HTC One (M8) has fastest display touch response time, under 50ms

by: Jonathan FeistApril 8, 2014

htc one m8 blinkfeed aa (4 of 13)

Sitting in between the 5-inch display and the all metal curved casing of the new HTC One (M8) is a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of Ram – all contributing factors to HTC’s latest claim to fame, a record smashing 46ms display touch response time.

Smartphone manufacturers, and their loyal customers, have been waging a specifications war for various aspects of their favorite Android devices. In one aspect or another, many smartphones can claim they are the best – they have the biggest camera, the biggest screen or maybe just the longest battery life. This should not come as a surprise as there are many factors that go into making the perfect device. Although all factors make a difference, there are a few that truly affect the experience of using a device, display latency is one of these factors.

An ongoing study found that most older devices, that’s about 6+ months old for this study, measured in-between 80ms to 250ms latency. This means that it takes most devices upwards of a quarter of a second to respond to your every touch. This is most evident on apps that require you to drag your finger across the screen, such as dragging and dropping game pieces or using your favorite drawing app. As your finger moves across the screen, it is common for the items or drawing to lag behind your finger location, the greater the touch response time, the greater the possibility for inaccurate touches and the less responsive your device feels.

Display Latency Chart Touch Response TimeChart includes ‘older’ devices only. Image credit: LesNumeriques

Newer smartphones have made improvements in the field of display latency. The latest iPhone clocks in at 75ms and the Samsung Note 3 leaps ahead to a 67ms delay. That is good, but what about the most recent round of flagship devices? Well, from the list of new devices, which includes phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2, LG G2 Pro, OPPO Find 7, OnePlus One and more, only the HTC One (M8) has been through this test so far, and it does not fail to impress, not in the least. With an industry leading 46ms display latency, the HTC One (M8) is the first tested device to crack the 50ms barrier.

Conducting the same testing on a tablet-centric round up of devices, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 came in at 168ms. A small upset sees the Kindle Fire HD (2013) edging out the Nexus 7 (2013), 114ms to 135ms respectively. Microsoft’s Surface RT fares well at 95ms with the Nvidia SHIELD Android gaming device clocking 92ms.

The HTC One (M8)’s 46ms is a tremendous leap forward, but still has a long way to go on route to what Microsoft considers in the following video to be the ultimate goal of 1ms display latency.

As with the various factors that revolve around making the perfect phone, many factors influence the latency of a display. As such, no single variable has been identified to push us to the next level. As you had seen in the chart, there is no correlation between screen size and latency, nor processor speed, nor RAM. For example, the original HTC One (M7) has a faster processor than the Samsung Galaxy S3, yet the S3 has a lower display latency, and the Nexus 4 and JMI Tab Pulse 10 both come with 2GB of RAM, but there is nearly a full half second difference between them.

In terms of the display touch latency of the new HTC One (M8), HTC has gone ahead and built a device that dispenses with the theatrics of huffing and puffing, and just gets on with blowing your house down. Considering the relative similarities in performance specifications between this year’s flagship devices, we can’t wait for the team to test out the remainder of the phones. Will there be more than one sub-50ms wolf in town, or just more little piggies to be blown away?

If you had to choose just one device specification, what is the single factor that you would use to compare Android phones?

  • kirakira

    you’re posting this but you don’t want to post xperia z2’s achievement on dxomark…

    oh i see b, i, a, and what’s that other letter there?

    • Tay


      • kirakira

        hahaha. yeah i should :D

    • Jonathan Feist

      Nice timing kirakira, I have already started the Xperia Z2 dxomark story. I could not make any real mention of the Z2 in this story, because this story is about display latency, and sadly, I do not have any Z2 latency info, yet. Anyhow, please be patient, we love the Z2 as well and will not ignore its achievements.

      • cool down man!

      • impulse101

        Also the bezels on that phone make it a disgusting POS

  • In graph there is no HTC One (M8) just last year HTC One is mentioned. What’s wrong with you, are you trying to cheat reader or i missed something, Please let me know.

    • Jonathan Feist

      Hey Amit Kumar Singh, the graph is a little bit older, the guys that run the tests have not provided an updated graph, but they did provide the new numbers. Sorry for the confusion.

      • You should remove the graph as it doesn’t display the newer devices. Or at least a foot note on the image should clarify that the data shown is for previous tests as is not current to avoid reader confusion.

        • Jonathan Feist

          As requested. Just a footnote on the image, but I hope it helps.

          • Great, I think it will help t avoid confusion. Thanks!

    • impulse101

      Learn how to read a frigging article. It clearly states devices older than 6 months

  • namesib

    I’m more impressed by the JMI Tab Pulse. That must be hell to use.

    • leonard

      lol yeah, and I never heard that tablet before

      • Clint McKay

        Me neither! Sounds horrible too..

    • jenxrj .

      Comparing the devices I’ve checked for this issue in the past, the Nokia N8’s latency was the lowest amongst, the Lumia 920, 720, 520, Galaxy S1, S2, S3, S4, Note 2, Tab, Tab 2, Xperia Z, older xperias, ipad mini and some other phones I may have missed. I don’t know much about this years flagships though. I used to play Fruit Ninja on every device I could get my hands on and tested the homescreens and swiped on the devices in which I couldn’t play Fruit Ninja. The N8 was the best amongst them. Judging from the video below, its not far from the “rubber band” motion of the box.

  • M Garland

    The secret of HTC One (M8) 46ms response time lies on that black area with HTC logo.

    As HTC exec said on April’s fool, that area is not just “empty space”. There’s lot of circuitry underneath the black bar, such as antennae, aspect ratio stabilizer, etc.
    Touch response time ‘performance boosting thing’ must be located there too.


    • Nice, didn’t know that!

  • Clint McKay

    HTC One :) if only the camera…… **the feels**….

  • onthecouchagain

    This story needs to gain more traction, as does this one:

    “Android Apps Twice as Stable as iOS ones, Study Shows”

    We’re really starting to see the tide turn. iOS devices no longer have the best touch response nor the most stable apps. It’s funny none of the main tech sites are running these stories.

  • Rijoenpial

    One question: why not wait until the S5, G3, Z2, etc, are out, before making this incredibly manipulative review? So, no comparison, no other RECENT devices to compare it with, and it is automatically the winner of this competition?! AA, you are truly slipping… You should have waited until the competition was in place… Without it, it is a very one-sided, biased op-ed, nothing more… If the S5 or G3 or Z2 turns out to be less laggy, then this article will be wrong and credibility-shattering… Get your head in the game, guys… Cheers

    • onthecouchagain

      They can easily update the story as the research continues. Nothing wrong with reporting the results as they come out. I’m sure HTC doesn’t mind this story — they could use all the help they can get.

      You constantly see comparisons and/or ‘vs’ articles (about screen quality, camera quality, etc) around the time of the phone’s release. This should be no different. I’m sure when the S5 does get released, there’ll be plenty of articles related to S5’s results in these categories.

      • Rijoenpial

        Comparisons, yes, but this is not really a comparison, as no DIRECT competitor device, namely the S5, G3, Z2, etc, is yet on sale! So, it is a biased, fake comparison by comparing it to 6-month old or even more (the S4 is a year old)… The argument is that by doing it already, with no devices to be compared to, it is rigging the results to make the M8 look better than it actually does! Comparison videos is one thing, saying it is the king of touch response without taking the competition into consideration, is a very one-sided, biased and ultimately empty claim! Press is not supposed to be hasty in their remarks, but fact-finders! This fact is only relevant when compared to the devices it competes with! And so far, none are still available! So, isolated this may seem a relevant point in favour of the M8, but without taking the competition into consideration, it is nothing more than an M8 marketing promo article by AA! Ad a shameful one at that!

        • illregal

          You realize all those devices are going to be slower right? So crying about it isn’t gonna do any good. The M8 is simply the best smartphone to date, besting even your precious S5, Z2, and G3.

          • Rijoenpial

            You do realise your ignorance is not amusing, right? Have you tested them? Have you used them? NO! So, stop your Anti-Samsung trolling and wasting people’s time! Who let the children in?! HAHAHAHA

          • illregal

            wasting peoples time?? Of the 5 S4 owners I know last year. Every single one of them was replaced because of some issue. Whether it be screen, radios, or just complete failure. Maybe if Samsung could make a decent device I’d have better things to say. But that hasn’t happened yet. The Z2 is better then the S5. But if you’re in the states it doesn’t matter because Sony actively stays away from the US. The G3 is still just a figment of peoples imagination. It will win on outright specs because its released 6 months later. But M8 is still supreme on actual usability.

          • Rijoenpial

            4 of your friends, huh? Can you back it up with evidence or should I just take what YOU say at face value?! see, the odds are against you… You DO sound like you’re making stuff up! Tough reality about this medium: you can make up stuff as you like, you won’t need to prove it! So, sorry, but unless you actually know these people and you saw their phones malfunction WITHOUT mishandling from them, I will not believe you! Sorry, butyour credibility was shot a few posts ago! Not that you had any to begin with! Can you direct me to a website with photos or videos that illustrate your allegations? Cheers

          • Fred Chiang

            from your comments on other posts, I personally conclude that you simply hate on htc…

        • onthecouchagain

          I think it might help if you re-read the article.

        • onthecouchagain

          Nothing in this paragraph from the article is false:

          “Newer smartphones have made improvements in the field of display latency. The latest iPhone clocks in at 75ms and the Samsung Note 3 leaps ahead to a 67ms delay. That is good, but what about the most recent round of flagship devices? Well, from the list of new devices, which includes phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2, LG G2 Pro, OPPO Find 7,OnePlus One and more, only the HTC One (M8) has been through this test so far, and it does not fail to impress, not in the least. With an industry leading 46ms display latency, the HTC One (M8) is the first tested device to crack the 50ms barrier.”

          When those phones are released and when the research is updated, we will know with the then current devices. Until then, there’s nothing wrong with reporting how well the current and available crop of devices perform. That’s what news reporting is about — you report the news. When new news comes up, then you report on that.

        • onthecouchagain

          Oh, look. They just posted a story about how the Xperia Z2’s camera took top honors:

          But the S5 isn’t out yet nor part of that research. Should they not have published this story? Is this article also skewing the results, being bias, a ‘marketing promo article’ by AA in favor of the Xperia Z2?

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  • Tommy

    The One is HTC’s second attempt at entering the ring and it’s just as impressive as its predecessor: it’s beautiful, battery efficient, fueled by all the latest hardware, and that UltraPixel camera still excels in areas that other camera phones have fallen short. And guys, we really, really like it. And if you have decided to become a proud owner of this device, perhaps you’re in the market for a solid and beautiful protection case as well.

  • Friking response time and consistency – THAT’s what I want the most!

  • Frithjof Grude

    Nice. I have a slight issue with this, however.

    There are 1000 milliseconds in 1 second. Say a screen refresh rate of 60 hz (60 times a second), we have 1000 ms ÷ 60 hz ≈ 16.667 ms per refresh. You see where I’m going with this? 1000 ms ÷ 10 ms = 100 hz, and 1000 ms ÷ 1 ms = 1000 hz.

    We therefore need a display with a refresh rate of 1000 hz to enjoy a 1 ms response time in any case…