HTC One M8 vs. HTC Eye vs. HTC E8 - digging for the real differences



If you are like me, you might have gotten fairly confused between the HTC One (M8), the HTC One M8 Eye and the HTC One (E8). Of course, it's easy to figure out the obvious differences. This post is intended to bring out the more subtle differences in processor speed, features which are omitted or modified and believe me, you will have to hunt to find all this information in one place. That's why I am creating this post.

The obvious facts:

The HTC One (M8) is the oldest of the trio, it is still the flagship phone and it sports the highest price tag (approximately Rs. 42,000 INR). 
The HTC One M8 Eye is the most recently launched. At Rs. 38,000, it replaces the M8's low-pixel (sic. Ultrapixel) camera with a regular 13 MP shooter.
The HTC E8 is the cheapest of the three at Rs.34,000. It has literally all the features of the M8, with a 13 MP camera, and has a plastic body vs. the metal body of the other two phones. As such, it is  the value offering in the HTC One stable.

Here is the other stuff that I have dug up from manufacturer specs, reviews and comparisons posted on sites like Phone Arena to bring out the differences between the three:

1) Processor Speed
The HTC One M8 and HTC E8 sport identical, top of the line Qualcomm 2.5 GHz processor Snapdragon 801 2.5 GHz chipsets (MSM8974AC). This appears to be the case only in Asia - internationally, the M8 uses the 801 2.3 GHz chipset . The HTC One M8 Eye has the older Snapdragon 800 2.3 GHz Chipset (MSM8974AB). Jury's out on whether the 200 MHz difference in processor speed gives the Asian version a huge edge, but probably it does make at least a slight difference in daily use.

Basically both the older M8 and the E8 have a faster and newer processor than the latest HTC Eye Model. In layperson's language, this should translate into faster data transfer, browsing speeds, image processing and gaming. Does this mean that the HTC Eye is slow? No, thanks to HTCs Sense UI, any HTC phone feels smooth, fast and light to navigate. 

2) Cameras
Both the HTC E8 and the HTC One M8 Eye feature 13 MP primary camera paired with 5 MP front camera, which gives them a respectable point of comparison with other top end smartphones.  The HTC One M8 on the other hand, continues to sport HTCs UltraPixel technology powered camera on the rear, with a higher-res 5MP front camera for selfies.

Reviews which compare the phones will tell you that the E8 and M8 Eye will smoke the older flagship in image quality, but this is not the full story. The 13 MP snappers, with triple the pixel count, obviously offer brighter and sharper images in daylight. 

When I look at image comparisons, I find that the M8 ultrapixel camera still does a better job in low light. It also has a wide angle lens in the front that somehow makes it a better selfie camera.

The M8 Eye has better camera functionality than the E8 and pulls in some of the best features of the original M8 too. It shares the dual LED Flash, duo camera and HDR recording features of the M8. The dual LED flash allows a more natural illumination in photos, the Duo Camera on the rear of the phone allows a better sensing and rendering of depth in images.

In a nutshell, the E8 is the worst of the bunch.

3) Connectivity
HTC One M8 offers USB OTG/USB Host connectivity, NFC with Android Beam, and supports the new 802.11 ac wireless standard. If you still care about it, it also has an FM Radio.

All these are absent in the HTC One Eye.The E8 does offer NFC and is also the only one of the three to pack a dual SIM.

All three allow expansion of memory by adding a Micro SD Card.

In practice, the USB OTG connectivity is what you would miss the most. NFC based payments have not taken off in India the way they have abroad. Here, we use this feature mainly to make two phones talk to each other (by placing them back to back) and this is more of a gimmicky feature than a real one. Of course, with Apple Pay being launched and more pressure put on local retailers to inaugurate mobile PoS systems, the scenario can change. But I don't see it changing soon.

4) Sensors 
HTC One M8 includes a barometer and an IR Blaster; both of these are absent in the One M8 Eye and the E8. I have both and I still have not figured what the barometer does. And I do not find that the phone is a better way to control my TV than the regular remote.

4) Finish
It should be noted that all three models sport Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to ensure better screen protection. The E8 has a plastic body compared to the premium metal finishes that make the HTC One phones such a joy to hold, use and flaunt. Yet, in your hand, the E8 feels solid and not cheap. If you are not enamoured of the metal finish (seriously, who isn't?) then the E8 is actually the pragmatic buy. 

5) Battery Life
Both the E8 (27 Hours talktime on 3G) and the M8 Eye (24 hours talktime on 3G) promise more than the 20 hours touted by the original M8. These figures are lifted from HTC's website and real-world usage may tell a different tale. What is curious is that despite identical innards, the HTC E8 can offer such a bump in battery life over the M8. Maybe the metal case vs. plastic plays a role here?

So after this intense sum up, which one do I recommend? Each of them has its merits.

M8 Original - the geeks who want the absolute top of the line. And people for whom photography is not a core purpose of using a phone.

M8 (Eye) - photographers who are keen to use an HTC phone. This may not be the best phone for photography, but it's the best one in the HTC stable. Your need for photography should outweigh your need for speed.

E8 - pragmatists on a budget. You really get most of the best features of the M8 at a price tag that's nearly Rs.10,000 cheaper. Nor is the phone cheap looking in its design. It's a great value for money. For people with a 30k budget range, this stacks up very well against rival offerings from Samsung or Sony.

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