HTC took the smartphone world by storm last year when it unveiled its original One Android handset. HTC currently lists the One as its best-selling handset, and it won a number of key industry awards. Featuring a robust but elegant metal chassis, what was at the time a powerful processor and a cutting-edge UltraPixel rear camera, the One's success was understandable.
It's not surprising that, 12 months on, the Taiwanese firm has chosen not to rock the boat too much, releasing a new One M8 flagship smartphone that tweaks rather than redefines its handset offering.
Design and build
From a distance the HTC One M8 looks fairly similar to its predecessor and features a clean, metallic design. It's only when you get up close to the One M8 that you see HTC has made a number of design changes. Chief of these is the removal of any plastic. Unlike the original One, which had plastic sides and a flat metal back, the One M8 features a single-piece, slightly curved metal back that extends round the phone's sides and wraps around its Gorilla Glass front.
HTC made a big deal about the One M8's metal chassis, claiming that its slightly textured finish is the result of a specific finishing process in which engineers coat the metal with more than 170 different oils. We can understand why HTC is so proud of its finishing process, as it makes the One M8 one of the most elegant-looking smartphones we've ever seen – we'd even say it looks and feels more luxurious than the Apple iPhone 5S.
The curved design of the chassis also meant that, despite being slightly bigger than the original 137x68x9.3mm One, measuring in at 146x71x9.4mm, the One M8 feels more ergonomic in hand.
Bucking the trend set by Sony with its Xperia Z series of smartphones, the HTC One M8 is not IP certified, so unlike the Sony Xperia Z2 and Samsung Galaxy S5 it won't survive an accidental drop into water. But even without IP certification, the One M8 is very robustly built. Using the One M8 as our primary phone, we found it suitably life proof: it survived an accidental drop onto our wooden kitchen floor without picking up so much as a blemish. We were also impressed by how scratch proof the One M8 is.
Ports-wise, the HTC One M8 is also fairly generously stocked, featuring nano SIM, micro SD and micro USB ports.
The only downside is the M8's hefty 160g weight. Combined with its increased size, this means users with smaller hands, or people used to more reasonably sized phones, such as the iPhone and Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, may find the HTC handset a little unwieldy. Luckily, HTC has added a number of motion control and quick access features to the One M8 that help make the phone easier to use. More on this later.
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