** This is NOT a review device. I paid for it and receive no compensation. These are my honest and unbiased opinions.**
Like most of you WinPhan from the WP7 days, my affinity for Windows Phone started with a HTC. Frustration over the “disappearing keyboard” bug, HTC’s inability to rollout the Update known as 8108 which fixed the problem, and a general lack of concern over the matter made me leave my leave my beautiful Titan in the dust for higher and safer Lumia grounds. This, coupled with Nokia’s domination of the Windows Phone environment, made it easy to say goodbye to HTC. Cautiously optimistic about the One (M8) for Windows, my wife and I each picked one up. I’m here to tell you HTC really has my attention again with their latest Windows Phone offering!
I’ve heard your feedback and replies, I know most of you are interested in my thoughts on the camera…and I’ll get into detail about HTC Camera in part 2(this is a 3 part series). First, I thought it was more important to focus on my thoughts of the One (M8) for Windows in whole, having been a Lumia Windows Phone owner for almost 3 years. While I understand, empathize, and relate to the angst many of you have expressed to me in trusting HTC Windows Phone again, I honestly think many of you will be amazed and pleasantly surprised at how great the One (M8) feels and functions with the Windows Phone OS installed. Please keep in mind, this review is from a Windows Phone centric viewpoint and does not reflect on/address how the One (M8) impacts the Android environment.
Most of you know the rundown on the specs so here’s just a quick reminder of what the HTC One (M8) brings with it to Windows Phone.
- Windows Phone 8.1 With Update 1
- 5″ LCD 1080HD Display (1080 x 1920)
- 801 Snapdragon
- Quad-Core 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 801
- 2GB RAM
- 32GB Storage
- microSD Expansion (up to 128GB)
- HTC BoomSound Dual Front Speakers
- Dot View Case Compatible
- IR Remote
- 5MP FFC (front-facing camera)
- 4+ MP HTC UltraPixel Camera with Image Chip
- 1080p HD Video Capture
- HTC Advantage: Cracked Screen Replacement, Software Updates, 15GB Cloud Storage
HTC One (M8) for Windows
Without a doubt, HTC brought their “A” game to Windows Phone for the One (M8). After a 3 year tailspin that left HTC hitting the mat like George Foreman after being stunned by Ali…6, 7, 8, 9… HTC is up, unlike Foreman in “The Rumble In The Jungle” this fight isn’t being waved off yet! HTC avoided the K.O. punch and came back swinging in fact! They’ve found their identity again, the “One” that had them standing as a champion at the top of the mobile industry not that long ago. The One (M8)’s design and form factor is packed with features for every type of user, start to play with it and you’re not going to want to set down.
I remember reading a letter from the HTC Elevate Program a year or two ago describing the process of going back to the drawing board to bring HTC back to the glory days.
I feel comfortable in saying they’ve done so with the One (M8) for Windows.
Kudos to HTC as well for becoming far more involved over the past 2 years by talking with their users and reaching out for their feedback, it feels as though they are genuinely listening now. Whatever the reason that has led HTC to this point I’m grateful for a change in community approach, as they are quite engaging now. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised to have their Twitter team send a congratulations tweet and engage me in a conversation after our recent purchase.
Drawing upon the sophisticated design and materials used in their era of dominance, HTC shifted its funky “hipster” looks, textures, and colors on the exterior they had been using of recent, back inside the device, where it belongs. With its metal unibody frame and tapered edges, the One doesn’t feel cheap, fragile, or like a toy. From the deep USB port for a solid charging connection to the beautiful brushed metal form factor giving the entrancing display an infinity pool like effect, its thin physique makes it desirable for both personal and business usage. I feel like this is the first WP that appeals to the ever mercurial demands of the general consumer. The best toy I Have gotten myself in the past while is the Turnigy 9X Transmitter for my RC plane. Basically, it is a 9 station transmitter, a receiver, and a bind plug – but they didn’t contain the battery. It’s thin, light, has a beautifully vivid display, it’s lightning fast, gets superior battery life, has a beast of a ff(front facing) camera plus two camera lenses in the rear, 1080HD video recording, Boom Sound for listening pleasure, is dot view case compatible(with Cortana integration), beautiful gaming experience, built-in Cortana voice assistant, runs Office offline…and oh yeah, it has the “double tap to wake” feature as well. Hmmm, sounds like most of the trending demands of the general consumer.
With its subtly curved backside, I find the One (M8) to be very ergonomic making for a comfortable experience either one or two handed. At 5″, it’s neither too big or too small, it has a perfect balance between the oversized 6″ phablets(which I prefer) and smaller 4-4.5″ screens. Personally, I wish the One (M8) was a bit wider. I’m quite understanding though, of the current demand for devices that aren’t square or feel bulky…I get it. The positive of the rectangular dimension is the “reachability” aspect. My hands are big so I don’t think much of it, for most though, accessing the upper sections of larger screen devices can be difficult. The One (M8) is conducive to the smaller hand for that reason, I’ve seen my wife easily access all parts of her screen with one hand, that isn’t the case with her Lumia 1520.
HTC One (M8) for Windows and Lumia
Switching gears, I want to spend a little time looking at the HTC One (M8) as opposed to a Lumia. Anytime you are comparing between two OEM’s, there are bound to be differences, isn’t that part of the fun? Nothing new in this case, if you’re a Lumia owner, you’ll notice a few differences in the experience across the Windows Phone OS using a HTC One (M8). In almost whole part, I believe most of these differences to be positive, bringing a new feel to Windows Phone’s OS.
And while there are a couple of areas I consider to be shortcomings with the One (M8) for Windows, it’s not HTC neglecting features from OS to OS like with their previous Windows Phone offerings, it’s just the difference in an OEM’s vision/design.
This is a HUGE deal and is definitely worth noting!
One thing I really dislike when I read an article is someone telling me a particular feature was missing in their opinion making it a deal breaker and letting that become of overwhelming tone for the remainder of the read…especially if the issue is of little to no relevance to me personally. The truth is, most of us find those differences exciting. If we din’t, Windows Phone and Android wouldn’t exist would it? We’d all be using an iPhone: same devices…same features…same issues…same costs…same, same, same…
Fortunately that’s not the case, so what I’ve decided to do for the rest of the world(yes, iPhone owners, you can look away now…we all know…your device is as good as it gets and everyone’s device should resemble yours, right?…blah, blah, blah) is bullet point some of these differences and let you judge for yourself whether these are just more reasons for you to buy a One (M8) or it’s a deal breaker. I’m going to veer away from camera and photo differences for the most part today, that will be covered in detail in Part 2. So what are some of these differences, here you go in no particular order:
- The One (M8) runs much cooler than the Lumia’s(Aside from photo editing, where they both run fairly warm)
- The “soft” navigation keys on the One (M8) are implemented better and have more options to customize and control behavior than that on a Lumia
- The One (M8) lacks a dedicated camera button unlike flagship Lumia devices
- The One (M8) has a more solid build so notification vibrations rattle device less than a Lumia
- Pressing “back” navigation button on One(M8) has smoother vibration than Lumia
- The glass on the One (M8) handles fingerprints better than the Clear Black Glass on flagship Lumia devices(My wife commented that she wished her eye glasses came with the same glass as the One M8)
- The One (M8)’s Boom Speakers are the best on any hand held device I’ve ever heard
- The power button on the One (M8) is located awkwardly on top of device unlike the Lumia’s more accessible button in the middle of the right side of the device. That said, HTC made their button a bit taller now and it’s far easier to press it down in comparison to their older devices
- IE feels snappier on the One (M8) although this is just my feeling, I have yet to do any page load time tests
- Lumia image editing apps are far more abundant and feature rich in comparison to HTC’s offerings for the One (M8), specifically when you compare Nokia Creative Studio vs. HTC Photo Editor
- There are various apps which are Lumia exclusive to Lumia owners, however, that list has gotten substantially smaller as my One (M8) has all the apps my Lumia 1520 has installed with the exception of Nokia Camera and Creative Studio
- The One (M8) comes with HTC’s BlinkFeed, an app that aggregates your Twitter, Facebook, and select news feeds into one comprehensive and intuitively designed app
- with a Live Tile. While it won’t replace your Twitter, FB, or RSS apps, it is compelling enough to keep you checking it
- When searching out One (M8) and then searching out Lumia on eBay and Amazon for accessories, the results are staggeringly lopsided in favor of choices for the One (M8)
- Mid-range and flagship Lumia devices come with sunlight readability option an option not available on the One (M8)
- The Lumia devices come with custom color profiles also an option absent from the One (M8)
- Certain Lumia devices have the glance screen option not found on the One (M8)
- The One (M8) can hide soft navigation bar which cannot be done on Lumia devices with a soft navigation bar
- One (M8) has attentive phone, a set of features to better handle device volumes in different settings like purse or pocket
- The One (M8) for Windows is compatible with HTC’s dot view case which is integrated with Cortana
- One (M8) has 801 chipset for future proofing
- Lumia is Microsoft…the One (M8) is not
- The One (M8) takes much longer to boot to Start screen than the Lumia when turning on
- The One (M8) does not have Extras+Info
- The One (M8) comes with Video Highlights, also known as Zoe(similar to Lumia Storyteller)
- The One (M8) also doubles as remote control for your TV with HTC Sense TV
So those are the main differences I see being clear differentiators between a One (M8) for Windows and a Lumia. I’m sure that I missed some, but I feel like these are more than enough for you to draw a picture in your head of how these two lines of Windows Phone differ from each other.
And the rhetorical “what about the Nokia and Lumia exclusive apps?”…that’s a valid question. I think even as recent as 6 months ago there was legitimate gap for non-Lumia owners because of the extra app choices available to Lumia owners, in addition to the functionality these exclusive apps brought with them. That has and is changing though with the help of Universal Apps, better porting tools, and more developers taking interest in the Windows Phone platform in general. Now it’s easier than ever to just tell someone regardless of their device maker, “yeah you can do that, just go and download (insert app name here) from the WP Store”. So while HTC may develop less apps than Nokia did and now Microsoft Mobile is continuing to do, it’s hardly noticeable.
That wraps up party 1 and an overview of the One (M8) and how it differs from a Lumia experience. Part 2 of this 3 part series will revolve around the camera and photo editing differences using the HTC One (M8) for Windows vs. using a Lumia with PureView technology. I’ll also go further into the One (M8)’s strengths and weaknesses in the photo arena. The final installment, part 3 of this series, will focus on my thoughts and opinions surrounding the One (M8), it’s implementation of features, and whether I think the One (M8) is a homerun or a strikeout for the Windows Phone environment.
If I missed something you feel is very important or you have a question(s), please feel free to comment below!