HTC One (M8) Review

April 2, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The HTC One (M8) is an Android smartphone with with a 4-megapixel camera and a 28mm equivalent lens with a fast maximum aperture of f/2 and new "smart stabilization" system. HTC's newly refined "UltraPixel" camera features a backside-illuminated sensor with a pixel size of 2.0 µm and sensor size of 1/3-inch, both much bigger than rival smartphones. The new UFocus feature allows you to shoot first and focus later, as the HTC One (M8) has two independent lenses that allow it to detect and calculate the relative distance of subjects in the image. You can also alter the background with creative effects using Foregrounder, give your best shots a seasonal flavour using the Seasons animations, place your family and friends in a different photo entirely using Copy & Paste, and view your image from a different angle by simply tilting the screen using Dimension Plus. The HTC One (M8) also offers a 5-inch Full HD 1080p touchscreen with Touch AF, a 5 megapixel wide-angle front facing camera, 8fps burst shooting, fast autofocusing at a speed of 0.3 second, an LED dual flash, Geotagging, Full 1080p HD videos at 30fps, Slow Motion video mode, HDR mode for both stills and video, and the innovative Zoe shooting mode, which takes up to 20 shots and a 3 second video to create a "living photo" that you can share with friends and family. The HTC One (M8) is available now in Gunmetal Gray for around £530 / $649 unlocked.

Ease of Use

The HTC One (M8) is a large but quite light smartphone that just about fits into a trouser or jacket pocket, weighing 160g and measuring 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35mm, slightly heavier and bigger than the original HTC One. It has a very solidly built unibody design that feels like it should more than withstand the odd knock or two, although we'd suggest investing in a suitable case to help protect it from scratches. The lens is a 28mm equivalent optic with a fast maximum aperture of f/2, alongside which is a twin LED Smart Flash that's a big improvement on last year's model. It works by making an instant light reading and firing the cool and warm LEDs in one of over a five hundred unique color temperature combinations that best match the scene, then automatically selecting the exact colour tone and light intensity for more natural skin tones.

The HTC One (M8) offers 32Gb of built-in memory and also an external microSD memory slot. There's no physical shutter release button on the device, with the shutter fired instead via the touchscreen, which is a rather strange design decision on such a photographer-friendly smartphone. You can take a shot either by tapping on the subject to focus and then pressing the camera icon at the side of the screen to fire the shutter, or tapping on the subject to focus and fire the shutter at the same time.

The combination of the wide-angle lens, f/2 aperture, effective built-in smart stabilizer, relatively large pixel size and the maximum ISO speed of 1600 makes this smartphone much better suited to hand-held low-light photography than most other comparable devices. Instead of the optical system of the original HTC One, the new M8 uses smart stabilization instead, as conventional image stabilization is incompatible with stereoscopic rangefinder
technology. In practice we found that we could still hand-hold the HTC One (M8) in fairly dark conditions and still get sharp results for both stills and video without resorting to using the rather ineffective built-in flash.

HTC One (M8) HTC One (M8)
Front Apps

There's no means of gripping the HTC One (M8) the front or rear, making it a little difficult to get to grips with, especially since its unibody design is very smooth. The lens isn't that close to the edge of the body, so you don't have to be too careful not to let your left forefinger stray into the frame. We had more problems shooting in portrait mode because the On/Off button is located directly under your left forefinger, inadvertently turning the device off on a few occasions.

Press the small On/Off button on the top and the HTC One (M8) quickly readies itself for action in around a second, jumping straight into the camera mode if you were previously using it. Even better, when the phone is picked up in landscape orientation the camera automatically launches by simply pressing the volume button. We'd describe the general performance of the HTC One (M8) as very snappy, with little waiting around for the camera to take a picture - its certainly just as responsive as the majority of compact cameras that we've reviewed.

By default the HTC One (M8) uses the Auto scene mode. The other available modes are Portrait, Landscape, Backlight, Text, Macro, Night, HDR, Anti Shake, Sweep Panorama and the new Manual mode. This latter mode allows you to set the white balance, exposure compensation, IOS speed, shutter speed and the manual focus point. via a series of onscreen sliders that are a little tricky to use.

HTC One (M8) HTC One (M8)
Camera Mode Image Displayed

The HTC One (M8) has an HDR function to help even out tricky exposures, for example where a bright background would normally throw the foreground into deep shadow. You can see from the examples on the Image Quality page that this feature produces a photo with noticeably more dynamic range than one taken using one of the standard shooting modes, but at the same time without replicating the often "false" look of many HDR programs. It also usefully works when shooting video too. The HTC One (M8) also offers an extensive range of 15 creative effects.

The Sweep Panorama mode lets you capture a panoramic image very easily without the use of a tripod. All you need to decide is whether you would like to start from left or right, top or bottom. Then press and hold down the shutter release while doing a "sweep" with the camera in hand. Exposure compensation is available before you start the sweep, but the exposure is fixed once you depress the shutter button. After you are done with the sweeping, the camera does all the processing required, and presents you with a finished panoramic image. Note that if you do the sweeping too slowly, or you let go of the shutter release button too early, the panorama will not be completed.

The HTC One (M8) can shoot High Definition video clips at full 1080p or 720p HD with stereo sound in the MP4 format at 30fps. There's also a QVGA (320x240pixels) and an MMS friendly option (176x144 pixels), plus Slow Motion, Fast FullHD (60fps) and even Video HDR options. Note that you can't take a still image during video recording.

HTC One (M8) HTC One (M8)
Shooting Modes Manual Mode

In the unique Zoe mode, activated via the combined camera/video icon on the middle-left of the screen, the HTC One (M8) automatically captures up to 20 photos, a 1 second video before you pressed the shutter button and a 3 second video after you pressed it. You can then choose the best shot from the sequence, combine them into one file to create a Sequence Shot, remove unwanted objects, retouch the imagess, and share the highlights from your day or an event in a 30 second video clip on the HTC Zoe Share server.

The 4 megapixel JPEG images are quickly committed to memory in a single second, the screen momentarily blanking out and then displaying the captured image before the user can go on to take a second shot. You can take a burst of images on the HTC One (M8) at 8fps as well as just a single-shot, a handy feature that many smartphones don't offer.

The small thumbnail icon in the top-right corner is for playing back your images. You can browse through your photos by flicking them from side-to-side, zoom in and out by pinching, highlight, share, and delete them. The HTC One (M8) also offers quite a comprehensive Edit option, with the ability to add effetcs, frames, retouch and transform the image. The Effects menu is home to the Duo Camera features - UFocus, Foregrounder, Seasons, Copy & Paste, and Dimension Plus - you can see exaples of each one on the Image Quality page.

The HTC One (M8) is a slim and stylish, full-featured and very responsive smartphone, with only the continued lack of a physical shutter button being a major disappointment for photographers. Now let's take a closer look at its image quality...

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 4 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 1.5Mb.

The HTC One (M8) produced images of very good quality during the review period. This camera handled noise well, not becoming too obvious until the ISO 800, with even the fastest setting of of ISO 1600 being usable, a great performance for a small image sensor with such a high pixel count.

Chromatic aberrations were in evidence but were well-controlled, with some limited purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The images were sharp enough out of the camera and don't really require any further sharpening. Macro performance is respectable enough at 8cms, while the built-in flash is fine for fill-in use. The optical image stabilization system works well when hand-holding the camera at slower shutter speeds.

The camera can capture just enough light for some after-dark situations, without having to resort to using the flash, while the HDR mode successfully captures more detail in the highlight and shadow areas of both stills and video, albeit at the expense of fine detail in the image. The Sweep Panorama mode is easy to use and produces well-stitched results, while the wide range of creative effects are designed to appeal to the Instagram generation.


There are 5 ISO settings available on the HTC One (M8). Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Focal Length

The HTC One (M8)'s lens offers a wide-angle focal length of 28mm in 35mm camera terms, as illustrated by this example:




Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are already quite processed and don't really benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The HTC One (M8) handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card), with a minimum focusing distance of 8cms. The second image is a 100% crop.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The flash settings on the HTC One (M8) are Auto, On and Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off

Flash On

flash_off.jpg flash_on.jpg


The HTC One (M8)'s maximum shutter speed is 0.7 seconds in the Night scene mode. This shot was taken at 1/11th second at ISO 1250.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg


High Dynamic Range Optimiser (HDR) is HTC's solution for capturing more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining two exposures into one image.



hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg

Sweep Panorama

The HTC One (M8) allows you to take panoramic images very easily by 'sweeping' with the camera. The camera does all the processing and stitching and even successfully compensates for moving subjects.


Special Effects

The HTC One (M8) offers an extensive range of 15 creative effects.



effects_01.jpg effects_02.jpg



effects_03.jpg effects_04.jpg



effects_05.jpg effects_06.jpg



effects_07.jpg effects_08.jpg



effects_09.jpg effects_10.jpg



effects_11.jpg effects_12.jpg



effects_13.jpg effects_14.jpg




UFocus allows you to shoot first and focus later, as the HTC One (M8) has two independent lenses that allow it to detect and calculate the relative distance of subjects in the image. This allows the user to select the object or area of focus after the photo is taken. Additionally, UFocus uses the depth data collected by the dual lens system to allow for professional-looking portraits. With just a tap, a user can easily add an artistic blur effect known as “bokeh”. Note that UFocus only works when shooting in 16:9 crop mode, not 4:3, and it also doesn't work if one of the subjects is too close to the camera.


Normal Shot

Focus on Near Subject
Focus on Middle Subject
Focus on Far Subject


The Foregrounder tool allows you to alter the background with four different creative effects.



Zoom Blur

Dimension Plus

Dimension Plus allows you to view and save your image from a different angle by simply tilting the screen.


Dimension Plus

Cut and Paste

Cut and Paaste allows you to place your family and friends in a different photo entirely.


Cut and Paste

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the HTC One (M8) camera, which were all taken using the 4 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movies & Video

This is a sample video from the HTC One (M8) camera at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 20 second movie is 48.7Mb in size.

This is a slow motion sample video from the HTC One (M8) camera at the quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 1min 54sec movie is 163Mb in size.

This is a fasthd 60fps sample video from the HTC One (M8) camera at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 20 second movie is 49.1Mb in size.

This is a HDR sample video from the HTC One (M8) camera at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 20 second movie is 49.2Mb in size.

Product Images

HTC One (M8)

Rear of the HTC One (M8)

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8)

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Turned On

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Home Screen

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Unlocked

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Apps Menu

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / BlinkFeed Screen

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Camera

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Shooting Modes

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Camera Settings

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Settings Menu

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Camera Shooting Modes

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Manual Mode

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Selfie Mode

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Dual Mode

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Video Mode

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Panorama Mode

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Zoe Mode

HTC One (M8)

Front of the HTC One (M8) / Image Playback

HTC One (M8)
Front of the HTC One (M8) / Effects Menu
HTC One (M8)
Front of the HTC One (M8) / Filters Menu
HTC One (M8)
Front of the HTC One (M8) / Frames Menu
HTC One (M8)
Front of the HTC One (M8) / Tools Menu
HTC One (M8)
Front of the HTC One (M8) / Share Menu


From a photographer's point of view, the HTC One (M8) improves on the original HTC One smartphone by speeding up the autofocus system, improving the built-in flash and principally by adding the feature that everyone is talking about, the so-called Duo Camera.

Using a built-in depth sensor, the Duo Camera's most useful purpose is allowing the point of focus to be changed after the picture has been taken, introducing DSLR-like levels of depth-of-field and achieving something that smartphones have always failed to offer. Sure, the effect isn't particuarly subtle and you certainly can't create actual bokeh, just a general depth-of-field-like blurring, but the ability to change the point of focus and blur the background of any picture that you've taken is a compelling one. With Nokia having already introduced their Refocus Lens app and Apple also rumoured to be working on a dual-camera approach for the iPhone, it seems that this new approach to making smartphone pictures more appealing is gainingtraction. The other Duo Camera effects - Foregrounder, Seasons, Copy & Paste, and Dimension Plus - are unfortunately much more gimmicky. HTC have relased the API for the Duo Camera, so hopefully we'll see further, ore useful innovations from third-party developers in the future.

Using the same "UltraPixel" camera technology as the original HTC One, the new M8 continues to be a brave attempt to do something different from a photography point of view. While its main smartphone rivals feature 8 or 13 megapixel cameras, at first glance the 4 megapixel sensor inside the HTC One (M8) looks like yesterday's technology. A closer look at the science behind the sensor and the images themselves soon reveals that the HTC One (M8) can still compete with the likes of the iPhone 5 and Galaxy 5, if not on out and out resolution, then certainly in terms of noise and low-light shooting.

You really need to ask yourself what you want to do with your photos. If you want to make large prints or crop heavily, then the relatively low resolution of the HTC One (M8)'s camera is going to limit what you can achieve (HTC themselves suggest up to 10x8 inch prints). This is especially true if you want to shoot in the 4:3 aspect ratio, rather than the default 16:9 widescreen format, as the resolution drops even further to 3 megapixels. If you want to share your images on social networks and make the odd small print, then the HTC One (M8) makes a lot more sense, as resolution is much less of a factor. And if you shoot a lot in low-light environments, it definitely still has the edge over the competition.

So in summary, the new HTC One (M8) and its clever Duo Camera cleverly provides shallow depth of field effects and refocusing at the touch of a finger. If you've always wanted to emulate using fast camera lenses wide-open on a smartphone, then the HTC One (M8) at least partly delivers by blurring the back/fore ground. You'll still need to buy-into the UltraPixel concept though...

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4
Value for money 3.5

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the HTC One (M8).

Google Nexus 5

The new Google Nexus 5 is one of the cheapest flagship smartphones on the market, but also one of the most powerful and full-featured too, running the latest KitKat version of Android. But what kind of experience does it offer photographers? Read our Google Nexus 5 review to find out...


The HTC One is a new flagship smartphone with some intriguing photography features up its proverbial sleeve. The HTC One has a 4 megapixel sensor, 28mm fixed lens with fast f/2.0 aperture, 1080p video, sweep panoramas, a range of picture effects and 8fps burst shooting. Read our HTC One review to find out if it's the best smartphone for photographers...

Nokia Lumia 1020

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a new 41-megapixel smartphone - yes, you read that right, 41 megapixels. The Lumia 1020 also offers built-in optical image stabilisation, a 3x loss-less zoom for stills and 6x for movies, a 26mm fixed lens with fast f/2.2 aperture, and 1080p video at 30fps with stereo sound. Read our Nokia Lumia 1020 review to find out if it can replace a compact camera.

Nokia Lumia 920

The Nokia Lumia 920 is the first ever smartphone to feature built-in optical image stabilisation. The Lumia 920 also has an 8.7 megapixel sensor, 26mm fixed lens with fast f/2.0 aperture and 1080p video. Read our Nokia Lumia 920 review to find out if it can replace a compact camera, even in low-light...

Samsung Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the most popular flagship smartphones of 2013, but can it replace your compact camera? Read our Samsung Galaxy S4 review to find out...

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

Introducing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. Is it a camera? Is it a phone? No, the Galaxy S4 Zoom is Samsung's attempt to bring both together in one device - but have they succeeded? Read our Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review to find out...

Sony Xperia Z

The Sony Xperia Z is a brand new smartphone that offers a lot of technologies from Sony's CyberShot camera range. The Xperia Z has a 13 megapixel sensor, 28mm fixed lens with fast f/2.2 aperture, 1080p video, sweep panoramas, a range of picture effects and 10fps burst shooting. Read our Sony Xperia Z review to find out if it really can replace a compact camera...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the HTC One (M8) from around the web. »

So it's all the more impressive that HTC, fresh from making the best-looking phone of 2013, has managed to make the HTC One (M8), a phone crammed full of power and great features while improving the design that won it so many accolades.
Read the full review » »

As one of the few Android phones to truly compete with Apple in terms of design, the HTC One (m8) is a beautiful handset. The m8 is almost 90% metal, with the few slivers of plastic left only being used to ensure the best possible reception for the internal antennae. The curved back fits your hand comfortably and the brushed metal finish on our metal grey review unit glints in the light, making no mistake that the phone is made from metal rather than plastic. The m8 will also be available in gold and silver colours, but these have a more subtle matte finish.
Read the full review » »

The HTC One M8 is quite simply the most important phone of the year for HTC. It is the company’s top model, and takes over from the HTC One. That phone proved to be HTC’s best-selling phone ever and won numerous awards including TrustedReviews Phone of the Year so the One M8 has some big boots to fill.
Read the full review » »

Think of the HTC One M8 as the big-budget sequel to an Oscar-winning indie film. Last year's HTC One won rave reviews and obsessed fans, but not enough customers to keep HTC growing. This year, HTC needs a rip-roaring box-office hit with its flagship phone.
Read the full review »


  • Size

    146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm
  • CPU Speed

    Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 801, quad-core CPUs
  • Memory1

    Total storage: 16GB/32GB, available capacity varies
    RAM: 2GB
    Expansion card slot supports microSD™ memory card for up to 128GB additional storage (card not included)
  • Sensors

    Proximity sensor
    Ambient light sensor
    Gyro sensor
    Barometer sensor
  • Camera

    Duo camera
    Primary camera: HTC UltraPixel™ camera, BSI sensor, pixel size 2.0 um, sensor size 1/3”, f/2.0, 28mm lens
    HTC ImageChip 2. 1080p Full HD video recording with HDR video
    Secondary camera: capture depth information

    Front camera
    5MP, BSI sensor, wide angle lens. with HDR capability, 1080p Full HD video recording
    Gallery with UFocus™, Dimension Plus™, Seasons, Foregrounder, Image match
  • AC Adapter

    Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240 V AC, 50/60 Hz
    DC output: 5 V and 1.5 A
  • Weight

  • Platform Android

    Android™ with HTC Sense™
    HTC BlinkFeed™
  • Network2

    2G/2.5G - GSM/GPRS/EDGE:

    • 850/900/1800/1900 MHz

    3G - WCDMA:

    • 850/900/1900/2100 MHz with HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps

    4G - LTE:

    • 800/900/1800/2600 MHz
  • Connectivity

    3.5 mm stereo audio jack
    Bluetooth® 4.0 with aptX™ enabled
    Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz)
    DLNA® for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to a compatible TV or computer
    HTC Connect™
    micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) port with mobile high-definition video link (MHL) for USB or HDMI connection (Special cable required for HDMI connection.)
    Support consumer infrared remote control
  • Multimedia

    Audio supported formats:
    Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 10)
    Recording: .aac

    Video supported formats:
    Playback:.3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 10), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3)
    Recording: .mp4
  • Display

    5.0 inch, Full HD 1080p
  • SIM Card Type

    nano SIM
  • GPS

    Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS
    Digital Compass
  • Sound Enhancement

    HTC BoomSound™
    Dual frontal stereo speakers with built-in amplifiers
    Sense Voice
  • Battery3

    Embedded rechargeable Li-polymer battery
    Capacity: 2600 mAh
    Talk time:
    Up to 20 hours for 3G
    Standby time:
    Up to 496 hours for 3G
  1. Available storage is less due to phone software. Approximately 10GB (for 16GB) /24GB (for 32GB)  storage available for user content. Available storage is subject to change based on phone software updates and apps usage.
  2. Network bands in regions may be different, depending on the mobile operator and your location. 4G LTE only available in select countries. Upload and download speeds also depend on the mobile provider.
  3. Battery times (talk time, standby time and more) are subject to network and phone usage.

    A Standby time specification ("specification") is an industry standard that is only intended to allow comparison of different mobile devices under the same circumstances. Power consumption in a standby state is strongly dependent on factors including but not limited to network, settings, location, movement, signal strength and mobile traffic. Comparisons of different mobile devices using such a specification can therefore only be done in a controlled laboratory environment. When using any mobile device in real life circumstances for which the mobile device is intended, the standby time could be considerably lower and will be strongly dependent on the factors mentioned above.

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