HTC One (2014) vs HTC One (2013) – was it a worthy upgrade? [POLL]

HTC One M8 vs HTC One M7

You’ve already seen our quick battle between HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 — two respective heavy weights in their category for 2014’s baddest smartphones. It was a close battle, one that — as least at the time of this writing — saw the HTC One M8 taking a small lead. While that’s all fine and dandy, we know a few of you are current HTC One (2013) owners and are probably wondering exactly how the new and “improved” model fares against its older brother. Let’s take a closer look.

Build quality and Design

HTC One M8 2014 vs M7 2013

HTC has long been known for the build quality, and cutting edge design. Some of the most beautiful smartphones to ever grace this earth have been HTC devices. The original HTC One (2013) was no different. Featuring an aluminum finish and (almost) zero gap construction, it was a phone unrivaled by other Androids on the market (especially those being offered by Samsung). Refreshing to say the least.

For 2014, the HTC One M8 further builds upon HTC’s reputation, offering something improved yet familiar. Now, instead of the plastic filling from the original, HTC has extended the aluminum to reach fully around the sides. This helps give the appearance of a solid unibody design. Even the finish of the aluminum has been improved. It’s now has a brushed, slightly glossy texture. If there ever was a pinnacle of modern smartphone design and style, the HTC One M8 would be it. Well, for the most part.

One area that must be mentioned while we’re talking about design (you knew it was coming): that awful bezel. Along the bottom of the device, the familiar HTC logo can be found resting on the black bezel, a remnant of the original HTC One’s capacitive buttons. Trying to keep up with the times — and in an effort to better follow Android’s design guidelines — the HTC M8 now features software buttons. While great, in theory, these buttons encroach on some of that valuable screen real estate. This otherwise tarnishes what would have been a perfect smartphone design and, worst case scenario, will be a deal breaker for some.

Perhaps one last testament to the HTC One M8’s build quality is a YouTube video from TechSmartt. In the video, the phone is completely submerged in a sink full of water for a full 2 hours. Now, the phone doesn’t advertise water resistance of any kind, or even an IP rating, but after watching that video, HTC certainly had us fooled. Top notch craftsmanship right there.

Display

htc one m8 hands-on 4

Both models feature the exact same 1920x1080p SCLD3 displays. HTC managed to bring the original One’s 4.7-inch display up to 5-inches in the One M8, meaning the old one technically has a higher dpi, although your eyes aren’t likely to tell the difference. Other than that, it seems they’re evenly matched. Which is a good thing mind you, the last thing we need or wanted to see were those exorbitant 2K displays being offered by other OEMs. No, thank you.

Processor, Performance and Battery

HTC One battery life double charge

Here’s where the obvious improvements take place. Like any good iteration, the chipset and other performance related hardware is likely to improve over the previous model. The original HTC One (2013) was one of the first devices to introduce a Snapdragon 600 processor. In our day to day use, it was snappy, and we experienced no lag that would take away from the user experience of the device.

To help with multitasking, 2GB of RAMs did a good job and keeping memory free, and 32GB/64GB internal storage options meant enough elbow room to store all your media. Battery life, while good, relied on their One (2013)’s 2,300mAh battery. Although it seemed small, the combination of processor and software tweaks would take you easily through a 15 hour day.

Qualcomm snapdragon-801-soc

For the HTC One M8, HTC turns to Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 801 processor, an improvement even over the Snapdragon 800 we saw some devices launching with towards the end of last year. We’ll need to see how it matches up to the One (2013) in day-to-day usage, but expect a noticeable improvement in overall speed and fluidity of the OS. Unfortunately, HTC seems to have played it safe in the RAM department, opting for the exact same exact 2GB of DDR2 RAM for the One M8. While it’s disappointing to not see them choose, at the very lest, DDR3, we’re sure it will be more than enough for today’s applications.

Internal storage options also remain the same, but to in an effort to deal with negative feedback over the original One’s lack of memory expansion, the One M8’s storage can further be increased — all the way up to 128GB via micro SD. That’s a whole lotta storage. Battery capacity was also increased to 2,600mAh. Once again, it seems like HTC played it safe, possibly choosing design over function. Not to worry, we’re sure the improvements in the Snapdragon 801 will take the device even further.

Unfortunately neither the old or new HTC One feature wireless charging, something we’ve grown accustomed to from recent devices like the Nexus 5 (or even the HTC DROID DNA). Major bummer there. What they did improve on the charging side of things was Qualcomm’s all new Quick Charge 2.0 technology. Devices that would normally take 3 hours to fully charge can now be charged in a little over an hour. Sounds great, right? Not too fast. The supplied charger that comes with the HTC One M8 still only supports Quick Charge 1.0, the older version. To get the full benefits, you’ll have to wait until Quick Charge 2.0 adapters are released later this year. Another bummer.

Software and Features

Sense 6.0 HTC One

In the original HTC One, HTC introduced an all new version of their custom Android software dubbed Sense 5. Addressing concerns that their software was typically bloated and had a noticeable lag on performance, Sense 5 was a complete re-imagining of their software. It was leaner, meaner, and in some cases, felt even faster than stock Android. HTC raised the bar for manufacturer UIs and we loved it. Aside from performance improvements, Sense 5 brought with it noticeable improvements to apps like the camera software, a new RSS-type launcher HTC called “BlinkFeed,” and enhanced camera and gallery features.

For the HTC One M8, HTC is introducing the latest version of their custom software: Sense 6.0. BlinkFeed and Zoe captures make a return, along with a plethora of new gesture options dubbed “Motion Sense.” With Motion Sense, users can double tap their display to unlock, or swipe to immediately open up their camera app. These can be further tweaked in the settings app, so if you don’t like ‘em, simply turn them off.

Probably the best part about Sense 6 is that HTC has now modularized many of their system applications, dumping them into the Google Play Store for later updating. This means that complete system updates are no longer needed to update HTC specific apps — they can now be updated all on their own.

Also worth noting is that Sense 6 — along with many of its features — will also be arriving on the older HTC One, coming in a future software update. Let’s just hope they leave those software buttons at the door.

htc one m8 hands-on 14

Can’t talk about features without mentioning the HTC One’s most standout one: its BoomSound stereo front facing speakers. For the HTC One M8, HTC was able to add multi-band amps, resulting in a 25% increase in volume. And yes, “Beats” makes another appearance in the software settings for the M8, just like last year’s model. The result are the best speakers you’ve ever heard from a smartphone, ones that fire at both your ears (the way the good lord intended).

Camera

htc one m8 hands-on 5

The original HTC One introduced a new kind of mobile camera tech HTC called their “UltraPixel” camera. What it meant was, despite being a lower resolution 4MP, the camera was able to capture more light than a traditional smartphone camera. So, pictures snapped indoors or in dimly lit restaurants typically looked much better and brighter than those taken with other cameras. We can attest to this, as you may have seen in our original HTC One review here.

For the One M8, HTC is reintroducing the 4MP UltraPixel camera, but this time it’s bringing along a friend to the party. The second additional lens doesn’t really capture images, it’s just there to help the M8 focus quicker and add post image editing abilities like changing the depth of field after the shots been taken. Whatever your thoughts are on the feature, I think we can all agree it’s great to see the effort taken to bring mobile photography to that next level. Imagine if something like this was offered on something the size of a DSLR? Keep doing what you do, HTC and we’ll applaud you for it.

htc one m8 hands-on 10

While the main camera itself performs well (quick to fire, color is accurate, etc.) the fact that it’s only 4MP means it faces the same problems as least year’s version. Don’t expect to crop or zoom in very much on snapped photos. If you do, you wont be happy with the result. But that’s okay. The majority of the time we’re using our smartphone it’s to take pictures of our lunch, loved ones (up close), or distant photos of the sunset — not trying to zoom in on a pimple or far away street sign. For 99% of what you’ll be using the HTC One M8’s camera for, it’ll perform just fine and even better than others on the market thanks to the improved low light shooting. Sounds like a worthwhile trade-off when you think about it.

And where one might take off a few points due to the lower resolution rear camera, the HTC One M8 gains many of these back with a 5MP wide angle “selfie” camera. Yes, folks. The front facing camera has a higher resolution shooter than the rear camera. Hows that for irony? If my Instagram feed is any indication, I’d say a lot of girls are going to be very happy with the new front facing camera (and the fellas as well).

What’s your take?

htc one m8 dot view case 8

In the end, there is no perfect smartphone. HTC even mentioned in their latest commercial that they didn’t build a phone for “everyone,” just a phone those who “demand more.” Whether or not the HTC M8 — both in hardware and software — was able to live up to this claim us up to you. Was it a big enough leap over the previous year’s model, we’d have to say in many ways, yes. It builds on the original HTC One design, refining it enough to give it a leg up on the competition, and making it a worthy upgrade to the HTC One (2013). Now that you’ve seen the differences for yourself, would you say the HTC One M8 was a worthy sequel to the HTC One (2013)? Voice your thoughts in the comments, and cast your vote in our poll below.

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  • scoter man1

    I remember going from a Snapdragon S4 pro to a S800 making a huge difference (N4 -> N5). I’m sure it would be worth it almost solely for the 801 if you’re a HTC follower.

  • andrew

    camera and swappable battery are big points for my personal preference, the phone doesn’t excel in either of these areas, in the footage testing, gizmodo even said that the Nexus 5 had better photos than the m8

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      As a Nexus 5 owner, the problem with the camera is its terribly slow performance. Nothing is black and white. I’d much rather take a lightning quick lower resolution photo, than a sluggish higher resolution one. Different strokes, I guess…

      • HeatFan786

        A bunch of M8 users, on XDA, say that their phones take great photos.

        • Ravi Shah
          • HeatFan786

            It’s not a bad photo at all.

          • toomuchgame441

            I see absolutely nothing wrong with this photo… The M8 camera will be fine for a lot more folks than people think.

          • KiwiBri

            Need to see how the camera does focusing on a moving object etc, thats what I need

        • andrew

          hmm. some of the low lights have a lot of noise. but i guess its decent. i’ll probably wait for a shoot-off between the s5 and m8 before i make a decision

          • HeatFan786

            Well, HTC is going to take the low light cake. Their MPs are a lot bigger, hence the UP moniker. However, Samsung is great with photo modes. The Note 3’s camera is great, especially the software. If TW has something to take away, it’s the camera functions.

  • Jarl

    battery should’ve been bigger and they should’ve gotten a decent camera

    I like the premium build though, and 5″ is an improvement, as is the processor, had expected 3gb to go with it

    but I’ll wait a bit longer to trade in my Butterfly S, which I still love (and just gotten 4.4.2)

    the Oppo Find 7 is a first candidate, but want to see the OnePlus One first AND very curios to see what the rumoured Butterfly S successor will bring

    no One M8 for me…

  • http://www.standupforkids.org blackroseMD1

    Processor alone makes it a big enough upgrade.

    I would have liked to have seen a bigger battery and 3GBs of RAM, but I still ordered it.

  • mickey4mice

    I honestly prefer the look of 2013 HTC One. No fan of brushed aluminum back, it reminds me too much of kitchen utensils.

    As much as I loved my HTC One GPe, I don’t think I’ll buy another one again, their security feature is too much of a hassle when it comes to dirty hack. I will stick with Nexus 5 until N6 is announced and decide between that and whatever Sony flagship of that time.

    • Roaduardo

      The N6, Note 4 and newest Sony Xperia-whatever is what I’m keeping a close eye out for this year.

  • aranea100

    It was big enough but I’m waiting for oneplus one to make a decision

  • Ravi Shah
  • domatau

    it should also be noted that the memory type has been upgraded from DDR2 to DDR3 for lower power draw.

  • siddarthdua2
  • Android All the way

    its huge and the bezels are ugly , they should have minimized the bezels with same screen size and 4 mp camera is a joke

    • http://www.facebook.com/realmaze Laurent Grimal

      The HTC One has thinner bezel on the sides than any other phone on the side, except for LG G2. Similar to Z2. Samsung has more bezel left and right of the Screen. I did the calculations…

  • talhamid

    Its the experience that matters. the 4 MP res might not be good for zooming in but nothing beats its speed of focus and shutter in oreder to capture the moment. I think the camera is being unfairly paned. As long as you dont zoom in, my HTC One (2013) took spectacular pics. Plus the rest of the experience is worth it. Bezels dont matter when the experience is this good(hardware and software). LG G2 has super sleek bezels but its overall feel and UX does not come close to HTC.

    • http://www.facebook.com/realmaze Laurent Grimal

      Totally agree. In real life Situation beats other cameras Hands down. Plus most photos I send are selfies and I don’t see any Smartphone out there that has a 5MP selfie camera.

  • Delmar

    Just wait for the note 4

    • toomuchgame441

      thumbs down

  • KiwiBri

    8megapixel camera and I’d have got it for sure .

    • surethom

      Or even 6 megapixel just not the same 4 megapixel.

    • Giles Peach

      I’d been waiting for this phone for months, and then Ultrapixel happened…. again :(

      • KiwiBri

        I know!! agh!!! I was out today and took a couple photos today. Annoyed me having to try and get the photo in bright sunshine..

        Sony Canada still not saying when they will get the Z2 , in a few weeks we’ll be chatting Sony Z3, G Note 4 and iPhone Air (6)!
        lol

        • Giles Peach

          Bummer! I hope the Z2 lives up to the hype when it finally arrives. Otherwise I’ll be waiting for a LG G3, and that’s 3 or 4 months away.

  • Robert

    I so desperately want jump ship to get Boomsound speakers. But those on screen buttons are absolutely horrible. Taking up screen space and having to tap the screen just right to bring them up so you can use them is a royal pain. The casual user might not mind, but for a moderate or power user, or somebody that just likes efficiency and aesthetics, these things are absolutely horrible. It’s too bad that HTC wasn’t smart enough or daring enough to offer an option with disappearing capacitive keys in that empty black bar. I’m also very curious as to why they only used to memory opposed to the 3 that all of the top tier phones are moving towards. Close but no cigar htc. You’ve one again blown the opportunity to steal a customer from a competitor. please excuse any grammatical or punctuation errors as this was voice dictated.

    • http://www.facebook.com/realmaze Laurent Grimal

      You realize that Sony and LG are also moving away from capacitative buttons? The behavior of the on Screen Buttons can be changed in the menus, so I wouldn’t worry about it. It doesnt take real estate.

      • roberthenderson
      • roberthenderson

        Oh, and you should go play with one and open up YouTube and see the empty bars on the top and bottom with the onscreen buttons stuck there taking up even more space making the viewing size even smaller.

    • hldc1

      As a power user, and this being my third phone with on-screen buttons, I can say that I have zero issues using on-screen buttons. I’m thinking user error…

      • roberthenderson

        Just to be crystal clear here. You are actually saying that you can’t comprehend how going from a 1 step process to a 2 step process to complete the same function is less efficient?

  • taye

    Yea I’ll just hold off for the one plus not impressed with the m8 at all

  • Mike

    Just having an mircoSD slot is worth it for me.

  • toomuchgame441

    Its a big enough upgrade… it gave everyone all the features everyone was whining about last year – bigger screen, SD card slot, on screen keys, louder boomsound… it may not have been a complete homerun but this is surely a device I’ll be picking up seeing as I absolutely loved the original One.

  • troysyx

    If HTC would have just upped the processor, battery, and megapixel on the camera, removed the HTC logo on the front with the capacitive keys and lengthened the display to take the now vacated space for onscreen buttons, this phone would have been perfect.

    • http://www.facebook.com/realmaze Laurent Grimal

      Well, it has 3 cameras and 2 really loud Speakers. You can’t have it both ways. Who cares about more screen real estate? Nowadays boomsound is what Smartphone needs to have. Look at what Samsung did? They increase Screen size and as a result the phone is larger horizontally. Same with Sony. I much prefer the marginally smaller Screen of the HTC One M8 and vertical space used for boomsound.

  • surethom

    For a camera centric phone the non upgrade of the camera to atleast 6 megapixel ultrapixel is a massive mistake.

    • http://www.facebook.com/realmaze Laurent Grimal

      Then why do other manufacturers have poorer selfie camera in an Age and time when most of what we do is send Pictures of our food and selfies to loves ones. It is what the camera on the One does best. The One makes a Lifestyle Statement. It is not the phone for everyone. It targets the younger media sharing crowd.

  • Haxcid

    While it is a worthy upgrade from the 2013 One, it is not enough compared to other phones. I have an LG G2 which has been on the market since September and the one barely beats it out on specs. Just not enough to even consider a switch.

    • http://www.facebook.com/realmaze Laurent Grimal

      This will be the case for all new Smartphones because Qualcomm will release their next Generation of processors in the second part of the year. I had the LG G2 briefly and couldn’t keep it because of the speaker quality. I liked the extra battery but I didn’t enjoy the Software as much as on the HTC One. I didn’t Keep the HTC one because of battery in the end. I have kept the Asus Padfone in the end.

  • Alec

    Of course it’s a worthy upgrade! It looks just like a DeLorean! Hello! Anybody home?

  • hldc1

    Most people bitching about the bezels have likely only seen a picture of the device and have probably never actually used this phone.

    Got one yesterday, and it’s only slightly taller (a few MM) than the HTC Droid DNA I had.

    The One M8 screams premium and it feels great to use. I actually like the black bar at the bottom with the HTC logo. It means there’s an area to rest my thumb without having to touch the screen or the bottom speaker (i.e., reduces accumulation of crap in the tiny speaker holes).

  • hassan hassanine

    I think the HTC encompasses a very smart camera: not all the phones have so many mega pixeles and also the double lens gives a heap of potentialities to not use flash and get additional lightweight as a result of the aperture can be larger, so it can lead to more natural footage. It s a true revolution ! im sorry but it can’t be compared with the camera of the Samsung Galaxy S5.