If you like the HTC One M8 smartphone but are not a big fan of its metal design or price, then you will be happy to know there is a cheaper and equally good alternative — the One E8.
Both the HTC One and E8 look very similar, especially from the front. In fact, you could easily mistake one for the other. The E8 comes in two variants — matte or glossy polycarbonate — and for this review we got the black matte model with gold lining.
We didn’t like the brushed metal surface of the M8 because it was incredibly slippery and gets scratched easily and we are happy that the E8 sports a rubberised back that offers better grip.
On the downside, the back eventually got a little slimy due to exposure to sweat and grease.
Under the hood
The E8 retains most of the hardware components found in the flaghship M8 although it is being positioned as an affordable flagship model.
It has, for instance, the same 2.5GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor, 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal memory.
The E8 doesn’t suffer from performance issues — there was no lag when browsing the Web and social media networks, watching videos or playing games.
The heat built-up was also minimal even under heavy use which is impressive, as many smartphones in the market tend to get hot very quickly.
The device has a 5in full-HD display which is sharp thanks to the high pixel density of 441ppi (pixels per inch) and the colours are also vibrant without being oversaturated.
We also had no problems viewing the screen under direct sunlight, as the display is very bright.
In fact, it’s very bright even at the lowest setting — we found it a little too bright to use at night or in a dark room.
With the E8, HTC decided to forego its UltraPixel technology in favour of a standard sensor. Unlike the M8 which has a 4-megapixel Ultrapixel camera, the E8 has a 13-megapixel sensor. HTC has also left out its depth sensing Duo camera, probably to save cost.
The E8’s camera is definitely an improvement over the M8’s — shots taken were generally satisfactory but tended to look a little under exposed.
Like most other HTC smartphones, it also suffers from purple fringing.
Shots taken in low-light conditions appeared a little grainy but this is hardly surprising for a smartphone camera.
It also employs strong noise reduction which makes the images look smoother but at the loss of some detail.
For selfie lovers, the E8 has a front-facing 5-megapixel camera with a built-in Touch Up function for enhancing skin tone and optimising facial details.
It also includes a handy countdown timer.In the audio department, the E8 features BoomSound speakers which are probably the loudest and nicest sounding speakers on a smartphone.
The speaker grille is at the top and bottom of the display and this works well whether the phone is held horizontally or vertically.
They are great for listening to music and playing games, and are audible even in a crowded room.
Out of the box, the E8 comes with the relatively new Android 4.4.2 KitKat and HTC has promised an update for version 4.4.4 soon.
Google is also expected to release its next-gen Android L and once it goes live, HTC said it will release an update for its M8 and M7 devices within 90 days. We expect the E8 to also get updated after the two devices.
The default Android interface has been replaced with HTC Sense which has a minimalistic look with enhancements such as Blinkfeed for getting your daily dose of news from social media, simplified photo gallery and a polished app tray.
It also boasts another unique feature called Motion Launch which allows you to access most of the phones essential features with gestures.
For instance, a double tap wakes up the phone from standby mode while holding the phone horizontally and pressing the volume button activates the camera.
The E8 has great stamina even though it only has a 2,600mAh battery, easily lasting a day of heavy usage that includes browsing the Web, shooting photos and checking out social media networks.
When it’s running out of battery, the phone has an Extreme Power Saving mode that can make the phone go the extra mile by reducing the screen brightness, turning off data connection while in standby mode and throttling the CPU.
What makes the One E8 attractive is that its hardware is comparable to many flagship smartphones on the market while costing a lot less.
Also, if you have been thinking of getting the M8, now you have an equally attractive option which is about RM700 cheaper.
All in all, the E8 is a great Android device that doesn’t compromise on quality and it’s worth checking out.
Pros: Decent price; good battery life; excellent speakers.
Cons: Average camera; the rubberised back degrades over time.