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  • This Mobile runs on Android OS, v5.0.x (Lollipop) powered with Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57.
  • This Mobile has 20.7 MP, 5376 x 3752 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, check quality and has 4 MP, 1080p@30fps, HDR Secondary camera
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Review: HTC Desire 626

Introduction and design

It's getting hard to keep up with HTC's Desire range, with so many handsets arriving and just a three-digit number to tell them apart. The HTC Desire 626 is a successor to the HTC Desire 620, and while its forgettable name doesn't do it any favours there's a lot to like here, at least on paper.

For one thing the specs have had a significant upgrade, with a better camera, more RAM and more storage all included. Yet you won't pay much of a premium for the Desire 626, which comes in at £169.99 (US$179.99, around AU$257), making it just £20 (roughly US $30, AU$40) more than the Desire 620.

It ticks a lot of boxes too, from its 5-inch 720p screen to its 13MP camera and customisable interface. All of which marks it out as a clear rival to the similarly well-equipped and almost identically priced Motorola Moto G. Which is no bad thing, as Motorola's phone is one of the best budget handsets available.

But there's more to a phone than specs – it needs to deliver on those specs and come together as a cohesive whole, so does the HTC Desire 626 manage that?

HTC Desire 626 review


I received two versions of the HTC Desire 626 for review: one with a funky light blue edge sat between a dark blue front and rear and another slightly more understated model, with a light brown edge sandwiched between a shiny white front and back.

The two-tone colour scheme is nothing new for HTC, which rolled out a similar design on the likes of the HTC Desire Eye, and a more premium metal-clad version for the HTC One M9.

It's not a bad look for a budget phone, especially the blue version, but the soft-to-the-touch plastic feels smooth to the point of being a little slippery and doesn't provide a huge amount of grip, while both colours pick up visible fingerprints and smudges.

HTC Desire 626 review

The phone also feels slightly creaky. Not like it's going to break, but as though there hasn't been a huge amount of care and attention put into its construction, as it flexes slightly and makes creaking sounds when it does.

Still, the rounded corners and soft-touch feel ensure it sits fairly comfortably in the hand. It's also possible to reach all the buttons without having to adjust your grip much – and I say that as someone with quite small hands.

I found the button placement took some getting used to though. Both the volume and power buttons are on the right edge, but the volume buttons are above the power key, which never feels natural to me.

HTC Desire 626 review

They are at least very different sizes, so your fingers can easily find the right one, and after a couple of days I started to get used to the position, but it never quite felt right.

While the Desire 626 is small enough to hold one-handed it's not as compact as you might expect for a 5-inch phone, as there are large bezels above and below the screen. These are necessary in part to house the speakers, but as with other HTC phones there's also a black strip just below the screen that has no obvious function.

Don't be fooled by those speakers either. They might look like BoomSound ones, but only the bottom one is actually used for media, and while it can pump out a decent amount of volume there's none of the crispness you get from HTC's pricier handsets.

HTC Desire 626 review

Unlike with some plastic phones you can't remove the back of the HTC Desire 626, which means there's no getting to the battery. There's a cover on the left edge which can be slid away to access the microSD and SIM card slots.

As the Desire 626 has been upgraded from the 8GB of storage in the Desire 620 to 16GB here a microSD card isn't quite so vital, but it gives you a lot more room to manoeuvre.

Key features and performance

Key features

While the HTC Desire 626 doesn't go quite as deep into hardware customisation as the Moto G, it does have a few different and distinct colour schemes, which help it stand out.

As well as those it also goes in for plenty of software theming, enabling you to change the look of your home screen right down to the sound effects, fonts and icons.

Although Android is endlessly customisable anyway, it's rare that you find so many tools built in by a device manufacturer – instead you have to venture into the depths of Google Play to find what you need. So this is a fast, easy way to make the phone your own.

HTC Desire 262 review

Interestingly, you can also create your own themes, with colour schemes selected based on your wallpaper. That's not the end of the customisation either, as the Desire 626 also has a home screen with different profiles for whether you're at home, work or out.

Which one of these is selected will determine which apps are presented to you, which is handy if you tend to use different apps in different places.

The phone takes a stab at guessing which apps you'll want for each situation, but you can always change them to your liking. Or just not use the feature at all – personally I prefer having a consistent home screen.

HTC Desire 262 review

The Desire 626 isn't the only HTC phone with these features, but having access to them on a budget handset is nice, and they make what's already one of the most stylish Android skins that little bit better.

While I'm talking interface I should mention BlinkFeed, which is present and correct. Swiping left from your home screen brings up this ever-updating feed of content from social media and news sources of your choice.

It's great to kill a few minutes with, or check once or twice a day for anything that catches your eye, but BlinkFeed has never felt like a must-have feature to me. The content is limited, and you can get a similar experience from any number of apps.

HTC Desire 262 review

The screen is worth highlighting too. There's a 5.0-inch 720 x 1280 display here, with a pixel density of 294 pixels per inch. That's a match for the Moto G, which is arguably its main rival, but beyond that it's also a good spec for the money, delivering sharp visuals and reasonably rich colours.

It's not the brightest screen I've seen though, which can be an issue on sunny days, when it becomes hard to see. There's also no mention of Gorilla Glass, so I'd be extra wary about dropping it.

Given the £169.99 (US$179.99, around AU$257) price of the HTC Desire 626 the other specs are more than reasonable too.

You get a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, which is pretty standard at this price, but you also get 16GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front-facing one. That, again, is pretty much identical to the Moto G 3rd gen, which is king at this price.


The HTC Desire 626 runs Android 5.1, overlaid with Sense 7. I'd always rather have stock Android than a manufacturer's skin, but if I must have something on top Sense isn't a bad option.

It's not evolved all that much, although the theme store at least lets you make it your own, but to my mind it's an attractive interface, and when it comes to all-important navigation it's almost as easy to get around as stock Android.

On the Desire 626 it's also pretty speedy under the finger. The phone's working with a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, which is a pretty standard entry-level chip, but it's been given a boost by pairing it with 2GB of RAM.

This gives the phone all the oomph it needs for day to day use. I didn't notice any lag when swiping around the home screens, and for the most part using apps was fine too.

There were some instances of slowdown though. Launching apps can sometimes take a few seconds, and at times there was a noticeable pause when jumping between tabs on Google Chrome.

HTC Desire 262 review

I also found that the multitasking screen could take a few seconds to populate, although once it did actually jumping between apps on it was almost instantaneous.

These are very minor issues, and not ones that I'm surprised to see in a phone of this price; but they are noticeable, and you don't get the smooth experience you would with a higher-end handset.

Gaming on the Desire 626 generally proved pretty reliable. Real Racing 3 ran fine, except when 'achievements' popped up, which would cause a moment of lag, on one occasion almost causing me to crash out. Modern Combat 5 wasn't always silky smooth, but it remained perfectly playable, and less-demanding games posed no problem.

HTC Desire 262 review

Games also look good on the sizeable and sharp 5.0-inch 720p screen. Plus, the phone never ran hot, so while an extended gaming session might give your battery a beating it won't fry the phone, or your hands.

Putting the Desire 626 through GeekBench 3 gave an average single-core score of 516 and an average multi-core score of 1544. That's a solid score, but not an exceptional one, even for the price – it's a little lower than the 1600-scoring BQ Aquaris X5, which also has 2GB of RAM, but has a slightly nippier Snapdragon 412 chip.

HTC Desire 262 review

It's also marginally lower than the 1GB version of the Moto G. That phone averaged 1590, despite having half the RAM of the Desire 626 and selling for less. So I'd have liked to see a little more from the Desire.

Still, one thing I will give a shout-out to is call quality. This was fine throughout, with calls coming in loud and clear.

Battery life and camera

Battery life

Sadly, the battery life of the HTC Desire 626 is no great shakes. The 2000mAh power pack inside gets things off to a bad start, as it's significantly smaller than the 2470mAh battery in the Moto G, or the 2900mAh unit in the BQ Aquaris X5. It's even smaller than the 2390mAh battery in the lower-end Moto E.

That's not necessarily the end of the world, as HTC could have used some fancy tricks and optimisation to eke impressive performance out of the Desire 626 – but sadly it hasn't.

In our patented (not actually patented) battery test, which involves playing a 90-minute video at full brightness, the battery dropped by 30%. That, as you'd probably expect, is worse than most rivals; the Moto G dropped 19% and the BQ Aquaris X5 lost just 14%.

The Desire's loss is in line with some other recent HTC phones, including the high-end HTC One M9, which dropped a massive 31%, but it's not good.

HTC Desire 262 review

Things were a little better in daily use, but still hardly impressive. With the screen set to a mid-level brightness, around 20 minutes of Real Racing 3 knocked 8% off the battery.

A full mixed day of use, with about an hour of social media, firing off a dozen or so photos, sending a handful of SMS and WhatsApp messages, 30 minutes of web browsing and a short call cut the battery from 100% at 8:30am to 36% at around 11:30pm.

It got me through the day then, with a little bit of room to spare, but that was a middling day; push it with a lot of screen time and you'll be reaching for a charger before the end of work.

You also can't remove the battery, and of course there's no fast or wireless charging here. The 626 does, however, offer HTC's two battery-saving modes.

HTC Desire 626 review

There's 'Power saver', which cuts down CPU usage, limits location services, reduces screen brightness and turns off vibration to keep the phone going a little longer.

It works, to an extent, but I didn't notice a drastic difference in my time with the phone, and dialling back the CPU on an already low-end handset isn't exactly desirable.

Then there's 'Extreme power saving mode', which turns off data when the screen is off and limits you to using the phone, SMS, email, the calendar and the calculator – in other words it turns your smartphone into a feature phone, so that's an option you'll only want to use in real emergencies.


There's a 13MP snapper on the back of the HTC Desire 626, which on paper is a solid spec and in line with the Moto G 3. But where the Moto G can take great shots for a phone in this price range, the Desire 626's photos are rather underwhelming.

Photos have a tendency to look dark, washed out and lacking in detail. The camera is at least speedy to use though – once it's launched, that is. Opening the app can take a few seconds, but the shutter speed is fast, so you can fire off a lot of photos quickly.

HTC Desire 262 review

There's also not too much clutter on the viewfinder, with most of the options remaining hidden until you need them.

Not that there are a vast number of options, but the basics are covered, from ISO and exposure to an ineffective night mode and slow-to-shoot HDR mode, plus an option to use the volume buttons to either zoom or take photos.

The 5MP front-facing camera is pretty standard for a phone of this price. The results won't wow you, but they're social media-worthy, and with a voice capture option and a timer you can actually be in group photos you take.

Camera samples

HTC Desire 262 review

Click here for the full-resolution image

HTC Desire 262 review

Click here for the full-resolution image

HTC Desire 262 review

Click here for the full-resolution image

HTC Desire 262 review

Click here for the full-resolution image


The HTC Desire 626 is gunning for Motorola's crown, and on paper it's got a good shot, with a big, sharp screen, 2GB of RAM, a 13MP camera, a stylish design, a customisable look and a similar price.

However, despite solid specs and a reasonable price tag it can't match the Moto G. It might look similar on paper, but while its screen is moderately impressive and performance is usually smooth, its camera capabilities are lacking in practice and its battery is far too small.

We liked

The Desire 626 has a colourful, customisable design both inside and out, with the look of the interface in particular being hugely customisable. If you like making a phone your own, you'll like that about it.

It also offers generally pretty solid performance, and a crisp 720p screen which does a good job of showing off games and media.

A competitive price helps the Desire 626 too. At £169.99 (US$179.99, around AU$257) it's in budget phone territory, and only slightly more expensive than the HTC Desire 620.

We disliked

The camera is a real disappointment. I was hoping for good things from Desire 626, given the 13MP sensor, but actual results were flat and lifeless.

The phone also has an underpowered battery. It will last you through a day of mixed to moderate use, but push it harder and it'll be crying out for a charger before night falls.

There are a frustratingly large number of phones I could say the same about, but as you can also get a much better battery for the same money it's not something the Desire 626 can get away with.

While performance is generally solid the phone benchmarks a little low, and while the colourful design is nice the build quality feels slightly creaky.


The HTC Desire 626 ticks a lot of boxes, matching rivals for specs and packing it all into a colourful, eye-catching shell without pushing the price up.

But it's a phone that doesn't quite live up to its billing. Like the build itself, the handset doesn't quite deliver in the way I'd hoped, particularly when it comes to the camera and battery life.

The screen at least is decent, and it's generally smooth under the finger, but even here there are caveats, with a lack of brightness and occasional slowdown holding the phone back.

I don't want to be too hard on the Desire 626 because on the whole it wasn't frustrating to use, even coming from a higher-end handset – but the competition is just too keen for me to wholeheartedly recommend it.

First reviewed: January 2016


2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
4G Network LTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 28(700), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500)
Sim Nano-SIM
Announced 3/3/2015
Status Available. Released 2015, March
Dimensions 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.6 mm (5.69 x 2.74 x 0.38 in)
Weight 157 g (5.54 oz)
Display Size 5.0 inches (~68.4% screen-to-body ratio)
MultiTouch yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 4 - HTC Sense UI 7.0
AlertTypes Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
LoudSpeaker Yes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jack Yes
CardSlot microSD, up to 128 GB
Internal 32 GB, 3 GB RAM
Speed HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE Cat4 150/50 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot
Blue Tooth v4.1, A2DP, apt-X
InfraredPort yes
USB microUSB v2.0 (MHL 3.0 TV-out), USB Host
Camera Primary 20.7 MP, 5376 x 3752 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, check quality
Camera Features Automatic simultaneous video and image recording, geo-tagging, face/smile detection, HDR, panorama
CameraVideo 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@120fps, HDR, stereo sound rec., check quality
CameraSecondary 4 MP, 1080p@30fps, HDR
OS Android OS, v5.0.x (Lollipop)
CPU Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57
Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email
Browser HTML5
Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS
Java Yes, via Java MIDP emulator
Others - Fast battery charging: 60% in 30 min (Quick Charge 2.0) - Google Drive (100 GB cloud storage) - Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic - XviD/MP4/H.264/WMV player - MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV/FLAC player - Document editor - Photo/video editor
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 2840 mAh battery
StandBy Up to 391 h (2G) / Up to 402 h (3G)
TalkTime Up to 25 h 20 min (2G) / Up to 21 h 50 min (3G)

Review: HTC One M8s


Wondering why there's no HTC One M9 Mini? One may turn up someday, but until then the HTC One M8s is here to give us 90% of what that phone would provide, apart from being significantly smaller than the top dog.

The HTC M8s nicks the shell off last year's best HTC phone, the One M8, which means it looks and feels top-end while costing a good £150 less than the most expensive mobiles. Sounds like a good deal, doesn't it?

At about £340/$550/$720 SIM-free or free on a contract of £20-30 a month, the HTC One M8s will be a sound buy for many. Just make sure you know what you're getting.

With hardware eerily similar to the £125 Vodafone Smart Ultra 6, this is very much a mid-range phone selling at an upper mid-range price. It's in no sense an 'upgrade' to the HTC One M8 - camera performance isn't hot and insufficient taming of the Snapdragon 615 processor leads to woeful battery life.

There are problems that need fixing here.


We get to start with a highlight. The HTC One M8s has a lovely design, one good enough to pass off as a £500-plus phone among your less tech-savvy friends.

At first, second and third glance, it seems to use exactly the same shell as last year's HTC One M8. However, the HTC One M8s is a shade thicker, 0.2mm to be exact, than the M8, at 9.6mm. You'd struggle to notice this, even with one in each hand, and I wouldn't be surprised if the rear shell component is the same. After all, it'd cut down on tooling costs.

HTC One M8s review

There's no drop in the quality of materials, either. The One M8s has a bruised aluminium rear and its smooth curvature is a treat for the hand, helping you forget this is actually a fair bit chunkier and heavier than most manufacturers' high-end phones. It feels just as good as the HTC One M9.

The phone comes in silver, grey and gold, predictably mimicking the colour styles of the One M8. We're testing out the grey version, and it's both serious-looking and seriously good-looking.

Considering that people have previously paid the same amount for some watered-down 'mini' version of phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini, you can't help but be a little impressed.

For ports, sockets and buttons, the HTC One M8s shadows, you guessed it, the One M8. And it's here we find one of the few niggles with the phone's design.

This isn't a giant phone, but it is a large one, and we're a little disappointed to see that the power button still lives at the top rather than the side. The result is that at times you may have to wiggle the HTC One M8s down your palm to reach the button and bring it out of sleep.

HTC One M8s review

HTC fires back with a partial save, as you can turn the phone on with a double tap if you switch on gestures. But there's no ergonomic replacement for a power button that fits under your thumb: it just feels like home, simple as.

Given that HTC has included a side button on the One M9, there's no clearer sign that the One M8s recycles some leftover One M8 bits.

The phone uses two pop-out trays, one on each side of its body. The left holds the nano SIM, the right the microSD card. You get 16GB or 32GB storage, although most retailers seem to be stocking the 16GB version only.

We're skirting around the main event, though, the BoomSound speakers. As its adventures into odd camera tech have largely failed, top HTC phones tend to get props for two main reasons: build and sound quality.

While the HTC One M8s hasn't been fitted with the new Dolby sound mode of the M9, it does have those famous well-above-average front speakers. As good as they've ever been, they sound richer and fuller than 95% of the competition.

HTC One M8s review

I got to pit the HTC One M8s against Sony's Xperia Z3+, and it makes Sony's speakers sound terribly thin and harsh, especially at top volume. The One M8s' speakers are simply far beefier-sounding.

One of the few phones to compete comes from a surprising place, with the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 5.5-inch. It's louder and offers comparable sound quality, although it 'pushes' its drivers and sounds less composed at top volume.


The HTC One M8s' screen is less remarkable at this point. It has a 5-inch 1080p LCD display with a Gorilla Glass top coating. Over the last 18 months we've seen the entry level for 1080p screen phones come right down, close to £100 in some cases. It's no guarantee of greatness.

The HTC One M8s has a decent screen, but it's a couple of leagues below what you get in a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S6. While you can get the QHD resolution LG G3 at a similar price, resolution is actually the least notable of the screen's, admittedly minor, issues.

What struck me when I first looked at the HTC One M8s was that, like an increasing number of phones, its colours are somewhat over-saturated. Next to the Google Nexus 6 it appears positively restrained, but the over-saturation is there. This is fine. Just as people like a bit of extra bass in their headphones, most like extra colour in their phone screens.

However, the skew of the HTC One M8s isn't perfectly managed. As well as having a slightly cool colour temperature, green tones are emphasised more than other colours. And turbo-charged greens end up looking pretty sickly.

HTC One M8s review

Let's be clear: we're not talking about a green cast to the screen, but how intense green tones appear. It leads to a tone that, while nice, isn't as satisfying as the best phones around.

It's like HTC has tried to achieve the same results as Samsung's OLED screens and Sony's Triluminos technology (surprisingly, it's not just marketing waffle) with a more conventional LCD screen. And it hasn't quite pulled it off.

There are no controls in the Settings menu to tweak the saturation or colour tone either, which is a shame.

Other aspects of image quality are good, though. Black levels stay decent for an LCD even when the brightness is cranked, better than the Sony Xperia Z3+, and with 441ppi sharpness, is just about perfect.

Get right up close and you can see a bit of granularity compared with 5.x-inch QHD phones like the Galaxy S6, but there's not a great deal in it.

HTC One M8s review

There's still some work to do on the reflectivity of the screen itself. Turn the display off entirely and there's a slight greyness that comes into play when you try to use the HTC M8s in daylight. Outdoors visibility is respectable thanks to the bright display backlight, but could, and perhaps should, be better.

This is not meant to be a demo of the latest and greatest HTC has to offer, mind. The HTC One M8s uses an SLCD2 panel where SLCD3s are available, and it uses Gorilla Glass 2 when version four is doing the rounds. Both of these are more dated than what's found in the One M8.

Viewing angles are very solid, though. The HTC One M8s fits into a category of 'fine for the money, but not standard-setting'.

Key features

So far, the HTC One M8s seems an awful lot like the HTC One M8, and it has most of its extra features too. You get 4G, Wi-Fi right up to the ac standard, and Bluetooth 4.0 with support for the aptX Bluetooth audio codec. This is particularly important if you have a nice set of wireless headphones.

NFC is here too, something that will become more important over the next 12 months as Android Pay has a crack at taking over the high-street. While you're just as likely to have used it for pairing Bluetooth accessories, NFC can also be used for wireless payments.

The HTC One M8s doesn't have everything, and actually lacks a feature we assumed it would have. See the black bar on the top edge of the phone? One of the neat (deliberate) side-effects of this design in the HTC One M8 is that it hides the IR blaster. Here we get the black top bit, but no IR blaster.

HTC One M8s review

IR transmitters can be used to mimic the signals of the remotes for your TV, Blu-ray player, and more. It's not an expected feature at any price, and about 70% of people I know who own an IR phone don't even know about it, but it's still kinda neat to have.

Interface and performance

The HTC One M8s runs Android Lollipop 5.0.2 at the time of writing, with HTC Sense 6.0 on top. That's almost the newest version of Android, teamed with the one-generation-behind edition of HTC's custom interface. It's reportedly going to get the upgrade to Sense 7 in August.

Before we look at what's missing, let's take a look at what Sense is actually like.

The HTC One M8's UI has a distinct style, one that is a little at odds with the style of Android, and starting to age. Its homescreens look good, being the same blank canvas you get with default Android.

However, the apps menu is rather different. Not only does it scroll vertically rather than horizontally, fracturing these two parts of the interface where vanilla Lollipop brings them together as much as it can, it's background-free and lumbered with more interface buttons than most other UIs. It's starting to look a bit stiff and in need of a visual refresh.

HTC One M8s review

Compare how much Samsung TouchWiz has changed over the last few years with the minimal aesthetic changes Sense has made in the same time, and it's no surprise.

The HTC One M8s' BlinkFeed is as good as ever, though. This slick, full-page news feed widget isn't to everyone's tastes, but when customised with the info you want to see, whether it's the latest news from your favourite tech sites (including TechRadar, of course) or updates on subjects like sports, movies and fashion, it's a neat way to get an idle digital fix.

BlinkFeed is dead easy to disable if you don't like it, and simple to make your default homescreen if you flat-out love what it does.

HTC One M8s review

BlinkFeed and the apps menu round off the most notable changes Sense makes to Android. There are a few bonus gestures, but we've already mentioned the most important one: being able to take the HTC One M8s out of standby with a double-tap of the homescreen.

Is it a light-touch UI? Not by today's standards, but it does remain a good one judging by the HTC One M8s' general performance. We've experienced little lag and no obvious increase in load times compared with the high-end norm.

When flicking around and browsing the web, there's not much to separate the HTC One M8s from the One M8 or One M9. You might think, 'Surely that's obvious? This is still a fairly expensive phone.'

However, while the phone's name suggests it lies somewhere between the One M8 and One M9, it doesn't in terms of power. The HTC One M8s has a Snapdragon 615 processor, which is a mid-range chipset. It has more in common with the Snapdragon 415 of the entry-level Moto E than the Snapdragon 810/801 of the One M9 and M8.

Where those higher-end chipsets use a combination of Cortex-A57 performance and Cortex-A53 low-power cores, this one only has the lesser Cortex-A53 kind. Its Adreno 405 GPU is also modest in comparison.

HTC One M8s review

But does it matter? Not really. It has enough power to make the phone run well, and to run top-end Android games at 1080p. Though give the Snapdragon 615 a QHD phone and a 3D game that actually renders at QHD resolution, and the results might not be so pretty.

It scores 2455 in Geekbench 3, where the One M8 scores around 2700, although the difference in power is greater than this may suggest.


The HTC One M8s has what sounds like a pretty good battery. It offers capacity of 2840mAh, which is strong for a 5-inch 1080p phone. That's significantly greater than the capacity of the Samsung Galaxy S6, which uses a 2550mA battery despite having a QHD 5.1-inch screen.

It's a little baffling, then, that the HTC One M8s's stamina is poor. Over the period of a week it never got through a full day without needing a top-up, tending to circle the drain by mid-late-evening.

At first it seemed like the latest update hadn't been installed or that there was some errant app gobbling up the juice like a toddler raiding the Capri Sun cupboard. But all seemed to be above board.

The HTC One M8s also performed very poorly in TechRadar's standard video test. It lost 30% playing a 90-minute 720p MP4 video, where you'd hope the loss would be somewhere in the teens.

HTC One M8s review

So why is the HTC One M8s's stamina so, well, rubbish? There are a few explanations. First, it gets warm quite easily, and tends to stay warm even if you're not doing anything particularly taxing. Not once did a message pop up about overheating, and not once did it feel like the phone was overheating. It just wasn't cool when it probably should have been.

This suggests that HTC hasn't incorporated the Snapdragon 615 very well. It's a chipset known to have some issues with heat and efficiency, which may come as a surprise when it seems like an upscaled version of the generally very solid Snapdragon 410/415. Maybe the One M8s only runs well because the CPU goes at near full-pelt at the drop of a hat.

We're not engineers; we're extrapolating. But an explanation like that does make sense.

There are some other possible contributing factors too. It has an SLCD2 screen, relatively dated in tech terms. Is this less efficient? It certainly could be. Even the original HTC One used SLCD3.

HTC One M8s review

HTC should be able to improve performance significantly with a software update, as the HTC One M8s drains far quicker than expected when the screen is off. I tried using the Battery Saver mode, but this didn't seem to fix the problem. Instead it limits CPU speed, display intensity, vibration feedback and mobile internet when the screen is off.

There's also an extreme power saver mode, which actually changes the UI, but only gives you access to basic phone features.


The HTC One M8s has a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. A couple of years ago this sort of spec would have been reserved for seriously high-end phones. These days you find it in fairly affordable mobiles, like the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL.

HTC One M8s review

It seems like the One M8s uses the same Sony front and rear sensors as most of these more affordable 13-megapixel phones. And, well, they're fine. Not amazing, not terrible. Just fine.

The HTC One M8s suffers slightly less from exposure problems than the HTC One M9, but it has its own share of photographic issues. Hold your breath.

First, zoomed-in, fairly well-lit photos can look a little noisy. It's not the same sort of grainy noise you see in low-light phone photos, but a certain scrappiness that's down to the processing style. As a result, fine detail can look stressed, which is a shame when the fairly respectable detail level of a 13-megapixel sensor should make cropping into photos possible.

It also struggles with getting the exposure right and maintaining an impression of good dynamic range when dealing with difficult lighting. People often think phones only struggle with low-light situations, but give them a brightly-lit cloudy sky and they'll have serious issues.

HTC One M8s review

The HTC One M8s doesn't seem to offer any post-shoot 'behind the scenes' dynamic range enhancement in the standard shooting mode, and using the HDR mode often results in large parts of the image looking milky and low in contrast. HDR shots also tend to look quite soft.

We're clearly not dealing with the best camera lens here either. While HDR softness is as much down to software as hardware, the edge of the frame in photos generally loses definition, and there's notable purple fringing around high-light-contrast objects throughout the frame.

The HTC One M8s responds to middling light levels by jacking-up colour saturation to ensure its images still look punchy. But it's very poor at compensating for genuinely bad light levels. Where Sony's Low Light mode boosts exposure so you can make out objects clearly even in near-dark settings, here dark photos stay dark. It has a dedicated Night mode, but it doesn't seem to help too much.

Even when the shutter slows down to one-ninth of a second in dark scenes, the HTC One M8s' camera brain just doesn't make use of whatever detail the sensor does manage to make out.

The HTC One M8s can take some smashing photos, especially if you use the full width of the sensor while avoiding digital zoom or cropping.

However, it comes across as a camera that has none of the smarts we see in top cameras like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4. We're not talking about the whizz-bang gadgets either, just the basics of their processing, exposure metering and dynamic range management.

HTC One M8s review

Honestly, after the so-so HTC One M9 camera it's no big surprise.

It's not 'just' a camera, though. It also has the secondary depth sensor HTC used in the One M8, then discarded in the One M9. This uses parallax to tell the difference between close objects and far-away ones, letting you blur and apply effects to in-focus or out-of-focus areas of the image. It's a cool idea, but in practice doesn't work 60% of the time.

That's probably why this effect has fallen out of favour with this year's flagships. It's fun to play around with, but when you realise how patchy it is, you'll likely stop using it.

Zoe mode feels behind the times too. It lets you join stills and video clips to make a little digital montage, but compared with a Vine video, it often feels like watching a slide show of someone's boring holiday photos. Yawn.

At this point the camera app could do with a spruce-up. It has the same software seen in the HTC One M8, and while it has a cool, distinctive style, it doesn't put the bits you need for day-to-day use right at your fingertips.

Turning HDR on and off needs three taps and the app doesn't make great use of space. It has a standard/duo camera switch at the side of the screen, but lacks a HDR toggle and front/back camera button. One good thing is that it gives you decent manual control, with easy settings for ISO, exposure and white balance. Manual focusing is missing.

HTC One M8s review

Moving around to the front, the HTC One M8s has a 5-megapixel selfie camera. And like other HTC phones, it has a mode that smoothes-out your crinkly bits.

Unfortunately it suffers from the same kinda nasty-looking processing as the rear camera. It doesn't seem to know what to do with beard hair, for one. While it's pretty good at exposing so the face in shot is clear, the results aren't much better than some 2-megapixel selfie cameras.


The HTC One M8s earns massive media points for its BoomSound speakers. I talked about these front-facing stereo speakers at the start of this review, but they're much fuller than the majority of phone speakers. They're great.

Having a microSD slot is important too. With 128GB microSD cards available for under £60 and 64GB ones well under £20, you can get a huge media library on your phone for very little cash.

It also has its own music player, and one that comes as part of the Google apps suite. This is welcome, as Google cares far more about getting you to sign up to its music services and download music from Google Play than letting you listen to locally-stored music. Fair enough, it's what a lot of people do these days, but it's not for everyone.

HTC One M8s review

If you want to ruin the sound of a good pair of headphones, the HTC One M8s offers a BoomSound EQ mode. What this does is ramp up the bass and treble output, as well as add a bit of studio compression. That is what it sounds like, anyway. It's good for the speakers, not so good for headphones.

It's a bit like a Beats sound mode, but adds too much bass to balanced headphones and can make the sound a bit harsh.

What's missing is a custom video player app that'll handle all of your downloaded video files. So if you want a portable video player phone you'll need to head to Google Play.

The HTC One M8s' hardware makes for a pretty decent little video buddy, though. The screen, while not gigantic, is large enough to watch TV episodes, or even a movie, on.



A year after its release, the LG G3 is still available, but now at a bargain price. We're talking £100 less than the HTC One M8s. For that saving, you get a better screen and a much more powerful processor, plus better battery life. However, the HTC feels nicer and has better speakers.

Samsung Galaxy A7

The 1080p, larger brother of the Galaxy A5, the Galaxy A7 is a mid-range phone with a lot of the same grade specs as the HTC One M8s. Unlike previous mid-range phones, it doesn't feel cheap. While the back is plastic, the sides are metal and it has a unibody design. As nice as the One M8s? No, but it does cost about £80 less, and has a larger Super AMOLED screen.

HTC One M8s review

Honor 6

Willing to give up the big-brand name? The Honor 6 has just about everything the One M8s has, plus a significantly more powerful (if less up-to-date) CPU for £140 less. Its battery life is much, much better too. Not everyone will get on with its oddball EmotionUI software, however, and it has a less impressive design that feels like a rip-off of some other well-known phones. Good price, mind.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung didn't revive the Galaxy S5 in the same way HTC has with the HTC One M8 and M8s, but it's available for roughly the same price as the HTC One M8s. The HTC sounds a lot better and feels better, but otherwise the Samsung Galaxy S5 is quite a bit stronger. It has a nicer screen, much faster CPU, and a significantly better camera.

HTC Desire 820

A bit like the HTC One M8s without the gloss, the Desire 820 shares a lot of the M8s' internal components, including CPU and rear camera. And it costs at least £100 less. What lets the Desire 820 down is screen resolution. While it's bigger than the HTC One M8s' display, it only has a 720p screen, and that shows.

Camera samples

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review

HTC One M8s review


It isn't hard to see what the HTC One M8s is about. It has the glitzy feel of last year's flagship and costs about £150-200 less than this year's one.

Inside, though, it's a different matter. The M8s has the same specs as an 'entry-level' 1080p phone. And yes, those things do exist.

We liked

While some elements of the HTC One M8s shell could be improved, it still looks and feels great. You could easily convince someone it's more expensive than it is, or that it's last year's One M8.

HTC One M8s

One of the best bits to make a return is the BoomSound speaker setup. You get two front-facing speakers and they sound beefier than most phone speakers out there. Volume won't blow your head off, but that's not what it's about. BoomSound speakers make people's voices sound right.

The screen is nice and sharp too. While there was zero chance of this phone using a QHD screen, it doesn't need one. At this sort of size, 1080p is enough.

While the Snapdragon 615 isn't as an impressive a chipset as the Snapdragon 801, it's good enough. General performance is perfectly fine. You're not constantly reminded that you have a slightly cheaper version of an older phone.

We disliked

The big issue, even if you don't consider yourself a hardcore mobile-fondler, is battery life. Despite having a decent-size battery, stamina is fairly poor. As it heats up a lot, there are obviously some underlying efficiency issues tripping the phone up.

You also need to be aware that there are phones with very similar specs for as little as £125. Granted, that's the Vodafone Smart 6 Ultra, which is a loss-leader device designed to attract people to the network, but the point still stands: cheaper phones have the same chops.

The screen also isn't as good as that of the One M8. It goes for the bold look you get with most Sony and Samsung phones, but by slightly overdoing the greens it spoils the tone.

You can get better cameras at the price too. While they're fine for snapping stuff to post on Facebook, the results don't seem to be much better than those of the budget 13-megapixel phones currently flooding the market.


The HTC One M8s concept is a bit odd. Where we see plenty of re-treads of phone designs each year, and shrunk-down versions of flagships, this one actually seems to take the exact shell of last year's top HTC phone and then bung some cheaper bits in it.

HTC One M8s review

You see the results a little in camera and screen quality, but some phones at £100 cheaper give you better results. However, it's the battery life that's really an issue. It's pretty bad.

Once HTC sorts this, the HTC One M8s will make a neat phone for people who'd value something that looks and feels great over one that can take beautiful photos or crush benchmarks with awesome CPU power. But for now it's a bit too problematic.

First reviewed: July 2015

7 days in smartphones: Dear Microsoft, please don't eat my Android phone

Your princess isn't in another smartphone

It's Friday. You're giddy with excitement. It can only mean one thing…7 days in smartphones is back again!

Forget being "social" with your so-called "friends", stay here in the dark with as we try to make you laugh. Once. It's the best we can hope for.

It's-A-Not-Me, Mario!

Nintendo is finally entering the smartphone market. We've waited years to say it and – phwoar– that felt seriously good.

The bad news is it isn't exactly as we'd anticipated, it looks like Mario and co will be taking a back seat to make way for new mobile franchises.

Link on a horse

The move comes after a partnership with developer DeNA who will have free reign over the Nintendo IPs but won't be aiming to create ports of Wii U or 3DS games.

Instead it'll be focusing on new titles – is that really such a bad thing? Well, probably - these things rarely go well.

Even though the Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, rinse and repeat formula can sometimes feel a little tiresome, Nintendo wanting to enter the world of Candy Crush doesn't necessarily fill me with glee.

That said, if anyone can do it with style and create some new engaging characters to go on the journey with, surely it's Nintendo. You hear that Iwata? My credit card is waiting and I'm ready and waiting to make micro payments now.

Microsoft wants your Android!

Windows 10 news now smartphans: Microsoft wants to bring its new operating system to your Android smartphone.

Wait, WHAT?!

Yeah, that's right, Microsoft wants to wrangle your unrestricted OS, throw up a bunch of electric fences and restrict the amount of apps you'll be able to download.

Microsoft Windows 10

OK, maybe not quite like that, but the Softies have announced plans to allow users to trial a custom ROM on the Xiamoi Mi 4 that removes all trace of the Android OS for an almost complete version of Windows 10.

It's Microsoft's attempt to steal users from the Android ecosystem and switch them over to Windows Phone, but it'll be some seriously hard work considering the reduced number of apps available on the platform.

Will anyone actually choose to make their Android run Windows Phone? Only time will tell.

Or, well, no.

One hoof forward

One hoof, two hoof, three hoof, four, repeat. Walking was becoming easier by the day as Winston's long recovery continued to drag.

"You're doing great, just a few more steps" reassured the nurse ready to catch him at the slightest sign of a stumble.

One hoof, two hoof, three hoof, four, done. Winston collapsed into the really rather long wheelchair, sweat dripping from his mane. The nurse looked at him sympathetically, stroking his fetlock, and said tenderly: "That's enough for one day... let's get you back to your bed."

Wheeled back to the side of his bed, he clambered onto the sheets and forced himself to look at the odd, faceless black brick that seemed to be staring him from the bedside table.

Over the preceding days and weeks he'd gradually been building the confidence to explore the Apple iPhone and take control of his first ever keyless smartphone. OK, the Storm didn't have any keys... except it did. The whole display was a key. It was glorious, but now it was gone.

In that time he'd learnt how to turn on the display, unlock it, take a few snaps around his hospital room and even get used to the onscreen keyboard. Apps were still a weird experience: he'd finally realised how to download them, but was bewildered by how many there were. Inside, he still missed the choice of just 11 that used to populate BlackBerry App World.

Then the day came: it was time to go home. His rehab was over. It was time to venture back out into the world, a robotic unicorn sent out to live once again.

With an NHS prescribed iPhone 6 Plus in his left hoof, a small bag of belongings in his right, it was time to flip open Apple Maps, type in Mobonia, get confused as to why it wasn't there (before finding it simply on Google Maps) and continue on his journey, but where next?

A flagship for the Shin!

Although likely not the best smartphone you've ever owned, the Samsung Galaxy S ended up being one of the major competitors to the iPhone 4.

Here are some of the highlights from the one and only JK Shin announcing it way back in March 2010. Kevin from Twitter is definitely NOT reading from an auto-cue.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9m4-CbvuR8

Strange press shot of the week

Sony Camera Lens

*Read in your best David Attenborough voice*

Here we see a young stubble-styled hipster out of his normal Shoreditch habitat, discovering the phenomenon of fresh berries.

This specimen, likely known as Atticus to his friends, has lost his Polaroid camera and decides to join the modern world with the Sony QX100 Lens Style Camera for smartphones and tablets.

He attaches it to a Sony Xperia Z2 to snap some blackberries and then ask all his Instagram friends what they are.

Sadly he has yet to receive a response as none of his followers could identify them through the Nashville filter.

Retro video of the week

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1YBrVevn4w

"You know there's a sexier way to connect to the web." That was the slogan of the Siemens C35i.

It seems the company wanted to sex up its image – if that's even possible with a NSFW name like Siemens – so it employed some proper hot bods to strut around the emptiest, weirdest lit nightclub in all of Germany.

If you can discern what actually happens at the end of the video please let us know in the comments as our tiny little tech focused minds can't work it out.

Proper bits from the site

Remember the best phone you ever had? It was likely the Nokia 3310 and we went on a journey through time to bring you back the best details we could find on it – just look how pretty it is!

EE has replaced its Orange Wednesday's deal with a significantly less exciting streaming proposition. We don't know exactly what kind of films it'll include just yet but we can speculate 70% of them will include Steven Seagal.

Dyson has invested in some new technology to make your smartphone's, and your vacuum cleaner's, battery last even longer.

And finally the auto-tuned Robocop look-a-like that is Will.i.am has teamed up with the fashion brand Gucci to bring you yet another horrible "smartband".

UPDATED: All 38 Apple Watch designs: Every band, case and face so far

Apple Watch: watch cases and bands

Apple Watch features

This week was the Apple Watch launch day, but you can't try on the iPhone-compatible wearable yet since we're a month away from pre-orders and two weeks further from its official release date.

That's a problem for anxious early adopters who want it now. The April 24-bound smartwatch comes in a variety of colors and styles, way more than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

In fact, there are 38 different Apple Watch choices (up from the original 34) and nine default watch faces with millions of customizations, according to Apple.

Here's every Apple Watch face, band and case announced so far, giving you extra time to decide which "iWatch" should be your watch before waiting in line.

Cases: Apple Watch vs Sport vs Watch Edition

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr72v7Z7m4Y

All Apple Watches boast the same rectangular design with rounded off corners, but they're divided up into three different case "collections" based on build materials.

Starting at $349 (£299) and costing as much as $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), the names Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition, don't tell us a whole lot about those differences, so let's explain each watch case.

The regular Apple Watch

Apple Watch design and colors

Donning the "regular" Watch puts a highly polished stainless steel case on your wrist, one that comes in glossy metal colors of either space black or stainless steel.

Protecting the precious Retina display is sapphire crystal, which is the same glass that covers the Touch ID home button of newer iPhones.

Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It'll stand up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it's like to wear a watch.

Watch Sport

Apple Watch design and colors

Sport is the the lightest of the three Apple Watch choices thanks to its anodized aluminum case that still manages to be 60% stronger than standard alloys.

It skips out of the expensive sapphire glass in favor of what Apple calls strengthened Ion-X or aluminosilicate glass. This further reduces the weight, making it fit for active lifestyles.

Sure, the iPhone-matching matte space gray and silver aluminum case appears less shiny vs the regular Watch, but Apple's 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.

It's also the least expensive Apple Watch version at $349 (£299) for the 38mm size and 42mm for the $399 (£339) size.

Watch Edition

Apple Watch design and colors

Watch Edition will be the most expensive Apple Watch at $10,000 (£8,000) because of its 18-karat gold case. It may even be locked inside a safe within your local Apple Store.

It's been crafted by Apple's metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold, says the Cupertino company, and will come in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold.

Complementing those cases are color-matching bands made of leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.

Bands are the next step in deciding on the right Apple Watch.

Six different band styles, 18 colors

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 18 colors, all of which are easily interchangeable thanks a unique slide-out locking mechanism.

Yes, it's a proprietary watch strap - did you expect anything less? - but it looks to be a whole lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.

I'm okay with that. I want the sport band at the gym and the Milanese loop for a night on the town without the hassle of digging into the watch case with a pair of tweezers.

Link bracelet

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch choices

Available with the regular Watch, the link bracelet is one of two stainless steel Apple Watch bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.

It has more than 100 components and the brushed metal links increase in width closer to the case. A custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet.

Best of all, you can add and remove links with a simple release button. No jeweler visits or special tools required for this stainless steel or space black-colored strap.

Milanese loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch bands

One of the classiest-looking Apple Watch bands is the Milanese loop, a stainless steel mesh strap that loops from case to clasp.

Emphasizing that woven metal design, there's hardly a clasp. Its tiny magnetic end makes the strap infinitely adjustable and tucks behind the band for a seamless look on one's wrist.

An out-of-the box option with the regular Watch, the Milanese loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.

Modern buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch leather

A modern buckle adorns the bottom the first of three leather options among Apple Watches, complete with top-grain leather sourced from France.

The French tannery is said to have been established in 1803, but Apple puts a tech-savvy twist on the buckle. It's a two-piece magnetic clasp that only looks ordinary when together.

This leather option comes in black, soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright black, red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.

Classic buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch design and colors

Apple Watch models

If the Apple Watch modern buckle is a normal-looking watch band with a magnetic twist, then the classic buckle is an ordinary-looking variant without one.

No tricks here. It's just a traditional and secure band that feeds through a stainless steel or an 18-karat gold loop and matches the watch case.

The classic buckle's leather is from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: it comes in black for the regular Watch or either black or midnight blue for Watch Edition.

Leather loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch design

This is the leather-equivalent of the all-metal Milanese loop because it tucks magnets into the soft, quilted leather Apple Watch band.

The more pronounced pebbled texture also stands out from the subtle finishes of the modern and classic buckle. Apple says its Venezia leather sources from Italy.

Apple Watch buyers who go with the leather loop band have four colors choices: black, stone, light brown and bright blue.

Sport band

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch sport band

Despite its name, the sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three "collections," not just the Apple Watch Sport.

The band is made of smooth fluoroelastomer, so it's resilient for all activities and fastens with a simple pin-and-tuck closure. Hopefully it's easier to buckle than the Fitbit Charge.

The sport band is available in the most colors on the Sport Watch: white, black, blue, green or pink. Regular Watch and Watch Edition buyers can choose between black or white.

Apple Watch sizes

Apple Watch sizes

Less exciting, but equally important is the choice of among Apple Watch sizes. There are two case heights: 38mm and 42mm.

This opens it up to smaller and larger wrists. The 38mm size is more compact, but having that little bit extra screen space by way of the 42mm option may go a long way.

It should be noted that a few bands appear to be exclusive to certain sizes: the modern buckle is limited to the 38mm option and leather loop the 42mm size, for example.

No right-handed and left-handed Apple Watch decisions need to be made at the Apple Store, thankfully. This smartwatch is ambidextrous because the screen can be flipped.

Apple Watch faces

Apple Watch analog watches

There are nine different default faces from Apple, according to its official website, and likely a lot more to come from third-party developers currently testing out WatchKit.

The great thing about smartwatch faces is that none of them are permanent, something we were fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.

Mickey Mouse is my favorite because I never got a Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. But maybe that'll be reserved for Disneyland visits now that I'm an adult.

Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for a more professional look that rivals today's best smartwatch alternatives.

Customizable watch faces

Apple Watch designs

Digital watch faces all have something unique to offer. Motion adds a bit of animal-inspired movement in the background, solar lets you follow the sun's path based on your location and the time of day and astronomy lets you explore space and a rotatable 3D Earth.

Modular, the grid-like ninth watch face, really defines what Apple means when it talks about complications. Most faces can be alerted to include pressing information like stock quotes, weather reports or your next calendar event, according to the company.

Apple Watch wrap-up

Apple Watch

With two sizes for most band designs, six band types, 18 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there's a lot of choice going into this smartwatch purchase.

Apple Watch is launching with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.

Which case and band combination I get has ultimately been determined by the price and availability. For such a new product that's bound to be outdated in a few months to years, I'm leaning toward the cheaper Sport Edition when the Apple Watch release date rolls around.