The HTC One M8 is a great phone, but it's not perfect. And we, in our infinite wisdom, have some ideas.
There's no such thing as a perfect phone. You can justify this, defend that. Some flaws are subjective, others are like a bad scab in an unfortunate place, unable to be ignored. Fortunately, today's high-end phones are more good than bad. But, no, they're not perfect. And for as much as we love the HTC One M8 — and make no mistake, it's right up there with anything else we'll recommend this year — we've got some ideas about how HTC could "fix" its flagship device for 2014.
If you've yet to come across the phone — we're sure these people exist somewhere — here's the rub: The HTC One M8 continues the design trend we first saw 2013's HTC One M7. That is, aluminum unibody design with some sweeping curves. Large, 5-inch, 1080p display. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 2GB of RAM and is running Android 4.4.2 with HTC's Sense 6 user interface atop it. It's got a relatively low resolution "Ultrapixel" camera — just 4 megapixels — but you get a bunch of cool features to play with after you've taken the shot.
And with that, here's how we'd "fix" the HTC One M8.
Alex Dobie, UK editor extraordinaire
There’s a lot to like about the M8. It’s a phone that demonstrates HTC’s strength in both hardware and software design. The ridiculously good battery life is a welcome improvement on last year’s model. And HTC, with Sense 6, has crafted the only Android UI I’d pick over “stock.” By any standard, it’s a great phone — but it’s not perfect.
Data may show that folks want larger devices, but HTC could have saved us from ourselves.
Let’s start with the sheer size of the device — or more specifically its height. The M8 is within half a millimeter of the original Samsung Galaxy Note. And while it’s nowhere near a “phablet” class device, it is tricker to one-hand than the 4.7-inch (display) M7. The front-facing speakers are one of the main reasons for this extra bulk at the top and bottom, but there’s also the matter of the bar beneath the screen displaying HTC's logo. Ask the company about this and they'll point out that it's not just blank space — there are electronics lurking below. Nevertheless, the phone was designed with this bar beneath the screen, and that means you've got farther to reach when tapping the top of the screen.
Jerry Hildenbrand, from the West Virginia front
I don’t have a lot of complaints about the M8. The two I do have make it a device I’m not using, though.
My biggest issue is the slippery coating. I hear that the lighter aluminum version has more texture, but that hardly helps me hold the darker gunmetal grey (which is neither gunmetal nor grey) one I have. Phil dropped it before it made it’s way to me. I’ve dropped it twice. While the construction has kept it from flying apart when it has been dropped, eventually the screen is going to take a hit if I keep dropping it. It’s a phone that will require a case if I were to carry it every day. Don’t tell my boss, but I hate using a case.
Butterfingers. If you don't use a case with the M8, you're taking a pretty big risk. This is a slippery sucker.
My other complaint is a bug that will get fixed, and one we saw on the M7 when it was new — the settings to keep data on, no matter how long the screen is off, are ignored. I don’t want my phone to turn off the data connection when it’s in my pocket. I’ve told it not to turn off the data connection while it’s in my pocket. But it still does. No bueno, please fix, thanks.
I’m OK with the camera. It’s fast, the pictures usually turn out clear and in focus, and I don’t take pictures that need printed or blown up with a cell phone. I’m more concerned with shutter speed — especially in a dim smoky room — and the M8 delivers. I also liked the M7 camera for the same reasons, so I’m not surprised. I do like the gallery effects, namely Zoes and Highlights, and still think HTC does it better than Google does with Auto-Awesome in Google+.
I do think the simplicity and elegance (yeah, I went there) of Sense 6 makes this the best current choice for a consumer looking for an Android phone. Just buy a case for it.
Phil Nickinson, fearless leader, Florida
Did anyone mention this tall, slick phone is sort of tough to hold onto? Good. And don't tell Jerry, but I'm using mine with a case. And I'm not a case guy. This is very weird for me.
We've covered the hard-to-handle factor. The camera's been talked about to death. I'm going to be unpopular and say HTC shouldn't have gone back to expandable storage. That's right, ditch the SD card. For one, it's insecure storage. For another, SD cards and Android 4.4 KitKat — well, they're not exactly the best of friends, but for good reason. Let's just keep things simple and make 32GB the minimum amount of internal storage. But 64GB is better. And offer a 128GB version for those of us who just can't say no.
There's another reason getting rid of the SD card. HTC's done well to cut down on the number of moving parts of its devices, and that means fewer chances for manufacturing defects. Inconsistencies plagued 2013's M7. And the SD card tray on my second M8 sticks out ever so slightly. It shouldn't, and I could probably return the phone and have it replaced. But that's a bigger hassle than a minor manufacturing flaw. So let's take the SD card tray out of the equation and replace it with a good amount of proper internal storage.
You're not going to like this, but HTC should get rid of the SD card.
I'd also recommend HTC keep carriers from mucking up the ROM with preloaded crap. But HTC needs to sell phones, and there are ways around bloatware. (But seriously, carriers. Cut that crap out.)
And it's a small thing, but I miss the black hole that was the M7's speaker grille. On the M8, you can see where the actual speaker is and the false front begins. It's not a huge deal by any means, but it's a slip in the sort of attention to detail that HTC normally nails. Same goes for the Dot View Case, actually. Great idea. But it's pretty tough to use when flipped around to the back of the phone.
And one last small thing: It's great being able to double-tap the display to wake the phone, but it could still use a little tweaking for sensitivity. LG's still the king of that one. (To say nothing of the new Knock Code feature.)
And that, folks, is how we'd "fix" the HTC One M8. HTC has our number. Operators are standing by. Have your own thoughts on how to "fix" the HTC One M8? Let's hear 'em.