The HTC One was one of our favorite phones for 2013: great construction and materials, a classy design, a large and sharp display and no manhandling of Android. For 2014 HTC is back with their flagship follow-up, the HTC One M8. It improves on most everything. There's even more metal in the casing and the brushed aluminum wraps around the sides so there's no polycarbonate sandwich. The display is even larger at 5" and it's still one of the nicer full HD smartphone panels on the market. HTC Sense 6 as ever offers tasteful and it has small customizations to Android without slapping on heavy skins. The old One's odd front buttons have been replaced by on-screen buttons, and we prefer that even if they do rob us of a little screen real estate.
As you'd expect, the internals have a boost too, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU clocked at 2.3GHz inside. This quad core CPU is fast yet power-frugal and it supports quick charging, unlike the old One that took forever to charge. This is a modest CPU improvement over the Snapdragon 800 that reigned king for a few months, but it does bring important support for DDR3 RAM, which can make for noticeable improvement in graphics performance. The HTC One M8 has 2 gigs of DDR3 RAM and 32 gigs of internal storage. Even better, there's a microSD card slot compatible with SDXC cards for storage expansion. The phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat, and HTC Sense and BlinkFeed are now available as downloads from Google Play, so you won't have to wait for carrier firmware updates to get the latest tweaks.
The One has a very impressive 5 megapixel front camera with BSI and HDR. It can shoot 1080p video too, and that means high quality video chat. Given the popularity of selfies, we're glad to see some manufacturer actually care about front camera quality. Good stuff. The rear camera unfortunately sticks with the 4MP equivalent Ultrapixel camera seen on the last generation HTC One. The camera captures pleasing colors with good sharpness but it still handles high contrast scenes poorly with blown out whites. Given the relatively low resolution of photos, there isn't much opportunity for cropping without things becoming a grainy mess. But taken as a whole, the images are good, and if you don't do more than post to Facebook or personal blogs, then it's a perfectly adequate camera.
HTC added a second rear camera, and thankfully this doesn't herald a return to the failed 3D smartphone cameras of old. Instead it captures depth of field info to aide in software features that let you create background blur. And it does a sort-of 3D thing via a software feature in the photo editor that allows you to shift photo perspective by tilting the camera (if that's hard to imagine, watch our video where I demo the featue--it's actually cool).
Here's our video review of the HTC One M8. Our full written review will follow soon.