HTC One E8

Turns out an M8 in a plastic shell is still a pretty awesome phone.

A couple of months after the launch of the HTC One M8 came word of a new plastic-clad variant aimed at emerging markets — the HTC One E8. Looking like a mashup of various HTC designs from the past year or so, the E8 aims to translate the core of the M8's high-end experience into a less expensive package. Right now HTC is targeting markets like China, Russia and India with the E8, so there's no indication of any wider international launch. Nevertheless, we've got the device in-hand, and we've given it the full hands-on treatment.

And as it turns out, transplanting the M8's guts into a soft-touch plastic shell makes for a pretty compelling smartphone.

The E8 feels like a cross between an M7 and a Droid DNA.

With the main differentiator being a plastic, not metal body in the HTC One E8, you might expect this to be a cheap-feeling phone, but that's not the case at all. We're using the matte grey E8, which feels fantastic in the hand. It's not unlike the Droid DNA, only the soft-touch shell extends further around the sides, and the black space around the display tapers off towards the edges, like the HTC One M7.

In fact, there's a lot about the E8 that reminds us of last year's HTC One. The more angular shape, for one, meaning it's easier to hold onto than the current HTC flagship. We're reminded once again that HTC knows how to work with plastic as well as metal.

The E8 is also available in glossy red and white color options, which are more than a little reminiscent of HTC's Butterfly devices.

HTC One E8

On the inside, however, this thing is essentially an M8. It's running a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor at 2.3 or 2.5GHz, depending on where you buy it; our Singapore model E8 is running the 2.5GHz chip. That's paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, expandable via microSD. There's a fixed 2,600mAh battery, just like the M8, and a similarly gorgeous 5-inch 1080p display. That's flanked by HTC's trademark BoomSound front-facing speaker setup, which to our untrained ears sounds just as boomy as the M8's. So the hardware muscle of HTC's flagship is intact.

More: HTC One E8 specs

HTC One E8

Aside from materials, the camera setup is the E8's biggest hardware change.

The most significant hardware change — aside from the materials, of course — has to do with the E8's camera setup. The front-facing "selfie" camera is a 5-megapixel unit with a wide angle lens which appears to be the same module used in the M8 and One Mini 2. But the rear camera sees HTC moving away from its Ultrapixel-plus-Duo Camera setup, instead using a 13-megapixel BSI sensor and single LED flash. Photos from the rear camera comparable to what you'll get from a Mini 2 or Desire 816 — good, but not great; a little washed-out in daylight, a little dark in low-light. They're decent, but nothing to write home about. (And that's probably the biggest weakness we've come across so far.)

You do at least get the full suite of camera software tricks, with the obvious exception of the M8's Duo Camera effects. Zoes — the combined reels of video and rapid-fire photos — are present and correct, though stills saved in Zoe mode are output at only 4 megapixels, not the full 13. And Dual Capture and Pano 360 have made the transition across to the E8 as well.

HTC One E8HTC One E8

Another manufacturer might've released the E8 as its flagship device and stopped there.

On the software side, there's HTC Sense 6 atop Android 4.4.2 KitKat, much the same as you'd find on an M8, and the software experience is just as fast as on that device. Sense 6 includes HTC's BlinkFeed home screen experience, which brings social, app and news updates into a scrolling panel in the launcher. There's also support for HTC's Motion Launch feature, which lets you wake the phone by double-tapping the screen, or swipe to launch directly into BlinkFeed or your home screens. It's a welcome addition, not least because the power button is situated in a rather awkward spot, around the top edge of the phone.

The HTC One E8 is intended to be a trimmed-down version of HTC's premium handset at a lower price point, but it's not a lesser product across the board. Surprisingly, the opposite is true in a couple of areas. The E8 lacks its big brother's impressive metal body, but as a result it's much lighter and easier to hold. It uses an off-the-shelf 13-megapixel camera, but that actually inches ahead of the M8's Ultrapixel shooter in daylight performance in some cases.

As much as the E8 is destined to live in the shadow of the M8, it's a strong phone in its own right. Another manufacturer might well have released something like the E8 as its 2014 flagship and called it a day.

We're going to put the HTC One E8 through its paces in the days ahead, so stay tuned for our review. In the meantime, be sure to share your first impressions down in the comments!

 
 

Reader comments

HTC One E8 hands-on

139 Comments

Damn that's a fucking good looking phone. OMG it kinda looks even better than the M8. What a nice job by HTC. Now it's all gonna be about marketing....

Posted via Android Central App

getting really tired of people "loving" bezels, just because they cant admit that their worshiped HTC makes ugly phones (whoooo i can already hear the hate comments coming). im sorry, but i dont want a phone that has a 5 inch screen and is as tall as a phone that has a 5.5 inch screen

Agreed. And to me, a lighter version phone is preferred. My M7 went immediately into a TPU case anyway.

Posted via Android Central App

I'll take that over the S5 any day! Very very nice design for a plastic phone!

Brought to you by the Nexus M8

You've yet again proven how childish and insecure you really are Richard. Stooping to the level of a 3rd grader with useless and utterly immature name calling just because someone has a different opinion than yours. Congratulations.

Nah, I'll take my Nexus 5 over both of these phones..... And I still think the S5 is bugly for a flagship phone....

Brought to you by the Nexus M8

Having one in the house, I would respectfully disagree. My wife hates to upgrade (she would still be on a bag phone if she could) and I have had very few "why did this happen" kinda questions out of her. Far less than the SGS3. I am not saying that it is perfect, but most don't care.

Wow, I remember when in your opinion nothing could beat HTC. All that trash talk about how the Evo and Evo 3D were unbeatable. Maybe try and realize, like most of the rest of us know, that no phone is the greatest, only that it's the greatest for each individual. And in many cases people make compromises in regards to their mobile devices. That's why you always hear about how great this device is except for (insert complaint here). This blind fanboy BS is really getting tired.

HTC needs to release this device in the US for $500 unlocked. I would also like to see this as a Google Play device. I would definitely buy this.

Thanks for the input Alex!

I found this:
2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100 - for India
4G Network LTE
LTE 1800 / 2100 / 2500 - for India
SIM Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)

gsmarena DOT com/htc_one_(e8)-6397.php

I like it better than the metal one. They are getting oh so close to perfection. Get rid of the useless black bar (or put capacitive buttons back) and that phone would be great.

Then you would just have mega pixels! Sheez! Ultra pixels are significantly larger than megapixels, so, unless you want the lense part of this phone to look like a point and shoot, ugly, I really think 6 ultra pixels is the max I'd want to see. And, I know I'm of a minority, but this m8 camera takes some great pictures. And, I often find myself using the Duo camera effects!

Posted via Android Central App

Then go back to Megapixels until you can find a way to get UP to work on par with everything else. The M8 camera is the only thing screwing up a great phone.

Tell me what is in the Note 3's way?

Because of my work, I get to use every major release, except Sony, for at least a month out of the year. Right now I am putting the G3 through it. I get a good portion of the mid range, like this, as well. That comes later though because they are not so much in demand because of the way my work goes. I do not talk from anything but experience when I say stuff, even though there are some around here that call me a Samsung Fanboi. DISCLAIMER: I do have a Note 3, SGS5, SGS3 and a few iPhones in the house.

The M8 was a great phone except for the camera.

Then I respectfully accept your opinion and choose to disagree. I agree it's not the best camera out there, but I believe combined with its software it has no rivals. And, i definitely do not want to lose duo camera effects. And, just in case you didn't know, I'm a pretty good photographer. Having cut my teeth on Slrs and f stops for many years.

Posted via Android Central App

See for you that would be perfect. You are capable of tweaking the settings based on the situation to get the most out of every shot. Most people want to just pull the thing out and go to town, not have to set the settings.

In addition I am not really saying that the camera is terrible, but I am saying that in comparison to the other phones released it was in the lower half.

There is only one setting that really needs to be tweaked on this phone. When in high contrast outdoor lighting, just raise the exposure to +3, create a new setting called "sunny day"and voila, no more over exposed skies or loss of shadow detail. It's a set it and forget it type of thing. The only thing you have to remember is to change it back to camera mode in all other lighting situations. The reason this is an issue outdoors is because the spot metering of the M8 is too narrow. It's counterintuitive to think you'd need to increase exposure on a phone that lets more light in, but HTC can't seem to find that happy medium between extremely dark and bright lighting scenarios. That happens to be a problem for many smartphones. Most of them do one or the other really well, but it's rare that they can do both, hence, that's why most cell phones and DSLRs have different shooting modes. I suppose you'll have to blame HTC for not using live eyeballs as lenses!

HTC just makes fantastic hardware and software anyone that denies that its just a hater flat out. You cannot deny the hardware and software the HTC put into their devices

Next-us

May people would disagree with their (lack of) ability to make adequately functioning cell radios

That said I do love my M8 and it is a minor complaint.

Agree with the sentiment here, looks so much better than the M8. I'd buy this over the M8 at the same price every day.

Posted via Android Central App

It is a nice looking phone. I like my m7 except for the fact it is like holding a wet bar of soap.

Posted via Android Central App

That's the best looking phone I've ever seen! Now come on HTC and get a 10 or 12 ultra-pixel phone. I LOVE the low light shots from my M7 and they would be really sweet in 2.5 to 3 times the pixels.

Dat guy who says dat all the time... isn't dat the kind of thing dat a hipster says? Dat seems to be the case nowadays.

Posted via Android Central App

Nice phone HTC.

Qi, 32gb and a bit more attention to the camera and this would sell like crazy. I'd buy one for sure.

I hope this does well in the markets it'll be sold in.

Maybe it's just me but I'm tired of seeing nice phones with 16gb of storage. Just put 32 in and charge another 10 bucks.

Posted via Android Central App w/G2

I'm kind of in favor of water resistance with phones these days. Definitely doable with a plastic shell. Hope the next iteration of HTC's flagship will come with a plastic shelled active variant like the Galaxy S5

I wish I could of got this instead of m8, 13mp is much better than 4mp. Only flaw, now I have to look for a stand alone camera.

Posted via Android Central App

Well Yea! Besides, why purchase a 4mp camera, if you're needing professional pics? Your statement is just dumb... I'm willing to bet you don't even own an M8!

Posted via Android Central App

That would only be true if you are looking at the pictures on a 4K monitor which I doubt you are.

Posted with the HTC M8 via Android Central App

Oh really? Every review on the m8 sides with my personal experience. Great phone hampered by a shit camera. I would go as far to say that if it had a decent camera it would be the best phone on the market. Hell, for someone that doesn't do more than Instagram or Facebook it probably is the perfect phone.

What more do you do with your cameras than post to social media, are you actually taking pictures to create hard copies..Just wondering! The thing is every single thread that I read about the HTC M8 ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS has to have someone mention the "shit"camera...It really is time to move on. If there's a better phone that has everything that most of you like then, by all means, get it! Please just let the camera issue rest... We TOTALLY get that the HTC M8 has a SHIT camera! NEXT!

Posted via Android Central App

I'm with you. Love my M8 took some amazing pictures in gran canaria in bright sunlight and sunset. Tried to take a picture yesterday just before a thunderstorm and noticed the angle to the object matters a lot. First picture ridiculous dark. 2nd perfect

Posted via Android Central App

This looks much cooler than I thought it would in the plastic. I just picked up my HTC one m8 today and I love it....Well all but that damn camera.... I'm loving the Verizon red color though.

Posted via Android Central App

HTC's colored phones always look fantastic. The VZW red is great, and I loved the blue M7 that I think was only sold at Best Buy. If they were to release a dark purple one with those really saturated tones that they favor, I'd be all over it.

Although people like to brag about having an all metal phone and how it's better because it's premium (and I was one when I got my m7), I find that I personally prefer soft touch plastic to metal. For a phone that I pay hundreds of dollars for, I want something that doesn't feel like it's going to slip out of my hands. And since I'm also one of those people who carries their phone without a case, soft touch is the way to go. It adds a grippy texture and good feel without the bulk of a case. And though this is just personal opinion, I like the look of soft touch over metal. So I agree with many of the people here saying that it's better looking than the M8.

OK, Google Now. Post comment to Android Central.

Who's bragging on here? I don't see a single braggart posting about all metal. However, if people are saying they like all metal as opposed to plastic, does that make them a braggart? And if that's your argument, then wouldn't everyone in here saying they like plastic be considered a braggart?

Posted via Android Central App

It's better looking because it's not slippery?

Well, I own the M7 and the M8 (and I don't use cases), and I got to agree with people here, the E8 looks so much better than the M8.

Posted via Android Central App

Reminds me a lot of the Droid DNA I had before I got my Nexus 5. Looks great! I wish HTC would release something like this in the US at a similar price to a Nexus.

Posted via Android Central App

I wonder if this (with US compliant radios) will be the Nexus 6, or whatever they wanna call it now

Posted via Android Central App

Would have been better to make E8 a 5.2" phone with the same physical size.... I know, I am complaining the bottom chin.
I actually like this E8 better than the M8 with that "plastic texture".

Just go with quality phones and good software and HTC is on throne definitely. I just dont like MP camera and M8 looks much more premium

Posted via HTC ONE M8 Gunmetal Gray

The ironic thing about this article and the comments, is that if this phone was made by a different manufacturer/company in identical form factor, the deafening outcry would be "oh God no......not another plastic phone...what a tragedy".

Maybe I've been asleep for too long, but I don't recall a Samsung phone that has a finish akin to the One SV, WP8X, DNA, or the E8. Which phone(s) are you referring to?

Posted via Android Central App

Wow this looks awesome. It is a shame that Samsung doesn't have the same quality design team. What Samsung puts out is horrible. Ugly POS. Plastic doesn't have to mean ugly. It also doesn't mean that every square slate phone doesn't have to look the same. Good job HTC! Another beauty is the LG G3. Have been rocking that since release.

I prefer the plastic or polycarbonate devices far more than the aluminum or glass bodied devices. I just feel the plastic/poly tends to wear and age better than glass or metal. Those materials tend to lend toward removable backs allow folks to replace batteries and the such as well.

The only think I don't like about the poly is the soft touch finishes which, in my experience, get discolored due to oil from my hand/finger and dirt and it's nigh impossible to clean off.

Dammit HTC! Why couldn't u sell this here?! This phone for $400 would be sweet..

Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5

Really, most people cover their shiny new aluminum phone with a case of some sort anyway. Why not cut cost with a plastic body.

Posted via Android Central App

I'll seriously consider one if it comes Stateside.

To all the metal-whores, plastic doesn't have to feel cheap. You can make plastic feel premium.

Great preview Alex! Looking forward to the full-on review! As others have said if this comes to the States anytime soon and costs between $400-500 it could be a huge hit!

Please bring it to Brazil! HTC had given up on our country but I really wish they change their minds. The HTC Titan is still sold here and it's like 3 years old I think, that proves that people like HTC.

Had they released this first I'd probably have chosen it over the S5.

Posted via Android Central App

York! That dull color, those thick bezels, that hideous HTC logo at bottom.
Probably worst phone camera in similar price range. Just fugly as hell.
One of the shittest looking phone I've ever seen so far. Overpriced POS IMO.

This is a really nice phone. I think it looks even better than my M8, and that's saying a lot considering how beautiful that phone really was.

I wonder if it would kill them to use the 13 megapixel and the 4 ultrapixel camera together in a dual camera setup? That way they could combine and extrapolate the images in software to play to the strengths of both. Might just be a pipe dream on my part, but I think it would be a good idea.

I love that it's not as curvy as the M8 and that backside is very attractive. Other than that I'm still hoping for a redesign of the boomsound speakers in their next addition and some of that black trim around screen to be removed.

Yeah, that cracks me up with how much people have harped on so many other phone makers for not using metal. REALLY GUYS? Nothing will ever make any of you happy and I've really backed off this site because of it. That an I dont like the new layout and doing stories about things other than cell phones/android.

The finish that HTC applies to some of their polycarbonate devices has a different feel that doesn't seem low-grade (in my experience).

Also, the Moto X wasn't criticized too much for its use of plastic, due to the improved feel in hand compared to other plastic devices.

Posted via Android Central App

Did HTC fix the issue with some/all their phones being incompatible with using a Wireless Network with a Encryption/Passcode longer than 49ish characters? That's one reason I won't be using an HTC device until that issue is gone.

What makes this a mid range phone? The specs are essentially the same as the M8. The only difference I see is the camera and plastic build. Am I missing something?

Posted via Android Central App

I'm liking the look of this one, I love my M7 and was disappointed in the design of the M8. Hoping they decide to bring this stateside soon, might wait to get this instead of the G3.

I don't mind plastic over metal and I like the gray color. If HTC could really nail the camera they'd make an awesome phone. It looks like this is at least a step in the right direction.

Lots of these comments are coming from Htc fanboys. I have a friend who claims she saw a brand new version of Htc Evo. Not possible right?