Sunday, November 8, 2015

HTC M8S Versus Samsung Galaxy S3

TL;DR: Fixes some of the issues I had with the S3; not without its flaws.

After moving from the Samsung Galaxy S2 to the S3 a few years ago, I was disappointed that in a lot of ways the "upgrade" was most definitely a downgrade. Primary issues were lack of FM Radio (didn't even think to check!) and MTP support was so flaky on Linux I could barely copy files onto the phone — Samsung made it that you could no longer treat the S3 as a plain old USB device, MTP being the only option.

The HTC M8S "infinite selfie" selfie

So this time round I've jumped to HTC, and while I really wanted to like it, there are definitely pros and cons.

M8S advantages:

  • Copying files to the phone from a Linux machine just works.
  • Side-by-side the speaker in the M5S is much clearer. The S3 is distorted in comparion — this is a two-year-old phone though, so this is likely from wear and tear.
  • FM Radio. I had this in the Galaxy S2 and liked the option. We pay a premium for data in Australia, so streaming radio over the internet isn't as practical as it might be in other places. So the radio option was really handy for casual listening, missed it in the S3, glad it's in the M5S.
  • The setup wizard seemed pretty user friendly, offering to transfer content from the old phone and to set up various accounts. Since I like to start fresh and don't really do "social" whatevers, I didn't use any of it, but hey, the thought was nice HTC.

Negatives of the M8S:

  • No physical access to the battery. Not sure what you're meant to do if there are any problems with the stock battery.
  • The default camera settings seem...awkward. Difficult to get decent focus and "nice" looking shots — never really found a phone that was good for photos/video though, could just be user error.
  • The USB tethering option on the S3 would switch itself off once unplugged. On the M8S it stays on so if you plug it into another computer it'll activate the tethering again. Not what you want if you (as I do) go from the machine I want to tether to a desktop that has an ethernet connection.
  • Switching between vibrate, silent and audible sound profiles is hidden away in the Settings menu system. The S3 had that as an option on the main shutdown/reset screen.
  • Auto correct when typing seems pretty aggressive. So far I haven't worked out how to keep the suggestions (which can be useful) but hold off on the actual correction.
  • Background data is turned on by default — again, in our expensive data environment this is bound to annoy people when their quotas are sucked dry by stuff they're not even using. Turning it off is hidden away in the data settings, and then there's a constant notification to say "background data restricted" — haven't found how to get rid of the notification. I know it's off, I turned it off. The damn phone doesn't need to constantly remind me.
  • In general the phone is notification happy: notifications all the time, with seemingly no control over acknowledging them. The notification system feels pretty all-or-nothing in that regard.
  • The power button is on top rather than on the side. Muscle memory needs time to adapt :|

The M8S fixes a number of the sore points I had with the S3, but brings its own annoyances. So's good (in the sense that all modern phones are marvels of technology) but not great I guess.

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