HTC One M8 is official, has a Google Play edition too


If you happen to follow mobile tech news like your life depends on it like some of us do then the device that was announced today simultaneously in New York City and London by Taiwanese device maker HTC is not a surprise. It is not one of HTC’s best kept secret and could easily win if a competition for worst kept secrets of 2014 was held right now. That won’t stop some of us from marvelling at that little beauty. The device, with a 90% metallic build (retains the One’s aluminium uni-body design but with more curves than flat edges) is a device worth drooling over.

Like the leaks had shown us, the HTC One M8 has that dual camera setup. The second camera at the back (aptly named Duo Camera) is a camera just to the eye but functionally it is something different. Look at it like an assistant of the same camera module that last year’s One rocked since it helps with blurring the background and focusing. HTC decided to stick with the 4 megapixel BSI shooter with those infamous huge 2µm pixels. Notice the name too. It is not the ‘all new One’ that HTC has been teasing in recent weeks with its #OneUp campaign. At least they tried to pull a surprise here.

As far as the internals go, they are everything the leaks engine had prepared us for. A newer processor that is much in line with what the likes of Sony and Samsung are using in their 2014 flagship smartphones. Like Samsung, HTC did not move to fix what was not broken. The HTC One’s design won accolades everywhere it was presented with the opportunity and HTC simply stuck with that design language and bumped up a few internals while adding more and more software features.

There’s always a catch when you’re adding more “software features”. You risk running into that “gimmick” corner that Samsung has been moving into and out of for the last one year. In the livestream, HTC clearly states that they “hate gimmicks”. Let’s take their word that the add-on features are useful. At least for now. HTC removed those two capacitive buttons on the front of the device and instead went with Google’s standard Android on-screen buttons as had been previously rumoured.

The add-on features include a new version of Sense, Sense 6.0 that will also see HTC’s Blinkfeed opened up to app developers the world over with an SDK. Wearables like Fitbit will be able to tap into the devices’ sensors and relay the information directly on the homescreen removing the need to go directly into the app when you’re on the go and still want to see how you are fairing fitness-wise. Other than Blinkfeed, developers will also be able to tap into that dual camera setup and do wonderful things with it.

Here are the One M8’s specifications:

  • Size: 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35mm
  • Weight: 160g
  • Display: 5.0 inch Super LCD3 full HD (1080p) display with a pixel density of 441ppi
  • Processor: Quad-core Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.3 GHz (for the US, European, Middle East and African markets)/clocked at 2.5 GHz (for the Asian market) and backed by an Adreno 330 GPU
  • Memory: 16 GB or 32 GB with support for a 128 GB microSD card
  • Camera: 4 MP ultrapixel camera (with added tweaks but OIS is missing), 5 MP front-facing camera
  • OS: Android 4.4 KitKat with a Sense 6.0 UI overlay
  • Battery: 2600 mAh. This is an upgrade over the 2300 mAh battery that the One packed. An Extreme power saving mode will be available when the device ships that will ensure your battery lasts long on a single charge.
  • Others: Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/ac/b/g/n), BoomSound speakers (from last year’s One. HTC promises us that they’ve reworked them and they are much better).

One of the software tweaks is Motion Launch. What Motion Launch does is “listen” for any movements so that it can execute the intended action. As had been leaked recently, that Dot View case also made the cut and will be available as an official accessory of the M8. We are not sure at this point whether HTC will pack the case with the device or it will be sold separately though the latter is likely the case.

The HTC One M8 will also be available in a Developer version and a Google Play edition. The Developer version is the variant that won’t be restricted but still pack Sense 6.0 while the GPe will have stock Android with minor alterations to make use of HTC’s camera APIs so as not to compromise on the camera quality as was the case with last year’s GPe devices like the Galaxy S4 and the One.

The developer edition HTC One M8 will go for $649 while the Google Play edition will go for $699. The HTC One M8 standard version will go for varying prices in various markets but the international unlocked one will go for $649 and is available in gunmetal gray, glacial silver and amber gold starting today. I am just from watching an interview where a HTC exec points out that the shortage that led to delays in shipping of the One last year won’t reoccur. Just like the “gimmick” matter, I am inclined to take their word on this.

Oh and before I forget, there’s one feature that is now almost mainstream… knock or double tap screen to lock/unlock. The M8 has that too.