As is the case for most smartphones these days, the One M8’s time in the spotlight was very limited. Unlike the One M7, which won awards for all of 2013 (and even some in 2014), the One M8 is quickly fading into the background as competitors pile dozens of overpowered, chiseled pieces of art on shelves.

vzw-one-m8-review-4Just look at the Oppo N3, LG G3, Note 4, Nexus 6, Moto X (2nd Gen), and the Droid Turbo. On paper, these phones make the One M8 look old and dated. Many newer phones come with innovative features I only wish I could have on the M8. And some even rival the look of the M8 – something I never thought I’d say.

We still praise its design and the in-hand feel, though. It made me compliment Sense for – I think – the first time ever. And, hell, I even bought one to call my own and carry it every day as my primary smartphone. For what it’s worth, I’m more than satisfied with my purchase.

Is it perfect? No. No phone is. Still, it’s a damn great phone, one that I would recommend over many competing smartphones. It’s a beautiful marriage of hardware and software that simply makes for a stellar user experience.

However, there are some things I’d change about the One M8. There are changes everyone would like to make to it. For one, I’d cram a larger battery inside; I’m lucky to get a full day of use out of my M8. I would also change the material covering the rear and front cameras. I’ve already had to use the shoddy toothpaste “fix” so my photos don’t look milky. Above anything else, though, like I said multiple times throughout my review period, I would have prefered the One M8 to have not only a higher-resolution camera but a better camera. Those are not necessarily one in the same.

m8-eye-chinese

In a crazy and unexpected move from HTC it did just that. A few weeks ago, HTC announced the new HTC Desire EYE, a smartphone with 13-megapixel cameras on the front and back, and the Re, a GoPro-like handheld active camera. One day later, without quite as much fanfare, HTC quietly made another “Eye” model official, the One M8 Eye, and it’s almost exactly what I wish the original M8 was.

The One M8 Eye is virtually identical to the One M8, save for the 13-megapixel Duo Camera. Our news hound Stephen Schenck also tells us the M8 Eye also comes without IR support, which shouldn’t be a big deal for most.

The most damning news of all, however, is that this phone may not see the light of day outside Asian markets. So far, we’ve seen it officially announced in China and India. That’s it. It’s allegedly not going to happen in any of Europe, and chances of it coming stateside are even slimmer.

Why, HTC? Why?

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This is the very phone we were begging for. It’s the phone many said the One M8 should have been from the start. Hell, most people would have taken this One M8 Eye without the Duo Camera. All most people wanted in the One M8 was a higher-resolution camera. If it were even of the same quality with solely more resolution to work with, almost everyone would be happy.

But why would HTC go through all the effort of making practically the same exact smartphone, tweaking the one thing everyone asked for, and never intend to sell it outside Asia?

HTC has recently seen the best earnings reports in years and is finally making headway into turning things around, earning back its lost market share, and working its way back to its glory days. But its failing to capitalize on the very phone everyone wished it would have made to begin with.

vzw-one-m8-review-9Color me puzzled (but not surprised).

I’ve clamored over manufacturers slimming down their product lines, focusing on fewer, better phones and stronger marketing campaigns. HTC has made all the right calls, and while I’m not adverse to HTC making a few modifications to its flagship along the way and creating some variations of already-killer hardware, I am against it creating a compelling phone and killing its potential right out of the gate.

For some contrast, LG makes some phones specifically for its home country. The LG G3 Cat.6, for example, makes sense as a South Korea-only smartphone. Not many markets around the globe can take advantage of Cat.6 LTE and the other changes, like the Snapdragon 805 (over the 801 in the original G3), are so small it’s not worth the upgrade.

But, as far as we know, there is nothing about this M8 Eye that makes it special or specific to Asian markets. It has a better camera, which everyone could benefit from. Otherwise, it’s just a One M8 without infrared support. Why not sell it here in the States or in Europe?

I, for one, would consider trading my One M8 for an M8 Eye, if it were to ever come to the States. But it won’t, and that’s truly unfortunate for HTC and consumers alike.

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