HTC One M8s review

A cheap smartphone with high-quality hardware and design - too good to be true?

The HTC One M8s has a stellar screen and design

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

It isn't hard to see what the HTC One M8s is about. It has the glitzy feel of last year's flagship and costs about £150-200 less than this year's one.

Inside, though, it's a different matter. The M8s has the same specs as an 'entry-level' 1080p phone. And yes, those things do exist.

We liked

While some elements of the HTC One M8s shell could be improved, it still looks and feels great. You could easily convince someone it's more expensive than it is, or that it's last year's One M8.

HTC One M8s

One of our favourite things about the One M8s is its comfortable design

One of the best bits to make a return is the BoomSound speaker setup. You get two front-facing speakers and they sound beefier than most phone speakers out there. Volume won't blow your head off, but that's not what it's about. BoomSound speakers make people's voices sound right.

The screen is nice and sharp too. While there was zero chance of this phone using a QHD screen, it doesn't need one. At this sort of size, 1080p is enough.

While the Snapdragon 615 isn't as an impressive a chipset as the Snapdragon 801, it's good enough. General performance is perfectly fine. You're not constantly reminded that you have a slightly cheaper version of an older phone.

We disliked

The big issue, even if you don't consider yourself a hardcore mobile-fondler, is battery life. Despite having a decent-size battery, stamina is fairly poor. As it heats up a lot, there are obviously some underlying efficiency issues tripping the phone up.

You also need to be aware that there are phones with very similar specs for as little as £125. Granted, that's the Vodafone Smart 6 Ultra, which is a loss-leader device designed to attract people to the network, but the point still stands: cheaper phones have the same chops.

The screen also isn't as good as that of the One M8. It goes for the bold look you get with most Sony and Samsung phones, but by slightly overdoing the greens it spoils the tone.

You can get better cameras at the price too. While they're fine for snapping stuff to post on Facebook, the results don't seem to be much better than those of the budget 13-megapixel phones currently flooding the market.


The HTC One M8s concept is a bit odd. Where we see plenty of re-treads of phone designs each year, and shrunk-down versions of flagships, this one actually seems to take the exact shell of last year's top HTC phone and then bung some cheaper bits in it.

HTC One M8s review

TechRadar likes this cheap smartphone - we just wish HTC had been more ambitious

You see the results a little in camera and screen quality, but some phones at £100 cheaper give you better results. However, it's the battery life that's really an issue. It's pretty bad.

Once HTC sorts this, the HTC One M8s will make a neat phone for people who'd value something that looks and feels great over one that can take beautiful photos or crush benchmarks with awesome CPU power. But for now it's a bit too problematic.

Thanks to Three UK for providing the review unit.

First reviewed: July 2015

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.