Summary:

The new HTC One (M8) might look the same, but it features a bigger 5-inch screen, faster processor, secondary camera lens and an even more polished design.

HTC One M8
photo: HTC

As expected, HTC on Tuesday unveiled its new flagship smartphone, the HTC One (M8). If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same name as the HTC One the company launched a year ago. But rest assured, it’s a new year and the HTC One is most certainly a new phone.

The new HTC One features a 5-inch screen, a nice increase from the 4.7-inch panel on the original. The phone measures 5.76 by 2.78 by 0.36 inches and 5.64 ounces, though, which makes it slightly larger (it’s primarily taller and heavier). It’s also a bit bigger than Samsung’s Galaxy S5, even though that phone features a larger 5.1-inch display. And since the HTC One features the same 1080p resolution as its predecessor, it actually features lower pixel density, though that shouldn’t be visible to the naked eye.

Though it looks the same, the new HTC One has a 90-percent metal housing, which is up from the 70-percent metal blend on the original. The metal wraps seamlessly along the sides of the phone, which HTC claims makes it easier to hold. The phone also features dual front-facing speakers, a new multiband amplifier and redesigned speaker chambers that should make audio 25 percent louder than the original. HTC claims a DSP constantly monitors the speakers to make sure audio doesn’t clip or distort.

The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 801 chip, which is the same processor in the Galaxy S5. U.S. variants of the phone will feature a quad-core 2.3GHz processor, while speeds in Asia will be bumped up to 2.5GHz. The phone also features 2GB of DDR2 memory. That should place it neck and neck against the GS5 when it comes to speed. The phone will also come in either 16GB or 32GB models, with a microSD card slot that accepts cards up to 128GB – a huge improvement over the original, which lacked a memory card slot.

HTC One M8 speakers

The new HTC One runs Android 4.4 (KitKat), along with HTC’s Sense 6 and BlinkFeed extensions. BlinkFeed features more content partners and is more customizable than before, though you probably still won’t like it if you weren’t a fan of the original. On the other hand, HTC has introduced a wide range of motion controls. Built-in motion sensors can automatically detect when you pick up the phone, and you can use a number of swipes or taps to unlock your screen or open an app without even hitting the power button.

The phone features a 2,600mAh battery, which HTC claims lasts 40 percent longer than the original. HTC has also added an Extreme Power Save mode, which is a software mode that helps save battery life. It gives you up to two weeks of standby time by limiting your access to just calls, text, email, and a few various other functions. It reminds me of the Ultra Power Saving mode in the new Galaxy S5.

Really, the only thing that hasn’t received a big upgrade is the camera. The phone now features a 5-megapixel front-facing sensor, which is an improvement, but it still uses the same 4-megapixel “UltraPixel” camera on the back. But while HTC didn’t increase the resolution of the camera, it did add an extra lens as well as a new set of software features. The Duo camera (as HTC refers to it), allows you to refocus a shot after you take it, which is an effect we’ve been seeing on a number of new cameras lately. The camera was one of the original HTC’s One’s weakest features, so I’m curious if this will be enough of a change to make a difference.

The HTC One is available to order for $199.99 with a two-year contract starting today from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, which can put one in your hands as soon as tomorrow. If you don’t order now, the phone is slated to ship around April 10, a day before the Galaxy S5. Verizon is also offering the phone in stores starting today. T-Mobile will also offer the phone starting April 11 for $0 down. In addition to the U.S., the One will also be available on over 230 carriers in over 100 countries throughout the world.  A Google Play Edition will be available for $699, as will a SIM-unlocked Developer Edition for $649.

I’m at the HTC launch event in New York where I expect to get my hands on the new One shortly. I’ll post some images and my first impressions later this afternoon.

This post was updated multiple times as more information became available.

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