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HTC One (M8) deep-dive review: Smartphone sophistication made better

JR Raphael | April 3, 2014
HTC is working to bring a sense of luxury to its smartphones -- and with its new HTC One (M8), it's closer than ever to delivering the ultimate high-end device.

The other issue is simply size: Because of its lower megapixel count, the One's images are fairly low in resolution by current smartphone standards. If you're sharing pictures online or even printing them, that shouldn't make much difference — but if you ever want to zoom into specific areas of a photo or crop it to leave only a particular part of the image in place, the smaller starting size can be a serious limitation.

The dual camera setup lets you create some neat effects with photos you've taken, though, like blurring or recoloring the background of an image while leaving the foreground in regular focus. I put together a gallery showing the various dual camera effects in action, if you want to see how the different possibilities work in real-world conditions.

"Sketch" applies a sketch effect to everything in the background of your image but leaves the foreground in regular focus.

The new One offers plenty of more traditional photo-editing tools, too, ranging from filters and frames to options for cropping, flipping and rotating images. And beyond just the basics like HDR, the camera app has a huge array of modes and settings — the type of stuff you usually have to install a third-party tool to access — if you want to control all the nuances of its performance.

Despite all of that, HTC has managed to keep its imaging software from becoming overly cluttered or confusing. If you like advanced options, they're certainly there — but for the rest of us, the interface is pleasingly clean and easy to use. The One is astonishingly fast at focusing and snapping photos, too, which can make a world of difference when a photogenic moment arises.

The M8 has a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter for selfies, which results in surprisingly good-looking photos (though I can't vouch for the attractiveness of your subject). Both the front-facing camera and rear camera can capture 1080p-quality HD video as well.

The software
The M8 runs custom HTC software based on Google's Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system. With this latest effort, known as Sense 6, HTC's take on Android has really come into its own and grown into a polished and cohesive setup.

HTC One Dot View — who knew a case could be so cool?
HTC has created an innovative and unusual case for its new One (M8) phone — and it's as interesting for its function as it is for its appearance.

The user interface still has a distinctly HTC flavor to it, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Many of the weird and annoying UI quirks that have held HTC's software back in the past —things like overly complicated procedures for adding apps onto your home screen or changing your phone's wallpaper — are now corrected and the system is actually quite user-friendly. At this point, it almost feels like a custom Android launcher with much of the familiar Android environment still intact at its core.


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