Is the HTC One M8 for Windows the best of both worlds? Announced today, the device marries the HTC One M8‘s premium hardware with the slick Windows Phone 8.1 OS. HTC also carriers over some goodies from its Android flagship, including its camera app and TV remote. Available on Verizon for $99 for a limited time with a two-year contract, will this device revive the flagging fortunes of HTC and Microsoft’s mobile phone operating system? We went hands-on to find out.
In terms of hardware, the Android and Windows Phone One M8s are exactly the same. Both have an aluminum back, 5-inch 1920 x 1080 display, and front-facing BoomSound speakers. They both have a 3.2-GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage, as well as a microSD card slot. The one thing I wish they had changed? The name. “HTC One M8 for Windows” is a mouthful.
Windows 8.1 looked really good on the One M8, and has all the features of the latest version of Microsoft’s OS. This includes Cortana, a Siri-like voice assistant; Action Center, a drop-down notifications drawer with quick settings; A Swype-like keyboard; and a customizable background image for the Start screen.
HTC did a good job of preserving the apps it has on the Android version. Its signature BlinkFeed is available, but is presented as an app, rather than as an alternative homescreen. HTC Sense TV is also on the M8 for Windows, so you can easily change TV channels right from your phone. You can also tap on the display to wake or put the phone to sleep.
The One M8 for Windows sports the same UltraPixel camera as on the Android version, and HTC also did its best to preserve the look and feel of its Android camera app. You get almost all the same features, including UFocus (which lets you adjust the focus of an image after the fact) as well as the faux-3D Dimension Plus. However, the HTC One’s Zoes feature, which is being spun off into its own app, will not be available for the Windows Phone device.
So what does Verizon bring to the table. As you might expect, the One M8 for Windows comes with the NFL Mobile app, which includes free live streaming games for the season. There’s also Verizon Messages, which allows messages to be delivered via Wi-Fi (and to multiple devices).
HTC says the One M8 for Windows, which has a 2,600 mAh battery, should last about the same amount of time, if not longer, than the Android version. On Verizon’s network, the HTC One M8 lasted nearly 10 hours on the Laptop Mag battery test, so that’s a pretty high standard.
We’re looking forward to fully testing the phone. Stay tuned for our review.