Over the last few days details have begun to leak about the possible specifications of this years HTC flagship codenamed M8. The specs if they are to be believed (they come from a mixture of reputable sources) will be seen as disappointing by many, with certain areas in particular leaving the Taiwanese company open to critisism. The full range of leaked specifications are listed below.
- Quad-Core Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974) @ 2.3 GHz
- 5 inch full HD 1080p display with on-screen buttons
- 2.1MP front facing camera
- 4MP rear facing camera (with ultra pixel technology)
- 16 GB internal memory
- 2 GB RAM
- External SD card slot with support for MicroSDXC cards
- 2700-3000 mAh battery
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
- IR Blaster
In addition to the hardware information, it is believed that the new handset will ship running Android 4.4.2 (the latest version) with HTC’s latest incarnation of Sense, 6.0.
When HTC released the One last year they broke away from the usual spec wars that OEM’s partake in to focus on key elements of the device and software. Out went the now bloated old Sense to be replaced by a more modern, sleeker and functional version with improvements to the gallery and social aspects specifically. Additionally they made a bold move with respect to the camera, instead of chasing the mega-pixes the way every other OEM has done, they opted to reduce them but increase their size, meaning that in theory each would capture more light. Improvements were made to the devices audio with the introduction of front facing stereo speakers and everything was encased in a stunning looking aluminium unibody. Throughout the course of the year the handset has picked up awards by the bucket load with it’s only real disappointment being less than expected sales.
The M8 will answer a few of the criticisms that have been aimed at the One and beef up some other places ready for the new year. The increased battery is always welcome, the return to including an SD card slot will please many and allows HTC to reduce the internal memory to 16GB without crippling the device, and a newer faster processor wont hinder it in any way. The move away from physical to on-screen buttons will please purists as it apes the Nexus way of doing things.
So why do I think HTC might have already lost the battle of the 2014 flagship? There are a couple of reasons. Firstly the camera. The 4 Ultra-Pixel camera on the current One, One Mini, and One Max is great for social snaps and family gatherings, for nights out in the pub or in the dark of a nightclub, but at times 4MP (ultra or not) is just not enough. Why they have even kept the zoom feature in the camera app is still a mystery to me. The camera was a gamble on the One when it came out at the front end of last year, and HTC just about got away with it, but this year I doubt they will be so lucky with no improvement in the hardware. The screen while 0.3 inches bigger remains 1080p rather than the QHD screen many were expecting and that will no doubt grace other smartphones later in the year. The choice of SOC may also come back to haunt them as the 800 will only remain top range for a short time of the new phones life cycle (assuming it follows the current One’s 12 month plan).
There may, of course, be other ways to look at this. As I said earlier, sales of the original One haven’t exactly propelled HTC to the top of the profit league - they have actually had operating losses (discounting the Beats Audio sale) for the last two reported quarter’s. The production costs might just not stack up, or possibly HTC get far better returns from their ‘budget’ Desire range and therefore don’t want to spend too much on re-inventing the One. Either way I can see this being a hard year for HTC, they did a lot of things right last year without the rewards. They have won round many consumers who had turned against them. Even if sales didn’t boom they did gain plaudits. I just don’t think that the M8 is a big enough step forward, it doesn’t do enough to make me, as an HTC One owner, want to upgrade to the new model.
Do you agree, that HTC have not gone far enough or do you think the M8 will once again win critical acclaim?