HTC M8: what we’d like to see

10 February 2014

Currently referred to by its build-name ‘M8’, the successor to the HTC One may have any one of a number of names. HTC Two, HTC One v.2, HTC One+, HTC One-2… the list goes on. Fortunately for us, while we don’t even know what it’ll be called, there are some pretty promising-looking leaks and rumours out there as to how it’ll turn out.

It's currently expected to be announced at the end of February, before being released in late March.

The same build quality

While we want something drastically different from Samsung this year, all we’d like from HTC is something as good as the HTC One in terms of build quality. The unibody aluminium frame was as gorgeous. It really felt like a premium device from the moment you picked it up and it was, by far, the best-looking gadget of 2013.

By the same token we’re expecting to see the front-facing BoomSound speakers make another showing. We can’t see any reason why HTC would suddenly take a step back and ditch one of the most sensible design changes to come along in years.

Speaking of sensible...

A more Sensible UI

Sense 5.0 and 5.5 were good user interfaces (UIs), but they were not without fault. The main problem was the prevalence of BlinkFeed. No UI should be based around a default personalized news app. There are already plenty of free options out there that the user may prefer, so shoving your version down their throat is unlikely to go down smoothly.

Instead, HTC should focus on providing as smooth, intuitive and beautiful UI as it can, without taking Samsung’s route and bogging it down with unwanted ‘features’.

Finally, we want HTC to add Quick Settings to its slide-down notification tray. It’s an incredibly useful feature and its absence feels more like stubborn oversight than a considered decision.

Smaller bezels, a bigger screen

The One didn’t exactly have big bezels, but they could have been smaller. The BoomSound speakers didn’t help with overall size, either. Despite our love for them, they do add quite a bit of length to the top and bottom of the One.

Smaller bezels would allow HTC to up the One’s screen size without changing its overall dimensions.

The One wasn’t as big as its contemporaries and that’s because it had a 4.7 inch display where they all mostly rocked 5-inches and up. We’d like to see a bigger display from the M8, with the provision that the device itself doesn’t increase in size.

There’s something to be said for keeping a device compact and we’d like there to be at least one premium Android on the market that continues the trend. If HTC could increase screen size without significantly impacting the overall dimensions then we’d be very happy. Smaller bezels would be a start. Another option is removing the off-screen capacitive buttons and replacing them with the virtual on-screen ones.

Not everyone likes virtual keys and we don’t blame them. They certainly take some getting used to and usually we’re not big fans either. In this case we’d make an exception because the BoomSound speakers already take up so much room, so it’s more of a trade-off than a sacrifice.

Battery Life

The unsung revolution of 2013’s device market was battery life. The Xperia Z1, HTC One Max, Nokia Lumia 1520 and Nokia Lumia 1320 could all hold a charge for two or more days, even with heavy use. The Lumia 1320 in particular could last around four days.

There’s no excuse for a one-day charge any more. If a 5-inch phone like the Z1 can fit in a 3000mAh battery then we expect nothing less from a later-released flagship from HTC. If 2014 isn’t the year that a two-day charge becomes standard then we’ll be very put out.

Damage resistance

Whether it be from impact or water we don’t care, we just want smartphones to start getting more durable. Sony’s already started doing this with its Xperia Z line, which are fully waterproofed top-tier Android devices. Considering that HTC has already perfected the unibody aluminium frame, we can’t imagine it’d be a big step from that to waterproofing, although the speakers may be an issue.

As for damage resistance, we don’t expect that from HTC for a while. The reason being that with current methods you tend to have to increase the size of a device to do this, which is not something that manufacturers do with their flagship phones.

Alternatively, in the future it could be done with flexible display panels, but currently Samsung and LG are leading the charge with flexible OLED tech. Considering that these companies are both HTC’s rivals, it’s unlikely they’ll be selling their pride and joy off cheaply enough for HTC to keep its prices competitive.

Better resolution

Before you get all up in arms we’ll say two things:

  1. We don’t expect this to actually happen. There have been no legitimate-sounding rumours that suggest we’ll see better than 1080p on the M8. The only reason you might think it’ll happen is because there are plenty of rumours surrounding the Galaxy S5, and HTC is unlikely to let Samsung get the jump in the resolution department.
  2. We think it’s unlikely that there will be much of a distinguishable difference between 1080p and 2k resolution screens, or whatever the upped resolution is. Steve Jobs may have been wrong about what the upper limit of pixel density that a human can distinguish between is, but he certainly wasn’t wrong that it exists.There may be no point in building a phone with better than 1080p, except for that it would be better from a marketing viewpoint.

The only reason we want to see a better resolution is because we want to know if it really does make a difference. We originally thought that going above 720p was foolish, but if you hold a 1080p phone next to a 720p or Retina Display then the difference is noticeable, if not overly obvious. It’d be cool if the same were true for 1080p and 2k, but don't hold your breath.

A better camera

The HTC One had a remarkable camera. Despite what HTC would have you believe about ‘Ultrapixels’, the shooter in the One was just 4MP. Compare that to the 16MP shooter on the Galaxy S4 and usually there’d be no competition, but the One wasn’t your standard camera.

If anything, the 4 Ultrapixel camera on the HTC One was equal to or better than the GS4’s. It took great shots during the day, but the real awesomeness was reserved for night and low-light shots. This is because with current image-sensor technology the fewer pixels you have, the more light you can take in to each shot.

On the downside, shots taken on the One couldn’t really be blown up large. Once you did they started getting a bit grainy, thanks to the lack of pixels. They also suffered from light bleeding if you had two objects of significantly different brightness within the same shot.

If HTC can up the MP count without losing that awesome low-light filtration then they’d have a winning camera. Ditching the light bleeding should be even easier, and we expect to see that addressed no matter what.



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