HTC One (M8) Performance at a Premium

The HTC One (M8) is a top notch performing device but comes at a premium price

It’s no secret that I use an iPhone 5.   It’s also no secret that that iPhone is considered a high-end, premium handset by everyone that’s ever seen or held one.   The device was $200 on a two year contract with AT&T. The iPhone 5s sells for a similar price, with similar contract terms, though now you have the opportunity to finance rather than subsidize your phone purchase. This gives you a bit more control over your upgrade cycle (you can pay your phone off early and upgrade on many financed plans, where you can’t with a subsidized device), so depending on where you are with your current phone and your current contract, you may be able to move to the HTC One (M8) sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, the HTC One (M8) is also premium priced, just like the iPhone 5/5s. The 32GB unit is $199.99 on a 2-year contract or $599.99 contract free.

However, today, I wanted to talk about device specs and performance; and not necessarily carrier issues or device cost.   Let’s dive into those at a later date. Today is about everything under the hood.

HTC2-STILL-01Here are the main specs for the device:

·    2.3Ghz quad core Snapdragon 801
·    2GB of RAM
·    32GB of Storage/23GB Usable
·    65GB of Google Drive Cloud Storage for 2 years
·    microSD slot supports 128GB cards
·    NFC
·    LTE/HSPA+
·    UltraPixel Camera

Those that care about raw specs should be happy with these.   The device is no slouch, having as much computing power as some low-end laptops.   The 2.3Ghz quad core Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM should give you enough processing power to crunch through even the most graphically intensive games and mobile applications.   The device hasn’t given me any kind of grief or performance burps with any of the included apps or any that were brought down as part of my Google Account.   The device also handles multi-tasking and task switching very well and hasn’t hesitated when moving from one app to another for any reason.

You should have more than enough on-board storage.   With 23 of 32GB free, you should have enough space to put a decent amount of music on the device, plus a movie or two and still have space enough for a game or two.   With Android’s built in support for external storage cards and the M8’s support for up to 128GB microSD cards, you aren’t going to run out of onboard storage.   However, if you do, the device comes with 65GB of additional Google Drive space for a two year period.

NFC, or near field communications, is a nice add-on; but the focus on NFC as a payment solution component has diminished quite a bit over the past couple of years; and this isn’t as compelling of a feature as it once was.   I can say with a great deal of certainty that if NFC were missing from the HTC One (M8), no one would miss it… or even know.   I’m not certain that anyone would even care, either. If I’m wrong, and YOU are someone who has a specific need for NFC, please ping me in the comments below and tell me about it.

What’s slightly more interesting about the device is that it supports LTE and HSPA+ frequencies, allowing it to hang on just about any available, carrier supported frequency. That’s not to say that the device is unlocked. It’s not; but unlike traditional CDMA-based Verizon phones, it uses a microSIM card. It’s very possible that if the device were unlocked, that any microSIM card may work on the Verizon branded device.

As far as carrier reception is concerned, out here in the Lincoln – Omaha, NE area, I am getting 2-3 bars consistently.   I’m used to getting 3-4 bars in the devil’s basement in the Chicago-land area, so it’s clear that the weaker signal is due to geographic location.   While I get good reception on the street, I get 2 bars or lower in my apartment and 2-3 bars in the car.   I’m headed back to Chicago this weekend so I’m expecting to see a huge bump in signal strength once I get to Chicago (unless there’s an issue with the antenna). Either way, you can expect some follow up early next week on this particular issue.

The UltraPixel camera is something that I’m still out to lunch with. I really haven’t made up my mind yet. As I said, I’m headed to Chicago this weekend and will take some shots of the family with it while I’m there.   The camera makes use of two different lenses.   One lens captures the photo you’re looking to take. The secondary lens captures depth of field information.

The idea is that the resulting picture is in focus, the background is a bit softer and the entire composition has enough light.   The big downside is that the rear camera itself is only 4MP.   In a time when most smartphone front facing cameras are 5MP with an 8MP or greater rear facing camera, 4MP seems a little light on the digital details.   While 4MP should have enough detail to give you a decent 5″x7″ photo, don’t expect to do a lot of cropping or to print a photo any larger than that. It just doesn’t have enough resolution to give you a better picture.   When you’re used to dealing with a 24MP DSLR, a 4MP point and shoot seems like it’s not going to give you a decent shot.   The camera is also missing the optical image stabilization that was present in the HTC One (M7), which doesn’t make any sense. Without this, most of the video you take is going to look like you took it while you were on a pogo stick or in an earthquake. However, I’m going to leave my final judgment until after I get back from my weekend in Chicago with the family.

The other big problem I have with the camera is that the volume button is on the device’s right side. This means that if you turn the device on its side to take traditionally accepted and expected landscape pictures, the camera’s shutter release button isn’t where you’d expect it to be.

I’m right handed and want to snap photos with my right index finger.   You can’t do this with the HTC One (M8) at all. If you wish to use the volume button as the camera shutter release – which the camera gives you the option to setup   automatically the first time you try to do that – you’re going to have to shoot with your left index finger, or your right thumb.   The camera is totally backwards to what the existing paradigm is on any and every camera I’ve ever used or seen offered for sale in my entire life – digital or film cameras included where the shutter release button is on the top right corner of the device.   I just don’t get it…

Are there any issues or items that you’d like to have addressed?   Are you curious about any specific or particular aspects of the HTC One (M8) that you’d like me to comment on and/or look into?   If so, please let me know in the comments, below, and I’ll be happy to take a look and then get back to everyone in a future blog or in the final review of the device.

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