HTC made a mistake, but maybe it’s one we can live with

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HTC released a phone earlier this week, you may have heard of it. The HTC One M8 was unleashed on the world, and available for sale right away. This puppy is a beauty, let me tell you. It’s solid and beautiful and all Oh-Em-Gorgeous. Just looking at that spec sheet is enough to make you salivate. Snapdragon 801 processor. A gorgeous 5” SLCD3 1080p display. WOW! MicroSD Support! A 4 Mega pixel camera on the front. And on the back….oh wait. That’s on the…on the back? On the BACK?!?! Oh great! Another HTC mistake!

That’s pretty much how the conversation went everywhere. Our own Taylor Martin and Jaime Rivera opined on this very detail, and for the most part they are right. I’m not going to argue their points. Putting a four megapixel camera on a flagship device is just plain D-U-M Dumb. But you didn’t come here to re-read articles that were published earlier in the week. Let’s talk about something a little different. Let’s step off the spec sheet and step into real life. Here we go.

Parallels

wp8-new-oneI recently bought a Nexus 5. The reasons for this are varied, but mostly I wanted to get a handle on a really good, powerful modern Android device. Three weeks in my reviews are mixed. There are some holes in the software I still need to plug, but one thing I knew going in was the camera on the Nexus 5 is good-but-not-great. I accepted that.

Now understand, I’m a Windows Phone guy. If there is anything we hang our hats on, it’s camera performance, so a good-but-not-great camera has to be a deal breaker for me right? Surely, I must be carrying the Lumia with me for those special moment shots right? Well…

Not really. I started to. That lasted about a week because I gave the Nexus 5 a shot (no pun intended) and it wasn’t so bad. Sure there are probably very specific instances when the Lumia will out-shoot the Nexus 5 – low light comes to mind – and the ability to manually adjust the focus can be really sweet at times, but for my use-case (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, online sharing) the Nexus 5 is doing an ok job. From an amateur’s eye, it’s not a whole lot better or worse than what I already see on the Internet.

#ANHO

Which brings me to the HTC One M8 a.k.a. #ANHO. There was a jaw-dropping moment when the camera specifications were revealed because not only had HTC picked up that 4 Megapixel torch and kept running with it, they dropped OIS because it wouldn’t work with their funky second lens blur thing (or “bokeh” if you want to impress people at parties with fancy words).

one-m8-launch-1Lolwut

So many across the internet, myself included, had the same gut reaction, “HTC blew it.” And in many, many ways yes it did. If I’m on HTC’s marketing team, I’m crying when they hand me the final draft of the spec sheet. It’s really, really hard to sell a 4 megapixel phone. Yes, I just said 4 megapixel phone because we are living in a world where phones now have megapixels. It’s messed up, I know, but it’s the world be live in.

Now that I’m living on the daily with a good-but-not-great camera, and now that I’m seeing that the photos aren’t all that horrible, I’m willing to cut HTC a little slack. I’m not cutting them a lot of slack, but a little.

DSC01478It can be done

I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to fire off a couple of shots in earnest with the HTC One M8. I hope I do some day, but until I can, I’m going to take back my initial condemnation of the camera and reserve judgment until I can. I can look at all the sample photos in the world, but until I’m actually able to weigh the results first person, there’s really just no telling.

Having said that, I’m not going to endorse the camera either for the same reason. If anyone asks me what the current smartphone landscape looks like, I’m going to leave a big gaping hole in my discussion as far as the camera on the #ANHO is concerned. It’s the type of thing that some people are going to be ok with, and some people just aren’t, and your mileage will vary.

Bottom line, I’m willing to spend $350 on a phone with major photographic question marks, but I’m not willing to spend $650 (or devote 2 years of my life) on one. At the end of the day that’s the crux of the matter, and why while I believe that the HTC One M8’s camera might be ok, it’s still a blunder. But it’s a blunder that should not necessarily be a deal-breaker for those who are looking for a new smartphone. I’d say, give it a whirl for the 14-day exchange period. The Nexus 5 – whose camera I think most would agree is inferior – has survived my use for three weeks, so who knows? Maybe you’ll be ok with what HTC brings to that tiny, tiny table of theirs.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs.Read more about Adam Doud!