HTC is today announcing a new variant of its popular One M8 smartphone: the HTC One M8 for Windows. The new phone has the exact same hardware features and specifications as the Android model released earlier this year, but it is running Windows Phone 8.1 in place of Android 4.4 and HTC's Sense user interface. It is available starting today exclusively from Verizon Wireless' online store for $99.99 with a new two-year contract, and will be in stores starting tomorrow.
The One M8 for Windows is the first major, high-end Windows Phone from a maker other than Nokia since HTC released the Windows Phone 8X back in the fall of 2012. HTC says it has received numerous requests from customers to offer its well-regarded M8 hardware with Windows Phone, and this device is the response to those requests.
Inside, the M8 for Windows has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage as its Android counterpart. The 5-inch screen has the same 1080p resolution, and both front-facing BoomSound speakers are present and functional. The rear camera is the same 4-megapixel Ultrapixel camera with HTC's Duo Camera depth-sensing tech, while the front-facing camera is the same 5-megapixel unit. The only major differences are that the Windows version will only come in the gunmetal gray color, while the Android variant can be had in a variety of colors, and there is a new Windows Phone logo on the back of the device.
HTC built a new BlinkFeed app for Windows Phone that mimics the experience found on its Android phones
The Microsoft-approved M8 runs the latest version of Windows Phone 8.1, with support for folders, more Start screen layout options, a notification tray, and Microsoft's virtual personal assistant Cortana. Though HTC hasn't modified the user interface in the same way that it does with its Android devices, the company has developed a number of apps that take advantage of the M8's hardware in Windows Phone. The double-tap-to-wake feature works the same as it does on the Android model, and there is support for wake up and sleep with HTC's Dot View case on the Windows model (notifications and other Dot View features are not yet supported). The HTC Camera app was built to support the Duo Camera, which lets users refocus images or create 3D perspectives, and has a very similar user interface to the camera app on HTC's Android devices. Likewise, HTC built a new BlinkFeed app for Windows Phone that mimics the experience found on its Android phones. And there's a new Sense TV app that takes advantage of the M8's infrared port to control your home entertainment system.
Having used the Android version of the M8 for months, we can't help but note how odd it is to have the same hardware running Microsoft's platform. Still, the M8 is an impressive device on its hardware merits alone, and if you've been jonesing for a Windows Phone with a metal unibody and two cameras on its back (and you happen to be a Verizon customer), the One M8 for Windows might be right for you.
Update, 7:13PM ET, August 19th: AT&T has revealed that it too will be carrying the HTC One M8 for Windows, though it has not announced a release date or price for the device just yet.