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Back when the HTC One (M7) hit SA’s markets, it was the ultimate smartphone for techies. By techies, we mean if you turned out your IT guy’s pockets, you’d find an HTC One in them. And even though it’s been a bit of a wait for the M8 to hit our shores, it’s been well worth it.

Also, HTC looks to have stabilised its presence in South Africa in a big way. The brand’s social media platforms are ablaze, it’s established a call centre, and is locking down deals. Fingers crossed that with the launch of the M8, this time it’s here to stay.

We could dedicate an entire review to the M8’s camera, but to summarise: it’s one of the best money can buy. 

Design and build

The M8 is the best-looking premium smartphone in South Africa right now. With its brushed metal backing, gently curved edges and pleasant weight (160g), it feels powerful and expensive.

We live in fear of that beautiful finish being scratched though. In our briefing session when we received our review unit, HTC South Africa mentioned that brand accessories such as protective casings would be available locally a bit later this year. For now, there are some generics that’ll fit your M8.

As far as features and controls go, to the left you have an SD card slot and to the right your SIM card slot and volume controls. At the top is the power button and at the bottom your audio jack. Above and below the screen are dual front-facing BoomSound speakers, which reproduce epic bass and treble.

Display

The sharpness and clarity of the 5-inch, full HD 1080p display is right up there with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the retina display of the iPhone 5s. It’s protected by the latest Gorilla Glass and is scratch-resistant.

Software and interface

The M8 runs on Android KitKat and is paired with HTC Sense, which is HTC’s ‘skin’ for Android devices. This rather simplifies the interface, which we like.

HTC has introduced all sorts of neat tricks with the M8. For instance, if you double-tap the screen it’ll wake up. Pick up the phone and hold it horizontally, then tap the volume keys and you’ll instantly find yourself in camera mode.

There are rumours that a Windows Phone version of the M8 might be on the cards.

Camera

We could dedicate an entire review to the M8’s camera, but to summarise: it’s one of the best money can buy. You’ll have noticed that manufacturers like Nokia and Sony have gone with more megapixels, for example the 41MP Lumia 1020 flagship and the 20MP Xperia. HTC has gone a different route – bigger megapixels, not more. In the M8, this translates to dual Ultrapixel cameras on the back. A function called UFocus brings objects into focus after you’ve taken your snap, and there is also smile and face detection.

Performance and battery life

At the heart of the M8 lies a Qualcomm® Snapdragon 801, quad-core CPU tethered to 2GB of RAM. Translation: this phone is extremely responsive! Not only is the battery impressive, at 2 600mAh (and it needs to be, with the kind of processing power packed into this phone), but the M8 also comes with an Extreme Power Saving Mode. The battery lasted almost a full day, but email, social media, and taking photos can eat into that with heavy use.

Verdict

 

We’re thrilled that the HTC One M8 is finally available in South Africa. It’s hard to find fault with it – everything from the performance to the display to the battery life and the all-important camera are top-notch. 

We can confidently recommend the HTC One M8 for your next Android upgrade – you won’t be sorry.

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