The HTC One M8 is one of the best Android smartphones on the market. And now that same handset is getting an intriguing new update: a version that ships with Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system.
On Tuesday, HTC and Microsoft announced the HTC One M8 for Windows. Available exclusively through Verizon Wireless for $99.99 with a two-year contract, the 5-inch One M8 for Windows takes everything that made the original One M8 a favorite among tech reviewers (if not with shoppers) and throws Windows Phone on top of it.
Physically, the only difference between the M8 for Windows and its Android-powered sibling is the Windows Phone logo on its back panel. You still get the same all-metal design and rounded edges of the original One M8, as well as its dual rear camera and excellent BoomSound speakers.
On the screen, however, you get a completely different operating system: Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
The latest version of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 operating system features the slick Live Tiles interface. It also includes Microsoft’s new Siri competitor, Cortana, a virtual digital assistant, which can be used to perform a variety of tasks using your voice.
The new Action Center drop-down menu gives you access to your notifications and quick settings similar to Android’s notifications drawer.
HTC is also extending its HTC Advantage to the One M8 for Windows. The program allows owners to get one free screen replacement if they break the original.
So what’s the catch? The biggest drawback to using Windows Phone has always been the dearth of available apps. Anytime a hot new app came out for iOS or Android, it tended to take months for it to hit Windows Phone, if it ever did.
That’s changed as of late, with Windows Phone finally landing big-name apps like Twitter and WhatsApp. Still, there are some key omissions from the operating system’s apps library, including YouTube and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, not to mention a host of other games.
Still, if you’re in the market for a gorgeous Windows Phone device, the high quality of the smartphone itself may make the M8 for Windows the one to go for.