a 5-inch 1080p SuperLCD 3 screen with the new, hardened Gorilla Glass 3 coating.
It’s powered by the new 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM, and packs in 16GB of storage for the Australian version.
There’s a 32GB version being sold internationally, but it’s a wait-and-see game whether Australia will get it.
To offset your disk woes, however, HTC has finally stuck a microSD expandable slot in the side of the device that can support 128GB worth of storage. You also get 65GB of free Google Drive space. That means that Aussies can get 209GB of storage on their devices out of the box. Nice.
It’s powered by a 2600mAh battery, which promises an “all-day” battery life. HTC promises that you get 10 per cent more talk time and video playback with the new device, which certainly doesn’t sound “all-day” based on our original battery tests of the first One.
The One M8 does pack in a fast-charging ability, however, which juices the device up from sub-10 per cent to 80 per cent within one hour.
There’s also a decidedly Samsung-esque extreme power saving mode that promises 10 dys of standby while still allowing basic apps and connectivity. We saw something similar on the new Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress.
Speaking of connectivity, the new One M8 supports it all: both TDD and FDD LTE/4G, making it compatible on all of Australia’s 4G networks, and giving it support for bands that aren’t even live in Australia yet like Telstra’s 2800mHz network. The device also supports Category 4 4G, meaning that it’s able to pull 150Mbps down over supported networks.
The phone will come in grey and silver, with a goooooooold model coming later on this year.
HTC was pretty proud of the last HTC One it built. And so it should have been. In a sea of plastic nonsense, HTC figured out how to build a phone worthy of being called beautiful.
The new One M8 doubles-down on pretty.
Metal is back with the new HTC One, given that the entire chassis of the phone is cupped and coated in metal.
The grey model is the particularly pretty one. The silver model actually just looks a whole lot like the last model, and thats not what you want from a brand new handset.
It’s treated with a fine hairline brush finish, which has been designed to look like a luxury watch according to HTC. It has diamond-polished chamfered edges similar to your iPhone 5s, sandblasted sides and a series of laser-drill holes for the front-facing Boomsound speakers.
HTC have said that they wanted to make the new One M8 in the same way that Rolls Royce makes luxury cars: rigid, and with as few pieces as possible to cut down on flexibility, creaking and other unwanted noises.
The One M8 is stronger than its predecessor in that it’s made of just two metal pieces sandwiched together. That means it cuts down on warping and bending in your hand.
Android can still be beautiful thanks to HTC.
Ultrapixel Is Back
HTC wants you to stop concentrating on how many megapixels it has in its cameras. Mostly because it makes it look silly.
Truth be told, HTC doesn’t really need to concentrate on megapixels to make a great camera, because Ultrapixel technology is back for another go around in the One M8.
HTC won’t tell you how many megapixels the camera is (mostly because it’s the same number it was last year: four), but it will tell you that the newly enlarged pixels on the sensor will capture 300 per cent more light indoors and outdoors. That’s great considering that the HTC One was already a solid low-light performer up against the Nokia Lumias of the world.
To make your night-shooting experience better, the HTC One M8 also has a dual-colour LED flash next to the rear-facing camera. It’s pretty much the same one Apple has in the iPhone 5s, thanks to a cross-patent licensing deal between the two.
The new Ultrapixel camera also boasts fast auto-focus capabilities, allowing you to capture a shot within 0.3 of a second after a one second boot time into the camera app. Compare that to the phase-detection sensor on the Galaxy S5 — which also promises to focus up an image 0.3 of a second — and you find that we’re about to have a great Android flagship camera showdown.
The real news this year isn’t the sensor though: it’s the fact that there’s a second camera. That’s right: HTC has built two cameras into the back of the One M8 for the best goddamn depth sensing shots you’ve ever seen.
It’s called Duo Camera: one camera captures the image, while the other captures a similar image from a different angle in order to feed a bunch of 3D depth data into the image. Via the new HTC camera software, the phone can very intelligently detect and separate subjects in the foreground and background for better refocus masking.
Using a feature called UFocus and Duo Effects in the phone’s camera software, you can intelligently refocus the subject of an image into the mid- fore- and background with one click. Having used both abilities, they’re pretty goddamn impressive. we’ll cover it all in our hands-on with the new device.
There are a few other camera features:
• Recompose gives you a Photoshop-like application on your phone which actually works because the depth sensor understands where different people are in your photo.
• Dimension Plus lets you pan around an image in 3D.
• Fun Effects is the 3D panning stuff above with seasonal effects like snow and falling leaves.
• Front-facing camera will be the best on the market for “great selfies”. It packs a wide-angle, back-illuminated five megapixel sensor with a constant f2.0 lens: the same on that’s on the back of the camera.
• Beauty Mode will make you all pretty.
• 360-degree Panorama is very similar to Photo Sphere on the Nexus 5.
• Zoe Highlights will automatically edit your photos together into cute, filtered highlight reels. This will also be a separate app made available to Android devices today and iOS devices later on in the year.
• Slow-motion video with adjustable speed playback for customisable slow-mo clips.
Sense 6 And Blinkfeed
HTC’s proprietary Android skin, Sense, is back for its sixth iteration. HTC wants us to call it Sixth Sense, but we can only have so many dumb product names in one story before the internet police pull us over, so as far as we’re concerned it’s called Sense 6.
Sense 6 has been redesigned in a flatter, more streamlined manner to give you a more vibrant look at what matters to you.
Different menus have now also been given different colour coding so you know where you are. Blue for productivity, orange for entertainment and green for information.
A feature called Motion Launch is built-in to Sense 6, which allows you to use one-handed swipes and gestures to unlock your phone into either the main menu, Blinkfeed or the camera. Motion Launch also allows you to just hold the phone to your ear when it rings in order to answer it.
Sense 6 also gives you a redesigned Blinkfeed home screen for all of your social news.
Blinkfeed will now be able to deal with multiple topics better with News Bundle: a new feature which consolidates all the news articles about a certain topic into one stack.
Blinkfeed will also now burrow deeper into your social feeds if you allow it to, and pull out meaningful data on what you chat to your friends about on Facebook and Twitter. That way, it can give you more meaningful recommendations about what to follow on Blinkfeed itself.
There’s a new high-res font on Sense 6 to help you read all your articles, too.
HTC gets that you want cases, but understands that flip-cases in reality are pretty annoying. It means you have to flip it open whenever you want a bit of info on your device, so to counter the annoyance, HTC invented something called Dotview.
Dotview is a feature that activates when you double-tap the front of your device to wake it up with a specific Dotview case on. It then shines a light through the tiny perforations in your flip cover to show you info like the time, the weather and various notifications.
The One M8 also senses when a Dotview case is on the device when a call comes in, and displays the number or the contact who is calling and allows you to take the call without even opening the Dotview cover.
It’s pretty neat when you look at it.
There’s no fancy heart-rate monitor in the HTC One M8 like there is on the Galaxy S5, but there is an integration with Fitbit.
Fitbit is now pre-installed on your device out of the box, and built straight into Sense 6 and Blinkfeed for tracking your movements.
The One M8 tracks how you’re getting about with what we can only assume is a co-processor similar to the M7 chip on the iPhone 5s. More on that as we learn it.
All three major carriers — Telstra, Vodafone and Optus — will carry the HTC One M8 in Australia from April 1.
What do you think of the new HTC One M8? Let us know in the comments if you’re getting one.
Luke Hopewell travelled to New York as a guest of HTC.