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Grubby Mitts On Taiwanese phone-maker HTC unveiled its quad-core HTC One M8, the snappily named successor to the M7, on Tuesday.

Predictably, it's powered by a 2.3GHz ARM-compatible Snapdragon 801 chip from Qualcomm with 2GB of RAM, and runs Android KitKat 4.4. The battery isn’t removable, it has 16 or 32GB of on-board storage, and it can access up to 128GB from the microSD slot. It has a five-inch 1080 x 1920-pixel touchscreen, measures 146 x 71 x 9mm (5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37in) and weighs 160g (5.64 oz), and so on.

Phones have become so homogeneous, they struggle for differentiation. But there are some things that lift the M8 a little from the pack.

It is very nice to hold. The single-piece metal brushed case works well in giving a quality feel. It’s a bit slippery despite the “gentle curves and tapered edges” pointed out by HTC's design veep Scott Croyle.

The metal going right up to the glass screams repair nightmare, especially given the trade’s qualms about HTC’s repair turnaround time. Still, they do have a good reputation for reliability.

There is some real engineering going on here: HTC uses the metal case as an antenna, so more than 90 per cent of the back can be metal. This is quite an achievement; many phones that people think are metal are actually well-painted plastic. The M8's design also incorporates more space for the stereo speakers that, combined with a clever audio DSP, sounds pretty good, and those speakers are used for voice calls, too.

There are some interesting camera features. The main cam is a dual 4-megapixel design (2688 x 1520 resolution) with flash and an f/2.0, 28mm lens. On the other side, there's simpler 5Mp part capable of recording 1080p video. Apparently, though, they are not just pixels but HTC Ultrapixels, and so in some way better.

What makes the primary camera worthy of extra note is its dual-sensor arrangement that makes it capable of Lytro-style depth sensing. This allows automatic application of a range of special effects including the fashionable bokeh that keeps the subject of the picture in focus and blurs the background, or vice versa.

There are filter effects that can be combined with this to give a pencil effect or cartoon. Unlike the Lytro, you can’t save the photos with depth-of-field metadata from the camera hardware, but HTC is opening up a software interface to developers so there is an opportunity for someone else to do it.

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