Well the original HTC One got T3's phone of the year. Not a bad choice, certainly a very good all-round choice. The ultra-pixel camera managed some mixed reviews, general considered acceptable, but behind most of its immediate rivals like the S4 in the majority of comparisons. Not everyone agreed it was the smart phone of the year with some like Engadget pointing to the Motorola Moto X. The Moto X pipped the HTC with a few features such as always on voice and glance notifications as well as a more pleasant shape to hold.
HTC did however get so much right with there phone their new M8 has the potential to rule the roost. Unlike most phones it has front mounted speakers, HTC Sense is a genuinely pleasant UI with all of the basics that a user can want well covered, and it is also one of the prettiest phones. Obviously there were some minor flaws, the relatively small battery size, which is not removable and the lack of an SD card slot means there was some room for improvement.
So with the M8 version we were all looking for them to add an SD card, improve the camera, bump up the battery, and perhaps add a low powered voice cheap or some other unique feature to delight us and they would be almost guaranteed 2014's phone of the year.
After the release I felt a little let down. Sure the M8 has a bigger screen, better processor, SC Card slot and still looks great, but they could have gone further.
The camera which probably had the most criticism has lost OIS, but gained two tone flash and a secondary camera to allow refocusing. I have not seen any testing of this yet, but with the Z2 having a huge sensor, the S5 with a new type of camera and the Lumia range with OIS and large sensors it seems HTC is unlikely to produce anything of similar quality when the light is less than perfect.
The battery is not huge, it is noticeably smaller than the S5 which is likely to use less power with its screen and much smaller than the Z2.
Always on voice strikes me as a feature which Google could make great by 2015, each year I have seen voice activation improve and always on voice is necessary to make it a great feature. Also I love Apple's finger print scanner, these features really make using your phone simpler, faster and allow more to be done, just pumping up the chip size isn't really going to move lots of units any more. If you have an HTC One the upgrade does not seem worth the money, again with an S4, the incremental change does not seem worth while.
Based on the currently announced flagships nothing so far has appeared to move me away from my Lumia 1020. I hope Motorola or Nokia has something up their sleeve as I do love changing my tech but I dont just throw away money for tiny incremental improvements.