- Great design, just like the HTC One
- Excellent speakers
- Fast performance
- Too much bloatware
- Odd paint job
- Audio enhancements don't do much
Quick TakeIt's good. You can't start with the One (M8) as your base and end up with something mediocre. But the Harman Kardon edition comes pretty close.
The HTC One (M8) Harman Kardon edition is a phone fighting with itself. The Sprint exclusive, which launched last month, iterates upon HTC’s excellent flagship with a new paint job, a snazzy pair of included earbuds, and a handful of software features that seek to improve the quality of music played on the device. All of this comes for $30 more than the usual One (M8), which would be an appealing value if the phone wasn’t so bogged down in a swamp of aimless and ineffective bloatware.
Yes, the One (M8) HKE isn’t so much a phone for audiophiles as it is a phone for people who’d like to look like audiophiles in public. That it supports high-res lossless audio is a nice nerdy perk, but the rest of the phone’s purported musical enhancers don’t actually enhance much of the time. The fact that the phone is virtually identical to the original One (M8) in every aspect outside of these middling additions doesn’t help its pitch.
We’ve already composed a comprehensive review of the standard One (M8), so head on over there if you want a full rundown of the One (M8) Harman Kardon edition’s specs, camera, base software, battery life, and the like. For now, let’s talk about what’s new with this iteration, and why most of it is smoke and mirrors.
A New Paint Job
Physically, the One (M8) HKE is almost exactly the same as the usual One (M8). That is to say, it’s still one of the most premium-feeling, well-built phones in the world. The smooth and sturdy aluminum, rounded edges, gently curved back, full BoomSound speakers, gorgeous 1080p display — everything great about the One (M8)’s hardware remains unchanged here. It’s still a bit too tall and a bit too slippery, but amongst the current crop of 5-inch flagships, it’s peerless.
The one thing the HKE does change is the phone’s color scheme. Whereas the standard One (M8) comes in a range of unitary colors, the One (M8) HKE mixes a jet black back (which holds a small, inoffensive Harman Kardon logo) with a champagne gold front. It sounds like it’d make the phone a little more rock n’ roll — insofar as a multinational corporation’s product can ever be considered that — but in actuality, it comes off a tad overbearing. It runs counter to the more understated elegance that made the One (M8) so attractive in the first place, and while it isn’t explicitly gaudy, it feels like Sprint marking its territory just for the hell of it. That’s a recurring theme here. The darker back also tends to pick up more fingerprints and smudges than the ordinary One (M8), which is annoying.