With the HTC One M8, HTC really has taken the best Android phone and made it better

As you probably noticed yesterday, after much leakage, the HTC One M8 has finally arrived. After spending a little time with it, I find it hard to argue with something that was repeated on stage during the announcement. At first glance, it looks like HTC really has taken the best Android phone and made it better.

Spec comparison: HTC One M8 vs HTC One

The original HTC One found a place in the hearts of many because it delivered in three critical areas: The phone feels amazing in your hand, the camera is a breath of fresh air, and the display is fantastic. There are so many other things to like about the HTC One, but these things in particular stood out. The HTC One M8 takes each of these three things and tweaks them, taking what seems like a dozen subtle changes and turning it into an entirely new experience in your hand.

Related: Hands on with the HTC One M8

If you're familiar with HTC handsets, the original One was clearly the culmination of years of design language coming together to form a complete thought, but that doesn't make it perfect. Instead of a logical conclusion to a design story, the HTC One M8 is a new starting point for the product team to build from. With this approach, HTC has removed every hard edge on the phone, replacing it with smooth curves and a near-mirror finish all over the handset. The matte textured aluminium from the One has been replaced with a smooth, gunmetal finish with a lot of character. It's a lot smoother to the touch, but still offers grip against your fingers when you hold it loosely.

HTC has given users access to a microSD card slot and a SIM tray, but the phone is otherwise sealed. It's not a matter of offering water resistance or an expandable battery, and after the HTC One Max it is hard to argue with the decisions made here.

Spec comparison: HTC One M8 vs Sony Xperia Z2

The volume rocker doubles as the camera shutter button, making it and the power button the only physical keys on the device. The bottom of the phone plays home to both the 3.5mm headphone jack and the microUSB port, and unlike the original One, the aluminium unibody construction makes it so there are no gaps and plastic to deal with. The only place where there is any real amount of plastic is at the top, where the power button and a space for the infrared transmitter both live.

The camera on the HTC One M8 has two different cameras on the back of it, but not arranged in a way that is conducive to 3D photos. Instead, the two cameras work together to collect a lot of data all at once about photos that are taken by the phone. This includes depth information, which allows the software on the HTC One to offer users unique refocusing and depth of field photography capabilities.

Spec comparison: HTC One M8 vs Apple iPhone 5S

The photo is taken with remarkable speed, and you can go back at any time and play with the photo in the software. This is a welcome departure from camera modes that require you to hold your hand still for a significant length of time, and it produces much better photos as a result. It's also still a fantastic Ultrapixel camera, which means it performs incredibly well in low light. We'll be doing more thorough overviews of the camera software, and a comparison between the Duo Camera and other smartphones shortly.

There's still plenty of things on this phone that require a thorough poking, not to mention battery and network testing – stay tuned for our full review soon. However, if we're looking at just the external shell, the display, and the camera, there's a clear conclusion to be drawn here. HTC has produced a strikingly beautiful phone that is well-deserving of its position as the successor to the best-selling smartphone the company has ever produced.

For more on the new flagship smartphone from HTC, we have even more spec comparisons, pitting the freshly launched handset against the, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Google Nexus 5 as well as those detailed above.

Image Credit: Chris Sewell

Check out our full spec comparisons of the HTC One M8:

HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S5

HTC One M8 vs. Google Nexus 5

HTC One M8 vs. Apple iPhone 5S

HTC One M8 vs. Sony Xperia Z2

HTC One M8 vs. HTC One