The HTC One M8 is HTC's 2014 flagship smartphone and it's got the looks, brains, and features to make it the best smartphone currently available.

When HTC introduced the HTC One in February 2013, the company put a major emphasis on a combination of high-end design and top of the line specs. This formula resulted in a device that made jaws drop; it had an Apple-esque design with its solid aluminum unibody case and specs like a gorgeous 1080p Full HD display that could stand up to Samsung's Galaxy S4. HTC showed Android fans that they didn't have to be relegated in a world of plastic any longer. So when the company set out to create its 2014 flagship smartphone, it made the wise decision to use the same recipe that made the HTC One a hit and improve upon it, rather than changing it.

The HTC One M8 looks nearly identical to its predecessor but now includes a larger 5-inch 1920 x 1080 display that has to be seen in person to really appreciate. Luckily, HTC has allowed me to do just that and hooked me up with a T-Mobile HTC One M8. I've been using it in place of my iPhone 5s and moving from the 4-inch display on the iPhone 5s to the 5-inch display of the HTC One M8 had more of an impact than I expected. The HTC One M8 has a higher resolution display than the iPhone 5s' 1136 x 640 Retina display and after using it for a few days going back to my iPhone 5s feels a bit claustrophobic. Whether I'm surfing the web, reading Kindle eBooks, texting friends or playing a few rounds of Plants vs. Zombies, everything is much easier on the eyes, thanks HTC!

There's also something to be said about how fast the HTC One M8 feels when doing different tasks like opening processor intensive apps and games and multitasking. HTC chose to use a powerful 2.3Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM that easily handles anything I throw at it without a single stutter or slowdown. The HTC One M8 runs the latest version of Android 4.4.2 KitKat and an all-new version of HTC Sense 6.0. The combination makes for a fantastic user experience, you get all the best features of KitKat and HTC Sense 6.0 running on top makes Android feel more friendly and usable. BlinkFeed is your one stop shop way to access your favorite news sources and social information in a centralized location, no need to open up separate apps. Just slide your finger to the left of the main home screen and you're greeted with a very attractive and intuitive way to cycle through news and social updates. I've also spent a little time with Samsung's Galaxy S5 and their new TouchWiz UI that basically does what HTC is doing with Sense, but feel that HTC Sense 6 is faster, more intuitive, and just makes more sense, no pun intended.

Another unique software touch HTC added to the One M8 is its new Motion Launch feature. You can do so much without ever touching the smartphone's power button. How it works is using different gestures to perform different tasks on the HTC One M8's display while the smartphone is powered off. A double tap on the display will wake the smartphone. A swipe to the left on the screen automatically opens up the home screen. Swipe to the right and you wake the phone and launch BlinkFeed. A swipe up on the display will unlock the phone and bring you back to whatever you were doing before the handset was turned off. Swiping down wakes the HTC One M8 and automatically turns on voice dialing. Once you master these gestures, they become second nature and you'll find it very hard to live without this feature. I got so used to the feature that I have on more than one occasion instinctively done many of them on my iPhone 5s and am bummed nothing ever happens. It's these kind of innovative features that more smartphone makers should add to their devices. LG and Nokia have added similar tap gestures to turn on the display, but HTC has kicked it up a notch by adding five different gestures to allow you to do more.

HTC has also improved on its BoomSound dual-front-facing stereo speakers that first appeared on last year's HTC One. I reviewed that smartphone and those speakers produced the best sounding audio I have ever heard on a smartphone and I wasn't alone, as most reviewers also believed that HTC had the best sounding speakers of any smartphone. I didn't know if it would be possible for HTC to improve upon the sound of last year's BoomSound speakers, but they sure have. HTC says that the HTC One M8 is about 25 percent louder than the original because it has used a new amplifier and also added extra space behind the speakers. The sounds the smartphone produces blow every other smartphone out of the water and sound is much more full when listening to music or watching video. It's another case of you have to hear it in person to really appreciate what HTC has managed to accomplish.

The HTC One M8 includes a rear Duo camera that uses the company's 4-megapixel UltraPixel BSI sensor and a front facing 5-megapixel shooter with a wide-angle lens. I found the rear camera to produce good images, but not great ones, especially when comparing the same image taken with my iPhone 5s. HTC offers the HTC One M8 is two capacities; 16GB and 32GB. The company also added a microSD expansion slot that wasn't available on last year's model, and you can add a microSD card with up to 128GB to further increase its storage. Battery life has also improved over its predecessor thanks to its 2600 mAh battery that will provide up to 20 hours of talk time over 3G and 496 hours of standby time. Another added benefit is HTC has used Qualcomm's new Quick Charge 2.0 technology that allows the smartphone to recharge at a much quicker rate, which any smartphone owner will definitely notice and greatly appreciate.

HTC needs to be applauded for improving on an already stellar 2013-flagship smartphone that made the world take notice and finally brought a premium-designed smartphone to the Android world. The HTC One M8's brushed aluminum unibody case and gorgeous display makes the Samsung Galaxy S5 look and feel like an unsophisticated and cheap feeling smartphone. Smartphones are one of the most important and personal device we carry on a daily basis and HTC has once again produced a smartphone anyone would be proud to spend their money on. As a self-admitted iPhone fan boy, I can easily say that HTC has hit a home run and the HTC One M8 is currently the best smartphone on the market, regardless of platform.

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