“The M8 Eye trades the ultrapixel camera available with its progenitor for a 13-megapixel sensor. Here’s our review”
The HTC One (M8), HTC One M8 Mini 2, HTC One E8, HTC One M8 for Windows… don’t worry, we aren’t trying to boggle your minds with similar-sounding device names from the Taiwanese brand. But the point we want to highlight is that all of these share the same DNA as HTC's flagship offering, while changing a few things. Now, the vendor is adding another phone in this list, the HTC One (M8 Eye). The latest device from the brand’s stable aims to solve one of the biggest qualms with its progenitor – the low-resolution ultrapixel camera by trading it for a 13-megapixel sensor. Now, let’s see if the change is for the better or worse.
Since the HTC One (M8 Eye) is the same as the HTC One (M8) right from the design to its display and internals, except the camera, so we’d be focussing (quite literally) on the capabilities of the primary camera itself. You might want to read our review of the HTC One (M8), before proceeding further.
Along with the launch of its new camera-centric smartphones – the HTC One (M8 Eye) and Desire Eye, with the latter focussing on selfies as well, the Taiwanese company also unveiled its new camera app christened Eye Experience. The app takes over from the previous camera app available on HTC devices, and brings forth several new features. While it comes preloaded on the M8 Eye, the app will also be made available to other HTC devices.
The app interface is fairly loaded, with the right side (when the device is held horizontally) offering the ability to preview clicked images, switch between still images or video recording or choose between different camera modes. The left side gives option to enable or disable the flash, and expand the settings menu. Under the settings menu, you will be able to manipulate ISO, exposure, white balance along with getting more options like the aspect ratio, etc.
It’s the modes menu that offers some new options compared to the previous camera app. Two new modes are Split Capture and Photo Booth. Split Capture, as the name indicates, allows you to get one image with captures from both the front and rear cameras simultaneously or getting an image with shots from both cameras one after the other. Photo Booth allows you to take a series of images in different formats like grid, square and filmstrip.
The shots taken from the front camera on the device can be improved with the Live Makeup feature, offering options such as the ability to smoothen the skin tone, change the lighting of the image, remove red eye, among others.
Before we take a look at the performance of the camera, let’s talk about its tech specs. The One (M8 Eye) is outfitted with a 13-megapixel BSI sensor featuring f/2.0 aperture. To assist shooting in low-light conditions, the device gets help from an LED flash. Along with the primary camera, the smartphone also offers a depth sensor at the back just like the One (M8), which captures depth information of the scene, allowing users to make use of some interesting post-processing features. The front camera of the handset remains the same as the One (M8) – a 5-megapixel BSI sensor, which is quite good for capturing selfies or making video calls.
Now, let’s dive into the performance of the primary camera of the HTC One (M8 Eye). We have taken a number of shots with the device to gauge its capabilities, and here are a few for you to check.
The 13-megapixel sensor on the HTC One (M8 Eye) shows off its capabilities well in the long shot, since the image has captured good amount of details. Colours also seem to be good, however when you see the image in its full size, the colour reproduction fails to impress. In close up shots,there’s ample amount of details and the image is quite sharp as well.
Sadly, the HDR mode didn’t work as well as we’d hoped, since switching it on changes the entire image – maybe too much for our liking, making it look quite artificial. The low-light shot is where HTC’s concept of ultrapixel camera wins since the larger pixels are able to capture more light and thus produce great shots. Not only is the image captured by the 13-meg sensor on the One (M8 Eye) noisy, it also shows a strange halo effect around light sources.
Overall, the 13-megapixel camera on the HTC One (M8 Eye) is definitely better than the ultrapixel camera found on the One (M8) since it captures better details. However, when we compare the camera quality to other options available in its price segment, then it doesn’t seem that impressive. But what makes the smartphone unique is another sensor at the rear which captures the depth info of the scene. What this means is that you don’t need to think about special effects such as bokeh before capturing the shot, as the depth sensor allows you to make use of various effects while post-processing the images.
While the One (M8 Eye) is similar to the One (M8), there are some slight differences. Instead of a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor on the earlier model, the device comes powered by slightly underclocked 2.3GHz quad-core chip. The difference isn’t much and that reflects in performance as well, since it’s coupled with 2GB of RAM. In our usage, the smartphone performed very smoothly even while playing processor-intensive games,.
In the connectivity department, the One (M8 Eye) misses out on NFC capabilities, and there’s no IR emitter as well, which means it can’t be used as a universal remote. Notably, both these options are present on the One (M8).
While the One (M8 Eye) features a better rear camera than the One M8, it’s interesting that HTC has priced the former more affordably. At its launch, the One M8 Eye was priced around Rs 38,000 – considerably cheaper than its progenitor, which carried a sticker price of Rs 49,900. However, at this time, the M8 Eye can be bought for approximately Rs 35,000 online, while the One M8 will set you back by Rs 38,000 – so there's a tiny price difference of Rs 3,000 between the two.
Even then, the One (M8 Eye) comes across as a better smartphone, and in fact it’d have been better if the One (M8) was shipped with a 13-meg sensor instead of an ultrapixel camera. However, when you bring the competition in the purview, then it’s difficult to say if the HTC One (M8 Eye) is really the best flagship smartphone available. Of course, it has everything you can ask from a smartphone, including a great display and superb internals, not to mention that it flaunts a stunning design and a robust metal body. However, the metallic body is prone to slippage and if you talk about specs, then the Chinese brands are already challenging our perception of price vs performance, so much so that you can get similar hardware specs as the One(M8 Eye) for much lower. Moreover, at its current price point, it faces stiff competition from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 (review | FAQs) and Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro (review | FAQs).
All in all, the One (M8 Eye) is a great device, and is a better bet than the One M8, though by no means it’s the best flagship smartphone available in the market.
Photos by Raj Rout