HTC One (M8) Android Smartphone Review

Performance: Battery Life and Camera

HTC shook up the longstanding megapixel race with the introduction of the UltraPixel camera system. It’s a 4 megapixel rear sensor which doesn't sound so good next to the 16MP sensors in devices like the S 5, let alone the 41 megapixel sensor in the Lumia 1020. HTC’s argument is that quality and functionality trumps raw megapixels, and that the UltraPixel’s magic is in the details.

In prior tests of One devices, we have been impressed with how the images turned out, and the new HTC One is no different. Despite having a lower megapixel count, the camera consistently delivered sharp and blur-free photos in daylight, while also capturing impressive shots in low light environments. The Duo Camera (which is essentially a depth sensor situated atop the actual camera sensor) enables some fairly outstanding bokeh effects too.

There’s a two-stage LED flash, which is becoming commonplace on flagship phones. Much like the one on the iPhone 5s, this enables images taken at night to exhibit far more natural skin tones. It’s not perfect, but for a camera phone, it’s pretty darn good.

All in all, the One features a fantastic camera, but the 4 megapixel limitation may turn a very small contingent of users off in they're hoping to print out poster-sized prints. For the average user, only concerned with sharing on Instagram and the like, the One’s camera is very good. It’s quick, trouble-free, and can be used with the new (and free) Google Camera app, which allows access to a plethora of manual controls. Have a look at the unedited samples below and judge for yourself.

HTC One (M8) unedited photos; click any to enlarge

The battery in the HTC One is a non-removable 2,600mAh cell, representing a 300mAh boost from the 2013 One. Google (along with Android phone manufacturers) have wised up, and now provide a number of battery-saving options to users who tend to blow through capacity by midday. There’s a standard battery saving mode on the HTC One, which disabled frequent polling when it remains idle for a length of time. Then there’s an ultra battery saving mode, which effectively kills everything except for the ability to talk and text. It’s a nice ace to have up your sleeve, as just 10 percent of your battery can maintain a call for well over an hour in this mode.

In our testing, which involved hours of e-mail checking, a plethora of social apps set to refresh every 15 minutes, five or six conversations, plenty of messaging and a fair amount of photo taking, we managed to get through a grueling 16 hour day with 25 percent remaining. That’s a fantastic thing to report for a top-tier Android phone with a cutting-edge SoC and tons of power taxing the battery throughout the day. We feel comfortable in reporting that most One users will have no issues plowing through a busy day on a single charge, though heavier users may cut it close. As you see in the scores above, HTC did manage to improve the life of the 2014 One compared to the 2013 One.

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