Nexus 5, HTC One M8

How does HTC's latest match up to Google's six-month-old Nexus?

With the launch of the new HTC One M8 last week, the first major Android flagship of 2014 is finally upon us. And as we said in our full review of the phone, the M8 is one of the most impressive Android devices we've used. But Google's own flagship phone, the Nexus 5, is barely six months old, and a whole lot cheaper than an off-contract M8. (Though not that much more expensive than a subsidized M8, we suppose.) What's more, you've got two significantly divergent software and hardware experiences on both handsets — soft-touch plastic and stock Android on the Nexus versus brushed aluminum and Sense 6.0 on the M8 — running on similar internals.

But despite the hardware similarities, there are plenty of differences to mull. So join us after the break as we compared Google's Nexus 5 to the HTC One M8.

External hardware and build quality

These are both high-end Android phones with big screens and similarly powerful hardware, but the Nexus 5 and HTC One M8 couldn’t be more different on the outside. The M8 sports a beautiful curved aluminum chassis which wraps around its sides, right up to the display, while the Nexus is contained within a lightweight soft-touch plastic shell. There’s no denying that HTC has almost every rival beaten on looks — and the M8's in-hand feeling is also unlike any other phone. However Google and LG’s approach has its advantages too — the Nexus’s flat sides and matte texture make it easier to grip, if a little boxy, and the use of plastic also means it’s a lot lighter — 130 grams to the M8’s 160.

The M8 feels unlike any other phone, but the plastic Nexus 5 is a little easier to hold.

We’re still adjusting to using the new HTC One as our daily driver, but after a couple weeks we’ve noticed that the metal M8 seems just a little more slippery in the hand than many plastic phones, on account of the polished aluminum unibody. (For the record, we're using the slicker "gunmetal gray" M8 — one of three flavors available) The trade-off for that premium finish is that you’ll need to be a little more careful palming the M8, especially if you’re using it one-handed. And the HTC One’s lofty dimensions present some challenges too — the two front-facing “BoomSound” speakers add extra millimeters to the phone’s height, as does the space beneath the screen displaying the HTC logo. Though there’s only a small difference in display size — 4.95 inches versus 5.0 — the M8 is a substantial 8.5mm taller. This also makes HTC’s power button, located on the top edge, all the more difficult to hit — though the “Motion Launch” feature, which lets you unlock the phone by tapping or swiping the screen, does mitigate this to some extent.

Nexus 5, HTC One M8

HTC has the more luxurious, attractive product for sure, and for that reason it has to win on build quality. The cheaper Nexus 5 looks more like a reference design, with a muted look intended to serve mostly as a vessel for Google’s mobile OS. The Nexus is a somewhat easier phone to hold and use, but at the same time it offers less exciting, more pedestrian design than HTC’s latest.

Nexus 5, HTC One M8

Display and speakers

HTC packs a superior display and less shcizophrenic brightness scaling.

The two phones’ screens — both 1080p IPS LCD panels — are closely matched, and both look fantastic. HTC manages to pull ahead in terms of display quality though, offering a more vibrant image and, according to third-party testing, a wider color gamut too. The M8 covers 110% of sRGB versus the Nexus 5’s 98%, meaning it can represent a wider range of colors.

Brightness levels on both displays are comparable, and we had no problems using either device outside in bright sunlight. One point that’s worth mentioning, however, is that the Nexus 5 seems to crank up its brightness very aggressively, often more than is needed. The M8 manages to balance things a little better, and you can also adjust the level of auto-brightness in the HTC display settings menu.

In terms of color balance, we found whites on the HTC One to be a little cooler, while the same shades on the Nexus 5 appeared warmer. That said, neither display looks unbalanced, and these are differences you’re not going to notice unless you have both phones right next to each other. So it’s a victory for HTC in this area, but the Nexus's display is still nothing to sniff at.

Nexus 5, HTC One M8

When it comes to audio quality, however, the M8 wins by a country mile. HTC’s BoomSound speakers return in the M8, offering 25 percent more volume than its predecessor. By comparison the Nexus 5 offers a relatively run-of-the-mill smartphone speaker — that’s right, there’s just one. — that excels in neither bass, volume or clarity.

Nexus 5, HTC One M8

Internal hardware and specs

The internals of the Nexus 5 and HTC One M8 are closely matched, although launching a few months into 2014, the HTC One benefits from Qualcomm’s newer Snapdragon 801 processor. Like the Nexus 5’s Snapdragon 800, it’s clocked at 2.3GHz — but the M8 boasts newer silicon, and with it faster GPU and memory clocks. Another major addition for HTC is the M8's microSD slot; as is typical of Nexus devices, the N5 provides no expandable storage.

Here's a quick breakdown of how the specs compare —

Category Nexus 5 HTC One (M8)
Dimensions 137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59 mm 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm
Weight 130g 160g
Colors Black, White, Red Gunmetal Gray, Glacial Silver, Amber Gold
Display 4.95-inch, 1080p, Gorilla Glass 3 5.0 inch, 1080p, Gorilla Glass 3
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
2.5GHz quad-core CPU in Asia/China (MSM8974AC)
2.3GHz quad-core CPU in US/EMEA (MSM8974AB)
Platform Android 4.4 Android 4.4 with HTC Sense 6, HTC BlinkFeed
SIM Card Type microSIM nanoSIM
Internal Storage 16/32GB 16/32GB + microSD up to 128GB
Camera 8MP camera with OIS, HDR+ mode, Photosphere
1.3MP front-facing camera
1080p video
HTC Ultrapixel Camera + Duo Camera (4MP)
F2.0 aperture and 28 mm lens
5.0MP front-facing camera
1080p video
Battery 2300mAh non-removable 2600mAh non-removable

Stock Android 4.4 versus HTC Sense 6

Both devices run Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the latest version of the OS at the time of writing. But like most custom UIs, HTC’s Sense 6 adds visual changes and an array of extra features not found in Google’s base OS.

Nexus 5, HTC One M8

HTC Sense 6 is a clear evolution of Sense 5, with a home screen experience based around the company’s BlinkFeed social reader, heavy use of the Roboto Condensed font and flat, stylized icons. Sense looks and feels different to vanilla Android for sure, but the similarities are more numerous than you might think, especially since Google adopted a BlinkFeed-like placement for Google Now in its home screen launcher. Brighter, lighter colors and a measured approach to Android customization result in a vision of Android that's not too far removed from Google’s.

The Nexus 5’s software is somewhat barebones experience, while Sense has a little more visual flair, with prominent placement given to (customizable) accent colors around the UI. Vanilla Android is all about light grays, “card” style UI elements and a more muted palette not dominated by any one hue. And while there’s no single correct way to design smartphone software, we have to say we prefer the look of Sense 6 to stock Android, a testament to HTC’s efforts to refine its interface over the past year.

It’s also hard to separate the two phones in terms of software performance. Touch responses, app load times and scrolling performance are lightning-quick on both devices, and neither is noticeably faster than the other. A win for both, we suppose.

Nexus 5, HTC One M8Nexus 5, HTC One M8

Aside from looks and performance, HTC Sense also offers a much wider array of software features than the Nexus 5, some more useful than others. BlinkFeed moves closer to Google Now with context-sensitive content. HTC’s camera and gallery apps include 3D and defocus effects thanks to the second camera. And there are even more video highlights to choose from — though Google now provides a similar feature through Google+ on all Android phones. What’s more, the M8 offers TV connectivity through its Sense TV app and IR port, a feature missing from the Nexus 5. We’re also loving Motion Launch, which lets you wake up the M8 without reaching for its (admittedly awkwardly-placed) power button.

Stock KitKat looks great, but HTC brings some added visual flair in Sense 6.

In addition, there's the question of software updates to consider, and on this front the Nexus has a clear advantage. Google’s own-brand handset will always be first with new OS versions, though HTC has demonstrated a renewed focus on pushing out fast updates for Sense phones over the past year. A compromise for those wanting stock Android and fast updates on the M8’s hardware would be the Google Play edition, available now for $700 (the Sense version sells for $650, for what that’s worth). And we do mean a compromise — you’ll miss out on many of HTC’s gallery features, and useful tricks like Motion Launch are unlikely to be included in the GPe firmware. (Though that's still an unknown until we get a phone in hand.)

For the average user, HTC Sense has a lot to offer in terms of features, customizability and design chops. And for that reason it can claim victory software category. By comparison, the Nexus 5’s more basic UI is clean and uncluttered, which might be more appealing to Android purists. And while many M8 models can be bootloader-unlocked, the Nexus 5 is still the most hackable Android phone out there, for those wanting to tinker with firmware.

Nexus 5, HTC One M8

Camera comparisons

The camera experiences on the Nexus 5 and HTC One M8 couldn't be more different. The Nexus has an 8-megapixel Sony sensor with OIS (optical image stabilization) and Google's basic camera app, supporting Photosphere 360-degree images and the new HDR+ mode. Meanwhile HTC brings a second-generation 4-megapixel "Ultrapixel" camera to the table, along with a secondary camera for capturing depth information, allowing a wide array of special effects to be added to photos.

When it comes to basic photography, it's a question of speed versus detail.

When it comes to basic photography on these two, it's a question of speed versus detail. The HTC One's Ultrapixel camera is lightning-fast, but hampered by its relatively low megapixel count, and we're still witnessing more chroma noise than we'd like in certain lighting conditions. By contrast the Nexus 5, with its hardware stabilization, is much slower to focus and capture shots. (Part of that's intentional, as the OIS allows it to keep its shutter open for longer.) And speaking of OIS, the N5's hardware stabilization gives it a leg-up in video mode too, smoothing out judders for better-looking footage.

Regardless, the Nexus 5 produces some good-looking 8MP shots if you're willing to wait and don't mind dealing with a little shutter lag. That's particularly true of the excellent HDR+ mode, which captures an impressive amount of detail even in challenging lighting conditions. HTC's HDR mode is better than it was last year on the M7, but still tends to overexpose shots, while the Nexus delivers more realistic-looking HDR pics.

HTC offers its own take on Google's Photosphere (360-degree) shooting mode this time around, in the form of Panorama 360. Pan 360 is easier to use and quicker than Google's implementation, but whether through software or hardware, the Nexus 5 seems to take more detailed 360-degree shots.

The win for camera software definitely goes to HTC, though. The Taiwanese company has completely re-tooled its camera UI, giving easy access to a large number of shooting modes (including Zoe mode), and the ability to tweak ISO, EV, white balance and other settings through a new manual mode. And that great software experience doesn't stop after you've taken your photos — HTC offers a wide range of gallery features, allowing you to stylize shots, add filters and 3D effects and arrange them into 30-second montages.

Neither of these phones is a really great all-round camera.

Neither of these phones is a really great all-round camera that'll match the latest from Samsung and Sony. As was the case last year, HTC is focused on Ultrapixels, Zoes, Duo shots and other features more than megapixels. Meanwhile the Nexus 5 offers good photos, but it's not for the impatient, nor those wanting to shoot fast-moving subjects.

For the average user, the more versatile HTC One, with its added bells and whistles, is probably the better option. The choice here is between a fast camera that sometimes falls down on image quality, and a slower shooter with the potential to capture more fine detail.

Nexus 5, HTC One M8

Battery life

The M8 delivers all-day battery life, while the N5 is often on its last legs by early evening.

We've never been all that impressed by the longevity of the Nexus 5, which packs a 2,300mAh non-removable battery. Our first impressions didn't exactly blow us away, and two months on we remained non-plussed. Depending on your usage patterns, the Nexus 5 will get you to the end of the working day, most of the time. But that's about it, and on strenuous days we've too often found the N5 limping its way into the evening.

HTC's M8, on the other hand, manages to deliver stellar battery performance from a cell rated only 300mAh higher than that of the Nexus 5. In our first week with the M8, we've managed to squeeze 16 hours or so of heavy use out of the device's 2,600mAh juicer, compared to the 12 or so we'd get from the Nexus. And it's also telling that heavy use doesn't seem to tank the M8's battery as much as it does the N5.

The Nexus has a weaker battery, but boasts Qi wireless charging.

One standout feature the Nexus 5 does have going for it, however, is wireless charging, and that compensates for the weaker battery to an extent. If you're working at a desk all day, for instance, it's easy enough to throw the Nexus on a wireless charging pad and always have a fully-charged battery when you're ready to go.

Nexus 5, HTC One M8

Pricing, availability and wrap-up

The M8 is the better phone, the N5 the better value.

Here's where the Nexus 5's various weaknesses come into perspective — that phone costs around half as much as you'll pay for an off-contract HTC One M8. There's a lot that the M8 does better than Google and LG's affordable flagship — build quality, display, sound... and we'd also include software in that list, though that's a matter of personal preference. And the M8 is absolutely worth its (admittedly high) asking price. Our main reservations have to do with the camera, which is hamstrung by its relatively low megapixel count, and the size and shape of the thing — it's a tall, somewhat slippery phone that's actually harder to grip than its predecessor.

On the other hand, there's still no better high-end phone around the $350 mark than the Nexus 5. For all its imperfections, you're getting a hell of a lot of smartphone for a comparatively small amount of cash, thanks to Google's subsidized price. Battery life remains the biggest reason not to pull the trigger on a Nexus 5 — it's a weak performer in this area, especially compared to the current crop of Snapdragon 800 and 801 phones. As we've said, it's no match for the longevity of HTC's new flagship. (To say nothing of future phones like the Sony Xperia Z2, with its 3,200mAh cell.)

The Nexus 5 and M8 are opposites in many ways, making this a difficult comparison. In our opinion, HTC has the better phone, with exceptional hardware and software design, a great feature set and epic longevity. But for those wanting to save a few bucks, the sheer value for money represented by the Nexus 5 makes it at least worth a look.

If you twisted our arm, though? We'd have to choose the metal body and all-day battery of the new HTC One.

More: Nexus 5 review, HTC One M8 review


Reader comments

HTC One M8 versus Nexus 5


Thanks Alex. You mentioned it is harder to grip the M8, but does it fit more comfortably in the hand? I find that my nexus 5 is a little harsh on my hands because of the squared edges.

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I'd agree, the m8 has rounder edges so it's not so harsh on the palm.. Plus the rounded back helps with the comfort imo
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New M8 owner here. It feels great in the hand, but I also feel like I'm going to drop it. I love the metal, but it's a tad slick and the added weight only amplifies the fear that it's going to slip out of my hand.

I may end up getting a TPU case just to improve the grip a little, which is sad because I think the metal has a great feel.

He says the HTC is harder to grip and is more slippery, yet he gives it the nod on build quality, because it looks better. I don't... somebody just shoot me and put me out of my misery :P

Build quality entails a lot more than how slick the case is. For one he says it's more comfortable to hold. Build quality also has to do with how well it's put together, how long it will last, how much damage it takes when dropped, etc. From your comment you obviously have something against HTC or you are a snob fan of another phone and will look for one minor thing to prove your phone is better. Why would you even read this article?

I don't have anything against HTC, except for their insistence that the M8 is God's gift to phones, because it's made of aluminum.

Well let's leave religion out of a phone review, I believe he is real, but this is not the place to discuss religion.

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So you are upset that the manufacturer of a phone is proud of what they made and think it is the best phone to purchase? Well, I can definitely see where that might upset someone.

I just think they're proud of it for the wrong reasons. If they'd put as much effort into the camera as they did the metal, it would be a much better phone, IMO.

What are they supposed to do? Pretend like their phone sucks? How many would they sell if they didn't believe in their device?

It is a very nice phone. I really don't care about build quality that much. In fact, I find myself being MORE careful with metal and glass phones than plastic, but I like the feel in the hand and the software experience is great. They are focusing on the build quality because that's the biggest thing that sets it apart from the competitors. Marketing 101.

They're bragging about the build quality, even though the phone dents/scratches easier than polycarbonate. So it my opinion, it actually has WORSE build quality than Samsung phones. That's why I think this whole 'cheap plastic' thing their president was going on about is so ridiculous. Plastic actually has a lot of advantages over aluminum, except for the fact that a lot of people just don't like plastic, because they have been brainwashed by marketing departments into believing that if it's metal, it MUST be of a higher build quality.
And yeah, I know... build quality isn't just about durability. It's more about being a magnet for tards who are attracted to shiny things. Why do you think Apple does so well? They're masters at selling fashion accessories disguised as phones.

You are literally the most butt hurt fanboy I have seen in weeks. A phone made from plastic can be a well built phone, but the problem with Samsung's plastic phones is they aren't well built plastic phones. They feel cheap. They are cheap.

Also, Apple has done so well because they know how to take advantage of how naive and gullible people can be. They literally called their phone magical and people ate that s*** up.

When I first got my m7 I had the same fears... But im yet to drop it, and 7 months on the aluminium shell has held up, aside from when my friend drunkenly knocked it out my hand into a puddle, where it sustained a small chip on the corner.

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I was the same way...until this past week. I've dropped my m7 no less than 8 times and has dings and cracked glass. Time for an M8 lol

Don't put a TPU case on it. Go to Ebay and search for Xtreme Guard HTC One M8 Full Body. It's essentially the Zagg Invisible shield, it looks the same, works the same and installs the same. Only difference is you can get the full body coverage for $3.99 with free shipping, instead of $49.99+. Anyway, once applied, the material gives you scratch protection, but it makes holding the phone much easier and less slippery. I've used them on my Nexus 5, Moto X, Lumia 1020 and now my M8. It's worth it and you can still see that beautiful gunmetal brushed aluminum finish.

I mostly hate Sense because HTC has always had a 5 minute timer on their notification light before it times out even if you haven't checked the notification. That's why I will never buy another one.

Other than that I have always like how HTC phones feel in my hand. I like the weight and materials. The M8 has some issues I don;t care for though and really don't think it is the best looking phone by a long shot. I especially do not agree that the front of the M8 is better looking than many other phones. The HTC bar ruins it and the two tone look of the speakers vs the screen seems cluttered vs a simple clean look. Also, the dual cameras are not needed and instead they should have gone with an iPhone quality single camera. That vertical line above the bottom camera is weird too.

I just went to play with the m8 yesterday, I must say I agree with pretty much every damn word in your comment.
Didn't know about the notification light though.

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In my opinion, build =/= design. So even if the M8 has an aluminium build, it doesn't have the best design, especially at the front. Finally someone who thinks the M8 doesn't have the best design, and I agree with everything you said. Except the light part since I don't have a M8.

Very fair comparison, Alex. My first Android phone was a T-Mobile G2 made by HTC, and I loved the build quality. I agree that only one weak speaker on the N5 is a negative. As the screens for both are almost identical, I don't like the extra height on the M8, it makes the unit too big. As for the outer appearance, most people are going to put some kind of case over it, so what difference does it really make? I wish the N5 had a bigger battery, but as I'm on wi-fi most of the time I've never run it down to 0%. I do love the wireless charger that handles both my N5 and N7. The camera on the N5 isn't quick to focus, but I really like the results in HDR+ mode. And I take a lot of video, especially of my golf swing, and I can attest the N5 video is great. I'll be sticking with my N5 until the end of the year, and see what comes out then.

I thought the new One had a 5 megapixel front facer? I'm much more pleased with my HDR+ photos on my Nexus 5 than I was with the Superior Auto photos from my Xperia Z1, btw. Z1 manual is capable of taking better photos, but it's tricky.

I agree with every single piece of the article save the camera. The Nexus 5 (of all devices) is just a better camera experience IMHO. The software is better (yes...sometimes simpler is better) and certainly the IQ is in another league. Market ultrapixel crap all you's still a 4mp camera, which is embarrassing given HTCs chosen to put a 5mp selfie can on the front.

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What drugs are you taking? The stock Android camera is the most horrible thing I have ever used. Those slippery slide menus are stupid and completely non functional. You don't even know what you're selecting until you select it. The Sense camera is way more user friendly and still has more features.

Oh, and you might want to check out some camera comparisons. The M8 has been beating the Nexus 5 is most of the camera comparisons, even a blind comparison conducted by Phonearena.

Don't have to...I have an M8 on my desk...the pics are not good compared to other cameras. That the Nexus 5 (with what I'd agree is a mediocre camera experience) can come close to and even beat its pretty embarrassing.

Love the rest of the device though. Thank god there's a micro SD slot this time. Still feels a little tall...but I'm used to a Nexus and GS4...but its growing on me. Will play with the offices S5 before I make a final decision

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I think it takes fine photos. Honestly, I'd rather have the fast focus and shutter than slightly better quality. The Nexus 5 was like watching paint dry and if I took a photo of anything moving, it was always blurry.

The M8 is a great phone overall and I can live with less than perfect photo quality with everything else it has to offer, but I'm with you in wishing that HTC had gone a different direction. The Ufocus thing doesn't even work right most of the time, which is disappointing.

I don't print photos from my phone so the One camera (even on my M7) is perfect for me. I read a comment up above where someone says put an iphone quality camera in it but my friends who have iphones love my pics and ask me to take pics to send to them because of the low light ability. Especially at night games, golf pics in the shade, etc. I have a pic I took at a golf course as my background on my 30 inch screen and I get compliments all the time on it and people ask me what took such a great picture.

HTC really could have done without that strip at the bottom that does nothing but offer branding. It would have shortened the phone by what, 3-5mm and still not suffered loss of screen landscape. It has branding on the back, so it really wasn't necessary to put it on the front.

Then maybe putting their name on the front wasn't the reason for that space being there.

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I think they originally were going to use capacitive buttons and for some reason decided not to. Their decision probably came too late to change the entire design and dimensions of the phone. I would imagine the M9 or whatever the hell they call it will address that issue. That is my personal opinion of course but I really do feel something like that is what happened because the design seems off in that area. It is the most unrefined part of the phone to me.

I really don't get where people keep getting this from. The logo is there because HTC wants it there. They actually consolidated buttons on the M7 to have it there.

Posted via Android Central App on my daily driver, the Droid MAX

+9000. I don't understand why people think there was a functional reason for HTC's logo there. As YourMobileGuru says, just look at the M7, they purposefully got rid of the multitasking button in order to fit their logo. For the M7, they could have gotten rid of the logo and had all 3 standard keys there, but no…

Gotta say, that's one of the reasons I love Nexus phones, the front is a pure black/glass sheet, no interruptions by unnecessary branding, plus the centrally located TRI-COLOR led notification light.

Everyone taking about the bottom strip and branding are driving me nuts as though the space underneath is just empty and put it there just so they could add a logo. Boom sounds amps and all that other techy goodneess takes up space. I'm quite certain they made the phone as small as possible, it likely came between thinner or taller and they went with thinner.

I was one of those who thought it looked stupid and that there was no reason for it. There are components under there (confirmed at several sites, including iFixit). Having one in my hand now, it honestly doesn't bother me like I thought it would. I suppose they could have put capacitive buttons there to make better use of the space, but I honestly like the on-screen buttons and I'm just glad they didn't go with their weird button configuration from the M7. Now, if they'd just put the power button on the side...

That area isn't empty, it has a huge amount of electronics and antennae underneath. The M8 couldn't be shortened without sacrificing another feature or spec somewhere, the screen couldn't be elongated without destroying the aspect ratio, and we feel there are benefits of added flexibility by moving the buttons on screen.

Disclosure: I work for HTC.

How about the button still being on top and the 4 megapixel camera? I don't wanna sound snobby but hey, you're here and I'm here.

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Two dead s*xy phones here, IMO the two s*xiest (with M7/N4 in the mix), but with the Nexus price point and dev community I wholeheartedly agree Nexus all day every day! Love the boomsound speakers, really that's about it for my love of the M8. Much more than the aluminum/build quality.

I would love it if somehow you could replace blinkfeed with Google now just like on the nexus 5 and keep sense. I know you can't and probably never will, but that would be awesome. Other than that, boy I hope I can get me one of these soon!

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You can download the Google Now launcher apk and install. Pretty straight forward. Eventually I believe it will be available via play store for all non nexus and non gpe devices.

I know...that's not what I'm saying. Just replacing the single blinkfeed page with the Google now page. While still using sense.
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Can't you just hide the Blinkfeed window, change the placement your home screen, and then ad the google now widget?

I like your thinking. But to me that just isn't the same. The widget is static and I really enjoy the scrollable content of Google now. It feels smooth and integrated and always offers me very useful info. The widget just shows a couple small things.

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All this talk about the camera on the M8. I'm on a note 2 right now and while this will take good pics, it's slow. Honestly I liked the speed of the camera on my Galaxy Nexus better. It was only a 5 mp but it was fast and I got lots of great action shots of my daughter when I had that. This note 2 won't do it, takes to long to focus. My wife took over 200 pics on vacation of places we visited with my gnex and they all turned out great. I'm really thinking the speed of the camera, battery life and the speakers are going to sell me on the M8. The build quality looks great too, but I'll still put a case on it. The height doesn't bother me as its shorter than my note 2 I am typing this on.
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I had a Note 2 as well and couldn't agree more with you on the speed of camera focus.
I could go out and take a 100 of them and generally once I saw them on my PC I'd have to delete 40 of them because they were blurry.
Very disappointing.
On the other hand I took the M8 out last weekend on a fmaily day out and fired over over 100 shots.
I had to delete one that blurred for some reason - It was still not as bad as Note 2 blur just not good enough to keep.
I even shot pictures of my kids on swings and every single one of them was perfectly in focus.
For quick snaps the M8 is superb and on the whole I'd rather have less detail but in focus photos.

I'd be willing to bet the quality of the M8 pics was perfectly acceptable for quick shots with your phone weren't they?

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No complaints here considering it's a camera phone and not a SLR.
I really do think the camera is perfect for what it is.
Will be interesting to see what the S5 camera is like though as it's higher MP and Samsung are claiming the same .33 second auto focus time.

Ikr. The nexus fans get a decent little camera and suddenly it becomes the "perfect" phone. I mean...its a great value but far from being the best phone out there.

LG G2 on 4.4. Kit-Kat

It's the best $350/$400 phone out there, bar none, IMO. Really like the M8 though, going to recommend it, and the N5, and this article, to my wife who is tiring of her phone.

The price of the N5 is a significant advantage, but the M8 does have several good answers to the 'why is it so much more' question.

For $100 more, you'd get a G2 with better battery life, better camera, arguably better screen and in overall, a better phone. Well, not to mention in many countries N5 is sold by LG, not Google, and has similar price tags with G2. I still think S5 and M8 are overpriced.

Shouldn't all these comaprison-type articles be comparing phones, that are at least in similar price ranges? Comparing a phone that is double the price just does not make for a good comparison.

The readers might find an article comparing the N5 to phones in the $350-$400 dollar range (and the M8 to phones in the $700+ range) slightly more useful. Unless troll baiting is point of this.

Next article at AutomobileCentral (not a real site):

The Toyota Camry vs BMW 5 series!

spoiler: the car that costs more than double wins in all categories!

Totally agree. The S5 and the M8 are over priced. Even if I had the money (which I do) ...... I'd buy the N5 ..... the M8 and S5 have very little for the difference in price which is important enough. I have a S3 and plan on keeping it ...for now. Still nothing that jumps out that would make me want either the M8 or S5 .... but for $359.00 for the N5 ..... I could take a leap ...but for $650.00 ..... I'm not bending over!

I'd have to agree with a lot of this review and though it was well balanced.
On the subject of cameras (yes the hot potato)
It can't be overstated how damn fast the M8 camera is - it's pretty much impossible to get unfocussed shots in reasonable light.
But yes, 4MP is 4MP - if you like to zoom in and crop your photos this isn't a camera for you.
If like the majority you use a cameraphone for snapshots, pics of the kids running around, portraits of friends and family on holiday that get uploaded up to Facebook etc the camera on the M8 is perfect, easy to use and produces reasonable results with little to no effort.
Just don't expect to be a professional photographer with it.

I agree with your camera statement. I had used the M8 at att and the camera was hands down the quickest one I've used. It would fit perfectly fine into my smartphone picture taking lifestyle as well. The only problem I had with the M7, and probably the M8 too, is that every once in a while I liked to zoom into shots to see something just a bit closer and it really wasn't good at all. But I think that's a fine tradeoff for the rest of the phone!

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It does, yes, but when you have less pixels to work with, it just makes it worse. Lol and compared to how much better the zooming in is on my n5 and moto x, you notice the difference. I know its nitpicking, which is why it doesn't sway my opinion about the rest of the camera/phone.

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There is no such thing as a phone camera being good in every aspect. Depending on the phone you have to sacrifice a little bit of something. Like this guy said.... The zoom on my G2 ain't all that great. Not to mention how it kinda lags in low light conditions.

LG G2 on 4.4. Kit-Kat

Good stuff Alex! As a Nexus 5 owner who also uses a Moto X as a daily driver, I have heard that the HTC One is very tall and it sure looks like it is! 160 grams might be too heavy for me to pocket. Not really into build materials as I use a case so overall I will hold onto what I have. One thing I like is the inclusion of the sd card but Onedrive is working well to back up photos from my Androids, Lumia and iPhone.

This guy is not a fan of Nexus phones, never has used one as his main device as far as I know.
HTC phones on the other hand......


Oh wait, only the Galaxy Nexus in 2011.
And the Nexus 4 in 2012.
And the Nexus 5 in 2013.
And the Nexus 7 in 2013.
And the other Nexus 7 in 2012.

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I'm not sure how to use all these fancy new lingo that you find on the internets nowadays, but I think that "pwned" applies here, no?

And for what it's worth, I've never seen Alex get overly excited for the M8 or the M7 last year. I don't feel there's a lot of bias in the article one way or the other.

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I said Nexus PHONES.

Yeah, you used them for a couple of days, enough to bash them. Then went back to your fav brand.

I played with the M8 in a Verizon store yesterday.
Hated it, I wouldn't trade my N5 for TWO M8s.

Ridiculously tall and slippery, it needs to be kept in a case. So build quality goes out the windows.

Pretty sure that there were 3 nexus phones in the mix there... Hate to burst your bubble, brah

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From my experience, Alex's daily seems to be a Sony most of the that means this is ACTUALLY an unbiased HTC review...which is literally the only reason I read it. Now had it been written by Phil, when you click the review you'd just see a youtube video of Phil blowing the M8 and tickling its anus gently with his pinky, whispering softly how much he loves the way it feels in the back of his throat.

Gosh that's the harshest comment I've seen towards Phil and I would definitely have seen it as inappropriate if it wasn't so damn funny the way you worded it. Sorry Phil...

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Both actually have decent cameras TBH.
People act like the camera on their phone is used for a professional photo shoot.

Um Instagram selfies, random pictures of food, and pictures of your dog or cat are definitely professional photography. Yeah, totally.

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I must be the only person who dislikes the look of the M8. Looks like a tin can. I liked the M7, but this one is a pass.
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make that two. N5 is my daily driver but I also own M7 and much prefer the old look to the new M8 look, it reminds so much of kitchen utensils.

Make that 4. I used to think I liked it, but looking at it more and more just makes me dislike it more. I actually think plastic makes for a much better minimal look.

Got Nexus?

I had an HTC One X when it was still considered their flagship model, just before the "plus" came out. There were minor inconveniences with that phone (the SIM tray/card would lose connectivity and error out the phone.. the fix: use tape to "thicken" the sim card - no comments or help from HTC to fix this, thank you Best Buy for the help). The next problem - which HTC claims to be addressing - was the lack of software updates for the core Android system. And then they said they wouldn't even update it past 4.2 once that finally came out (well over a year since 4.2 was officially released). This means the original One X remains at least 18 months behind in core updates, unless I want to root and ROM to CM or something else. For as blocky and stock the Nexus 5 might seem, I still think it is a far better choice than HTC's empty promises. They were great out of the gate, but too little, too late, after that initial jump. At this point I'd rather buy a Samsung before I went back to HTC.

my S III has 4.3 and is soon to see 4.4 ;)

Posted on my Galaxy S III, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (2013) or Gateway ID49C

That's my point.. it seems the 4.2 update that finally went out to the One X was an afterthought over a year after 4.3 came out.. let alone 4.4.. and HTC said they wouldn't support anything prior to the One after that update. I might have had to buy my Nexus 5 outright, but at least I feel more confident of getting timely software updates

I agree. Between the problems I had with the original Evo and the problems I had with the Evo 4G LTE, I can't see myself ever owning another HTC handset. Between those two phones, I had about a dozen replacement handsets. Not to mention, the maddening lack of updates.

I love my nexus 5 but I can see most of your comments, except for the camera.
Detail is more important than speed, and the nexus 5 isn't even that slow after the last update.
I think the Nexus 5 beats the 4 megapixel ultra pixel camera zooming in or cropping to any degree leads doesn't end well with the M7 or M8.
I don't think we need a megapixel war much over 8 or so, but 4 isn't enough no matter how much light you let in.

Alex I CANNOT WAIT for the S5 review and comparisons. Really hope you or derek do it, your styles and opinions come off with the least amount of bias and the most amount of detail. The others can't talk about samsung without talking about htc in the same sentence.
Great post man.

I played with the M8 yesterday, it almost feels...too metal...The extra length me makes me nervous as hell. Screen and speakers were awesome though. While I'm for the s5, I'd pick this over the nexus as well.

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Battery life is king, you could have the best phone in the world, but without juice, its just an expensive paperweight.

Let me say .... I haven't personally had any first hand experience with either phone. I have read that an official from the screen calibration company "Display Mate" ... made a bold statement the the S5 has raised the bar for smart phone screens. Also ..... it has been found that the S5 battery life is the best amoung the current flagships Since I would be putting a case on any phone that I have ...... it sounds like the S5, for me, would be the better choice. In addition ...... It has a removable battery. It seems that the S5 has beat the M8 in almost every area other than perhaps looks. The samsung devices have proven to be very durable. However, let me say, the M8 is a very nice device. It's a personal preference. I would buy the N5 before the M8 ..... it's just a better value and the ongoing updates just is a big plus. However, I'd buy the Moto X before either of these two devices. I just love that phone. I've spent some time with the Moto X ........ it doesn't have the best specs ...but man it is so sweet. Built like a tank .... feels so right in the hand ...display is awesome ...... does it all ..... and $300.00 cheaper. Great battery life too! I might buy one. I thought I'd never buy a Motorola device ...... it is very nice.

Excellent review and comparison. The single item that makes me most interested in the M8 is the stellar battery performance. Many other things are favourable but the battery is amazing. The items that make me least interested is the camera, sense and then the cost.

I currently run a nexus 4 and am trying to avoid the temptation to buy something new. I love working with vanilla android so moving to a platform with a "skin" is not appealing to me. Shame the Nexus 5 battery sucks.

If there were a Z1 Compact in GPE version that might truly be the killer phone with excellent features, small form and good battery.

I went to Verizon last Tuesday, used the M8, and then went home and purchased a Nexus 5 which I've been using since Thursday. I absolutely love my Nexus 5.

Here's how I see it.

The M8 has two obvious factors going for it compared to the Nexus 5. Battery life and speakers.

In my personal usage I can hit my bed at night with roughly 40% battery still left on my N5 if I don't charge my phone at any point during the day. I also happen to have a dock (and soon to be wireless charger) at my work station so battery life won't be an issue for me with the N5. If you use your phone hard throughout the day and can't charge it at any point then the M8 might be the better choice.

Speakers are pretty irrelevant to me. I use my BlueBuds X's everyday. I have bluetooth surround sound speakers in my car. I have a bluetooth speaker in my bedroom. The moments where I will be using my speakers outside of these 3 scenarios is rare and for short periods of time. For the occasional YouTube clip the N5 is fine. Music IMO sounds like crap on the M8 compared to a proper bluetooth speaker.

I'll give the N5 the edge for feel. The soft matte back is simply a joy to handle. While the M8 certainly feels premium and nice in the hand I'd argue it provides less grip then the N5. If you are using a case it's irrelevant.

Total weight. The N5 wins big here. It's roughly 20% lighter than the M8 and you will appreciate the light weight of the N5 for one handed usage and carrying your phone around.

Notification light. N5 again. HTC is notorious for tiny notification lights. The one on the N5 is very nice.

Sense 6 vs. Stock. This is subjective but I believe it's hard to make a case against stock Kit Kat with timely updates.

Price. If you are planning to purchase on-contract, then perhaps the M8 is a better value for you. However if you are an AT&T or T-Mobile customer you will save money by purchasing the much cheaper N5. Even AT&T will give you a monthly $15 credit if you BYOD to them. And if you are buying off-contract, the N5 savings are a no-brainer.

Wireless charging. This might not matter to many, but it's a cool thing the N5 offers that the M8 doesn't.

Camera. Neither phone has a great camera IMO but in some online comparisons it appears the N5 is actually overall better.

Memory expansion. Clearly the M8 wins this element. However I'd also argue that a 32 GB N5 will be sufficient for many consumers.

Unless you need strong battery life, dual speakers, or an SD card slot, the N5 is better in every way IMO.

Personally I don't think it's very fair to compare two phones side by side when one of them costs almost twice as much as the other. Just my opinion though. :-)

I think its not fair when people don't factor in the value. And he did here, so I'd say its fairly....fair.

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I have to say there's a clear winner; and Samsung and HTC are lucky enough Google is not very bullish marketing the Nexus 5!

1) Wireless charging is awesome, and for me since Nexus 4 it is a must have option in any future phone I buy, if you try it once, you'll never go back.
2) The screen size is the same (may be with some minor enhancements that 99.9% of users won't really feel for HTC), but the Nexus 5 is Lighter and Smaller.
3) The one thing I hate about the Nexus 5 and Love(d) about HTC was the 'Off Screen' buttons! Not sure why people are enjoying wasting screen space for mostly static buttons and being under the mercy of software to hide / show them, rather use the bottom to have the button and use every single pixel for useful stuff ! Now HTC has the worst of both worlds, larger phone and on-screen buttons waster screen real-estate.
4) Price wise, come-on HTC compared to NX5.
5) Faster updates (Granted Nexus 5 will get it)
6) For my own taste, Nexus 5 looks nice too, may be on Par or even nicer given it's simplicity and lack of front logos and not being a finger print magnet also a better choice.
7) By design Nexus 5 is open and unlocked and global, versus whatever you'll have to go through to get HTC to work across the board.

Really, not sure why anyone, unless they are HTC fanboys, or just love the nicer sound of beats or the metal finish that much to give away those obvious advantages and go for an HTC phone!

Good to hear. After seeing the S5 and Moto X, and knowing the M8 is even bigger the S5, I think I am going with Moto X. The Moto X may not have as many bells and whistles, but seems a perfect size for me, nice to handle. good battery, camera fine.

I'd be interested in other's thoughts about Moto x vs S5 and M8.

Old phone beaten by new phone. Lets see how the the M8 does against the S5. Really want to see in-depth info on the screens...

Almost every point given to the M8 were because of software additions made by HTC. Not only is that a one-sided argument, it's never mentioned that almost everything HTC came ahead of N5 with is available via 3rd party with apps, xposed modules or flashable mods. Since I can get every single thing I would want that Sense has on my Nexus while keeping AOSP, and avoiding all the millions of pain points that come with buying a chastized bastard 3rd party device, Nexus 5 (and literally every single other Nexus in existence) blows this hunk of overpriced, overhyped, locked-down piece of garbage out of the water by a long shot.

Finally a camera comparison that actually shows the difference! It definitely struggles in bright light situations.. But that is ok. I still want it! lol

I wouldn't mind a Google Play M8 for sure. But at double the price of the Nexus 5 they need to minimize the bezels and make it much smaller. The way it is now is just too big. They should have slightly shrunk last years and increased the screen size at the same time. I guess it leaves them something to do next year. Build quality to me means as much screen as will fit on the front of the device. This isn't jewelry, it is meant to be used.

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Is HTC's camera dept. on crack? Last year's M7 overexposed the HDR shots and they still haven't improved it this year. This is solely a software fix. For a mode whose only purpose is to expand dynamic range, it's puzzling beyond belief that they can't manage this one year later. I really wanted to like the M8 and sell my M7, but there's too many drawbacks. The phone is just too tall for my liking, especially given the lack of any increased usable screen space.

Do they both have ips displays? I was pretty sure the m8 was lcd 3 like the one.. Not ips. Ips screens are prone to light bleed (ever ips device I've owned and that's as many as the writers here has had some light bleed to a certain extent or another).

I know i am probably totally biased but I LOVE how the Nexus 5 looks and feels. I use it without a case partly because i love the design. Rather than plain i find it unapologetically minimalist and the soft touch plastic of the black version feels great.

That said I'm sure the M8 is a great phone just not for me. I have no use for the front facing speakers and would not accept the compromise of a larger phone for a feature i don't want. Otherwise it is impressive and I wouldn't mind the shutter speed, camera app and larger battery of the M8.

Agreed. The Nexus 5 looks awesome. The nexus logo and the big camera glass piece on the matte finish look gorgeous.

I ordered the Nexus 5 on release day, an I have loved the journey so far. I usually charge the phone overnight, but if I forget, 99% of the time, I can just recharge it at work (still alive and kicking).

32GB storage is plenty for me, so no issues there.

The price performance is not even remotely a minor thing to consider. You get a high-end, no-lag experience for a midrange budget. This matters to me.

I don't like big phones so I wish the N5 could be smaller, but it is thin and the 1080p screen is really nice to have and hard to give up.

My backup HTC One X has Sense and it's nice, but IMO not better than "stock". I personally like you get all the Google stuff, including Now, right there, just one flick away.

Finally, at this price, I can save up for the N6 when it comes around (crossing my fingers).

The M8 has a lot going for it for sure, and I hope it will sell a lot, for HTC's sake, but every time I use my N5, I feel like I got more than my money's worth at a very good price, so N5 it is still for me.

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Looks like a nice device. Camera this and camera that. Ugh. Anymore I take these reviews with a grain of sand. After the epic fail to communicate the serious bugs with Exchange syncing for one in 4.4 on the Nexus 5, they clearly don't review the important thing about a device. Maybe it's because of the device kick backs. Who knows. I wish they would review more of the quality of the OS and any bugs than the physical aspects and camera crap of a device. Far more helpful IMO. But thanks for the superficial comparison between the M8 and Nexus 5 for whatever it's worth.

I have no problems with battery on my N5. I can go at least a day and a half without a charge. I don't even have WiFi where I work! I don't understand how people are having this much trouble with its battery...

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It sounds to me like you aren't a very heavy user to be honest. Nothing wrong with that but in my experience battery life is very subjective to how you use it and the more you use it the worse your battery life.

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The computer in my office is from 2002. I use my phone for everything other than printing.

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Does anyone know if there is a way to change the lack of pagination on the app view? I played with the M8 briefly and it reminded me of the old Nexus One with the constant scroll up and down for the apps installed. I find it kinda annoying. The page by page scrolling on the Nexus 5 is better.

Those bitching about the HTC logo and wasted space... Do you think it's hollow from front to back behind that logo?

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Count me as another N5 user who has absolutely no problem with battery life. I can easily get through a full day.

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I'd like to see a similar article comparing the HTC One (M8) to the Moto X. I remember you guys mostly liking the Moto X better than the Nexus 5, so it should be interesting. My mind is already made up on the Moto X because of ergonomics (5" displays are too big for me, and the M8 doesn't seem to try to make that any easier) and unlocked price, but I'd still be interested for recommendation purposes, especially for those who buy their phones subsidized.

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I really want some of the features added by sense like motion launch (especially with the power button being where it is) and the new camera UI, but I always end up hating the other parts of Sense. I don't know about everyone else, but to me it still doesn't look nearly as good as Stock. I always end up thinking "you know what, this years the year where sense is good enough that I can deal with it. Then two weeks down the line it becomes "nopenopenope" root and stock, which then becomes meh I'll just get a Nexus. Different strokes I guess.

At least Sense is about as fast as stock, now, instead of bogging the processor down.

This N5 owner, former M7 owner, won't be upgrading to the M8. I was planning to, but when I learned that the M8 has the same camera as the M7, minus OIS, I decided to pass. In the comparisons I've done, the Nexus 5 takes much better pictures despite having a crappy camera app. I just can't justify spending $350 to upgrade to a phone that is no faster and has a worse camera, despite everything the M8 has going for it. If the M8 just had a better camera I would probably drop the cash for it.

I've noticed a lot of people are saying they had a go on an M8 demo phone in a shop and based their opinion on that.
To be honest when I tried the demo version in the shop I wasn't overly impressed.
I thought the build and construction materials were nice, I thought the phone was very small after using a Note 2 for over a year, which was a plus for me because the Note 2 was a bit cumbersome at times.
I also liked the fact the M8 is a lot lighter than the Note2 (Still fairly heavy for this generation of phones but lighter than a Note2.)
It seemed fast but as it was a demo phone it didn't have much to play with, I took a couple of photos but viewing them on a 5" screen they are bound to look great.
But I decided to take the plunge and get it mainly because of the epic reviews the M7 received and because everyone else I know was going team Samsung again this year - and I couldn't face another Samsung after a year of the S2 and a year and a bit of the Note 2.
Another thing that swung me was when I walked in the shop my heart was really set on a Z2 so I was only going to see what the M8 was like in the flesh.
Whilst I was in the shop I saw a Z1 and holding both there's no way I wanted the Sony (I know the Z2 has been slightly redesigned but I still don't think it's pretty.)
Once I got the M8 in MY world at home and started using it as my phone I've realised I made the right decision.
The phone is fast, the camera is fast and it's just done everything I've asked it too and done it very well.
It's a solid performer and practical too.
After using a Samsung with their multi coloured menus and "sounds cool but don't generally work in real life" features like smart stay etc I was impressed that the HTC just does what it's supposed to.
It may not be the best at everything but it's consistently excellent and to me that beats a phone that excels in one area and fails in many.

I know some people with HTC Ones (M7) and have played with it myself quite a lot. I really like the phone, the build quality is just superb, the phone feels great in my hand, it is super fast but I have always hated Sense. My brother had a Desire S and it used some older version of Sense. Hated it. My girlfriend has Desire 601 with Sense 5.0. Hate it! And I don't like Sony's, Samsung's or LG's UI either. None the less, I still think HTC makes one of the best phones out there and while I haven't had a chance to play with M8 yet, I think (judging by the pictures) that M7 was absolutely better looking (not even the Glacial Silver M8 has that appeal that Silver M7 has). And I might just be the only one that doesn't look that rounded edges and curved back on the M8.

Just to add: Nexus 5 owner.

That's easily solved by not running the HTC stock launcher. Go rock yourself some Nova, Apex, or ADW action. Having come from the M7 to the Nexus 5, I find myself missing the news I'd get on Blinkfeed, it was a little more random than what I get from the Google Play Newsstand.

Uhm…110% of sRGB isn't a good thing. If anything, it throws off the colour scales and means overblown saturation.

The Nexus 5 still has a better calibrated display.

I found the Nexus 5 to be a very attractive alternative but for two things: (1) lack of removable memory (the HTC M8 supports a 128g removable sdcard); and (2) Nexus 5 is only on AT&T. In my neck of the woods, I may as well carry a brick around as an AT&T phone. Either will connect as well.

Alex, this is an absolutely outstanding article. Having switched from the One to the Nexus 5, I have serious camera envy now. The Nexus camera is so terribly slow, I find that anytime I actually need to get a picture I'm too late for it, or I have to wait what seems like forever for the camera to get itself setup. I do like having the wireless charger on my desk, but I think I may just re-appropriate that for the Nexus 7. So pixel count be damned, nothing I shoot is going to be printed at scale anyway, it's just going on the web or on disk somewhere, and having 128gb of SD Card available, that's just amazing. I may have to visit a T-Mo store to get one that already has some of the carrier features I want on it. Turns out *sometimes* that bloatware is nice to have, like wifi calling.

Sort of an unfair comparison when you're comparing the M8 to a 6-month old Nexus 5. At least the improvements were incremental (outside of the speakers of course), and the Nexus can still hold its own.

I don't think its looked like that. They were released in the same year. Wasn't Nexus capable of thinking ahead? they could!

They weren't released the same year...unless you're thinking of the HTC One M7. The M8 came out on March 25, 2014. The Nexus 5 came out with KitKat (appropriately enough) on October 31, 2013.

Had a quick play with the M8 and really like it, although I do think I might drop it a bit too easily. For my use case the Nexus 5 works well and I could buy 2 of them and have a chunk of change left over on top. That is not a few quid difference but a pretty wide chasm.

Man, my take would be the opposite on most of these issues (I'm guessing - I haven't used an M8 yet).

Things that the M8 wins in my head to head: battery life

That you said that Sense 6 was better looking than stock Android kinda blew my mind, and shows we have very different tastes in aesthetics.

Why even write this? Are you paid by the letter? You couldn't pay me to own an M8! The one shortcoming of the N5 (that are real and you didn't make up) can be fixed with a zerolemon battery case. You also failed to mention that the N5 will get the next OS update way before your pet rock, I mean M8. Your M8 will fall by the wayside in 3 to 6 months and be forgotten...Nexus devices don't have the same fate and as proof most people still own their N1's.

"worth a look" is so wrong, a comment. The phone is terrific and it gets a user by the day easily. There are no bloating apps with Google. The user experience is friendly. I am learning that the Google Nexus 6 is to be made by HTC. If so, it could be a bloat free quality phone!