Review: HTC One M8 and the Great Smartphone Decline



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We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to quality Android smartphones. Here we compare the new HTC One M8 with the Google Nexus 5 and tell you which one to buy – or whether you should buy any at all in the current market.

The new HTC One M8 is, like its predecessor last year, a great smartphone. Yes, it has its weaknesses, but as flagship Android phones go, there’s a lot to like. Since it’s already on sale, and since we’ve run our fine-toothed comb over it, we thought it was about time we found out which is best in our HTC One M8 vs Google Nexus 5 comparison review.

HTC One M8 vs Google Nexus 5: Display

There’s not much to choose between two when it comes to their screens. They both have Full HD resolutions and are roughly the same size, with 5in for the HTC and 4.95in for the Nexus.

Both screens use IPS panels, which means great viewing angles and contrast. Whether you’re checking email or watching a video, both phones have impressive displays. Colours are vibrant and both are bright.

HTC One M8 vs Google Nexus 5: Hardware and performanceHTC_One_M8_camera_app_thumb

Even though the Nexus 5 is an older smartphone, both are decent performers. The Nexus 5 has a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM. The newer HTC One M8 has the Snapdragon 801 (the same as the Samsung Galaxy S5).

It’s a bit faster in every way, including the speed of the integrated Adreno 330 GPU which is responsible for graphics. The One M8 also has a co-processor, though, which does set it apart from the Nexus 5.

For one thing, it means HTC can do things with its cameras that the Nexus 5 can’t. The One M8’s twin rear cameras allow you to refocus photos after taking them. It also means you can do more when the One M8 is in sleep mode, such as displaying the time and notifications by double-tapping the screen (this works well with the new DotView case), and swiping on the blank screen to launch apps.

The One M8 can also monitor movements using the co-processor, much as the iPhone 5S does, allowing you to use it as a Fitbit activity tracker without burning through the available battery power. HTC pre-loads the Fitbit app as well.

As a result of this we’re finding that less than five years after the first heavy, bulky and under powered smartphones were made available, these compact computers are now able to cope with much more demanding tasks including streaming of live video, capturing high resolution images and even acting as mobile internet hot-spots – all at the same time. When coupled with the latest product design technology such as responsive touchscreens, curved displays and fingerprint recognition, it’s no wonder that the average computer user is now finding that they no longer need a large desktop computer taking up space on their desk at home – when they can have everything they need packed into something that can not only fit in their pocket but can also make phone calls and send text messages too.

Of course it’s not just smartphones that are able to pack a punch like this. Tablets have also evolved from something almost pre-historic looking to something that is relatively convenient to carry around, yet extremely powerful at the same time. The latest iPad Pro from Apple is already crammed with enough technology to render any desktop or laptop redundant. Despite this, worldwide tablet sales on the whole are declining every quarter.

This is because smartphones are catching up. Although technologically smartphones aren’t quite in the same performance league as tablets just yet, they have now reached a point where they contain sufficient technology for most people to fulfill their day-to-day personal computer needs. It goes without saying that people cannot use their smartphone at work instead of their work computer, however they can still use it for everything else such as browsing the internet, shopping, sending and receiving emails, playing games and connecting socially with other people.

Gone are the days when people used to complain about their smartphone crashing when they had too many applications open at the same time.

It seems that today people’s biggest gripe is with the battery life, which is gradually improving with every new smartphone model that is being released and the HTC is no exception – so it’s only a matter of time before we see a great increase in the battery life of our smartphones. This will then lead to people wanting their smartphones to be able to complete demanding tasks for longer each day, which in turn will lead to more efficient processors and even more powerful applications being built. Today’s tablet is the same as tomorrow’s smartphone and we’re reaching the stage now where today’s tablet can do more than ever before.

We weren’t overly impressed with either of the Nexus 5’s cameras, but it provides usable shots in good light. Smartphones such as the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5 deliver noticeably better photos.

Some were disappointed when HTC revealed that the Ultrapixel camera on the One M8 was taken straight from the old HTC One. And anyone who wants high-quality, noise-free, detail-filled photos from their smartphone will probably want to avoid the HTC One M8. Some of our test shots (so far) have been a bit underwhelming. In reasonable light outdoors, photos from the rear camera have been nice and sharp but, when examined closely, lack detail and are noisier than we’d like – even at the lowest ISO 100 setting. Brickwork, for example, has a smudgy appearance, while darker areas are riddled with coloured smeary-looking noise.

The good news is that the camera is fast (thanks to the co-processor) to focus and shoot, meaning you’re more likely to capture the moment than not. Want to buy one now? Make sure to use a discount code.

So it’s only a matter of time before today’s smartphone becomes as powerful and convenient as today’s tablet, by which time it could well be the case that people no longer feel the need to carry tablets that have unnecessarily large screens around, because they can just as easily get everything that they need from their smartphone.

OUR VERDICT

If value is more important than anything else, the Nexus 5 wins hands-down. If it isn’t, you won’t be disappointed with the HTC One M8, apart from perhaps the hit and miss Duo Camera.