From the Blogabout me

The Normal Guy HTC One M8 and Camera Review

When the HTC One was released last year (2013) as HTC’s latest flagship phone it took much of the Android photo industry by surprise. Some complained about the “4 UltraPixel” design instead of a big number like “13 MegaPixel” thought.  But most photographers already know that “MegaPixels” is just a marketing ploy anyway, so the number isn’t that important…It’s the quality of the camera and it’s output.  So let’s go into it.

Over the last few years, the Android OS has caught up and exceeded IOS in terms of features and functionality, the HTC One was the first device where Android manufacturer had released a phone that went toe to toe with Apple’s revered iPhone in terms of build quality and design. Of course with HTC’s design using a metal body and awesome display, those things didn’t hurt the phone either. Some may say “well, Samsung sold more so it has to be the best phone.” That’s okay if that’s your opinion. It may have sold the most in units, but ask 20 Samsung Galaxy S4 owners and get their personal thoughts on the phone.  Heck, I only needed to ask 5 long-time Android users and when 2 of the 5 got so pissed with their Samsung S4 they ended up going to the iPhone, I knew the Samsung product line had still not stepped up to the plate.

Specs

  • CPU – Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core (2.3Ghz in US/EU and 2.5Ghz in Asia & China)
  • Memory – 2GB DDR2
  • Storage – 16gb/32gb w/ expandable storage up to 128gb
  • Display – 5.0″ full HD (1080p) with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Camera – Duo Camera – HTC UltraPixel 4.0mp f2.0 at 28mm
  • Android – 4.4 with HTC Sense 6
  • Sim Card – NanoSIM
  • Battery – 2600 mAh
  • Sensors – Gyro sensor, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
  • Sound – HTC Boomsound w/ dual front facing stereo speakers
  • Network – GSM, WCDMA, HSPA, LTE
  • Available Colors – Gunmetal Gray, Glacial Silver, Amber Gold
  • Bluetooth – 4.0 compliant
  • Size – 146.36mm x 70.6mm x 9.35mm
  • Weight – 160g

Quality

HTC One M8 BodyThe first thing you will notice once you get your hands on the M8 is you will see HTC kept that sleek look and stylish design from the original. After you grab a HTC One (M7 or M8), you will think all the phones fill like flimsy plastic toys. It’s now 90% metal; what other phone can boast that? There are some changes that are worth noting. It is heavier than before, it has a larger display, the home and back buttons are implemented in the screen itself instead of being next to the HTC logo, and finally the HTC One (M8) has some new curves on its body. Some people will tell you it feels smoother, more natural to hold, and maybe even more comfortable (even though being larger); others will tell you it is too slick and you feel like it will slide out of your hand right away. I think it’s just right. No, you are not going to be able to put it on your dashboard as-is and expect it to not slide around but I don’t see myself thinking it’s going to just slide out of my hand for being too slick.

Screen

Like I said earlier, the screen is larger now and has gone from 4.7″ to 5.0″ with the home and back button being dropped from the screen make the screen look very large, without making the phone itself not being ridiculously too large.  I don’t want to carry a tablet around in my pocket all day. The new displays still offers a full 1080p viewing experience and depth of colors are great. When watching the NCAA tournament, Netflix or looking at my photos all I see if how amazing right and wonderful things look.  As a hobbyist photographer, if I am going to attempt to use a phone for photographs, this is a great way to see what photos I have taken, and my friends look at my phone and say “wow, those photos really pop.”

Battery

The battery hasn’t improved too much from the original HTC One, but the M8 offers some other interesting technologies. With a 2600mAh battery in the M8 HTC has now included a pretty solid Power Saving Mode that helps you drastically extend the life of your battery from a single charge. HTC claims that the M8 battery itself is 40% better than before. Additionally, the new Extreme Power Save mode will give you up to 2 weeks of standby time while still allowing for manual access to make calls, send emails, texts and other basic functions. This is an impressive statement, and you better believe I will be trying this out more and more, as I have multiple Google Accounts Syncing always, it will be interesting to see how things work for my setup.  I’ve not had a long period to test this yet, so I will need to get back with you on my averages.

Motion Launch

This is a very interesting and surprising feature that I was not at all expecting. For years now, screens would go to sleep automatically, but the only way to get it back on was to find a button somewhere on the phone.  With Motion Launch, you are now able to do things like double-tap the screen anywhere to turn it on, holding the phone up to your ear to answer a phone call, turn your camera on by a click on the volume button instead of finding your app, and many other little tricks. Some may say this is just a gimmick and not that important. For me though, those few seconds of time to unlock and search for my camera app can mean I will miss the photo.

 

The Camera

With new technologies always around the corner, people have become more and more critical and accused to a high quality camera built into their smart phone. There will always be the divde between a professional grade DSLR and a phone, but why not at least have a decent camera on the go, right? For several years the iPhone has pretty much lead the way with regards to how a mobile device should perform but other the last year or so, Android devices have really stepped up. Last years HTC One was good, but the HTC One M8 is great!  The Duo Camera is a great feature.

HTC One M8 Camera Specs

  • 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

I’ve said in previous articles about the original HTC One, the camera performs well (HTC One Sample Photos) (HTC One = More Secrets, Tricks and Tips) (iPhone 5s vs HTC One Comparison) (HTC One Android 4.3 update camera fixes), but what’s new this time?

So to hash out a few things before I go further, I must give a quick refresher for those of you may not have purchased the HTC One M7 or forgot some of the lingo.

“Ultra Pixel”

I’ve previously spoke on how HTC chose to go against the normal marketing hype of camera world and instead of going “Bigger is Better” method, they changed up the verbiage from MegaPixel to UltraPixel. When all the HTC One’s competition was going with 10-18 megapixel cameras, HTC opted to get a larger sensor with less megapixels.  It took me a while to get over the deep techy side of things, but basically their larger sensor allowed to capture more light (about 250% more) than most standard 13MP cameras thus bringing some great photos from poor lighting situations. For a better description of UltraPixels, I highly urge you to read up on it Gizmodo because they do the best job explaining it.

Duo Camera

On the back of the phone you will not just find one camera, but actually two.  This allows for the image to have more depth, so after you take a photo you can select if you were focusing on the foreground or background.  I know there are apps out there that will filter your image to blur it in places, but why not have your camera do it a little more organically instead?

 

I’ve not had my hands on this phone very long, so I haven’t been able to get any images or videos uploaded yet, but they are coming!  Be on the lookout.

 

UPDATE: I have done more testing and now have additional thoughts of the HTC One M8 camera.

HTC One M8 Camera Tips & Guide
HTC One M8 Tips and Tricks

HTC One Tips, Tricks and Secrets

It’s me again, writing about the HTC One.  Since purchasing this phone I continue to be amazed by it’s overall performance, and also find little tricks from time to time that make life even easier.  Although some of the tricks might be found on other devices, it doesn’t hurt to go over them.

Disclosure: I would not be surprised if I mess up on some of the technical terms but you should get the general point.  That being said, I am not going to tell you silly things like “How to install an app” or “How to turn on your HTC One.”  If you don’t know how to those things by now, you should probably not have a smartphone.

How to take a screenshot on the HTC One

There are two ways to take a screenshot on the HTC One and they’re both easy:

  1. Hold down the Power button (top left) and the capacitive Home key (bottom right) until you hear the camera shutter sound and see an animation onscreen.
  2. Hold down the Power button and the Volume down button (right spine) until you hear the camera shutter sound and see the screenshot capture animation.

You’ll see your screenshot in the Notifications bar and you can also find it in a Screenshots album in Gallery > My Photos.

How to take HDR photos with your HTC One

I’ve been very impressed so far with the great images the HTC One camera takes, and was extremely surprised at the quality of it’s HDR photos, although it wasn’t the most intuitive feature to find.  Once you find it, you will also see there are lots of other nice formats and styles of photos you can take.

You can open up the filter menu by tapping the colorful icon at the bottom right when you’re in the camera app. There are lots of filters to choose from. You’ll also find editing tools and options to tweak settings – try the HDR mode for best quality results.

To start snapping high-quality, HDR photos on your HTC One, just follow the easy steps below:

  1. From the HTC One home screen, open the camera app.
  2. On the viewfinder screen tap the settings symbol on the left.
  3. Tap HDR in the camera mode list that pops up.
  4. When you’re ready to take the first shot, tap the camera icon. The HTC One will take three shots extremely quickly.
  5. These images will the be merged into a single, high-quality HDR photo, giving a more dynamic captured image.

How to use your HTC One as a TV Remote Control

Between my little boy, my cat, and my laziness – getting my hands on the remote control is not always the easiest thing for me.  Although, I usually have my phone in arms reach no matter what room.  So having an Infrared controller built into the HTC One has actually been very helpful.

The Power button hides an IR (infrared) blaster. You can use your HTC One as a remote control for your TV, home theater, and cable box. All you need to do is click on the app/icon called TV and follow the instructions, then choose Start on the Set up HTC remote page. It will work with devices from most major manufacturers and the set up process is simple.

You’ll get recommended content when you open the app, based on the preferences you chose, and you can tap on where it says Recommended to get a drop down menu to specify that you’re looking for movies, TV shows, sports, a TV guide, or social. You’ll also see a remote icon at the top, a search function, and the options menu.

How to multitask on the HTC One

To multitask on your HTC One, double click the home button. You will now see your nine most recently used apps. You can tap the app to go back to it, or swipe it up to close it.

How to manage your data on the HTC One

The One might be great for surfing and watching videos, but don’t forget you have a data cap. To set up limit notifications, go into Settings, tap Data usage and then check the box that says “Set mobile data limit.” Here you have full control over your data. This can come in handy if you have just a 2GB data cap.

How to switch on Wi-Fi Direct on the HTC One

Wi-Fi Direct lets you send pictures, images, and really any file to to other Wi-Fi Direct devices without Wi-Fi. The feature is pretty awesome. To turn on Wi-Fi direct on your HTC One, go into Settings, more Settings, scroll down to the Wi-Fi Direct column and then slide it on. You can now sync up with another smartphone.

How to set up Android Beam on the HTC One

The HTC One is an NFC-enabled smartphone that lets you quickly transfer content to other NFC Android devices with Android Beam. To turn on NFC, go into Settings, more Settings and then tap Android Beam. You’ll be given instructions on how to use it and it will be active once you slide it to on.

Google Now on your HTC One

I really like how Google works, so when Google Now began showing up on devices, I was extremely excited. You can have lots of things delivered to you via a dashboard, and tends to know what I am looking for even before I know.  Once I activated Google Now, I told Google Now what sports teams I liked, what stocks I wanted to follow, and that was about it.  Then I went on a trip, and before I knew it, it was recommending how I could learn to speak words in Spanish, since I was in a Spanish speaking location.  I’ve also tested out some of the features by verbally asking Google questions, and have had lots of luck.

To activate it, simply tap on the Google icon in the app drawer. If you’re not familiar with Google Now, you should know that it came with the Android Jelly Bean update and it tries to deliver information to you before you need to search for it. It utilizes the data you’ve given it to make context and location-centric alerts.

How to speed up your phone

Smooth and speedy performance is certainly one of the big draws of the HTC One, but you can speed it up slightly and reduce battery drain in a couple of ways.

Go to Settings > Developer options > Advanced and turn off some of the animations in the Animation section. If you don’t see Developer options then go to Settings > About >Software information and tap on Android version several times to unlock it.  (Photos can be found on a new article I posted here…)

In order to make sure there’s nothing running in the background that you don’t need, and get rid of some bloatware that you can’t uninstall, go into Settings > Apps and swipe to All. Now scan down the list and select each app you don’t want and then tap Disable.

How to factory reset your HTC One

Within the Android Software

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap Backup & reset.
  3. Select Reset phone.
  4. You will see a warning – read it and tap Erase all data.
  5. Phone will now reboot.

Outside of Software (using phone buttons):

  1. Turn off your HTC One
  2. With the device turned off, press and hold the Volume Down key.
  3. While both the Volume Down key held down, press the Power button.
  4. As soon as the phone boots up, release all buttons.
  5. Scroll and select wipe data/factory reset by pressing the Volume Down key. Then press the Power button.
  6. Next, select Yes – delete all user data by pressing the Volume Down key. Then press the Power button.
  7. As soon as the wipe has been completed, press the Volume Down key to scroll to and select wipe cache.
  8. Next, press the Power button to select reboot system now.
  9. Your device will reboot into factory condition.

HTC One Sample Photos

I have started adding a few images to this page just to get an idea as far as what the camera from the HTC One does for your images.  I will not do anything to any of these images that the camera, and it’s features can do automatically.  When I do add things like filters or adjust the camera (ISO or White Balance) I will make note of it.  Feel free to ask questions, and I will try to assist.

Also I do not have these sample photos displayed as full size, but the HTC One camera outputs 2688 x 1520 images


Since the above are a samples of different photos, here is an actual full sized photo taken from the HTC One, without any filters or edits done. This is straight from the phone itself. Just click on the image itself to see the full size

Click to see full size Click to see full size Click to see full size