As efforts like After The Buzz, the Pocketnow U-Review, and Empty Nest demonstrate, we’re constantly searching for fresh ways to review mobile technology. The newest product of those efforts is Pocketnow’s “Review Rebuttal” series, in which a member of our team is assigned to test a smartphone or tablet that’s already gone through our standard review process. While the resulting video or editorial doesn’t affect the “official” Pocketnow review score, we hope it provides added context by showcasing an editor’s personal opinion, rather than a team-wide consensus.
We call it the “rebuttal” because the new opinion sometimes differs significantly from the thrust of the original review. Rather than reject or bury that, we think the dissenting opinion is valuable – and we present it for your evaluation alongside select product reviews.
At first glance, the HTC One E8 could be easily confused with its more high-end sibling: the HTC One M8. With specs like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 clocked at either 2.3GHz or 2.5 GHz (depending on your region), 2GB RAM, a 1080p display, and a 2600 mAh LiPo battery, you might easily confuse the two well beyond your “first glance”.
You put it where?
The power button is located in the top middle, which is terribly inconvenient. In our full review, we talked about how there are other ways to turn the phone on, but I could never remember to do that. I’m sure in time I would, but not in the week that I’ve been using the E8, so every screen-wake required two hands, and usually a quick glance around the phone to remember where I needed to push.
Like a rock!
In our review we mentioned having some app crashes. I started my week with a fresh install – no backups, no restores. Well, almost none. Since I logged in with my Google account, the phone quickly began syncing my contacts, calendar, gmail, and apps. Lots and lots of apps. Hundreds of apps. Installing those from the Play Store took the better part of an entire day.
I started over cellular data, but because our evaluation unit isn’t targeted for North America, I was limited to EDGE (even slower than the 3G we were limited to in our review, more on that in a minute). Luckily, WiFi on the E8 works great, so I was able to finish up the process at home. Once all that was done, I didn’t notice a single crash.
Sense UI was smooth. Built-in apps worked great. Apps downloaded and installed from the Play Store worked just as well as they do on the other devices I typically carry. I have to assume the “hiccups” we noticed in our review were due to something that was pulled down through the HTC restore process.
Don’t get EDGEy
Unlike our full review, which utilized the AT&T network outside Boston, I took it for a spin on T-Mobile’s network out at the Pocketnow Utah field office. Voice was great on both ends of the call, but, like I said previously, data was slow due to supported frequencies limiting me to EDGE.
Obviously, if you’re buying this phone for use in your neck of the woods, you’ll be sitting pretty on LTE or HSPA+, since your bands will be supported, so there’s nothing to worry about there.
The HTC One E8 is all about compromises – but that’s not a bad thing.
HTC cut some corners with the 13MP camera and LED flash – images are good, but not great. Boomsound, however, wasn’t on the chopping block, and audio sounded great, with lots of depth and volume. There’s no IR port on the E8, which may be a dealbreaker for some, but I didn’t miss it. The case is plastic, not aluminum. It looks beautiful – until you get fingerprints on it.
In fact, that’s the most noticeable difference between the the HTC One M8 and the E8: the plastic chassis. It’s super-glossy, and our bright red model looked super awesome from a distance as well as up close. Unfortunately, it felt light, attracted fingerprints, and eventually got pretty slippery in-hand. Where other phones can be wiped down to remove fingerprints and grease, the E8 seemed like it wanted to keep our oils, requiring the use of a mild solvent and quality cleaning cloth to remove the grease and grit, and return the chassis to its beautiful lustre. There are matte versions available, which we suspect handle fingerprints better.
All told, the E8 is designed to be a less expensive version of the M8 – and that it is. To achieve that HTC had to make some compromises. Those cuts, however, didn’t outpace the price gap between the two, making the HTC One E8 a very respectable phone for your money.