Handheld Devices

Harman/Kardon turns Sprint's exclusive HTC One (M8) up to 11

Less than a month after HTC released its new flagship phone, the One (M8), there's already a new model: the Harman/Kardon edition, an exclusive phone for Sprint designed for hardcore music fans.

Harman's engineers developed Clarifi sound technology for smartphones, and it makes your old phone's speakers sound like you're listening through mud. With the new One (M8), available May 9 for $229 with a two-year contract, you can toggle on Clarifi and Harman's LiveStage options in your phone's settings and reverse the damage caused by file compression, letting your Spotify playlist come to life.

"There are scientific algorithms that analyze in real time and put back music notes, the highs and lows, the reverbs," Harman/Kardon CEO Dinesh Paliwel said at a Tuesday press event in New York unveiling the new phone. "That's what makes a magical difference. Boosting the base or the equalization--that's not a scientific solution."

The pricier phone also includes an expensive pair of Harman/Kardon earbuds to take in the sound. Headphones are required to use the new phone's LiveStage setting, which pushes the sound out to re-create more of a live performance experience.

It all seems very impressive, but is the higher price worth the cost of better sound? It depends on how much you enjoy music. Paliwel said up to 90 percent of streaming music gets compressed, and I could tell the difference in a demo of Harman/Kardon's Clarifi technology both on the new HTC One (M8) and in a BMW 5 Series sedan. Songs just sound fuller.

New sound, new look

HTC CEO Peter Chou said the Sprint exclusive version of his flagship phone, which has already garnered rave reviews, "puts us even further ahead in the industry."

"It is incredible," Chou said. "The sound is pure and rich. It is really impressive. A phone with world-class sound has to have a world-class look."

If better sound isn't a big enough selling point, the Harman/Kardon edition of the One (M8) has a fancy new matte black finish and champagne highlights.

"With one look, you will know this phone is premium and powerful," said HTC CEO Peter Chou.

To make the phone even more appealing, Sprint got Spotify on board with discounts for Framily plan subscribers. On May 9, all Sprint Framily customers will get a six-month free trial of Spotify Premium. Non-Framily plan subscribers will get three free month of Premium. After the trial ends, subscribers on Framily plans with five or fewer members get Premium access for $8 a month (cheaper than its usual $10). Plans with six or more subscribers get an even bigger discount at $5 a month.

For Sprint customers, the new HTC One (M8) could be a deal that can't be missed. But will anyone switch to Sprint just for better sound? Probably not.


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