HTC says its One M8 smartphone is like jewelry -- and great for selfies

HTC's One M8 is on sale in the US and Canada and AT&T is selling it for $199.99 with a two-year service plan

HTC says its latest One flagship smartphone is akin to jewelry, placing it in the market as a premium product set apart from the competition.

The LTE smartphone, which weighs 160 grams, was announced at a New York event Tuesday. It has a 5-inch screen and displays images at a full 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution at 440 pixels per inch.

HTC One M8
The HTC One M8 smartphone.

The HTC One M8 has a durable, industrial design, made of metal, giving it the feel of a "premium watch and fine jewelry," said HTC CEO Peter Chou, during the launch event, which was livecast. He also took a jab at the use of cheap plastic in competing handsets.

The phone is available now online through websites of major carriers in the U.S. and Canada. AT&T is selling the smartphone for $199.99 with a two-year service plan. It will be more broadly available in the U.S. and Canada next month, said Jason McKenzie, HTC's president of North America.

Before the end of April, it will be available in Australia, Taiwan, U.K., Germany, France and China. It will ultimately be available via 230 carriers in over 100 countries, McKenzie said. The smartphone will support multiple LTE bands worldwide.

It will run on Android 4.4, code-named KitKat, and have the latest Sense 6 user interface. Storage on the device is up to 32GB, but can be expanded through a MicroSD slot. It will provide talk time of up to 20 hours and standby time of 496 hours on 3G networks. The battery life is 40 percent longer than its predecessor, the One M7, which was released last April, said Jonah Becker, associate vice president of design at HTC.

It has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with a clock speed of 2.3GHz. The chip, which was announced in February, has the latest Adreno 330 graphics core, capable of rendering 1080p video and also image-post processing for better graphics. Wireless features include 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC (near-field communications). The device has a 2600 mAh (milliamp hour battery), and a nano-SIM slot.

The smartphone has two cameras, including a rear "duo" camera that can shoot high-definition video. The duo camera "opens up amazing creative possibilities," Chou said, adding the camera captures more details and depth in images.

The duo camera allows users to separate the foreground and background, and figure out the distance between objects in an image. Special effects can be applied on the depth information to make images better, Becker said.

It also has a 5-megapixel front camera, and HTC's Becker could not stay away from making a reference to self-shot pictures, or "selfies."

"2013 was the year of the selfie," Becker said. "People want a better front camera so they look better."

With the cameras, users can capture 360-degree images and can take video in different modes, Becker said.

HTC has also opened up its Blinkfeed notification system to developers, so news and social network feeds can be put together under one user interface. It will now be able to show information from fitness trackers from location apps like Foursquare and wearable devices like Fitbit. HTC is waiting to see what developers can bring to Blinkfeed, Becker said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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