To assess those rabid claims, you have to ask a few questions before you even open the package. What makes a phone great? What do we expect of it?
Well, it has to be great-looking, of course. These days, a phone is more than a pocket computer. It’s a style statement. For quite a few people, the phone is an important part of their identities and even self-worth. (If you don’t believe me, I’d be happy to share with you some of the hate mail I get whenever I praise or criticize just about any phone.)
It has to have a fantastic screen. A superb camera. Excellent speakers. Terrific battery life. It has to be screaming fast — no lag anywhere. Extra points for removable battery, a removable memory card for storage, and unique time-saving features.
It should also come with a rich, complete ecosystem: apps, a store for music/movies/books, online syncing of our calendar/address book/mail, free online backups, and so on. Here, Android and iPhone are the clear leaders.
OK, there’s your checklist. Let’s open the HTC One box and begin.
It’s a lookerYes, the new One is great-looking. Holy cow, is it gorgeous. Its back and sides are all metal, like the iPhone’s, not plastic, like the Samsung Galaxy phones. They’re gracefully rounded, even on the edges. This phone is more than comfortable; you actually want to fondle it like one of those worry stones.
It’s available in silver, gold, or gunmetal gray.
It’s also — what’s the technical term? — huge. Isn’t it strange, the way the world has decided that we now want big phones? For years, we longed for the tiny cellphones they have in Japan.
Huge is good when you’re using a cellphone (think about maps, photos, email, and movies).
But huge is bad when you’re just carrying it. The M8, at 6.3 ounces, weighs 26 percent more than the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5, and 57 percent more than the iPhone 5s. It’s one heavy beast.
The HTC One M8 is one of the best Android smartphones on the market. And now that same handset is getting an intriguing new update: a version that ships with Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system.
On Tuesday, HTC and Microsoft announced the HTC One M8 for Windows. Available exclusively through Verizon Wireless for $99.99 with a two-year contract, the 5-inch One M8 for Windows takes everything that made the original One M8 a favorite among tech reviewers (if not with shoppers) and throws Windows Phone on top of it.
Physically, the only difference between the M8 for Windows and its Android-powered sibling is the Windows Phone logo on its back panel. You still get the same all-metal design and rounded edges of the original One M8, as well as its dual rear camera and excellent BoomSound speakers.
On the screen, however, you get a completely different operating system: Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
The latest version of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 operating system features the slick Live Tiles interface. It also includes Microsoft’s new Siri competitor, Cortana, a virtual digital assistant, which can be used to perform a variety of tasks using your voice.
The new Action Center drop-down menu gives you access to your notifications and quick settings similar to Android’s notifications drawer.
HTC is also extending its HTC Advantage to the One M8 for Windows. The program allows owners to get one free screen replacement if they break the original.
So what’s the catch? The biggest drawback to using Windows Phone has always been the dearth of available apps. Anytime a hot new app came out for iOS or Android, it tended to take months for it to hit Windows Phone, if it ever did.
That’s changed as of late, with Windows Phone finally landing big-name apps like Twitter and WhatsApp. Still, there are some key omissions from the operating system’s apps library, including YouTube and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, not to mention a host of other games.
Still, if you’re in the market for a gorgeous Windows Phone device, the high quality of the smartphone itself may make the M8 for Windows the one to go for.