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A day in the life of the HTC One M8

I was well impressed with the HTC One M8 when I first laid my eyes on it in the EE shop. Its sexy brushed aluminium chassis and gorgeous curves made the iPhone 5S look almost ugly. I just knew I had to have one so I ordered one immediately. Well it got delivered yesterday and I have well over a full day to form some initial opinions.

As mentioned the build is exceptional. The device feels solid in the hand, has a good weight to it and and the brushed metal finish is really luxurious. The volume rocker now protrudes from the chassis slightly making it easier to use and the power button has moved to to the top right. This makes the device much easier to use but the large size of the device makes one handed operation tricky, particularly if you have small hands. The nano SIM slot is situated to the left of the device, with the very welcome SD slot to the right. The build is one of the key selling points of this device and I think it feels more solid than the iPhone 5S. I am very impressed with the overall feel and quality of the device.

The screen is frankly beautiful. It is pretty much the same screen from the original One but is now slightly larger. It is very clear and colours are nice and vibrant. Sunlight legibility is also very good for a LCD display. I am also quite impressed with the viewing angles. One thing I find slightly annoying is HTC’s inclusion of on-screen buttons. Basically the Android buttons are now incorporated into the screen which means about a centimetre of real estate are being used up. This is fine for the apps which run full screen, but for a lot of games and apps the onscreen buttons are permanently present and don’t disappear. Its a bit annoying but perhaps this is just because of certain apps not being optimised. The bezel at the bottom of the device is also quite large but according to HTC it is not merely empty space.

Performance wise the device runs buttery smooth all the time and I have noticed no slow down or frame rate issues whatsoever. The One runs on a Snapdragon 801 processor with a Adreno 330 in tow. This makes for a great user experience and all is this enhanced by the beautiful Sense 6 User Interface. Sense runs seamlessly with Android Kitkat and makes for a great user experience. You can actually wake up the screen just by double tapping and you have the ability to unlock the phone by swiping upwards even with the phone locked. I am very impressed with the latest version of Blink feed. This looks lovely on the huge screen and is very customisable. I liked Blink Feed on the original One but now it just feels more refined. Zoe is pretty the much the same as on the old device, the only real difference is that it is now accessed through a separate app. Im guessing that this isn’t yet enabled however as upon opening the app it merely says “coming soon”.

For some the camera will be a bit of an off put. Its 4MP camera sensor will not inspire many but others will be impressed with the low light performance and intuitive depth sensor. My experience so far has been a mixed bag. It is by no means a bad camera but pictures do lack some detail. Colours also look a bit washed out in some pictures and other pictures can look a bit artificial. The low resolution also means you lose a lot of detail if you zoom in. Another downsize is that the snapper can only support 1080p video and 4K is a no go. I have had a play around with some of the camera effects and find these quite interesting. I particularly like the ability to change the focus point post image capture. The front facing camera has a 5MP sensor and as such selfies come out pretty good. This is a much higher resolution that most competitors.

As you might expect the front facing Boom Sound speakers are quite exceptional. Sound quality is excellent and the volume goes nice and loud. These are certainly better than what you will find in a Samsung or Apple product and are a key selling point for the M8.

My experience with the One M8 has been a very positive one so far. I absolutely love the build quality which is miles ahead of anything else. Unfortunately my device has a bit of a screen bleed issue. This manifests as two lighter strips that run horizontally across the screen. Its going to have to go back for this reason which is a shame because I really love the phone. Its worth mentioning that call quality is excellent, as can be expected from a HTC device.

A lot of people will have to make a decision between buying this or Samsung’s GS5. The GS5 certainly has a better camera and some extra gadgetry but build quality doesn’t even come close to that of the HTC One M8. Both devices are very good at what they do but one thing I can say is that if you buy the M8 you will certainly not be disappointed.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 VS HTC One M8. Which is best?

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the the all new HTC One are two of the biggest handsets to be released this year. With both companies hoping to build on the success of previous models, we are sure to see some aggressive competition. The Samsung Galaxy S range has seen some of the most popular smartphones ever made and sales have matched and even beaten those of the ironing iPhone. For HTC however, It is no lie that they have been struggling lately. That said, the original HTC One won universal praise and is considered one of the best smartphones ever made. As such both companies will be hoping to top sales figures and claim the title of ‘smartphone of the year’. The question then, is which one should you get?

Design and build.

Yet again Samsung have stuck to their previous design philosophy by using an all plastic construction. The device does not look that dissimilar to the GS4 and still incorporates a aluminium look band which runs around the edges. The corners however are slightly squarer and the device now looks more like the Note 3. Samsung have gone for a leather look back for the device and although similar to that of the Note 3, it does look more plasticky. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is by no means an ugly device but the all plastic design started feeling old about three years ago. An added bonus with the GS5 however is that it is certified as water proof.

The original HTC One really challenged the excellent build quality of the iPhone with a mainly metal build. HTC have never in my mind built an ugly phone but the One was a step forward. The new HTC One M8 is even better that the original. HTC have now used a build which consists of 90% metal and the plastic rim of the original is gone. It is slightly taller and fatter than the original but it matters little. The HTC One is a stunning looking device.

There is frankly no competition here. The build quality of the HTC blows the GS5 out of the water (literally). Im frankly getting a little tired of Samsung’s choice of build materials and I really cant understand the reluctance to include a little metal. I probably won’t buy another Samsung because of this.

Specs

Both devices have some pretty awesome specs and use relatively similar hardware. Both use Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 801 processors with Adreno 330 GPU’s. These are some of the latest hardware components on the market and as such both devices are lightning fast. The GS5 however has a slight clock speed advantage at 2.5GHZ compared to the One’s 2.3GHZ. In reality however there will be little difference in performance. Both devices also sport 2GB RAM and will be available with either 16GB or 32GB internal storage. With regards to batteries, the Samsung’s is slightly bigger at 2800mAh vs HTC’s 2600mAh. Again there is little realtime difference as software optimisation will be a big element of battery life.

Its worth mentioning that the GS5 also incorporates a heart rate monitor and a finger print reader. It may be that this sways it for you, particularly if you are into your sports!

Its a difficult call to make with such similar specs, but with the GS5 wins technically with its higher clocked processor and slightly bigger battery. Not to mention the additional hardware mentioned above.

Screen

Screen technology is always a controversial issue with opinion playing a big part. This is an issue of LCD technology vs AMOLED technology. AMOLED usually produces more vibrant colours and better contrast, but LCD tends to produce more accurate colours and sometimes appears sharper. Personally I love the popping colours of a AMOLED display and Samsung have always made pretty awesome displays.

Samsung’s GS5 sports a 5.1 inch full 1080p Super AMOLED HD display with HTC’s One incorporating a 5 inch LCD 1080p IPS display. Both are incredibly good and are likely some of the best screens available. Technically the HTC has a higher pixel density with 441 pixels per once (PPI) compared to Samsung’s 431. This really wont make any difference however with the difference being marginal.

This is very difficult to call as it all comes down to personal opinion. Both screens are exceptional. Although I prefer AMOLED, I know plenty of people will prefer LCD. Lets call this one a draw.

Cameras

This isn’t going to be a straight forward comparison with both devices having different ideas about smartphone cameras. The samsung uses a 16mp auto focus snapper compared with HTC opting for an ultra pixel camera at 4MP. The HTC cant really compare to the Samsung with regards to pixel count as the GS5 is way higher. The Ultra pixel camera on the HTC however has supposed to capture more light and as such claims to be better in low light situations. Clearly however if you want larger high quality pictures then the Samsung will be best for you. HTC do have a trick up their sleeve however with the inclusion of a second sensor used to create debt. This means you can play around with the background and create 3d like images.

Its worth mentioning that the One incorporates a front facing 5 MP camera which is great for selfies. The GS5’s front camera has a lower 2MP sensor. That said Samsung have an advantage in that the GS5 records video in the 4K format whereas the One only supports 1080p. This may change however.

Whilst the HTC One’s intuitive camera can create some really cool effects, it cant really compete with the high pixel count of the GS5. Samsung are pretty good at doing cameras and as such this will be a win for Samsung.

Software

Both devices will come preinstalled with the latest version of Android – 4.4.2 Kitkat. Both will also include the latest UI’s (user interface) – HTC using Sense and Samsung Touch Wiz. HTC’s Sense 6 will include the innovative ‘Zoe’ app which allows you to put videos and pictures together into short clips. Blink feed is also included which works a bit like Flipboard. The GS5 has something similar called ‘my magazine’. The GS5 is also heavily fitness optimised and includes Samsung’s new ’S Health’ fitness tracker software which works with the imbedded heart rate monitor.

This is very difficult call to make with the GS5 perhaps being more desirable to fitness fanatics. However, I have said it before and I will say it again, HTC Sense is way better that Samsung’s Touch Wiz. This sways it for me and I reckon the HTC One is the better device where software is concerned.

Conclusion

Technically, judging by the comparisons above both devices are equally impressive. The GS5 has possibly a better camera and some cool but perhaps gimmicky add ons, but the HTC One is far better looking with a much nicer design. Really, both devices are exceptional and both should sell by the bucket load. It’s really going to come down to which one you prefer.

If you want my opinion then I prefer the HTC One. Build quality is a big motivator for me and the device looks much cooler that the GS5. It will likely last longer too. The camera isn’t really an issue for me as I only take casual images on my smartphone. The One’s ultra pixel camera is perfect for quick pictures and has loads of flexibility when it comes to adding cool effects. Also, as mentioned above I really cant forgive Samsung for continuing to use plastic. Its outdated and it feels cheap. Smartphones have become fashion accessories and I don’t think samsung are going to win any prizes.