Parting Thoughts on the HTC One M8

M8: Buh-bye

Parting is such sweet sorrow… Yesterday marked the end of my time with the HTC One M8, on loan from Bell.

I supposed that the next logical step would be for me to spend some quality time with the other flagship smartphone of early 2014, the Samsung Galaxy S5. I’ve handled a pre-production model briefly, and while it seems like a solid upgrade to the GS4 it’s not at all in the same class as the M8, at least in terms of the hardware. In fact, I don’t think anything is—compared to the M8 my own Nexus 5 feels like a cheap plastic toy.

But there exists a phone that I’d recommend over the M8 to to prospective buyers, and that’s the One before it.

Lots to Like

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to like about the M8. On the hardware side, the taller screen puts it into almost phablet territory. Once you’ve heard the crisp and clear front-facing speakers I think you’ll agree that such things should be mandatory on every Android device. And I was genuinely upset that I didn’t get to try out a Dot View case.

On the software side, I’m definitely a fan of Sense 6. I saw thoughtful touches added everywhere without really detracting from the stock Android experience. It was mostly little things—quick toggles in the settings, that awesome Weather Clock widget… and even if it was ripped off from LG, double-tap-to-wake quickly became my new favourite thing.

Of course, Sense 6 is also inbound for the M7. Something to think about.

Duo Whut?

I never really got to test the M8’s unique Duo Camera and honestly, I didn’t miss it. File this one under “ignorance is bliss”—I’ll leave it to M8 owners here to school me on its virtues.

M8 Billboard

I will say that the M8’s UltraPixel camera is pretty damn good on its own, particularly in low light—as can be seen in this current billboard high above Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square. It’s the deep, noise-free blacks that really impressed me with this particular shot.

Careful

So you know the jokes about the dimpled back of the GS5 making it look like a band-aid? Well, here’s what holding the M8 reminds me of:

Zippo Lighter

… Which is to say that I’m not a fan of its brushed aluminum finish at all.

There’s a practical side to this: The M7 has polycarbonate (plastic) on the sides, top and bottom of the device; the newer M8 does not, and as a result feels like it could slip out of your hand at any moment. And while you can get the M8 in the same silver colour as the M7, the issue with grip remains.

Wow Factor

To be clear, I think HTC’s M8 is a fantastic second-generation smartphone, but for me it doesn’t pack quite the game-changing punch of its predecessor. I can say this with some authority because I was lucky enough to win an M7 in a Mobile Syrup contest this time last year. I ended up giving it away, and looking back I really wish I hadn’t.