The moment I drop kicked my embarrassing BlackBerry, I got sucked into the cult of Apple – a white, shiny space where everything’s oh so easy and expensive and when you do occasionally pop your head out of the sand it’s to cast a side eye at a friend who’s using something other than the big fruit. Why would you pick a Samsung Galaxy over an iPhone by choice? It just doesn’t make sense…
That was my mindset when I was approached by HTC to give their new The One (M8) a bash. Still, I got googling and started chatting to peeps I considered techy and everything I could dig up was good. Better than good, actually. HTC’s new incarnation has scooped up multiple heavy weight ‘phone of the year’ awards and everyone who used its predecessor was a serious fan. It was then that the wheels started turning. Kind of like when you meet a cute boy but write him off ‘cos you don’t think you’d be a good match but then all your friends are like ‘Oh, but did you hear about that one time he rescued those kittens from a building burning?’ Or ‘He’s sooo down to earth for an Arabian prince…’
Oh hey, sexy!
Anyway, I’m now about to unfurl my review on you but would like to say upfront that while I love techy goodness like the next Millennial, I’m not a super techy person. Just a girl who wants a state of the art phone that fits into and enhances her life. My review comes to you from that view-point and won’t be riddled with speccy things like what type of processor it uses etc. Those are things you can find out for yourself via a quick google. So, let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
First up, let’s talk size…
Up top: The iPhone 5s on the left, HTC The One (M8) in the middle and iPhone 6 on the left. Down below: HTC spooning with the iPhone 6 from the front and the side. I took this using my digicam and the shots look so blurry and crap in comparison to the HTC’s that I’ve gotten used to.
The HTC is substantially bigger than the iPhone I was used to and I initially didn’t see that as a plus but, now that I’ve adjusted to having a slightly larger screen, I pick up my friend’s phones and go ‘Ermiiigod! How do you see what’s going on?’ Online shopping, YouTube video watching and pretty much everything is better on the big screen.
The sound is epic!
If I switch my phone on to play music and crank up the volume it fills my whole flat without the need for popping it in a glass or adding a speaker attachment or anything like that. I know this isn’t mean to be a blerrie iPod, but I’m just saying.
About that battery life…
As a blogger/freelancer who’s perennially engaging with social media while using her phone’s camera incessantly, you’d think having a phone with a good battery life would be imperative. My Apple, however, had a seriously shitty lifespan and always required a mid day charge. Constantly carrying a charger and perma-hunting for plug points became an accepted fate but now, thanks to HTC’s crazy good battery life, I feel like a one time organ failure patient who’s been let off a dialysis machine and can comfortably get through an entire day and night of seriously heavy phone usage and a day and a half of regular usage, bearing in mind that my regular is still pretty heavy.
Another super cool battery feature? You can switch to something called Extreme Power Saving Mode – a bare bones interface – that can see your phone running for up to FIFTEEN HOURS on just 5% battery life. (I can just hear all the Apple users collectively gasping right now.) This has come in handy often, like when I get black out drunk at a friends house, discover my battery’s super low but want enough juice to set off an alarm to get up the next day.
The camera is INSANE!
The only thing that can accurately express my love of this phone’s camera is via a dancing hamster GIF. Are you feeling my joy, mense? Piccies taken on the HTC are ten times as good as the shots I’d take using my Samsung digital camera – even those taken at night! In fact, all the techie peeps in the know a saying the HTC The One (M8) is the phone that takes the best shots in low lightning, bar none. I now rarely take my camera with me and have been using my phone to snap pretty much everything. In fact, since October, I can safely say that 98% of the piccies on my blog have been snapped using my HTC. Please don’t use this as a gauge of the quality, however. All JPEGs automatically lose their sharpness when uploaded to WordPress – it’s just one of those things – so to get an idea of HTC piccies visit a website-based review.
As far as little camera quirks go, there a zillion things I like about this camera but there are two things that really stand out, the first being the ‘Depth of Field’ setting. It allows you to tap (on-screen) on what you’d like to be the focal point of your piccie to give your shots a professional-looking edge.
See how the nail polish is the focal point in pic one but Galliano gets his close up in shot two?
The second feature is something I call the mooiness. Much like an app line Line Camera, it helps you beautify your gesig, but is built in.
Me totally untouched on the left and the exact same pic spruced up with the touch of three buttons (Skin smooth, Brighten and Face Slim) on the right.
HTC fulfills my need for speed.
This phone thinks fast. Things open up fast. Everything just gets done fast. Love, love, love.
Still, as with everything in life, there are pros and cons. While the latter are few and far in between, these are my gripes:
At 5 mega-pixels, the front-facing ‘selfie’ camera is too good. It literally picks up every pore and wrinkle and grease patch on your face. For the most part, when you’re wearing make-up and feel presentable, this isn’t a major issue. But if you’re wanting to grab a shot of you and your bestie midway through a Kirstenbosch concert on a hot summer’s day, you will look like old, sweaty hags. Thank God for the adjustable ‘make-up’ setting – this allows you to blur up your face a little should you wish. But some days you just want to take a snap and not hate yourself afterwards. Or not fiddle with a slider that for the most part works really well, but can sometimes make your pic look blurry as opposed to the teensiest, weensiest bit less sharp.
On the left I’ve taken a shot with the ‘makeup’ bar sitting at around 5% then kicked it up to half way before heading into Crazy Town, giving my face an almost waxy look on the far right. This isn’t something I’ll ever use but it’s a God send if you happen to be a Kardashian.
Another ‘sort of but not really’ gripe? The default keyboard didn’t feel like it was laid out conveniently but that’s not necessarily the phone’s fault – possibly just the fact that I was used to using something else. Fortunately, this was an easy fix. I simply downloaded an app called Keyboard Emulator (waaay better than Swift Key) which is very similar to the iPhone layout I’d been using and BOOM, Bob was my mother truckin’ Uncle.
Almost last but not least, finding people in my phone book is a total las in that it’s a several step process involving more finger swipes than I was used to. I can’t actually remember how many steps where in the iPhone process or what its exact mechanics where, but I know I didn’t dread having to find a number on my phone. Fortunately, I’m not a big ‘caller’.
Finally, charging the battery takes a longer time to charge up than I’m used to. (I plugged it in this morning using the supplied charger and it took about almost two hours to go from 11% to 99%.) Still, once it’s good to go, the uber-long battery life makes it sooo worth the wait.
So, those bugbears aside, HTC’s The One (M8) is my new best friend and the reason why I’m flogging my iPhone on Gumtree. I’m truly grateful to the PR co for putting this phone in my hands. I’m a hard-headed, set in my ways type of person and there isn’t a sales person in the world who could’ve told me anything that would’ve swayed my hand from Apple to HTC in a store. However, after actually experiencing first hand how this phone has made my life so much easier I’m now a crazy convert.
So many people I’ve come into contact with have spotted it in my hands and said something along the lines of ‘Oh, I’d have taken you for an iPhone girl’ or whatever and I get off on going ‘Oh my God! I sooo used to be but this baby is the shizzle’s nizzle!’ I then proceed to astound them with tale’s o’ the battery life and show off a few of the camera tricks and then get off on having gained a little cred in that I’m then perceived as a consumer who makes considered, needs-based choices as opposed to blindly reaching for the big fruit. A Noddy badge I’d never be able to wear if, like I said, HTC didn’t give me the chance to honestly see what I was missing out on for myself.
Anyway, this isn’t just a happy ending for me – I have another HTC The One (M8) worth R11 500 to give away via a competition that’ll go live on my blog later this after noon. Be sure to check back to see how you could win.
Good luck girls!