HTC rivals Apple and Samsung with new phone but lacks a big feature

The Canadian Press
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For some longtime smartphone users, Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy phones are starting to feel a little boring.
Sure, the newest models are always packed with a good number of incremental upgrades that keep the devices top of mind for most buyers.
But it’s been a while since the tech giants have released a new killer feature that’s really taken the world by storm.

The new HTC One M8. — Submitted image

HTC is hoping that represents an opening for its new smartphone, the HTC One M8, which is officially available through Bell, Rogers and Telus this week.

Problem is, it’s a crowded battleground for HTC, which is also competing with the likes of BlackBerry, LG, Microsoft, Motorola and Sony.

And while the HTC One M8 is a very capable high-end smartphone that ably matches up against the big-name front-runners, it too lacks a game-changing selling feature that really sets it apart.

Since just about every top tier smartphone nowadays is built with very similar hardware, tech companies have to go beyond a device’s nitty gritty specifications in marketing their devices.

And so the first thing HTC highlights in its guide for reviewers and journalists is the phone’s design, notably its “wrap-around, high quality, all-metal frame.” It’s certainly a slick phone with excellent build quality and has a very sharp five-inch display that won’t disappoint.

Next is the so-called Duo Camera feature, which uses two lenses on the back of the phone to give shutterbugs some interesting creative tools to work with. After taking a photo, users can play with the depth of field and choose to blur out the background of shots, or make something in the background the focus and blur everything else. It works surprisingly well considering it’s a technique more typically used on DSLR cameras. Some of the built-in Instagram-like filters are also quite good.

But it’s a shame that quick snapshots taken with the HTC One M8 sometimes disappoint. It’s not impossible to coax good results out of the phone’s camera but compared to my experience with the iPhone 5S, it wasn’t quite as reliable in producing a good shot on the first attempt.

With that said, consumers who are upgrading from a three-year-old phone will likely find the HTC One M8 is miles better at snapping photos and high definition video. It just isn’t top of its class.

HTC also highlights the device’s BoomSound speakers, which face the user and are placed just above and below the screen.

The speakers are plenty loud, sound fairly rich with good bass, and work well when no other external speakers are available. But they’re still just phone speakers, albeit very good ones.

All smartphone makers seem to be struggling to come up with the next great breakthrough that truly wows jaded tech addicts.

The buzziest feature of Apple’s latest iPhone 5S is a fingerprint reader, which many users quickly found didn’t work consistently.

Samsung has shaken up the smartphone market by pushing forward the “phablet” concept with its oversized Note and Mega phone-tablet hybrids. But none of the newer software features packed into its Galaxy phones have really stood out.

It’s admirable that HTC is putting some heat on its much bigger rivals by engineering strong products, like the HTC One M8, which are just about as good as anything else on the market.

But in the end, they too haven’t solved the boring problem.

The HTC One M8 will be available for about $230 on a two-year contract or $700 outright.

 

By Michael Oliveira

THE CANADIAN PRESS —TORONTO

Organizations: Apple, Samsung, Bell Telus Microsoft Motorola Michael OliveiraTHE CANADIAN PRESS

Geographic location: TORONTO

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Recent comments

  • PG Man
    April 23, 2014 - 01:58

    I think HTC has shown A LOT of eggs in the basket, when it comes to what consumer gets, this device is really going to start a legacy in main stream support and directly from HTC because there are numerous features that are very future proof and open to suggestions/apps/tweaks, I'm talking about the depth-perception camera on the back, 5mp front camera, stereo speakers(may be possible to enhance with virtual surround by plugins, for example) blink feed, and now Dot View. HTC is really hitting the bulls eye, whether their stocks reflect it or not (yet), it doesn't matter because hardware and software is extremely tweakable, not to mention, if you ever need more cpu power in 2 or more years, which I highly doubt, the metal body is designed to dissipate heat, leaving CPU overclocking a possibility - this is all just from what HTC is opening for developers. From customers end, right out of the box HTC let's anyone really personalize their device - here we go: IR blaster - control ALL your remote controlled things like TV, receivers, etc x infinity, choose what off-screen finger gestures do for you, keyboard that can reason with multiple languages simultaneously, create your own camera (settings) from scratch, for your favorite activity, or time of day or theme and save it. There is no smartphone on EARTH offering longer life, more features, and such tweaking to the extreme, and offering so much out of the box.

  • The Moops
    April 14, 2014 - 07:22

    The supplied photo is not the HTC One. That's a concept design by a non-affiliated party. Fanart, basically. I kind of agree with the camera, though. It's less of a point-and-click and more of a point-and-tap-and-click. Compared to other phone cameras, there's a higher learning curve to getting it right. But when you do, the results are amazing.

  • Alexx
    April 14, 2014 - 03:55

    I think you're mistaken, but forgiven due to you having a life and not being a crazed smartphone fanatic like me :P HTC One has every feature ultra polished and matured, compared to competition, they were pioneering 3D Sense over sterile Windows Mobile almost a decade ago, this article is souding like a spoiled teenager whining not realizing that the killer feature on the new HTC is EVERY feature. Please, pick one UP, play with it, it is pretty exciting i reckon. Best regards, HTC Customer