HTC One E8 review: A more affordable version of the One M8 clad in shiny plastic

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:

The Good The HTC One E8 packs top-end hardware with a bright and vibrant display. It also runs the latest version of HTC's Sense UI and has most of the features of the flagship One M8.

The Bad The phone lacks what made the One M8 unique -- its dual-camera system -- and doesn't really outshine cheaper devices in the features department.

The Bottom Line The One E8 offers the high-end HTC experience in glossy colors and a plastic case, but without a unique selling point, there's little reason to buy this expensive device.

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Very similar in design to this year's HTC One M8, the One E8 is a plastic version of the flagship metallic phone. Originally destined for China, the E8 has started to pop up in other Asian countries like India, Singapore and Taiwan. HTC has yet to announce availability for other regions, though.

With an off-contract price of S$698 in Singapore -- which converts to roughly $560, £330, or AU$600 -- the E8 isn't cheap. For its price, however, bear in mind the phone has the performance chops to compete with blockbuster devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G3.

While it is a good phone, the E8 lacks a standout feature to make it a must-have. At best, it offers great specs for a slightly lower price than other top-notch phones. You don't get the cool refocusing features from the One M8's dual camera, but it does come with some of its software features, such as the ability to quickly take a picture when the screen is off.

Design

Think of the One M8 with a plastic shell and that's basically the E8. If you were already a fan of HTC's recent designs, you should like the E8 too, since it doesn't add much new. The handset comes in three colors: white, red and gray.

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Aloysius Low/CNET

Unlike the One M8, with its black bands wrapping around the back, the E8 goes for a much cleaner, shiny look. That's because the phone is made of plastic instead of being all metal and needing an area for the radio antennas.

The E8 has the same front-facing "BoomSound" speakers, gentle curves that fit comfily in your palm and a 5-inch Full HD (1,920x1,080-pixel) display. Depending on the country where it's sold, the phone may come with dual-SIM slots, though this is at the cost of being able to connect to 4G LTE.

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Aloysius Low/CNET

Like the M8, the E8 is well-constructed and solid. I really like how the phone feels in my hand, though I can't quite get on board with the slick oily feeling that comes from prolonged use, due to the plastic chassis. Holding the phone feels natural even in landscape mode, as the curves make holding it easy. This makes playing games pretty comfortable, too.

Located right on the top at the center of the phone is the power button. It's quite a stretch to reach normally, but these finger gymnastics are a minor concern as you'll only need to hit this button to turn off the phone, since you can double-tap the screen to turn it on.

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Aloysius Low/CNET

Internally, the phone has a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. There's a microSD card slot if you need more space. The phone has 4G LTE, NFC, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

At the back of the phone, you'll find just a single 13-megapixel camera with an LED flash (instead of the dual-camera setup on the M8). The rear cover isn't removable and the 2,600mAh battery itself is embedded. The phone has a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter for taking higher-resolution selfies than usual.

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Aloysius Low/CNET

Software and features

HTC has one of the best custom skins for Android in the market, and the E8 runs the latest Sense 6 UI -- similar to the one found on the M8 and Desire 616. It's based on the Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system, which is the very latest version of Google's mobile software.

Sense 6 has a clean look with color-coded apps. Supposedly, this will help you quickly identify what you're doing -- though I think this should be pretty obvious. Apart from that, BlinkFeed, the news aggregator introduced last year, is onboard, though you can choose to ignore and disable it if you don't need its features.

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Screenshot by Aloysius Low/CNET

More importantly, the gesture controls found on the M8 are present. Called Motion Launch, these features do quite a bit even when the phone's screen is turned off. You can tap twice on the screen to turn it on, swipe downwards to make a voice activated call, swipe to the right to head straight to BlinkFeed, or just swipe upwards to quickly unlock the phone.

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Aloysius Low/CNET

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
  • Service Provider not specified
  • Weight 145 g
  • Diagonal Size 5 in
  • Sensor Resolution 13 pixels
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