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March 25, 2014

New HTC One Flagship Smartphone with Bokeh Camera and Open Camera API and microSD slot (up to 128GB)

Apple and Samsung may have been moving smartphones by the millions, but it was HTC One (M7) that won most of the critical acclaim in 2013. Today HTC announced their new flagship, the HTC One (M8).

From a photography perspective, the main new feature is a two lens camera on the back of the phone. The second camera is used to capture detailed depth information of a scene - this is captured using hardware, not software guestimates. The term Bokeh was featured prominently in the official presentation by HTC. So let's just call it the Bokeh smartphone!


Also of interest to photography developers, HTC is opening up the camera API to outside (of HTC) developers, so if you have great ideas on how to take advantage of the second camera, this may be something you want to look into.

HTC continues with their Ultrapixels, not joining the "megapixel wars". Among other camera features, you can save a group of settings together (custom settings).

The front camera is trying to appease the selfie-generation with a 5mp wide-angle camera.

Of photography interest also, the phone now supports microSD memory cards, and it can use cards up to 128GB in storage size. So you can shoot and shoot and shoot and not worry about running out of space. Combined with the smaller Ultrapixel files, you can shoot even more. Also helping in photo shooting marathons is the promise of 40% improvement in battery life versus the previous HTC One (as usual with announcement estimates, we have to wait for actual real-life tests to see the practical benefits).

And if you are shooting out and about and break your screen, you get one free screen replacement if it breaks within six months of purchase. This is part of the previously launched HTC Advantage program.

Other specs: 5 inch screen (1920 x 1080), the new Snapdragon 801 processor, 440ppi, etc. Also, the HTC specific apps will now be upgradable through Google Play.

HTC has a Flash-based page touting the phone's camera features. HTC's white paper on the Camera module can be found in browser-readable format at Into Mobile.


Announcement Coverage
Live-blog coverage of the announcement at Engadget and The Verge and CNet.com. Live video stream of the announcement event at HTC.

Post-game show (video stream) at CNet.com.

If you don't have a lot of time to read all these, Tech Crunch has a compact article covering most of the major points.

More detailed announcement coverage at the best place to get all your tech news quickly, Miss Techmeme.


Completed Reviews and Previews
Hands-on preview of the camera: CNet compares the HTC One M8 camera with the iPhone 5S camera and calls the results Hit Or Miss for the M8 phone.

COMPLETED REVIEWS: the HTC One 2014 has completed reviews and they now ready for you to read. At Engadget they have THREE dedicated camera sections, with the new "Duo Camera" getting its own segment. The Verge highlights this finding from their review: "HTC improved everything but the image quality". You can also check the video component of their review. There is also a completed review at CNet.com with the camera segments of the review on page #2.

More completed reviews at Wired and Gizmodeaux and not Walt Mossberg at WSJ and yes Walt Mossberg at Re/Code.

Hands-on previews at Engadget and The Verge.


Reviews from the ANDROID World
Perhaps the most detailed review of all, at least from an Android perspective can be found at Android Central.

Hands-on reviews include a camera section at Android Authority and also at Android Pit.

More benchmarks have come out as well, rounded up in two screenshot PNGs at Android Headlines. Over there, you can also find a spec-sheet comparison.

For more threads that you can possible digest, check the XDA forums.


Reviews from Mobile Tech websites
A detailed 11-page review is now out at GSM Arena and it includes dedicated review page for the camera module.

A review is also out at Laptop Magazine which includes a Camera/Video segment, including a sample picture comparison between the One and the iPhone 5S and Galaxy S4. They also compare the M8 vs M7 features and specs wise and spec-compare to Galaxy S5.

Completed reviews also available at Boy Genius Report.

Phone Arena has their completed review and also compares this to the Sony Xperia Z2 and also to the Galaxy S4 and has a top ten new features feature. They also have a feature on the Duo camera. If you feel like an HTC One M8 immersion, they have dozens and dozens of posts on it! [INFORMATION OVERLOAD!]


8-way CAMERA COMPARISON
Phone Arena has an 8-way camera comparison between the new HTC One M8 (2014) and a variety of other flagship phone cameras, including the Lumia 1520, Nexus 5, Galaxy S4, iPhone 5S, LG G2, Galaxy Note 3, and Xperia Z1S. A slide-show comparison widget shows the 48 images that are part of the comparison.

If you are on a high-speed internet connection with a stable browser and bigger screen, you can see all 48 samples pictures in this giant one-page comparison. [HOT!]


Prices
The phone will be available for ordering starting at 1pm today (not sure which timezone). The phone will be available for $200 on a two year contract (16GB) or $250 (32GB). Contract-free unlocked prices are $650 (Developer edition from HTC) and $700 for the Google Play Edition (GPE). The GPE is running stock Android, while all the other versions are running the HTC Sense 6 UI.

If you are a brick and mortar shopper, you can also walk into a Verizon Wireless store and buy it today (!).


HTC One M8 Pre-Orders
+ AT&T Wireless: $200 with 2yr new contract or $640 without contract or $32/month (Next 12, 20 months) or $25/month (Next 18, 26 months)

+ Verizon Wireless: Buy 1 Get 1 Free with two new two-year activations/contracts, $200 contract price. However, the link on their front page for the new One currently points to the old one (as of 1:24pm ET).

+ Sprint: $200 with new 2yr contract or $27/month for 24 months

+ T-Mobile: as of 1:33pm ET I can't find it on their website

+ HTC: Developer edition for $650, in-stock now (GSM, unlocked bootloader, 32GB storage)

+ Google Play Edition: $700 unlocked and no-contract, GSM, pre-orders "coming soon"



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