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Featured Review: HTC One E8

November 2, 2014 - Written By Justin Diaz

Earlier this year HTC announced their 2014 flagship, the HTC One M8, and it returned clad in a metal unibody design with a smooth finish and rounded edges. It also returned with a hefty retail price that some either weren’t willing to pay or just simply couldn’t afford. That’s where the HTC One E8 for Sprint came in, as a less expensive plastic unibody device option that came with some of the elements and features of the HTC One M8, but without the metal body, price, and a few other things. We had the opportunity to use the HTC One E8 on Sprint’s network for a while and see just how the phone performs. In contrast, it was a great opportunity to see how well it performed compared to the M8. There were some areas the M8 excelled, but others where the E8 did just as well.

Despite not having a couple pieces of the same hardware, and a slightly less capable camera, the HTC One E8 held its own in running games, performing multi-tasking capabilities and actually takes some pretty decent camera shots. It has a slightly(not much but slightly)faster processor, which at times could really make it feel a bit more powerful than the M8. Suffice it to say, even for customers who chose to go with the E8 over the M8 and save a little money, they’ll be pleasantly surprised at what they get for the money they spend.

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Hardware

The HTC One E8 is made up of a plastic unibody design and carries a non-removable Li-Po battery. The enclosed design is something that HTC has been doing with more than a few of their recent phones. It comes with a microSD card slot just like the M8 for expandable storage, which might be useful to some people that don’t store things in the cloud. Even though the device is made of plastic, it still manages to pull off feeling nice and comfortable to hold in the hand. It actually feels better at times as the metal on the HTC M8 can get a little cold, and gets pretty warm to the touch when the processor is working overtime.

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The HTC One E8 is kind of a nice middle ground and felt neither too hot nor too cold, it was just right. The Dual front facing stereo speakers do a nice job at outputting audio especially when it comes to playing music or playing games. It was also useful during the occasional YouTube video. Hardware buttons are mostly in the same location as on the M8, so anyone that has handled the M8 should see things as feeling familiar. The power button is located up top, albeit directly in the middle instead of slightly off to the right side.

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The volume rocker sits on the right side more towards the top, with the SIM tray on the left side of the device and the microSD card slot sitting just above the volume rocker. The microUSB charging port and the 3.5mm audio jack are located on the bottom of the device, which has been standard for most of HTC’s current phones, although it feels a little weird to me personally just because I’m not used to it. It does make sense however, as I usually put my phone in my pocket face in and with the bottom of the phone facing up. If I used earbuds, this would be the perfect setup.

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The look and feel of the device overall is really almost every bit as nice as the M8. The Metal looks a little flashier, but when it comes to the touch and holding it in your hand, they’re about even. The E8 puts out some nice sound quality, even without having the Boom Sound speakers like on the M8, which ultimately is what makes it come up a little short. Still, despite this lacking the audio is still very good and anyone who has never really spent time using a device with the Boom Sound would never know the difference or what they were missing in the first place. In short, they shouldn’t be displeased by what they hear with the sound quality on the E8.

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Specs

When it comes to the specs, the HTC One E8 is working with a 5-inch Super LCD 3 capacitive display with 1080 x 1920 resolution and 441 ppi. It’s protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 so it can handle the occasional scratch from keys or change in your pockets without worry. You also shouldn’t feel terrible about sitting the phone face down when you aren’t holding it, the Gorilla Glass will take care of things here too. On the back, instead of going with the 4MP Ultra Pixel Duo Camera that was used with the HTC One M8, the E8 uses a solid 13MP auto-focus rear facing camera with an LED-flash, which is capable of recording video at 1080p quality at 30FPS. The front facing camera is a 5MP. It’s running Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat out of the box and has HTC Sense 6 UI on top, which features things like the Blinkfeed, the tap to wake the screen and put it to sleep, and the HTC Dot View app among other things. It has a Qualcomm MSM8975AC Snapdragon 801 CPU clocked at 2.5GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU for the graphics and 2GB of RAM. It only has 16GB of internal storage with no 32GB option, but it does come with 50GB of Google Drive storage and expandable memory up to 128GB through the microSD, so if people want more space there is definitely a way for them to get it. Th battery as we stated above is a non-removable Li-Po battery, which has a capacity of 2600 mAh. It’s definitely no slouch, but it isn’t the best battery we’ve seen either.

Battery LifeUntitled

The battery life on the HTC One E8 is pretty good. I was able to test it both with the screen on and with the the screen off in standby.(which you can see from the above images of the standby time screenshots)During use, the HTC One E8 lasts throughout the day without any problems. I was able to keep it with the screen on for about 8 hours before I needed to plug it in. This was with some moderate use while picking it up to browse through Google+, play a game for ten to twenty minutes, then put it back down and just let it sit on the homescreen. The standby time is obviously a lot longer, having been off the charger for almost a full 48 hours and it’s at 63%. The nice thing about the HTC One E8 is that it features the power saving and ultra power saving modes found the HTC One M8, so should things get a little hairy with the battery life during the day, you can simply turn on one of these modes and get some battery longevity that would be sorely needed. All in all, the battery life is better than I expected it to be and the power saving features really give it that something extra just in case I forgot to charge it before I left the house. You’ll easily be able to get through a day without having to charge it once.

SoftwareUntitled

The HTC One E8 is running Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat, and it does have the Sense 6 UI sitting on top. That’s where the power Saving modes and the Blink Feed come from. Although I have never been a huge fan of the HTC Sense software from the past devices in their lineup, HTC Sense 6 is more polished in many ways than previous versions of the software. It feels clean without too many unneeded add-ons, and it looks nice. The Sense 6 UI brings in the tap to wake and tap to sleep features for the lock screen, and you’ll find that accessing any of the apps on your homescreen dock is a capable and useful function.

The other nice thing about the lock screen is that it has the iconic weather/date/time widget we’ve come to know from many of HTC’s devices, which can be a great way to check basic details in a flash. Basically all phones have the clock on the lock screen now, but the weather widget being there stock is kind of a nice touch. You also have the access to Google Now, which just about any phone running current Android software should have the ability to do.

The only thing I feel is a little lacking with the software is really the aspect of customization. There is no capability to personalize your device with any sort of theme or personal touch, like different colors for the app drawer or menus. You can get this sort of thing with downloadable apps of course, but it would be a nice touch for some of those things to be baked right into the Sense software from the beginning. I mentioned that Sense 6 feels a lot lighter than previous versions, and that can immediately be felt just by using the device for simple things like scrolling through different homescreens and menus. Movement is fluid and nothing feels or looks choppy. HTC really optimized Sense to give the best of two worlds, which is a beautiful finish and speedy functionality.

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HTC isn’t necessarily known for their smartphone cameras, however their mid to high end phones usually do take a solid photo, and that’s the case with the HTC One E8. The rear facing camera is a 13MP shooter and it shines through to take some decent quality shots. It lacks the duo camera found on the HTC One M8, but unless you really have a passion for taking those enhanced depth of field pictures(which is still an option for picture taking modes), the camera on the E8 is pretty good. Macro shots in most case came out clear and did a great job focusing on the point of the subject that i tapped on screen, and there are various built in shooting modes to fit most situations, whether that be landscape shots, macro shots, portrait mode photos, panoramas, HDR images or your standard auto mode. You can change things like the ISO and white balance levels too if you need, and if you have a grasp on how to use them to your advantage, I however am no photography guru so I tend to leave those alone most of the time.

The camera performs surprisingly well in low light conditions, as you can see from the couple images I took of my bike below, one with flash on just to contrast the difference between when you have the assistance of the flash compared to without. You’ll also find that the camera has a decent amount of built in filters you can add to your images, like dots which kind of pixelates things, to the depth of field and even vignette and posterize. All in all, you’ll be able to get some great shots out of the camera on the E8. It won’t surpass the likes of the Xperia Z3, the LG G3, or the Galaxy Note 4 and other top tier flagships, but then again it wasn’t meant to. That being said, the camera will provide great images which is really good for the price. Here are some varied shots that I took below.

Final ThoughtsAH HTC One E8-14

The HTC One E8 is not what you would think of when you consider looking at a flagship device, and that’s OK because it isn’t a flagship device. However, it gives the same if not slightly better experience in some areas than the HTC One M8 which is HTC’s flagship phone for 2014, making the HTC One E8 somewhat flagship worthy in the performance department. HTC makes a solid device, and that comes through on the HTC One E8. You can tell that even by cutting the cost to consumer down here and not spending as much to make a product, they refused to compromise on the areas that matter and have delivered a great phone. If you aren’t able to spend the cash to pick up the bigger, badder, HTC One M8, the HTC One E8 is more than a suitable substitute.