A closer look at the HTC One M8’s Snapdragon 801: An all-round speed machine

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor in the new HTC One M8 isn't just an overclocked Snapdragon 800, according to Qualcomm marketing vice president Tim McDonough.

"It is based on the Snapdragon 800, but it's the net result of our engineers attacking every part of the system and improving it," he said.

So while the CPU is 14 per cent faster than last year's high-end chip, the camera is also 45 per cent faster, the GPU is 28 per cent faster, and the new memory interface is 17 per cent faster, he said.

That bears out in our benchmarks of the HTC One M8. Compared to the Snapdragon 800-powered LG G2, the M8 scored 36,430 on the Antutu system benchmark to the G2's 33,528; 926 on the single-core Geekbench test to the G2's 866; and 30 frames per second on the GFXBench T-Rex graphics test as opposed to the G2's 23.6. It's not a huge bump, but it's definitely a bump all-round.

The Snapdragon 801 will be the chip in several high-end, Android-powered smartphones during the first half of this year, while Qualcomm spins up its production of the even more advanced Snapdragon 805. As it powers both the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5, it's worth asking what you get here that you didn't in last year's model.

Faster dual image signal processors let phones run two cameras at once, McDonough said. HTC uses that in two different ways: To run the two rear cameras and collect depth information, and to run the front and rear cameras at the same time (a mode that Samsung also has).

Why not use the two rear cameras for 3D recording, as we saw on HTC's earlier EVO 3D? HTC's vice president for product and operations, Martin Fichter, said there's just no demand.

"The uptake in that market wasn't what we expected. What do you do with a 3D image? A 2D image that you process, you can use those on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram. A 3D image, the only thing you can do with it is look at it on a 3D TV," he said.

The One M8 also includes several other new Qualcomm technologies, including two parts of Qualcomm's RF360 radio system, the envelope tracker and antenna matching tuner. The first one improves battery life; the second one prevents "death grip" by detecting which antennas are covered by your hand and working around them.

For more on the new flagship smartphone from HTC, see our hands-on with the HTC One M8. We also have a raft of spec comparisons pitting the freshly launched handset against the Sony Xperia Z2, Samsung Galaxy S5, Google Nexus 5, Apple iPhone 5S, and of course its predecessor the HTC One from last year.