Techilicious columnist Rajiv Makhni
What happens when HTC and Samsung come out with their latest smartphones? Part-1
I woke up today morning and thanked God as it meant I was one more day closer to the release of the Apple iPhone 6!”
No, that’s not a statement by me proving that I have gone completely insane, but a Twitter message I read a few days ago.
There’s a big new release in the world of mobile phones almost every single day. But only a few releases can truly have everybody waiting with bated breath or lead to the kind of complete madness the above tweet proves. In fact, I’m going to drill it down to about five companies that can still pull it off. Samsung with its Galaxy S series and its Note series, Apple with its iPhone, HTC with its One, Nokia with its next PureView Lumia and Google with its next Nexus phone.
The rest may make headlines and news, but they are still to have that cult fanboyism-level madness around a release. And now that insanity has been taken to a whole new level, as two of these ‘I can’t breathe’ phones have literally come out together. Launched side by side are the new HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Time to analyse the impact when two gigantic forces of nature collide.
The phone is all metal and comes in gold, silver and grey – with a smooth and better finish
HTC One M8, The successor: Yes, it’s not been called the HTC One Two (sigh of relief) and also not the HTC One Up, but a more generic and slightly boring HTC One M8 (the M8 refers to the 8th flagship phone from HTC). But the word boring stops right there as this is by far the most stunning phone from inside-out in a long, long time. When HTC came out with the One about a year back, it threw down the gauntlet and challenged the competition in every way. Stunning design, true unibody all-metal construction, fantastic screen and true differentiators in sound and camera optics. Unfortunately the best phone in the world at that time didn’t change the fortunes of HTC the company, as some terrible production problems and some not-so-great marketing made sure that the One didn’t sell in the numbers it deserved.
Enter the One M8. This phone has to live up to that stellar reputation, outdo it, be better than the competition and at the same time, make sure that this time there are no screw-ups in sales and numbers. Not an easy task – but then the phone has had a good start by just being what it is. This is mobile form and design at a whole new level now. The M8 is all-metal and more, comes in gold (why, why this new gaudy obsession with gold by every company), silver and grey, and is smoother and better finished than any other phone in the market. A bigger full-HD screen, fantastic processor, great hardware specs and better battery rounds up all that you need in your next phone. And then comes the camera, or should I say three cameras? Yes, this one has two at the back and one in the front. So, what are two cameras doing at the back? I’m glad you asked, as this is quite a leap ahead for cameraphone optics.
Light shining through micro pixel holes and displaying pertinent information
Triple camera tricks: Turn the phone around and you discover that the back is adorned with two cameras. The second does just one thing and that is to capture the depth information in each picture you take. Thus, you can do a lot of things with an image AFTER you’ve shot it. You can change focus completely and bring things into the foreground clearly while completely blurring the background and vice versa. Very DSLR-like effects are possible and some pre-planning can set up stunning images.
The controls are easy to use and many more tricks are available here. Also, going with the flavour of the season, the front camera now has a really good and very intelligent ‘selfie mode’. You can play around with a lot of things in that mode, including make yourself look thinner. Imagine the mayhem and amount of weight people will now ‘shed’ on pictures posted on Facebook!
More tricks up it sleeve: The HTC One M8 has a lot of other interesting things, including front facing ‘boom’ speakers and a very attractive and new front cover that works on the principle of light shining through micro pixel holes and displaying pertinent information. It also has BlinkFeed and HTC’s own Sense overlay on the OS that is still one of the least intrusive of the lot. Big things missing are: no fingerprint scanner, it’s not dust-resistant and waterproof and it feels a little big in the hand.
Cheap plastic lovers: In a perfect world, a phone as superior in design and features as the M8 would automatically win the smartphone war. Nothing like that is about to happen. It has to take on a juggernaut of problems as well as spate of a ‘take no prisoners’ competition all around it. The biggest one, of course, is that the Samsung Galaxy S5 releases at exactly the same time.
HTC’s CEO may have gone on record to say that Samsung phones are for people who like ‘cheap plastic’, but that still means it’s going to outsell the HTC One M8 by millions. Exactly why that may happen will be revealed next week, when I do a hands-on in-depth review of the Galaxy S5.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, April 6
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