Verizon HTC One M8 – A Practical Review

I’m going to review the new HTC One M8, undoubtedly one of 2014’s flagship devices, from a practical standpoint by describing how I used it on my second day of ownership.

5 AM: The alarm goes off, and for the first time, I don’t have to worry about my phone’s orientation on the bed. I tend to check social media on my phone prior to sleeping, and in the past, I had to remind myself to deliberately place my phone on its front so the rear-facing speakers could project my alarm. Now, with the dual BoomSound front-facing speakers, I can just lay the phone down. Heck, even if the speakers are covered, they still project widely.

Verizon HTC One M8

5:30 AM: I’ve showered and made my way to the kitchen after switching on my TV and cable box with the M8’s IR blaster. Goodbye, old TV remote control. After watching the local news, I get ready for work while listening to Pandora… and I don’t have to worry about missing a notification because the speakers and the screen face the same direction. 🙂

6:30 AM: I throw on the cool HTC red ear buds and start my journey to work. I’m so glad that the headphone jack is where it belongs – the bottom! While sipping on coffee, I note that my battery is now at 95%.

7:00 AM – 5:30 PM: Regular social media checks, a couple games of QuizUp, snapping pictures, a couple phone calls, lots of WiFi browsing, and beating a level on The Room 2. Oh yeah, and seeing patients. 😀 I work in a blackhole for cellular signal (notorious for battery drainage), but the battery held up really well! Plus I feel like I had reception in areas which I previously didn’t (maybe this was just a new-phone-placebo-effect?)

5:45 – 6:30 PM: On my walk from the rail station back home, I’m listening to more music and surprised that the battery is still 65% full. I get situated in my apartment, turn on the TV (again, with the phone), and start watching YouTube videos through Chromecast. Now I’m writing this post listening to TuneIn Radio Pro.

I’ve had nothing but the “wow” factor all day with this phone. Plus, it’s a rare device which feels remarkably good to the touch. Something about the “premium feel” with a rounded, metallic chassis, 1080p resolution display, perfect form factor, brushed accents… *sigh*, I’m in love… with a smartphone. #nerdproblems

But seriously, having owned many powerful but plastic smartphones, this is a refreshing reminder of what thoughtful design can produce.

One of the most discussed features about the HTC One M8 is its Duo Lens Camera – a neat concept which adds a component of depth perception to an already snappy shooter. With the UFocus effect, it’s possible to go back and focus on a various portions of a photograph after its already been captured. Here’s a quick example from the Museum District I shot yesterday.

Base picture
Foreground focus (on the Light Rail track)
Background focus (on Hotel ZaZa)

Now as far as grievances, every Android device I’ve owned has been rooted/unlocked for the purpose of flashing custom ROMs. While I’m thoroughly enjoying the simplicity of HTC Sense 6.0, I’m still hoping for a root exploit and unlocked bootloader so I can modify my build.prop and throw a custom recovery console onboard. AOSP ROMs are likely out of the question – I love the stock camera app too much. Plus it’s nice that HTC has followed in suit with Google by making their system apps (ie, BlinkFeed) separate Play Store apps. 😀

Let me know if you have questions!

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