The HTC One (2014) has been a hot topic since the start of the year, and it was even one of the most anticipated phones of this first half. With the Galaxy S5, Xperia Z2 and LG G3, of course. However, it has now been a little over a week that he accompanies me on a daily basis and the time has therefore come to tell you the story of this strange experience.
As usual, I draw your attention that this test will not be technical. Okay, you'll still get the usual benchmarks, but don't expect complicated measurements using expensive probes either.
So are you ready? Really ? Okay, so let's go on an adventure.
No need to change a winning team. No connection with the 2014 World Cup, by the way. No, in reality, this remark rather concerned the structure of this article since we will start by (re) diving into the technical sheet of the terminal, just to refresh our ideas:
- 5 inch S-LCD3 screen.
- Full HD 1080p definition, 441 ppi pixel density.
- Gorilla Glass treatment 3.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AB processor clocked at 2.3 GHz.
- GPU Adreno 330.
- 2 GB of RAM.
- 16 GB or 32 GB of storage.
- Micro SD card reader (128 GB).
- Port for Nano SIM cards.
- UltraPixel 1/3 ″ 4 million pixel sensor.
- 28mm f / 2.0 lens.
- Additional 2.1 million pixel sensor.
- 5 million pixel front camera.
- WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 4.0 aptX, GPS, NFC, 4G / LTE.
- Micro USB 2.0 (MHL) port.
- Accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, proximity / brightness detector.
- FM tuner.
- 2,600 mAh battery.
- Dimensions: 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm.
- Weight: 160 grams.
- Average price: 679 euros.
On paper, we therefore have a configuration that is very, very close to all the “superphones” of the moment. The technical sheet of the HTC One (2014) is thus very similar to that of Samsung's Galaxy S5, to name but one.
With a notable feature: the Duo Camera system, or Dual Camera in the language of Shakespeare. HTC has indeed integrated a second sensor at the back of its terminal in order to record additional information on the scene, the idea being ultimately to increase the feeling of depth of field.
We will have the opportunity to talk about it a little later, but this technology is ultimately quite disappointing in practice, and in everyday life.
Design & Ergonomics
The HTC One (2014) is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful devices that can be found on the market today. Massive, it has exceptional finishes. Its metal shell will not leave anyone indifferent and it is ultimately a very beautiful object that you will not be ashamed to display during social evenings.
However, and as mentioned in my handling, it is also more imposing than other mobiles in its category. Its size is quite very close to that of the Xperia Z2, and this even though the latter has a 5.5-inch screen that places it on the phablet segment. Better, it even pays for the luxury of being longer (but narrower) than the LG G3, that's to tell you.
But is it annoying on a daily basis?
Absolutely not. As often, everything is a matter of habit. Once the surprise of the first few hours has passed, you quickly get used to its reassuring presence.
Now let's move on to its ergonomics. The M8 has no button on the front, HTC having effectively opted for touch controls managed directly by Android. Despite this change, there is still a black banner located under the screen , with the brand's logo superimposed. Two loudspeakers hidden by a grille pierced into the metal shell of the terminal are also part of the game.
These grids also house the main microphone of the device, its various detectors and the notification LED.
On the left edge, we will find the hatch concealing the port for the Nano SIM card. On the other side, we will have another hatch, for the micro SD card. It is closely followed by the two buttons dedicated to volume control.
It's a bit silly, but the HTC One (2014) doesn't have a physical trigger.
The power button is located on the upper edge. We will therefore need our second hand to access it. HTC has however done things well and its overlay thus includes a function very similar to LG's Knock On. It will be very difficult to use it with one hand anyway and this is not surprising given the diagonal of its screen.
At the back of the device, we will find the two optics, the double LED flash of the main sensor and the manufacturer's logo.
A real faultless? Maybe not, but HTC has still set the bar very high and few devices can boast of doing so much in the high end.
Screen, Power & Autonomy
As much writing black on white, the screen of the HTC One (2014) is beautiful. While it doesn't push the frenzy as far as the LG G3, it is still excellent quality with gorgeous colors, crisp whites and deep blacks. If you are used to watching a lot of videos on your mobile, then the M8 is literally for you.
What about power level, then?
Unsurprisingly, the Snapdragon 801 fulfills its role very well and the terminal is thus extremely responsive. It doesn't matter whether you drag your digital gaiters on the social networks of the moment or whether you land in front of a greedy game, the guy will not fail.
But what you like are the numbers, and the benchmarks. Very well, my friends, you will be very happy because here are the scores obtained by the M8 on BenchmarkPi, Quadrant, Linpack, An3DBench, Geekbench and AnTuTu:
- BenchmarkPi: 242.
- Quadrant: 13,460.
- Linpack: 407407.
- An3DBench: 7308.
- Geekbench: 546/1599 .
- AnTuTu: 19,790 .
If you feel like it, nothing prevents you from comparing these scores to your own terminal, you just have to go to the Play Store to download these applications. Note, however, that Geekbench is not free.
There remains the question of autonomy and there, as much to be clear, I had really big doubts on the subject given the capacity of the on-board battery. With its 2,600 mAh, it is indeed very far from what a Z2, for example, or even a G3 offers.
And in the end, it does very well, especially thanks to the energy-saving mode built into the overlay. In reality, we will be able to switch between two distinct modes. Normal mode works seamlessly, without impacting apps, and it will save you a few extra hours. The ultra economical mode is to be used in case of last resort, when the terminal is approaching the end. And here too, you can save a lot of time.
By setting up the first mode and in normal use, the M8 will be able to last a little more than a day without batting an eyelid.
Photos & Video
The HTC One (2014) is not really a “photophone”, it's a fact, but its manufacturer has all the same thought of integrating technologies supposed to sublimate our photos and our videos. Technologies like the UltraPixel sensor, or even the Duo Camera system.
As some of you may know, there are different types of sensors on the market. Full format, for cameras positioned on the top of the range (Canon 5D Mark III, Nikon D800, Sony A7s), APS-C for cameras intended for enlightened amateurs (Canon 7D, Fujifilm X-T1, Sony a6000) , the Micro 4/3 for compact hybrids (Panasonic GH4, Olympus OM-D E-M1) and a series of even smaller sensors for digital compacts, or even some hybrids positioned on the entry level.
A sensor is defined by its dimensions, but also by its definition. It is expressed in number of pixels. The thing is, the more pixels a sensor has, the smaller their size. As a direct consequence, they will absorb less light and they will produce more noisy images, with artefacts not really pretty to look at.
It is for this reason that Sony did not go beyond 16 million pixels for its A7s.
HTC has applied exactly the same strategy with its devices. The UltraPixels sensors are thus less well defined than those of the competition (4 million pixels for the latest One), but their pixels are larger and they can thus capture more light. The firm did not stop there and it also integrated a special technology greatly improving the responsiveness of the autofocus, and a specific treatment to reduce the noise of the shots captured with the One.
Add to that a few more things like a lens with a large aperture (f / 2.0), an image stabilizer and… the Duo Camera system.
As mentioned above, the M8 integrates no less than two photo modules on its back shell. If the first is responsible for capturing the images or videos, the second will retrieve information on the scene, and more precisely depth of field. Thanks to the dedicated processing chip, it will therefore be possible to change the focus after taking our photo, exactly like what the Lytro has been offering for some time, or even some Nokia.
But in fact, do all these technologies really bring a plus?
The answer is simple: yes, and no. When the ambient light is in good condition, the HTC One (2014) is capable of performing real little miracles. With, sometimes, depth of field effects worthy of high-end digital compacts like the very good RX100 Mark II. To be honest, he even managed to impress me a few times.
However, when the light starts to fail, then the situation changes dramatically. We actually end up with very noisy images, and perfectly unusable. There, and the Z2 is doing much better, the same for the astonishing LG G3.
There remains the problem of the draw. If the photos captured with your smartphone end up most of the time on social networks and all the ultra-trendy mobile platforms on the market, then the 4 million pixels of the M8's sensor will be more than enough for you. Same thing if you want to print your photos in postcard format.
On the other hand, if you want to go further and print your photos on A3, or even A4, then it will be better to switch to a more traditional sensor.
We end with some photos and a video shot with the terminal. The photos are available here in their original version.
Ecosystem & Applications
Each manufacturer now has its own ecosystem. HTC is no exception to the rule and Sense 6.0 thus benefits from many interesting optimizations. Optimizations related to the visuals making up the interface, with its ergonomics or even with its functionalities.
You might as well be clear and direct: Sense 6.0 is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful overlays on the market. Everyone will not necessarily be of the same opinion as me, but it must be recognized that HTC has set the bar very high, especially in terms of ergonomics. Responsiveness is no exception.
It all starts with unlocking the device. HTC had the intelligence to integrate intelligent “gestures” in order to allow us to access certain functionalities more quickly. Their name ? The Motion Launch .
By double tapping on the screen, we will be able to bring up the lock screen on the screen. Better, by sliding your finger from left to right, it is downright BlinkFeed that will appear before our astonished eyes. Conversely, swiping from right to left will give us direct access to our main home screen.
Best of all, all of these gestures can be customized in the terminal settings.
In addition, Sense 6.0 also embeds the brand new version of BlinkFeed . If you don't know it yet, well just know that it works a bit like a Flipboard. It is therefore capable of fetching content from several different sources, like a gigantic news aggregator.
New version requires, HTC has made a lot of improvements to its tool. First point and not the least, it will finally be possible to delete it, or rather to make its home screen disappear. In addition, BlinkFeed can be customized as we wish. It will even be possible to connect it to our applications, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many others.
Same thing, we can add our favorite sites so as not to miss their latest articles. Sites, or even subjects to go even faster.
ZOE works exactly on the same principle as the Auto Awesome Video Mode offered by Google+. The tool is therefore capable of recovering photos and clips shot by us to create a sequence with funny effects and even a soundtrack. All without needing our help since he takes care of everything for us.
Great, but the best is yet to come. The sequence generated by the tool can be edited and personalized immediately. Directly from the Gallery, with the push of a button. There, well, we can choose the scenes used in the creation of the clip, modify the theme of the video, change the music and finally get into a more personal composition.
The notification center:
Sense 6.0's built-in notification center is perhaps the most successful of its kind.
Childishly simple, it focuses on the essentials, namely on notifications. Once scrolled, it will display the list of all the alerts generated by our applications. Want to delete them? No problem, a simple pressure on the cross will suffice to clean the house.
By tapping on the button just to the right, we will automatically switch to the display of settings shortcuts. Each item will appear as a thumbnail. Just tap on it to activate or deactivate the setting. Once or more times, it's variable. For the brightness, for example, it will be possible to swing three taps to go from 0% to 50% to 100%. Casually, it's very practical on a daily basis.
Thanks to the “…” shortcut, we can also directly access the associated parameters, without having to poke around.
It looks a lot like the action center. There again, we will find at the top a black bar grouping together two icons: a cross and small squares. The first will give us the possibility to close all the running applications in a second while the second will return us to the screen listing all the active processes.
The applications will be presented in the form of thumbnails placed on a grid consisting of three columns and three rows. For a total of nine thumbnails. And therefore nine applications. As usual, you just need to drag a thumbnail in one direction or the other to close the associated tool.
The applications screen:
If it respects the policy of the notification center and multitasking, it is a little less exciting to use. The navigation within the pages is rather successful, with a particularly neat effect, but unfortunately it lacks options. It is clearly below what the Sony overlay offers, for example.
Basically, all the functions will be accessible through the horizontal bar located at the top. Of the bar and its buttons. It will allow us to modify the display order of applications (alphabetical, most recent, personalized), but also to access search, the Play Store and a contextual menu grouping together various options used to hide or display utilities. , manage them or change the size of the grid.
Bonus: the Dot View
Behind there is also the Dot View cover. Basically, the idea is brilliant. The beauty is indeed able to reveal messages in transparency, thanks to the holes drilled on its flap. Just tap on the phone to get the time, weather or even pending notifications. Especially missed calls.
But now, all is not perfect so far and the biggest problem with this shell, ultimately, is that it lets through dust and all the same kind of crap. Result of the races, after a few days, the screen of your HTC One (2014) will be good for the big cleaning.
And then there is also the shell itself, and more specifically the materials used in its design. Plastic. Infuriating, especially when you know that the terminal gives pride of place to metal. I wish HTC had put a little more effort into this area.
Applications and utilities
Like all devices running Android, the HTC One (2014) comes with a number of applications to manage your mailbox, or even your calendars. A web browser is also included, as well as two or three more odds and ends. This part is not intended to be fully exhaustive, but it will undoubtedly allow you to get a more precise idea of the environment proposed by the manufacturer.
The email client:
It is rather well thought out, and very accessible since the user will be completely taken by the hand to configure his box.
When everything is in order, the application will refer us to the contents of our box. Visually, it looks a lot like Gmail. In blue, and with more polished visuals. By swiping the screen from right to left, or from left to right, it will be possible to jump from the inbox to unread items, via our favorites. To access all accounts, and all files, you will need to press the button at the top, on the left.
A simple and accessible tool, therefore, but which unfortunately does not come close to a Mailbox. It must also be said that the latter sets the bar very high.
The calendar looks a lot like the mail client and we thus find exactly the same blue, and the same kind of interface. The functions go straight to the point.
In a few seconds, we will be able to change views, display our appointments and create a new event. All this thanks to the buttons integrated into the horizontal bar at the top of the screen. If necessary, we can even geolocate our meetings to find the place more easily when we have to go there.
The web browser:
It fulfills its role very well, without revolutionizing the genre.
We find all the usual options. The application will allow us to open several tabs, and even to browse in private mode. If necessary, we can access our browsing history, or our favorites, by tapping on the corresponding buttons.
In addition, it will also be possible to activate specific “gestures” in order to access quick commands. However, we will have to dig into the experimental parameters to find our happiness. When this is done, it will suffice to place our thumb – or finger – on the left or on the right to see a half-wheel appearing together several functions specific to the browser: access to open tabs, previous page, favorites, options, etc.
The gallery and the music:
Lots of things to say on that side.
The Gallery application, to start at the beginning, is extremely well thought out and it ultimately brings together all the functions that we will need to manage our photos more efficiently. Just for their display, we can opt for several different presentation modes, including one grouping the photos according to their nature or their location. Her name ? Events, and he's setting the bar very high.
Clips generated with ZOE will also appear in the gallery, as if nothing had happened. Basically, I wasn't particularly convinced by this tool, but this past week with the M8 pushed me to revise my judgment.
That's not all because HTC also had the very good idea of integrating an editor into its application. The Gallery will allow us to paste filters on our images, or even to change the focus thanks to the Duo Camera.
The music player inherits the colors of the gallery. Of its colors, and its ergonomics. It seems to be working well but unfortunately I didn't have time to test it up and down. It must also be said that at home, it is rather Spotify that runs in a loop.
It's quite strange but the HTC One (2014) comes with the mobile application developed by Fitbit. The most fun is yet to come because if it will be possible to quickly connect the terminal to an electronic coach, the device will also be able to analyze our movements thanks to its own sensors.
In other words, it can display the number of steps taken during the day , but also evaluate the calories burned over the same period. Better, if necessary, we can also use the application to support us in our diet, and then define the program most suited to our expectations.
The thing, of course, is that you'll have to manually enter whatever food you eat. Casually, it's really very restrictive. In addition, be aware that this application will have a considerable impact on the autonomy of your terminal.
The camera application:
The camera application benefits from a minimalist interface, with very stripped-down visuals based on five buttons. No more no less. The one on the top left will give us control over the flash, while the one on the bottom right will direct us to the advanced options (sensitivity, white balance, exposure compensation, etc.).
On the other side, from top to bottom, we will have a thumbnail representing the last photo taken, the shutter release button and the mode dial. Little choice on this side, despite the presence of an option allowing direct access to ZOE. For the rest, it will be necessary to be satisfied with the video, the self-portrait, the double capture and the 360 ° panorama.
Or not, for that matter. By going to the advanced options, it will indeed be possible to find new modes designed for portraits, low-light photos and many other things. In the set, we will even find a manual mode that should be a joy to discerning photographers.
Child / Car Mode:
In addition to all these improvements, Sense 6.0 incorporates two modes suitable for children and driving.
The first will give us the possibility of creating a file for our youngest. Once this is done, it will be enough to replace the basic launcher with the one for this mode. Our child will then be faced with a simple, user-friendly interface with vocal commentary. All with games and applications specially developed for him.
The second is designed for all those who have to take the road frequently since it allows the terminal to be transformed into an on-board computer. Just that. After activating it, we will be faced with a new screen made up of six elements: the clock , the media player and four buttons giving access to navigation, calls, music or voice recognition. It will also suffice to place three fingers on the screen of the terminal to activate this function, and to control the M8 with our voice.
Really great, especially with the holidays just around the corner.
And after ?
I did not mention all the tools offered by HTC. On this, it is also necessary to reckon with a dictaphone, an application for managing reminders and other odds and ends of the same ilk.
The settings screen, for its part, goes straight to the point with options presented in a row. No tabs, no buttons, all the settings are displayed before our eyes. The menus are clear and well designed. Newbies shouldn't have a hard time picking them up and that's quite a good thing because not everyone is born with a smartphone in their hand.
The time has come to take stock of the operation.
The HTC One (2014) is a beautiful specimen, that's for sure. It is even one of the most beautiful smartphones currently available on the market. Its finishes have nothing to envy those of an iPhone, or even an Xperia Z2. The only downside is that it is perhaps a little too massive given the diagonal of its screen.
Sense 6.0 is also a very good surprise. The overlay is visually pleasing and easy to handle. I admit that I fell in love with its interface and its notification center. BlinkFeed is also a very good tool, even if it is no match for a Flipboard. Note, this advice is not completely objective.
ZOE is also a very good surprise. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a gimmick feature. These are typically the kind of tools young parents should go crazy for. No need to worry about making pretty videos of the youngest, the clip generates itself and all that remains is to share it by email or even on the social network of our choice.
Finally, my biggest disappointment is the photo part. Maybe I expected too much from the M8 but the UltraPixel technology and the Duo Camera system frankly left me hungry for more.
Anyway and despite everything, this new HTC One is a great surprise and I think it does not have to be ashamed of what the competition offers. If you have questions, remarks or even suggestions, well, comments are made for that.
And again a big thank you to Matthieu for lending me his M8.