Next-gen HTC One (M8) rumour roundup: From the camera to the software

With less than two weeks to go before HTC pulls a familiar looking but entirely new device out on stage, it’s time to sift through the collection of leaks and rumours out there and see what we know (and what we don’t know) about the all new HTC One (which has previously been known by the codename M8).

HTC’s not going to be winning any awards for Most Unique Name of 2014, but if even half of what we’ve seen so far about the HTC One is true, then we’ve got an early contender for Phone of the Year. HTC struck gold last year with the sturdy and powerful HTC One, with an incredible Ultrapixel camera that not only surprised a lot of people but proved once and for all that megapixels are mostly irrelevant. A new year means a new phone, and it looks like HTC has spent its time refining the already great HTC One into something even better.

Look and feel

As far as we can tell, there will only be a handful of subtle but important differences between the outside of the original HTC One and the 2014 model. The same sturdy, curved aluminium body is present in all the leaks, with even less plastic than before. The sides will be entirely aluminium, with a slit of plastic at the top and two stripes across the back for radios to reach the outside world and still let you do things like make calls and surf the web. The top of the phone will likely also sport an IR transmitter for TV controls, but that’s not yet been confirmed.

It looks like HTC is planning to have the new One available in multiple colours at launch, with a microSD card slot on the side for expandable storage. The phone will most likely lack inductive charging due to the aluminium back, but it’s possible we’ll see the feature included in one of the smart cases that have been leaked for the handset. These cases are designed to let the user glance at certain kinds of notifications, and in previous models have even included extra battery power and a design that encouraged use as a music system thanks to the incredible BoomSound speakers.

A new, crazier camera

What seemed like a joke at first has been confirmed over and over again in leaks, with almost no information about how it will work or why it will be amazing. The new HTC One is going to have more than one camera on the back. And before you start worrying about some gimmickry here, it looks like this camera is going to serve a far greater purpose than offering 3D images. Suggested features for this “Duo Camera” include an even greater capacity for low light photography, and the ability to edit the focal point of a photo after you’ve taken the shot. If you’ve ever use a Lytro camera, you’ll have a reasonably good idea of how this feature would work.

It’s unclear how exactly the camera will be used in day-to-day shooting, or how it will work when trying to share the photos you’ve taken with this new setup to social networks. Our best guess is that HTC’s Zoe mode has gained quite a few new features, and that these special mode photos will be hosted on the Zoe web service in order to be shared and still offer things like 3D and live refocusing. There are a lot of questions here that have yet to be answered, which likely means the camera will once again be the star of the show when HTC takes to the stage in a couple of weeks.

Specs and software

While we’ve not had anyone confirm the processor running under the 5in scratch-resistant 1080p display on the new HTC One, we know that there will be three storage sizes available to purchase. Whether you’re in need of 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage, it looks like HTC will have your back. The phones will be running Android 4.4 with HTC’s Sense UI 6.0 on top, so there’s no way to be sure how much of that 16GB will actually be available to the user just yet. If history is any indicator, it won’t be anywhere near as full as Samsung’s 16GB Galaxy S5.

It seems more than a little unlikely that HTC would drift away from Qualcomm when it comes to the processor for the HTC One. The Snapdragon 600 did a great job for the original, and while the Snapdragon 800 is still a fantastic top of the line processor it seems more likely that we’ll see the new 801 chipset that was announced with the Samsung Galaxy S5. This means that, like last year, Samsung and HTC will be nearly identical when it comes to performance. Coupled with a 2600mAh battery, which is 200mAh less than the S5, the new HTC One will need to prove that it can last all day in order to be one of the best Android phones.

This will also be the first HTC Android phone to use software buttons, the same kind we see on most other Android 4.0 and higher devices. HTC appears to be following a lot of the KitKat design ideas in Sense 6.0, including a full-screen BlinkFeed that uses the transparent top and bottom to look nice and full. Fans of BlinkFeed and those against BlinkFeed will be happy to learn that the service has quite a few more features and content channels, as well as a way to tuck it away instead of having it exist as the home screen just like the previous version of Sense.

All signs point to “yes”

So far the only real complaint that has surfaced based on the leaks for the new HTC One has been the black bar under the screen that shows the HTC logo. In the previous version of the phone this bar held the back and home buttons, but this new version appears to just be black glass that isn’t being used for anything. Instead of evenly distributing this glass, there’s even more space on the bottom of the phone that isn’t screen. HTC phones feel tall and awkward to use with one hand sometimes, because the front-facing speakers mean there’s a lot of extra space that isn’t really all that useful when typing a message or surfing the web. We won’t know until we’ve got some hands-on time to be sure, but so far it looks like it could be a little awkward at first.

Other than the extra stripe of glass, there’s nothing about the phone that doesn’t look and sound great. HTC appears to be poised to deliver another great phone, making this another year where Samsung and HTC will be releasing side-by-side and fighting for the attention of the masses. Personally I’m more than a little excited about this phone, and I think HTC has got way more up its sleeve than we already know about this handset. 25 March is right around the corner, so it won’t be long now until we get to experience this new gadget for ourselves.

Image Credits: @evleaks