The HTC One M8s earns massive media points for its BoomSound speakers. I talked about these front-facing stereo speakers at the start of this review, but they're much fuller than the majority of phone speakers. They're great.
Having a microSD slot is important too. With 128GB microSD cards available for under £60 and 64GB ones well under £20, you can get a huge media library on your phone for very little cash.
It also has its own music player, and one that comes as part of the Google apps suite. This is welcome, as Google cares far more about getting you to sign up to its music services and download music from Google Play than letting you listen to locally-stored music. Fair enough, it's what a lot of people do these days, but it's not for everyone.
If you want to ruin the sound of a good pair of headphones, the HTC One M8s offers a BoomSound EQ mode. What this does is ramp up the bass and treble output, as well as add a bit of studio compression. That is what it sounds like, anyway. It's good for the speakers, not so good for headphones.
It's a bit like a Beats sound mode, but adds too much bass to balanced headphones and can make the sound a bit harsh.
What's missing is a custom video player app that'll handle all of your downloaded video files. So if you want a portable video player phone you'll need to head to Google Play.
The HTC One M8s' hardware makes for a pretty decent little video buddy, though. The screen, while not gigantic, is large enough to watch TV episodes, or even a movie, on.
A year after its release, the LG G3 is still available, but now at a bargain price. We're talking £100 less than the HTC One M8s. For that saving, you get a better screen and a much more powerful processor, plus better battery life. However, the HTC feels nicer and has better speakers.
The 1080p, larger brother of the Galaxy A5, the Galaxy A7 is a mid-range phone with a lot of the same grade specs as the HTC One M8s. Unlike previous mid-range phones, it doesn't feel cheap. While the back is plastic, the sides are metal and it has a unibody design. As nice as the One M8s? No, but it does cost about £80 less, and has a larger Super AMOLED screen.
Willing to give up the big-brand name? The Honor 6 has just about everything the One M8s has, plus a significantly more powerful (if less up-to-date) CPU for £140 less. Its battery life is much, much better too. Not everyone will get on with its oddball EmotionUI software, however, and it has a less impressive design that feels like a rip-off of some other well-known phones. Good price, mind.
Samsung didn't revive the Galaxy S5 in the same way HTC has with the HTC One M8 and M8s, but it's available for roughly the same price as the HTC One M8s. The HTC sounds a lot better and feels better, but otherwise the Samsung Galaxy S5 is quite a bit stronger. It has a nicer screen, much faster CPU, and a significantly better camera.
A bit like the HTC One M8s without the gloss, the Desire 820 shares a lot of the M8s' internal components, including CPU and rear camera. And it costs at least £100 less. What lets the Desire 820 down is screen resolution. While it's bigger than the HTC One M8s' display, it only has a 720p screen, and that shows.