So, what to make of the HTC One M8 – the phone that has to sell well if HTC is to make its way back towards the top of the sales charts?

Well, on the one hand it's an easy sell: the design says it all, and the fact it's backed up with some top end specs bodes very well indeed.

But it's not completely without flaw, as there are some areas where HTC has tried to do a little bit too much or been a bit overcomplicated, which might annoy some users.

We liked

It's been a hard few years reviewing phones – when the smartphone revolution came, they were all pretty poor and finding the best out of them was tricky.

Now it's the other way as, battery life aside, most of those unleashed are flawless in so many ways, and HTC is right at the head of that list.

The design is the huge win here – not one person I showed the phone too didn't hold it for a while and comment on the weight and feel, before being impressed by the screen quality. This is the sort of reaction I've only ever seen for iPhones before, and like them or loathe them, Apple's devices are a good barometer of quality.

I'm happy with the battery improvements, I like my re-focused shots and they'll look great on social media. The Boomsound speakers are better, HTC has thrown in some clever new apps and overall, the entire device is much better than the phone I really liked from last year.

Adding in a microSD slot is great, as while it doesn't really make a difference to many there are some die-hards that won't buy a phone without one. Also being able to take as many pictures, Zoes and videos without worrying about filling up the space was really nice.

Even the alarm clock is improved – taking another problem off the table from last year.

We disliked

While I'm happy about the battery, it wasn't as stellar as I think some phones later this year will be. I know it's an odd thing to say, and it's really a negligible point given the battery life is great on the One M8, but in comparison it might not stand up later in the year.

The camera is still disappointing in some areas, meaning those that love to get really good pics they can be proud of from a camera phone might not want to go for such a low megapixel offering, despite the excellent low light capabilities.

And while it's not something I'm worried about now, I think HTC might have been smart to dive a little more into fitness and make the phone a little more resistant to dust and water.

I think design is key here, and if it's a choice between that and being able to dunk it or monitor my heart rate I think HTC made the right choice, but only if it's working out a way to put these things into the next iteration of the One.

Verdict

The HTC One M8 is a brilliant smartphone with very few flaws. Its main strength is design, but I don't think that's a negative thing as many brands still seem keen to race on specs rather than attracting users when they wander into a shop to a buy something for two years (at a rather high price).

It doesn't really skimp on specs though – even the weaker camera has some rationale behind it, rather than something to apologise for – and the audio capabilities, be it the Boomsound speakers or the music reproduction, are excellent.

You could say that, Duo Camera aside, there's no real headline feature of the HTC One M8, but that would do it a disservice as the brand has made a phone that really impresses at nearly every turn.

I'm not sure the sharable Zoes will take off initially (especially as the app STILL isn't here), nor are the Video Highlight and Blinkfeed services up to the level where you can call them factors in purchase. But at least HTC has decoupled these apps from the main OS, so when it upgrades them you won't be left waiting for a massive software update to change things.

If the HTC One M8 isn't the smartphone of 2014, I'm very, very excited to see what the competition will come up with as this handset strikes the perfect blend of design, performance and innovation without really compromising in any area.