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HTC One (M8) for Windows review: a novel new take on Windows Phone

Mark Hachman | Sept. 1, 2014
Lumia, Lumia, Lumia. Lest you forget that Microsoft's Windows Phone business is more than a single Nokia product line, HTC has released the One (M8) for Windows. It's just as much a flagship phone as the Android version of the One (M8), and in some ways it feels even fresher thanks to the fact it runs Windows Phone 8.1, a veritable OS curiosity.

Lumia, Lumia, Lumia. Lest you forget that Microsoft's Windows Phone business is more than a single Nokia product line, HTC has released the One (M8) for Windows. It's just as much a flagship phone as the Android version of the One (M8), and in some ways it feels even fresher thanks to the fact it runs Windows Phone 8.1, a veritable OS curiosity.

In fact, the HTC One (M8) for Windows might be the best Windows Phone available — but that's simply because not many Windows Phone devices have been released lately. And let's not lose perspective: Most people will probably conclude that the Android version of this phone is the better choice.

From a hardware perspective, both versions of the HTC One (M8) are virtually identical: its weight and dimensions (160 grams; 146.36 by 70.6 by 9.35 mm); its display (5.0 inches, 1080x1920 resolution); and its guts (2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801; 2GB RAM; 32GB of storage plus a microSD slot). You'll also find the same dual UltraPixel camera on the back, and the 5-megapixel selfie camera on the front. HTC hasn't forgotten its powerful BoomSound internal speakers, either.

About the only difference in hardware is that the One (M8) for Windows ships standard with 32GB of internal storage, as opposed to the 16GB and 32GB options that HTC offers for its Android version. The HTC One (M8) for Windows will be sold by Verizon for $100, and by AT&T for an undisclosed price at a later date.

The case for Android

The One (M8) for Windows is definitely a solid WP8.1 device. But it's the lesser of HTC's nearly identical phones, if only because Android has a stronger software ecosystem, and appears to be a more efficient OS. Sure, a number of third-party alternatives can compensate for Windows Phone's lack of productivity apps, but Microsoft's ecosystem still suffers a serious dearth of entertainment apps. We also compared HTC's new Windows Phone to the One (M8) Harmon Kardon Edition, and that Android phone just flew, snappily loading apps. It felt much faster than the One (M8) for Windows. And oddly, the Windows Phone version of the One (M8) took far longer to boot.

Oddly, we found that the Android One (M8) delivered substantially better battery life than its Windows doppleganger, playing a looping video for 6 hours and 46 minutes under full brightness. The Windows Phone version died after 5 hours and 39 minutes — almost a 20 percent difference. Nonetheless, HTC says that the One (M8) for Windows delivers 10 percent more talk time than the Android model.

Between the One (M8) and the Icon

Microsoft's recent decision to address "affordable segments" has left slim pickings for people looking at high-end Windows Phones. Indeed, if you're committed to the Windows Phone platform, you really have only two respectable choices: the Verizon-exclusive Lumia Icon and the One (M8). Both phones are solid, quite literally, as Nokia and HTC each chose to use aluminum, rather than plastic, bodies. And in terms of industrial design, the Icon feels more like a no-nonsense work phone, while the HTC One (M8) more adroitly bridges the gap between work and play.

 

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