Ed Note: It’s fair to say that little brothers–especially my own–probably don’t concern themselves too much with the day-to-day going ons of this blog. After all, one of his recent text messages to me read: “What is Balenciaga and why is it so big? I’ve never heard of it before.”
But when I got my hands on the new HTC One Harman Kardon Edition, I knew there was only one person who could test it for me and leave no app unopened. So below, is my brother first (and hopefully not last!) contribution to The Daily Obsession!
By Frank Hou
I recently had the pleasure of trying out the HTC One (M8) Harman Kardon Edition. It is a premium version of the (M8), with focus on the music experience. Needless to say, I’ve been very impressed with the phone, and have had a difficult time finding any flaws. Below are just a few of my favorite things about the phone.
1. The Hardware
HTC really killed it last year with the design of the HTC One, and has outdone itself with this year with the (M8). Most of the flagship phones for Android, such as the Galaxy S5 and the Nexus 5, are made primarily of plastic. The HTC One (M8) is made nearly entirely of metal, with a polished back, curved edges, and a stunning screen finished with Gorilla glass. It can be a tad slippery to hold at times, and iPhone users using it with just one hand may find it a bit cumbersome. However, the larger real estate, packed with 1080×1920 pixels, provides a much more immersive experience for apps like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest (haha just kidding. I don’t use that but my sister says it’s cool.). Overall, the HTC One (M8) aluminum body displays thoughtful engineering and beautiful aesthetics that may have surpassed the current barometer for smartphone design, the iPhone 5S.
2. Entertainment and Media
The (M8) is a premium phone for watching videos and listening to music. Watching Nexflix or YouTube is a great experience, with quick HD streaming and plenty of space to notice the small details. What is most impressive, especially in the Harman Kardon edition, is the dual front-facing BoomSound speakers. The stereo speakers deliver excellent sound quality, making music and video a key component of the (M8). HTC really shows off its commitment with a new feature called the Clari-Fi. It promises to augment low-resolution tracks, such as .mp3 files, with enhanced depth and detail. A similar feature is the LifeStage technology, which creates a live performance-feel into ordinary tracks.
3. The Battery
One of the biggest factors I look when choosing a new phone is the battery life. There is nothing worse than noticing 12% battery left while at work with no charger in sight. Thankfully, with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 801 chip, the HTC One (M8)’s battery life is very efficient and lasts much longer.
I’ve been very happy using the phone for the past few weeks. Being a moderately heavy users, I am constantly surfing the web and watching videos. Typically, the phone is still well over 20% when I go to bed at night. It also has a useful Extreme Power Saving Mode, which dims the screen, restricts background data, and limits your apps to basic ones like the phone, messages, mail and calendar. I have never found this mode necessary, but it is useful to have.
4. Key (M8) Features
One feature of the (M8) is the Blinkfeed, which acts like a RSS feed with many rich features and a popping interface. Part of its Sense UI, Blinkfeed is accessed by swiping right, and you can pick and choose the content. For instance, I have subscribed to the New York Times and BBC to stay up with breaking news, ESPN for sports stories, and the Financial Times for the business world. It is more of a supplemental feature than a core function, but it is nice to have that doesn’t interfere with the user experience.
Another great feature that HTC prides itself on is the new camera. The (M8) has an interesting dual camera feature that acts as a depth sensor. When taking pictures, it allows users to refocus and emphasize images after they are taken. As a casual “photographer”, I find this to be a nonessential but admittedly a cool feature. However, as fascination with Instagram increases, more and more folks are taking artsy pictures. HTC has targeted this demographic, and used the new camera as a focal selling point.
5. Face Recognition to Unlock
No password necessary. You can set the phone to recognize your facial features and unlock automatically when you look at the screen.
6. Random Musings
There is a lot to like in the new HTC One (M8). There are many little features that made using the phone that much more of a joy. For instance, double tapping the phone will turn it on, a useful feature that should be on any large smartphone. Photos are clear and crisp, and have buttery smoothness when scrolling through an album. It also adds a microSD slot, which is genuinely useful for extra storage and easy access. And on a superficial level, the phone just feels nice to hold and use. It doesn’t feel fake or plastic-y, and strikes a perfect balance between design, usability and innovation.