HTC, Sprint and Harman Kardon just came together to announce a new special edition of the One (M8) smartphone with exclusive audio features and technology. We got a chance to try out the device ourselves. Here are some first impressions after using the new phone, which hits shelves next month on May 9 for $229 with a new two-year contract.
From a design perspective the new HTC One (M8) offers the same amazing build as the beautiful flagship model, though it has a black back with champagne covered accents. It’s supposed to look more premium, but we found that it attracts fingerprints a lot more than the regular HTC One (M8). Aside from a Harman Kardon logo on the back and the color changes, however, there aren’t any other visual differences.
Now let’s get to the reason we’re really here: the audio. Harman Kardon’s packed this phone with some impressive technology designed to bring recorded music back to its former glory. The device offers two main features, which are accessible through a “Harman/Kardon Audio” section in the Settings menu and can be easily toggled on and off mid-song. First there’s Clari-Fi, which aims to undo the damage done by compressing audio files to deliver and richer and fuller sound. There’s also LiveStage, which is used to recreate the live music experience by separating different instruments and sounds into a stereo file.
After giving both new audio features a try we definitely came away impressed. It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what’s different when these settings are switched on, but there’s no question that the overall music quality was significantly improved. We also got a chance to try out Harman Kardon’s $149 earbuds, which aren’t going to replace your over-ear headphones but definitely sound better than the unimpressive earbuds you’d usually get with a new phone. Plus, those come with the phone, which is an amazing deal.
Overall it’s an impressive device, and at $229 it’s a pretty great deal considering the standard model costs the $199 with a 2-year contract. The HTC One (M8) Harman Kardon Edition is only available on Sprint, meaning most audiophiles won’t be able to pick up the new smartphone without going through the hassle of switching carriers first.