Just when you think smart phones couldn't possibly come up with any more gee-whiz features, another premium phone arrives. The new HTC One M8 phone, running Android 4.4 KitKat, had to up the ante with its release around the same time as the Samsung Galaxy S5.
The One M8 does offer better specs in a few key places - a 5 MP front-facing camera vs. a 2 MP on the Galaxy S5, double the onboard memory (32 GB vs. 16 GB on the S5) and a new amplifier called HTC BoomSound for increased volume and audio quality.
If you've ever wished you could easily print from your phone, you may find Cloud Print one of the coolest aspects of the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. You set up cloud printing from within Chrome on a computer with the printer you want to use (networked or local), then tell your phone what printer to use under Settings, Cloud Print. Some newer printers come with built-in Cloud Print capability, so you don't have to set it up first on a computer.
The HTC Duo Camera with Smart Flash uses UltraPixel rather than a numeric megapixel (MP) count, along with UFocus to allow changing the focus on objects in photos after taking the picture. Dimension Plus lets you add 3D to your pictures, and Foregrounder adds background effects.
With the HTC One M8's 1080p HD camcorder, you'll want to remember to whip out your phone for events like birthday parties and little league games. You can take high quality videos of anything your heart desires, from cute cat antics to how-to instructions.
The HTC One M8 measures 5.76" by 2.78" by .37" and weighs 5.64 oz. It sports a 5" diagonal screen like a Galaxy S4 and has similar measurements, but its sleek, curved design makes it seem narrower and somewhat more comfortable to handle.
The device's 2.3 GHz quad core processor and 2 GB onboard memory make short work of installing apps. The 32 GB of memory should provide you with sufficient space for plenty of apps and media files, but you can also add up to a 128 GB microSD card.
Large phones like the M8 generally provide a bigger virtual keyboard experience with easier typing of messages and documents. The M8, like most current Android phones, features multi-function keys, so you can hold in a letter to get a number or symbol. Android's voice recognition also works extremely well, so you can easily dictate text instead of typing.
The M8's phenomenal display provides clear, vibrant video watching and bright, sharp text for reading texts, emails and articles. You can even comfortably read Kindle ebooks on the M8. YouTube videos look and sound fantastic.
When you pick up your M8, it wakes up, so you don't have to press the button - you can just swipe to unlock it. The touchscreen performs flawlessly with just the right sensitivity level. Games like Words With Friends and Angry Birds play smoothly and look stunning.
Preloaded apps include Polaris Office 5 for working with MS Office documents and spreadsheets, the Amazon Suite (Kindle, App Store, Mobile, MP3 and IMDb) and Verizon's extras such as NFL Mobile and Slacker.
HTC has also added some handy "modes" for the phone - Car Mode and Kid Mode. Car Mode changes the screen to show large icons of only the apps you may want while driving, such as phone dialing, music, contacts, navigation and voice commands. This means you don't have to scroll and hunt for the right icons.
Child Mode lets you create individual profiles for your children with access to only the apps you choose for them. Use the Parent Dashboard to configure one or more child profiles and choose which apps each profile can use. Then, use Child Mode to lock the kiddies into only their approved apps.
If you list battery life as a main gripe with your current phone, you'll love what you find on many current high-end Android devices like the M8. The M8's battery lasts a few days between charges with light to medium usage. It even takes awhile to drain the M8's battery doing normally battery sucking tasks such as playing games, watching videos and uploading photos and videos to Dropbox.
The One M8 which I tested runs on Verizon Wireless's super fast and reliable 4G LTE network. While all mobile carriers have some dead areas, you'd have trouble hiding from Verizon's signal. I pick up a strong 4G LTE signal just about everywhere I go with a Verizon phone.
You can conserve your data plan by using Wi-Fi whenever possible, and monitor your mobile usage under Settings or with an app such as 3G Watchdog (which monitors 4G as well as 3G). The M8 is also global ready with an appropriate international mobile plan.
With purchase of an HTC One M8 on contract for $199.99, Verizon currently offers another M8 or an original HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4 free.
Combining zippy performance, a gorgeous display and excellent features, the HTC One M8 offers a great choice among high-end phones and some stiff competition for the new Galaxy S5.
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