The HTC One M8 is the one and only Android phone I’m buying in 2014. In fact, I bought the new HTC One M8 just two hours after HTC officially launched the device at a media event yesterday. While there are plenty of good Android phones out there, the HTC one is the best one to launch so far this year and I don’t expect any other company will launch a superior one before the end of the year.
For the past couple of years I’ve experimented with all sorts of Android devices and bought way more than I can count. Almost every time a new flagship device comes out I buy it to see if it can unseat my iPhone as my primary mobile device or at least come in a close second. Each and every Android phone I’ve bought or tried as part of a review program has failed to unseat my iPhone as my primary device. After years of experimenting, I have decided to make the HTC One M8 my secondary device and simply avoid buying any more Android phones for the rest of the year.
The HTC One M8 is a luxurious and refined phone. It is simply gorgeous. As I’ve mentioned before, if Apple were to design Android phones, they would look something like the HTC One. HTC’s industrial design and build quality meet or surpass Apple’s in every way. The new HTC one is solid and blends in perfectly with the Apple MacBooks and iPads I use every day.
There are simply too many Android phones out there that look and feel cheap because of their plastic exteriors and flimsy construction. Samsung’s plastic flagship phones are perhaps the worst case of this. While the Samsung Galaxy S5 is overflowing with features, its external design isn’t in the same league as the HTC One’s or the iPhone 5s’s. While I would appreciate the galaxy S5’s water resistance and compatibility with its new Gear watches, those two features aren’t enough to persuade me to use Samsung’s devices over the HTC One.
I’ve bought several Google Nexus devices over the past couple years to experience stock Android myself and get the timeliest updates. Google prices its Nexus devices so that they are affordable to those who must buy their phones unsubsidized, but the trade-offs are substantial. For example, the Nexus 5 is a pretty good phone overall, but its camera is pathetic compared to the cameras on the HTC one, Samsung galaxy S4, iPhone 5S and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. A poor camera is a dealbreaker for someone like me that has a toddler running around. I don’t expect Google to make the new Nexus 6 a truly brilliant device, which means the camera will continue to be at weak point.
Of course hardware is only part of the equation when it comes to buying phones. HTC’s Sense is much cleaner than Samsung’s Touch Wiz. these are the software layers these companies put on top of Google’s Android to make it their own and differentiate their devices to consumers. I find HTC’s Sense cleaner and easier to use.
The HTC One M8 has a killer feature called Zoe Camera that I really like. As soon as I press the shutter it starts recording video and shooting still continuously. HTC’s Highlight feature automatically remixes still photos and videos into music videos that look much better than the slideshow features on any other phone. This makes sharing photos and videos from parties extremely easy. In fact, I often shoot with Zoe Camera (both on the original HTC One and the new HTC One M8) instead of my Sony and Nikon cameras that cost thousands of dollars if I want to share a lot of content quickly and easily. Zoe and Highlights are two features that are simply killer features that I wish were available on the iPhone and every other phone I use. HTC announced that the Zoe Camera app will be available in the future in the Google Play store for any Android smartphone, but it won’t be integrated into their core camera apps.
The new HTC One M8 is slightly bigger than the original HTC One, but it isn’t as huge as the Galaxy Note 3 or other phablets. It strikes a happy medium between usability and having a screen large enough to enjoy videos. We expect to see the Galaxy Note 4 this fall, but considering how little I used my Note 3 I’m going to pass on the next version.
Picking a phone is a highly personal decision and the HTC One M8 isn’t right for everyone, but it is my top pick for anyone shopping for an Android phone. My overall smartphone top pick remains the iPhone 5s thanks to its ease of use, extensive support and ecosystem.
Apple is going to launch at least one all-new iPhone this fall. As I mentioned before, the iPhone 5s is my primary phone for a number of reasons and whatever Apple comes up with next will take its place. While I enjoy using Android devices for a number of tasks, I never leave home without my iPhone. Even though the HTC One M8 and other Android phones have distinct advantages over the iPhone 5s, nobody else sells as complete a package as Apple.
With a new HTC One in one pocket and my other pocket waiting for the iPhone 6, my smartphone shopping is done for the year unless something really big happens.