After creating a lot of buzz and a fair share of alleged leaks, HTC officially took the covers off its new HTC M8, successor to the wildly popular HTC One.

Considering how well the HTC One was received after its launch early last year, it’s interesting to see what HTC has done to outdo its top act.

We were at the official launch and here’s what we think of the brand new device.

What’s new?

The original HTC One had a solid aluminium unibody that never failed to impress. In fact, we think it was one of the most beautiful smartphones of its times. The HTC One M8 is even more so. It has carried forward more or less the same design philosophy as its predecessor, and we aren’t complaining. However, the company has bumped up the screen estate on its new flagship – it now comes with a 5-inch HD display.

Despite its massive screen size, the HTC One M8 feels really light to hold. Light yet sturdy. Its fascia sports dual HTC BoomSound stereo speakers are an improvement over the HTC One’s.

More power

The device boasts the new 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 series processor, one of the fastest in the market right now.

HTC One M8 also packs in 2GB of RAM and lets you store your media in 32 or 64 GB variants. You can add external storage up 128GB via a microSD slot, a feature that wasn’t available in the old HTC One.

This is the first HTC smartphone to ship with Android’s latest KitKat OS. HTC has added an upgraded version of its custom user interface, the Sense 6.0.The new UI supports motion gestures so you can interact with the phone through gestures, even when the screen is locked. You can customise your gesture to take you to Blinkfeed, widgets or your favourite app.

The company has packed in a 2,600 mAh battery that keeps the HTC One M8 powered for 40 per cent longer than the HTC One. There’s a special power saver mode which gives you manual access to calls texts and emails, you can manually enter this mode or make it switch automatically when your charge drops to 20 per cent or below.

The HTC One M8 has an awesome retro dot matrix case which will display your missed calls or the time when you double tap it.

Improved imaging

As was the case with the HTC One, the imaging capabilities of the HTC One M8 is the handset’s best features. The smartphone is equipped with two camera lenses with dual-LED flash support. It’s the same UltraPixel lens that we first saw in the HTC One. This also makes the camera perform better despite having only a 5-meg sensor. But what really makes the experience interesting is that you can now play around with the depth of field to give you a bokeh effect, just like the Lytro camera. All you do is choose which part of the image to focus on with UFocus and edit just the back ground of your image with a special ‘Foregrounder’ feature and apply a cartoon, blur or a sketch effect.

You can customise manual controls and save it like a preset so it applies to most of the pictures you take by default.

The gallery has a special image match feature where you can ask the phone to detect pictures of a particular friend or family members and automatically creates a customised album of it. The only feature that fails to impress: the HTC One M8’s front facing camera. The company has pumped up the megapixels on it to 5-meg ‘Selfie’ camera. While we never have any great expectations of front cameras, despite this, its spec-boast turned out to be pretty inconsistent. Under bright lights where you’d expect a good sharp picture the front camera ended up overexposing out shots (Yes, they were all selfies).

There are a bunch of tweaks and tricks available with the dual UltraPixel camera on its back.

For example, the presence of two lenses also enables a special parallax effect in the picture you click when you tilt the screen in different directions.

Considering how powerful, feature-packed and user friendly the HTC One M8 is there’s no doubt that it’s a more-than-worthy successor to the HTC One. There’s even lesser doubt about how well the super-smartphone is going to fare over the next year, considering it’s priced right. The handset is going to be made available in India sometime next month.

The author was in New York on invitation by HTC