HTC One (M8) With Windows Phone 8.1: Hands On - InformationWeek

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9/8/2014
01:51 PM
Michael Endler
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HTC One (M8) With Windows Phone 8.1: Hands On

Windows Phone fans finally have flagship variety with HTC's One (M8). But it probably won't tempt Android or iOS users to Windows Phone 8.1.

iPhone 6: 8 Ideas Ripped From Rivals?
iPhone 6: 8 Ideas Ripped From Rivals?
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a bit oversaturated, and its color calibration is noticeably biased toward reds, sometimes distractingly so. The hardware never felt as comfortable in my hand as an iPhone. The One (M8) has a much bigger screen, so some of this discrepancy surely relates to size. I have medium-sized hands, and found I could just barely operate the One (M8) one-handed. But in other ways, the device just doesn't feel organic in my hand; something about the shape and finish makes me feel like I'm going to drop it. I also wish the power and volume rocker buttons protruded a bit more.

With a Dot View cover on, the device is easier to grip -- but I found the cover itself somewhat frustrating. The first time I attached the accessory, it wigged out, displaying a bunch of gibberish. I haven't been able to replicate that problem, but other aggravations persist. When I swipe down to summon Cortana, for example, the gesture works only some of the time. Others seem to be more satisfied with the Dot View, but after a few days, I started using the One (M8) without it.

HTC's proprietary technology can be fun, but most of it either duplicates something already found in Microsoft's OS, or amounts to little more than a novelty. The rear camera's parallax effect is fun but limited, and though the camera offers a range of manual controls and a variety of filters, its miserly 4-MP resolution produces low-contrast, low-detail shots. The camera also has a 5-MP front-facing camera, which might compensate for the unimpressive rear unit, if you do a lot of Skype or like selfies -- but compared to 16-MP and 41-MP sensors in Nokia Windows Phones, the HTC's photographic tools don't match up. BlinkFeed, meanwhile, does a lot of the same things Cortana does. Moreover, thanks to Cortana's machine-learning capabilities, the virtual assistant does many of these things, such as gathering news that suits your preferences, better.

And then there's the ongoing bane of Windows Phone's existence -- apps. Windows Phone 8.1 has access to more than 300,000 titles, less than one-third the total in iOS and Android's respective catalogues. Many major apps have finally made it to Windows Phone, but they're often not as fully featured as those on other platforms. Instagram for Windows Phone lacks the iOS version's ability to shoot video and edit photos, for example. Many apps that are free on iOS and Android also cost a few dollars on Windows Phone.

Ultimately, the One (M8) is a reasonable option for Windows Phone fans. According to a recent survey, Windows Phone users are less likely than Android or BlackBerry users to switch to the upcoming iPhone 6 -- so it's positive for such a loyal group to have more options, and good for the smartphone market to see more flagship competition. But will the One (M8) tempt any Android or iOS users to join Windows Phone? Time will tell, but as for me, I'm probably still going to buy an iPhone 6.

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio
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Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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9/16/2014 | 3:11:03 PM
Re: Questions for the author.
Hi Greg,


Have a look at the Lumia Icon, which a lot of people seem to like, and which has a nice 20 MP camera. That said, if you don't need to upgrade immediately, there are some rumblings and rumors that Microsoft will debut new phones relatively soon. If photography is your main focus, Panasonic just introduced an Android smartphone with a 1-inch sensor in its camera, which I suspect is the same one Sony and Canon are putting in their high-end compacts. This should give the Panasonic an image quality edge, based on pure physics, compared to most smartphones.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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9/9/2014 | 9:46:12 AM
Re: Another review complaining it's not an iPhone
Thanks rradina.


And no, I'm not "all Apple." I used Windows 7 and 8 PCs 85%+ of the time, prefer Office to iWork, think Win 8.1's bad reputaton is overblown, etc. 


I think you bring up a great point about older iPhones becoming "turtles" when Apple releases newer versions of iOS-- it's definitely happened to me too, and it's aggravating.

I also think you're right about the Windows Phone app problem-- it's not just about quantity, but also quality. That's one of the points I tried to highlight in the article. Even when a popular app is available (e.g. Instagram), it's often much less functional than it is on other platforms. There are a strong Windows Phone apps, too, but even if people are sick of hearing about the app gap, it's still a factor in sales and adoption.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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9/9/2014 | 9:39:18 AM
Re: Obviously
That's a neat trick, anon: you admit I can probably defend myself with "objective and unbiased reasons," yet you automatically discount whatever those reasons might be. Seem a little close-minded? Were there actually any points in the article that you disagree with? Or do you just like to toss around ad hominems?
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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9/9/2014 | 9:34:27 AM
Re: Another review complaining it's not an iPhone
@manmuffy

*sigh*

"I have been using my Lumia 925 dark-coloured steel phone for 2 years now." Does a 2-year-old model still count as a flagship for those looking for a Windows Phone today? Taken in context (rather than filtered through indignation), there is nothing factually inaccurate about what I wrote.

"personally I have all the apps I need (about 40) and have never paid for one in my life ... Ooh, only 300,000 to choose from, how will I manage?" Great! For you, then, apps are a non-issue. But your perspective seems to imply that just because you don't care about this point, others won't care. I can appreciate that as a Windows Phone fan, you might be tired of hearing people complain about app selection, which has been an ongoing criticism. But even if you're sick of hearing about it, the app issue is still a valid criticism.

"Most iPhone users haven't tried WP handsets - living with them, not just for 2 weeks - but still criticize them because of iPhone reviewers basically complaining that it's not an iPhone." I've used this particular phone for two weeks, but I used the HTC 8x exclusively for six months after the iPhone I had at the time got dropped in water. I mentioned in the article that I had previous Windows Phone experience, though I didn't belabor the point. In any event, I included the note about the iPhone to be transparent about how my experiences might have shaped my perspective. Evidently it's better for reviewers to feign complete objectivity, rather than admitting that their perspective is shaped by experience and perspective?

"The bit about the feeling comfortable - very subjective - if you're used to one size any other will feel too large/small." The article is listed as commentary and described in the headline as a "hands on" review-- isn't it obvious that aspects of this are subjective? Moreover, the article said that unfamiliarity with the new size was a certainly a factor.


But, hey, you seem to live in a world in which people are either iOS-loving sheep, or free thinkers who shun Apple. I tend to think we live in a slightly more complicated world in which there's room for more than one device to be appealing, and in which it isn't anathema for a single reporter to subjectively explain why he prefers one type of one to another, while still praising aspects of both phones.
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