HTC One (M8s) review: Better value for money than HTC's flagship

HTC tends to the shortcomings of last year's flagship with the M8s

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HTC One (M8s)
  • HTC One (M8s)
  • HTC One (M8s)
  • HTC One (M8s)
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Aluminium body with brushed hairline finish
  • Front firing and amplified stereo speakers
  • High resolution cameras with DuoFocus technology
  • Long lasting battery
  • Relatively inexpensive

Cons

  • No more remote control functionality
  • Design is a year old
  • Improvements can still be made to the camera

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    TBA (AUD)

Oh, how quickly the mighty fall. Sitting high on the pedestal last year was HTC with its One (M8), well above the plastic-esque Galaxy S5 from Samsung.

A year on and the tables have turned. Of all the flagships to launch in 2015, it’s HTC’s One (M9) that leaves the sourest of tastes in our mouth. It is cumbersome, expensive and faltered by a camera generations behind.

Hope is not lost for HTC, which has launched a revised version of last year’s flagship, called the One (M8s), on the Vodafone network. Unlike its predecessor, it will work with the carrier’s 850MHz spectrum.

A number of differences have been made to the One (M8s), though none of them are visible on the outside. The smartphone remains clad in hairline finished metal, its year old build holding up well against the march of time. We still fancy the shape of the One (M8s) more than that of the current flagship because it feels like it was milled from a single aluminium block.

The M8s has the same screen as the premium M9. It spans 5-inches, has a 1920x1080 resolution and a 441 pixel-per-inch density. Coupled with the front-firing and amplified BoomSound speakers, it proves ideal for the playback of videos, music and photos.

One sore point let down last year’s flagship and that was the low resolution of the rear camera. HTC has tended to this shortfall by equipping the M8s with a larger 13 megapixel camera. The camera outperforms its inexpensive rivals, even though it has a slow autofocus and has a tendency to overexpose photos. Consider the M8s’ camera can blur the background of photos and it grows more appealing.

Plenty of detail in this photo, though colours are soft
Plenty of detail in this photo, though colours are soft

A crop of the photo above at 100 percent
A crop of the photo above at 100 percent

Read more: 5 ways to extend your smartphone's battery life
The DuoCamera replicates the bokeh (blurred background) effect common to DSLR cameras. It is a feature the flagship M9 does not support
The DuoCamera replicates the bokeh (blurred background) effect common to DSLR cameras. It is a feature the flagship M9 does not support

The front camera was ahead of the curve last year at 5 megapixels. Today it remains competitive, particularly compared to the 4MP ultrapixel camera of HTC’s current flagship.

Important changes have been made to the computing hardware that better reflect the M8s’ lower price. Both its Snapdragon 615 CPU and its Adreno 405 GPU are less powerful than those featured in its predecessor, but there is a silver lining.

Five years ago smartphones were running early versions of Android with a single processing core and the industry marvelled over the technical milestone. The One (M8s) has an octa-core processor, combining a 1.7GHz quad-core CPU with a 1GHz quad-core CPU. The reality is any performance dip during everyday tasks is not noticeable, not even when the smartphone is in the company of the One (M9).

Last year’s HTC One (M8) was powered by a Snapdragon 801 processor, a quad-core CPU clocked at 2.5GHz. The M8s opts for an octa-core Snapdragon 615, which combines a 1.7GHz quad-core CPU with an economical 1GHz quad-core CPU. This change means the M8s doesn’t have as much computational power as the original — its 3DMark ice storm extreme result of 5383 stands testament to this.
Last year’s HTC One (M8) was powered by a Snapdragon 801 processor, a quad-core CPU clocked at 2.5GHz. The M8s opts for an octa-core Snapdragon 615, which combines a 1.7GHz quad-core CPU with an economical 1GHz quad-core CPU. This change means the M8s doesn’t have as much computational power as the original — its 3DMark ice storm extreme result of 5383 stands testament to this.

The remaining hardware has been inherited from the original M8, with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and support for microSD cards up to 128GBs in size.

The final change made to the M8s has to do with its battery. It is larger at 2840 milliamps-hour (mAh) and it has helped maintain the strong battery results set by the original M8. We used the One (M8s) heavily over a one week period for phone calls, texts and emails; for social networking and video streaming; to play music and take photos; and for some light gaming. Good Gear Guide found the One (M8s) held charge for one day (24 hours and 30 minutes) on average.

A feature absent from the M8s is HTC’s Sense TV, which lets the smartphone double as an electronic program guide and as a universal remote for home entertainment systems. Although it was present on 2014 HTC smartphones, it looks to be discontinued in 2015 models. Not even the application in which it was based on — Peel Smart Remote — supports the One (M8s), and that is truly a shame.

Walk into a Vodafone store and you’ll see two phones. One is the M9, a metal clad Android phone with stereo speakers and a 5-inch screen priced from $65 a month. The other is the M8s, a metal clad Android phone with stereo speakers and a 5-inch screen priced from $40 a month. One of these smartphones is overpriced; the other is exceptional value.

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Read more on these topics: One M8s, Lollipop, htc, One M9, DuoCamera, BoomSound, Android, One M8, Apple, samsung
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