At simultaneous events in New York and London, HTC’s new HTC One (M8) is here. If you paid attention to our preview of the phone, powered by the massive leaks leading up to today’s announcement, you probably won’t be too surprised by what’s been revealed today. The HTC One has undergone a few tweaks on the outside – the first One had a 75% metal body, while the HTC One (M8) has a body that’s 90% metal. A new finishing process has added to the gunmetal grey phone’s lustre.
It will ship with Android 4.4 KitKat, with HTC’s Sense 6.0 on top. The company has talked up the software, claiming that they’ve completely rejiggered the custom UI, but you won’t find too many changes outside of the manufacturer’s custom apps.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core CPU, the HTC One (M8)’s performance will be in line with 2014’s Android flagship devices.
A dual-camera setup captures depth information as well as traditional RGB imagery, letting you focus after the fact. The discrete depth data will also let you selectively apply creative filters – you can separate foreground and background subjects by blurring, or by converting one area to black and white.
They’re also chasing Nokia’s pro camera software by offering a full manual mode where you can change the ISO, white balance, exposure, and more, and save your settings as a custom mode.
The front-facing speakers, arguably the best on a mobile device, have been improved so that they’re 25% louder. We were impressed with the last speakers, so these should be wildly powerful for their size.
Last year’s model featured a 1920×1080 resolution, 4.7-inch display; this model has been upgraded to a full 5 inches, meaning you get 441 pixels per inch. The phone will ship in 16GB and 32GB models, but you’ll still get a microSD card slot for extra space.
Other improvements include a bigger battery and up to 40% longer battery life; like Samsung’s Galaxy S5, the HTC One (M8) will feature new battery optimizations that limit phone functions in order to stay connected to calls, texts, and emails. HTC claims that the One (M8) will last up to two weeks in connected standby mode.
Some aspects of the software, such as selective, after-the-fact slow-motion and improved gallery timelines, show the pressure that Apple and iOS 7 have pushed onto mobile photography experiences.
As we mentioned in our preview piece, a new dot matrix cover will let you see the time and weather, as well as answer or decline calls, just by tapping on the phone a couple of times – no need to open it up.
HTC has committed to an extremely fast rollout schedule, with the One (M8) hitting 100+ countries and 230+ carriers before the end of April. Some lucky customers in North America will be able to pick a device up TODAY, either in person at Verizon Wireless or online (starting at 1PM EST) at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Rogers, Bell, or Telus. T-Mobile customers are out of luck until later in April.
The phone will cost $199 or $249 depending on carrier and model, with off-contract models starting at $649. Like the One (M7), you’ll be able to buy an unlocked version direct from HTC for $649, and a Google Play Edition in the coming months.
Be sure to catch our hands-on later today, with a review to follow in the next couple of days.