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HTC M8 HK Edition is a solid all aroud 2014 phone minus some things...
on May 9, 2014
BIG UPDATE 1/19/2015:As a Side not for any would-be purchasers of this phone. MARCH 1st or that week is the announcement of HTC's NEWEST FLAGSHIP PHONE...The HTC M9. So anyone who would be looking for the latest and can wait for March's announcement. Unfortunately availability is not yet known, so EXPECT A RELEASE OF THE NEW M9 and preorder to be shortly after the announcement(like last year), or a couple months later.
What can I say about a device so beautifully built but plagued with small details, that may annoy users who use this on Sprint.
1 word: Impressed
HTC's design hits a grandslam and ups it a lil' with nice sound processing software from Harmon Kardon. They add headphones which perform well for being $150 headphones. HTC's Sense UI is cleaner and more refined as ever, Camera with a solid vision behind its specs....but on Sprint this device like the regular M8 suffers from connectivity issues that can annoy the living hell out of you. But there are workarounds to this that i can detail.
Design: Beautifully made aluminum design that gives the phone a nice heft and weight. When Apple included a aluminum design in its phone ppl went head over heels for it. Trust me this phone commands the same respect and more. It's a beautifully contoured phone for the hand, but I will warn slippery. The aluminum on the back has a refined polish feel that could leave it falling out of your hands. If you wish to protect it and show off its beauty, then protect it with a thin case....Plenty on Amazon, and I'm using a Kayscase which is awfully thin and provides a lil more grip. I will add that Aluminum has its negatives, if dropped it will dent easily, scratch easily, and probably bring down reception if the antennas are not properly placed on devices. Plastic can pull of the premium feel if the design of the phone is exceptional with just the right heft to it. So I am no fanatic for aluminum but this thing will catch your eyes. The Bezel with the HTC Logo has become a hefty issue within the android community. Called out as a waste of screen real estate, while HTC defends it as necessary to place components under it. After reading so many reviews it scared me to think it was big, but up close it is a bezel that isnt very large as many made it seem. I understand the communities hate for it at large but I think its not a horrible add to the phone. Because of it you may notice "Hey, I got to hold my hands a lil bit higher for typing on the screen" type of thing, but it goes away. The Asymmetrical design of the devices speaker grills have become a not-so-hot subject but for those with an eye for symmetry it may be awkward looking for them. On the Harmon Kardon Edition you might find its color to be very pleasing. Black Aluminum with Gold speakers grills give off a simple yet refined look. Many around you will be impressed with its design and color scheme. I sure dig the black and Gold look, its just plain beautiful. Now It's overall designs has minor questionable decisions on part of HTC but its far from an ugly device..... As a last message its not waterproof, DO NOT do it to urself and test it out no matter what videos you saw on youtube.
3G signal/Spark Signal: I must say we have a big issue here ranging from my own experience to seeing the experience many are going thru on forums. 3G and Spark Signals are just not holding well, many M8's cant decide to connect to one or the other. What I have deduced is that this is an multi part issue. The phone when placed on its power saving feature cuts the connection during periods of no use when screen-off, Sprint Connection Optimizer is trying to see which connection is best which in turn maybe forcing a hang up on which to choose, LTE is not holding because the other 2 are trying to do something else. U go into the settings and looking under "mobile data", and u have got domestic voice and data voice checked off...go into "roaming guard" and its got all kinds of things checked off in contradiction..Sprints Circuit Switch Fall Back technology forces a switch from 4G to 3G just so u can recieve texts and calls, thus taking away the feature of simultaneous voice and data sessions...all of this is culminating to issues on ppls Sprint M8's IMO. I started experiencing this and the only way to fix it was turning off Sprint Connectiions Optimizer, and unchecking the boxes under mobile data and roaming guard. That gave normalcy to the system. others claimed in unchecking the boxes under mobile data and roaming guard, it stopped the phone from attempting to roam on Verizon thus stopping the internal confusion. It's worked for me. and my 4G signals are holding and my texts and phone calls are coming thru as normal. Of course Sprint needs to jump its tower upgrades to relieve congestion in its most populated areas. if you havent gotten to accept slow 3G speeds on Sprint since 2011 so u can get unlimited, then i dont know what to say to you. Sprint 4G Speeds around Union City, NJ where I frequent are horrible .500Kbs to 5-8Mbs range and it fluctuates wildly, and dont be fooled by the sprint spark icon spinning, just cuz its on doesnt mean ur taking advantage of all of its LTE frequencies...in my area we are still getting its 1900Mhz signal on my phone. Being and sticking with Sprint as long as I have is an exercise in Faith and patience for a company.
Update 12/9/14: After substantial months of use Sprints expansion of LTE in NJ is slowly building and improving the all around data experience of this phone. Sprint is in dire need of using its newest and latest technology gains in this state to improve service. The CSFB(Circuit Switch Fall Back) technology that the M8 and other spark phones have no choice to use is hit or miss and ill explain. CSFB is used at the cell sites becuz newer phones have processors efficient enough to handle Voice and LTE connections, but it can only do these things 1 at a time. So if your on LTE and a phone call is attempting to route to ur phone, the cell site intelligently turns off ur LTE connection to allow a 3G voice connection to ring thru. This is why many are asking why they cant do simultaneous data on sprint phones now, and this is the reason why. Once the Voice call ends LTE turns back on. Its supposed to be seamless but I have seen otherwise. Though I do not make many phone calls, there remains a real problem where CSFB causes phone calls to take TOO LONG to make a connection. Ive seen the tech not allow a phone call to connect for almost 1min or 5 mins(just a test)forcing me to end calls and start over. It is pretty atrocious, and life threatening from a 911 standpoint. I think this an issue of this tech working seamlessly and efficiently at the Cell site itself and not the phone. Other then that 90 percent of my phone calls start up quickly and not to a detriment to me, and hopefully no one else.
Screen: I think we are at a point where we are jumping into HD ranges in AMOLED and LCD Screens that 1080p or 720p shouldnt be an issue. I will say at 1080p, 2k, 4k, screens may take up a lil more juice from the battery, but nothing major. 2014 phones will be awesome in the battery dept and even cranking the screen full brightness shouldnt be much of a problem. I will say the screen is extremely sharp at angles as well. Colors are vibrant, and im not into the whole color saturation thing...Blacks are blacks and whites seem white to me...better then the Galaxy Nexus tho...
Performance: even with its hang ups on signal, so far my Harmon Kardon edition hasnt shown vast overheating, or slow downs. This device is coded well, except for its signal searching abilities...Its processor opens up new screens and programs instantly. It is a device of 2014 flagship calibre. Wifi performance is top notch, tho I wished it had MIMO within like the S5. The S5's Wifi tech blows anything out of the water currently. A great add would have been a download booster to combine the LTE and Wifi signals but that is not a feature within this puppy. Opening up the camera is instant. It has USB Charging 2.0 abilites but we must wait for compatible chargers...Only way to charge the phone quickly is by placing the device in extreme power saving mode and letting it charge.GPS is spot on. Havent tested the tethering options and waiting to root and unlock the device for that feature.
Battery: Astounded..I came from a Galaxy Nexus, considered one of the worst Nexus devices with atrocious battery life. This battery, Snapdragon 801 processor, Sense UI, power save, and extreme power saving mode just work harmoniously. I noticed the Snappdragon works so well that when watching netflix for one straight hour it drains slowly. On my old phones it caused 30-40 percent drops...not on this puppy. ur probably seeing 2-10% or less drops during video sessions. That's phenomenal. Unfortunately there is not a removeable battery. Realistically I sat down and tried to honestly gauge whether this battery will degrade substantially in 2 years and I dont believe so...Im a power user of Android and a smart user as well, and I think the best way to honestly extend the life of this battery, is by using the extreme power save feature during moments u honestly know ur not going to use the full potential of the phone. Let the device die to 0% even if it take a 1 day and half or a few days for it to die. Maximizing its potential this way will allow u to recharge less often, thus keeping ur charging cycles to low levels and probably allowing u to enjoy the device past 2 years. Just my way of thinking....BTW I know of all the back and forth on whether letting it die is wrong or right.
UPDATE 5/12/14:To give a lil perspective, phone is currently at 20h 33min of battery. Yesterday took pictures and made a video for a bday party, texting thru the day, but no netflix, with a lil web usage, about 10 phone calls made under 5-10 mins each, and did not use extreme power saving mode till night time and deactivated this morning. Mostly used the standard power saver mode thru the day yesterday.
Update 5/28/14: My usage times are averaging 18-36hrs with occasional spurts of graphics demanding games. I will add that intensive games like Shadowgun:Deadzone tax the hell out of the phone,and drain power rather quickly. 15-25% drops or less in 1hr of gaming. Be realistic when considering your usage and the need for battery life and the need for a removable battery to expand capacity. The Snapdragon processor is more then capable of being efficient but games heavy in graphics and demanding data simultaneously will drain the phone. Sprints network also aggravates battery drainage due to their delayed network upgrades. Gaming, Data demands of games, if the game is coded to work efficiently, and solid network connections are all big considerations. Your mileage may vary across carriers.
Camera: No different from what other reviews have experienced on M8's..U have those who hate the low count on MP and me being an tech head, I see the issue with it. The camera is a fast beast capable of great shots as long as you dont need to zoom in or expand a picture to the size of a canvas. BUUUTTTT there is an issue with light being overblown in standard pictures...light sources tend to outshine everyone and tend to shine on ppls faces more brightly in doors. HTC is in desperate need of a software update to address that small camera issue. It would make pictures look so much better the first time u take one. Its lowlight photography is pretty great to at least capture those night shots. HTC's got that part of its marketing for the word "Ultrapixel" down pact, because thats what a larger sensor over each pixel is supposed to do, capture more light. It's HDR mode give the pictures a lil more pop and defines the colors well. I think HTC hit the nail on the spot on keeping a weaker camera but solid camera. This is not the device to catch gigantic defined 16MP shots because ur gonna get grain like artifacts, this is a device for the average consumer who takes pictures on minimal to average basis, with no zoom, who uses the camera to capture the moment in alot of social, darkly lit gatherings, uploader of facebook or instagram. There is a solidly built idea behind this camera and the effects you can place on its pictures that caters to a crowd who is capture-go-ProcessMaybe and not worried about MP's. U want defined pics to blow up then a 10-16MP shooter is on other phones....and to be honest, most cant catch a lick of good light in darker shots. The only thing blowing over this camera and others is the OnePlus One which currently wont be usable or purchasable thru CDMA carriers like VZW and Sprint.
Update 12/9/14: The flak the camera has been receiving all these months is justified from Definition/HighQuality standpoint. Using the basic camera settings in gatherings have proven quite fulfilling. My wife would rather I use my camera then her iPhone 5c. She is consistently impressed of the shots in low light settings in which it produces a shot clear enough for people to notice "hey this was taken in a low light setting, but the picture itself turned out average or well n better then what others can get". I dont know but I am realizing I am using the phones post processing software more often, and really digging the low light ability. It's a shame the rumors of the HTC M9 coming in 2015 most likely will not have the awesome low light abilities. I guess no one appreciated the Ultra pixels.
Harmon Kardon Software n Headphones: What a great combination, this is something u need to hear. Put on those $150 pair of headphones and appreciate the sound algorithms that Harmon Kardon popped on here. It's pretty darn good, not awesome but very good. The headphones perform close to what my bose in-ear headphones did.These heaphones paired with its livestage Clarifi algorithms make the tracks sound nice and varied, nice bass, nice highs, nice lows. It gives a great balance of full sound and works awesomely with uncompressed tracks along the 192Khz or higher range.
User Interface:Very responsive along with everything else. This phone is speed and HTC sense gives it that, tho I find it horrible for Sense to be bloated at close to 6GB worth of the phones internal memory. The settings menu is very simple to understand and no different from any other Android except for the Galaxy S5's menu; I hear thats a learning process in itself. Blinkfeed adds a Flipboard like experience that really is nice looking, it maybe colorful and overload your eyes, but the ability to add feeds for news simplifies getting the news and subjects that interest you. Blinkfeed supposedly, according to other reviews, doesnt drain massive battery, but it must cue for data consistently to allow you to see new articles. Expect battery life to be impacted a lil' more then usual. U can remove Blinkfeed from your homescreens if your anal about getting rid of useless apps that drain power.
Aside from the negatives I may have mentioned up top...There is one teany definite no-no committed on a phone of this calibre:
ClutterWare,Crapware,Bloatware galore. I understand Sprints Push for its services but its services are definitely not wanted by most users. Sprints music services are celebrated on their website, and if you have a Sprint Framily plan your able to enjoy 6 months free of Spotify(music service)because u have a HK edition, then stay on that service at a discounted price. Those not on framily plans who purchase this device, can get spotify at a discounted price then after it goes to its regular price...or something like that. Those of you who use spotify can look up the specifics to see if this benefits you when purchasing a HK Edition. Regardless, Bloatware should be eliminated if not given the option to uninstall all of it.
In Totality the HK Edition is an awesomely built phone no different from its Regular Breathren. This puppy just gives you a nice color scheme, Very good heaphones, a great sound algorithm pushing sound, and just awesome battery life depending on your use. This is the common man's sound pumping phone. This does not have a super camera but includes camera software to enhance enjoying your pictures, but not blowing them up to huge sizes. This is a phone with a vision for simplicity, quick enjoyment, solid performance, and to enjoy its design. This is not the Galaxy S5 and in direct competition features on the S5 can most definitely sway the populace. Both phones call different audiences, both provide awesome battery life, the S5 Provides a great camera and an effective design that is waterproof...something the M8 can not provide. If it did this phone would have been swayed many from purchasing the S5 regardless of a 16MP camera. Both phones are designed beautifully, one metal and one plastic, but I find that in the extreme effort to provide massive software abilities Samsung has overloaded everyone of their galaxy's with software that can lag a bit too much, while the M8 Provides a cleaner smoother experience. Many ppl hit the jackpot on the Galaxy's and find no slow down, but dont fully exploit its features. HTC's vision sticks with simplicity and elegance, yet I can only recommend this phone to users who are willing to accept missing a few conveniences such as wireless charging, removable battery, waterproofing, 10+MP camera. The only way to experience what I've mentioned is to go and test the M8's at ur respective carriers, Keep in mind this HK edition is for sprint only.
...... and if your android enthusiast whether you get one or the other, WE KNOW HOW TO ROOT'EM, EXPLOIT'EM, and remove the nonsense to make both these phones run to the best of their abilities.