TIME Smartphones

The New HTC One (M8) Is the Followup to 2013′s Best Android Phone

HTC

HTC has announced its latest flagship phone for 2014, dubbed the HTC One (M8).

HTC’s new One has a revamped design, a dual-lens rear camera and front-facing speakers. The numerous leaked videos, photos and spec sheets from the last few days were all dead-on accurate.

Here are the tech specs for HTC’s new One:

  • 5-inch 1080p display
  • 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 801 processor
  • 16 GB or 32 GB of storage
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 4-megapixel dual-lens “UltraPixel” rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera with HDR video
  • IR blaster for TV control
  • 0.35 pounds
  • 0.37 inches thick
  • 2600 mAh battery

Compared to last year’s model, the screen is 0.3 inches longer, but has the same resolution. The processor is faster (the 2013 HTC One used a 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 chip), but RAM is the same. Storage is actually a step down, as HTC’s base model included 32 GB last year, though the inclusion of a MicroSD card slot helps make up for it. While the battery’s a bit bigger this time, it’s still non-replaceable.

New Design

The new HTC One’s design diverges somewhat from its predecessor. The original One’s “zero-gap injection molding,” which sandwiched a layer of plastic between plates of aluminum, is gone. Instead, the new One uses an all-aluminum, brushed metal chassis that’s curvier than the previous model. Whether you see this as an aesthetic improvement is a matter of personal taste, but it’ll hopefully make repairs easier while allowing for a MicroSD card slot along one of the edges. You can view additional photos at the bottom of this post.

Dual-Lens Camera

One of the more mysterious rumors about the new HTC One leading up to launch was its dual-lens camera. Now, we know how it works: The second lens acts as a depth sensor, so you can add a bokeh effect to your photos and change the focal point after taking the shot. It sounds similar in function to the Lytro camera. HTC is also releasing tools for developers to come up with new uses for the dual-lens system.

HTC has made some general improvements to the camera as well, including faster 300-millisecond auto-focus time, new editing tools and slow-motion video, but the actual specs are similar to last year’s One. The pixel count remains at 4 megapixels, though HTC says pixel and sensor quality are really what matter here. The One’s camera has a backside-illuminated sensor with with f/2.0 aperture and 2.0µm pixel size–unchanged from the original One. As with last year’s model, HTC’s Zoe camera mode can stitch photos and videos into a slick-looking movie, and a new cloud storage feature coming this summer will allow friends and family to edit your creations.

Meanwhile, the front-facing camera is getting some of its own improvements to capitalize on the selfie obsession. It’s now a five-megapixel wide-angle shooter.

Software

Sense, the software interface that HTC builds on top of Android, looks a lot like it did before, though HTC is adding new color themes and features for its built-in apps. For instance, HTC is bringing new sources to its BlinkFeed news ticker, including Foursquare and Fitbit, and is opening up the service to all developers. The IR blaster returns, with new features in HTC’s TV app, including sports stats and social feeds.

HTC also focused on power efficiency on the software side. Combined with a bigger battery, HTC says the new One lasts 40 percent longer than last year’s model. An “extreme” power-saving mode, coming slightly after launch, can extend battery life by as much as 15 hours on a 5 percent charge.

Similar to what Google has done with its own services, HTC is putting its apps in the Google Play Store. This will allow the company to deliver updates without going through the wireless carrier approval process. HTC is also promising two years of software updates, both for its own Sense software and for Android. (For that matter, existing HTC One users will be getting the update to Sense 6, and have already received Android 4.4 KitKat.)

Speakers

HTC’s front-facing speakers are back in the new One, and they’re apparently 25 percent louder. And if you have a speaker system from a supported partner, you’ll be able to stream audio to that system by swiping across the screen with three fingers. There’s no mention of Beats Audio integration this time around, which would make sense as HTC sold back its shares in the company last year.

Availability

HTC says the new One will be the largest product rollout in the company’s history, launching on over 230 carriers in 100 countries by the end of April. As with current HTC One models, HTC is offering one free screen replacement if you accidentally break it within a year of purchase.

On AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, and on several other carriers around the world, pre-orders begin today at 1 p.m. Eastern, with availability in the first few weeks of April. Verizon is also carrying the phone in its stores today starting at 1 p.m.

Images

HTC One (M8) Product Page [HTC.com]

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