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December 13, 2015

Unboxing & Review: HTC One M8 Eye


HTC quietly released the HTC One M8 Eye to the Asian market back in October 2014. At the time of release, the flagship - HTC One M8 is just around 7 months old. That is quite a move by the Taiwanese company, considering that the major changes they have done to the phone is replacing the controversial 4MP UltraPixel camera with a plain 13MP shooter.

HTC assured that they are not pulling away from the UltraPixel technology, instead they are trying to offer choices to the customers. Ironically, HTC never made the M8 Eye available globally which is a rather mind boggling decision.

Despite the One M8 Eye was spotted in the SIRIM database during January 2015 but it never show up for the party until October 2015, TEN months late. That being said, the device priced at mid-rangy RM1399 still rocks a rather high performance Snapdragon 801 SoC with Android 5.0. Let see if it holds up to our expectations.

Retails for RM1399.00.

Specifications Overview

General

  • Dimension: 146.4  x  70.6  x  9.4 mm (5.76  x  2.78  x  0.37 in)
  • Weight: 160 g (5.64oz)
  • Body: Aluminum Unibody
  • SIM: Nano-SIM
  • Connectivity:
    • GSM / HSPA / LTE
    • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 & 5 GHz)
    • Bluetooth 4.0

Display

  • Size: 5.0 inches
  • Resolution: 1080  x  1920 pixels (~441 ppi) IPS LCD
  • Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass 3

Under the hood

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400
  • GPU: Adreno 330
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Storage: 16 GB, supporting MicroSD up to 128 GB
  • Battery: Non-removable 2600 mAh Li-Po

Camera

  • Rear:
    • Duo Camera
    • 13.0 MP BSI sensor, auto focus
    • ƒ/2.0 28mm lens
    • Dual-LED, Dual Tone flash
    • 1080p video
  • Front:
    • 5.0 MP BSI sensor
    • 1080p video

Software

  • OS: Android 5.0.2 Lollipop (upgradable to Android 6.0 Marshmallow in near future)
  • UI: HTC Sense 6

Packaging


Clean packaging. The box is mostly white with a sharp and high contrast product image at the front.


Open box.


In the box:
  • HTC One M8 Eye
  • 3pin USB charger (1.5A)
  • USB cable
  • In-ear earphones
  • Product guides and warranty
Standard package with a bundled in-ear earphones.

Design


Front of the phone looks super sleek. The screen blends perfectly with the bezel as well as the speakers.


The metal unibody with brushed finishing looks extremely classy. The back is rounded and fits nicely on the hands.

Cellular antennas are affixed to the black non-metal stripes because metal isn't that friendly with cellular reception. If you still remember the Apple iPhone 4's reception issue due to the placement of the antenna at the metal rim.


Wrong power button placement. The One M8 Eye is such a tall phone that in order to reach for the button requires you to stretch your index finger. Not to mention that the button is too recessed into the device making it even more difficult to press.

Most of the time I will rely to HTC Sense motion gesture to wake the phone, such as double tap to wake, swipe up to unlock and more.

The original One M8 comes with IR blaster underneath the power button, but they have gone and designed the top with a panel of IR blaster window. I'd rather call it visor cause is sounds much cooler. BUT, you're not getting the IR blaster in One M8 Eye. Underneath the power button has nothing and you cannot remote control your TV nor air-conditioner with this phone.


Volume rocker at the right side. A pop out tray to support up to 128GB MicroSD card.

HTC has done it again and again, you CAN have MicroSD card slot with unibody design. Other manufacturers who sacrifice MicroSD slot for the sake of design should go back to their drawing board.


Nano SIM card tray at the left.


Unibody, Nano SIM tray, MicroSD card tray. How hard can it be?


Micro USB port and 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom.

Smooth rounded edges, that shows the production quality control of the metal body.


5 inch, 1080p full HD display at the front.

Generally speaking, the display is amazing, clear and vibrant. The colour saturation is just right compared to AMOLED panels. Perfect combo with the HTC BoomSound speakers for multimedia consumption.

Touch accuracy is point on accurate, however the sensitivity is a little bit on the over side. We believe that HTC increased the sensitivity of the screen to cope with the Dot View case so that the screen still can capture user's input even with a layer of Dot View front cover.

Being too sensitive is not always good, especially when the bezel is thin. I would often accidentally trigger the Chrome or Camera app when I'm just holding the phone.


Size comparison with other 5 inch phones.

LG Nexus 5, HTC One M8 Eye and Xiaomi Mi 3.


With the display lights up, the infamous HTChin can be easily noticeable. Understand that the HTC BoomSound speakers might take up quite a bit of space at the top and bottom, but the blank space taken solely by the HTC logo doesn't speak the same design language as the rest of the phone.

It looks hideous to be frank.


All for all, the One M8 Eye's design and construction is 100% identical to the original One M8.

The build and material reeks quality. The downside? Slippery body.

HTC's answer? Put on a casing.

Casing


So, instead of including a HTC Dot View case, the One M8 Eye comes with a silicon-like soft casing.

Dilemma, either to cover up such beautiful device with the case or risk dropping the phone and ruins the elegant build quality.


The casing has covers for the Micro USB and audio jack.


Flexible and somehow it feels kind of sticky to touch. Worst of all? It attracts dust!


Matches perfectly with the gun-metal grey colour of the phone.


The port cover is a little stiff to open. The only thing to worry about is how will it stand against the repeated process of open and close since you need to change the device at least once a day.


Annoying but it protects the port against dust and potential moisture.

Software


The One M8 Eye runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with HTC Sense 6.0.


Although HTC Sense 6.0 was originally based on Android 4.4 KitKat, but it works well with Lollipop.


The BlinkFeed, HTC's Flipboard look-alike news aggregator.


Apps drawer.

There are tonnes of Android "skins" available out there and some of them are downright terrible. HTC has gone through the days of heavily customized launcher, with each iteration of HTC Sense, we can see that they have finally going towards the direction of simplicity and practicality.

Camera


Same HTC Duo camera, no UltraPixel this time. The primary shooter is now 13MP sans optical image stabilization.

Every time you press the shutter button, the primary camera will take a photo, meanwhile, the secondary camera would record the depth information so that you can readjust the focus of the image during editing.

There's a few problem however:
  • You can only take advantage of the depth information using HTC's Gallery editing function or any third party apps that actually use the HTC's Duo camera API.
  • It will only work when you take photos in 16:9 ratio.
  • Everything in the photo need to be in focus else even the the depth information, you can't get back what being blurred.



Here's a sample. Left is the original image.


If you're not a fan of all those functions, you still can treat it as a regular camera. In fact, most of those features are only available during editing process.

The camera app launches quickly and nimble at taking photos. Definitely a plus because you don't want your phone to freeze on you and miss the moment.

One thing however, despite the camera is fast at launching and taking images, it lags and struggles when I try to review the image I just took. The lag also occurs when you press the home button after you're done with the camera app. Presumably that some software optimization is required over here.

I'll leave some photo samples here, all straight out of camera without any editing.




Final Thoughts - Actual Usage Performance & Battery Life

The phone is equipped with a high end SoC - Snapdragon 801 with 2GB of RAM. A bit old, but still kicking, heck, even mid-ranged phones nowadays have reasonable performance unlike 3 years back where the only phone that actually good are the flagships.

Apps performance and overall user experience is fluid and snappy. There isn't much to complain about the phone. Of course, compared with newer and more efficient SoCs, the older Snapdragon 801 isn't a power sipper. Paired with OS optimization, the embedded 2600mAh battery still can last for a whole day use with average 3~4 hours screen on time which is quite good to be honest.

Then the price, at MYR1399, we find it difficult to justify. HTC might call it a refresh for the one year old device, but for mass public, it is just a remix of something that has being around. What not, they could have purchased something else with the money, for instance, the original One M8's competition LG G3 can be bought at same price with a lot more to offer. If getting older generation devices isn't up to your liking, Huawei Honor 7 can be get at the same price and comes with premium build quality and performance components.

Pros:
  • Clean packaging
  • Solid and high quality aluminium unibody design
  • Good performance
  • Good battery life
  • Great screen
  • Amazing HTC BoomSound speakers
  • MicroSD card support

Cons:
  • Slippery body
  • Wrong power button placement
  • HTChin
  • Over sensitive touchscreen
  • Gimmicky HTC Duo Camera
  • Stripped out (IR blaster, NFC)
  • Price

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