4 reasons you'll really, really want an HTC One (M8)

Specs can only tell you so much - here are the real-world treats you'll get from HTC's new flagship

So you've read our stories about what hardware the HTC One (M8) has packed within its aluminium unibody, and how it fares against its immediate rivals.

There’s nothing else you need to know about it. Or so you think. But you're wrong - because there are some things you can only learn about a phone from spending some real, hands-on time with it. We've done just that, so let us present the 4 key features that you might not know the One (M8) has, but which are really quite cool.

READ MORE: HTC One (M8) review

LED flip cover: notifications at a glance

HTC's new flip cover isn't the first to let you see notifications without having to open it, but it is by far the classiest.

Rather than customising its user interface to fit into a small transparent window on the cover, it lights up specific pixels on the screen which then beam through small holes in the cover to form an LED-like notification screen.

Compared to what Samsung and LG have done with their flip covers, HTC's effort uses less pixels but reveals full-sized notification. Plus, you can interact with the whole cover, rather than a small limited space, to accept or reject calls and check the weather.

Did you know: Power consumption when viewing and interacting with notifications in this way should be lower, as the cover only activates essential pixels on the screen to create the LED effect

Motion Launch: tap and go

Alright, so HTC borrowed an LG trick in letting you wake the phone by tapping on the screen. But don't hold that against it - because by adding gestures and motion features, HTC's improved the idea.

On the One (M8), for example, you can swipe upwards to wake the phone and launch the last opened app. To perform the same function on other devices, you’ll probably need at least four actions - press the power button, swipe to unlock, go to the task manager and select the app. Other options include launching straight to BlinkFeed and to selected widgets.

Did you know: You can activate the camera by pressing the volume button when you remove the phone from your pocket. Don’t worry, you can’t pocket-shoot - the shortcut only works when the phone changes its orientation

More after the break...

Improved BlinkFeed: more news sources

HTC did a fine job of integrating a Flipboard-like news feed into its user interface when it launched BlinkFeed with the original HTC One. A sort of cross between an app and a homescreen, it displays social network updates from Twitter and Facebook alongside articles from HTC's official news partners and presents them in a lovely, glance-friendly layout.

The good news is that BlinkFeed's been improved for the launch of the Sense 6.0 on the HTC One (M8). For starters it's no longer restricted to official channels - you can just add an RSS feed to BlinkFeed, and it’ll appear as a topic within the news curator. Though we suggest you keep Stuff's own news feed in there, whatever other changes you make. More impressively still, it's now more intelligent, analysing the news you’ve been reading and suggesting stories and channels it thinks you'll like.

Did you know: Apps are also integrated with BlinkFeed. If a YouTube video appears in the feed, clicking on it will launch the YouTube app, rather than bringing you to the web page

Camera: features trump megapixels

The One (M8)'s UltraPixel camera is twice as good as the one on the original One. Because where there was only one on the One, there's two on the One (M8). OK, this could get very confusing...

Let's start again - the important thing here is that the M8 has two rear cameras. One has a 'standard' UtraPixel sensor, the other exists specifically to measure depth of focus. Put them together and you'll be able to focus and re-focus on pictures after you've taken them via the new UFocus feature. You can already do all of this on some other phones via software tricks, yes, but capturing two images concurrently will reduce the lag time and will give you a more accurate photo.

The One (M8) also has two LED flashes. Without stating the obvious about the inspiration behind it *cough*iPhone5s*cough*, all you really need to know is that when using the M8 in low light it'll now adjust the flash output to get better results with skin tones. Which should be some compensation for the person you've just blinded with two flashes.

Did you know: The One (M8) is smart enough to alert you when your finger blocks the second rear camera

READ MORE: HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S5: the weigh-in

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