HTC One (M8) Review

April 2, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |
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Conclusion

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