HTC’s newest flagship is a finely crafted smartphone with the feel of fine jewellery..like its predecessor the M8 it’s stylish design is different enough to stand out is a crowd of very similar blocks of plastic or metal and glass. No question the HTC One M9 is one handsome phone and while reminiscent of the M8’s design it has lost the slippery finish and feels better in the hand if a bit on the heavy side.
- Android 5.0 Lollipop with Sense 7.0
- 5in Full HD screen
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 64-bit
- 3 GB RAM
- 32 GB storage, microSD card slot (up to 128 GB), 100 GB Dropbox cloud storage
- 20 Mp rear camera
- 4 Mp UltraPixel front camera
In most other respects the HTC One M9 is what you’d expect from a flagship phone. The external storage however does give this phone a leg up on most of its competition.
The 5-inch display has a full-HD resolution, 1080 x 1920 pixels which works out to a staggering 441 pixels per inch. Unsurprisingly text looks extremely crisp and icons have razor sharp edges. High-resolution photos and videos also look really sharp. Unfortunately the screen doesn’t offer the oomph of great contrast and saturation you find on its competitors’ screen.
The M9 is one of the fastest Android phones I have seen.. It’s got Qualcomm’s new top of the line Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB of RAM, which means I never had to wait for an app to open or for the screen to redraw itself. You don’t have to sacrifice battery life for that sped either: It consistently went all day on a single charge. You will however, have to charge it every night.
The overall performance gets a helping hand from the new version of Sense, the software that HTC layers on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop. It’s responsive and quick, and unlike other custom Android interfaces, doesn’t slow down the phone. But there a couple of interesting new wrinkles this year: a new theming engine that lets you quickly customize the look and sound of the software, and a home screen widget that attempts to predict which apps you’ll need based on your location. I found it sort of works. It might work better if I had a consistent daily schedule.
Now to the sound: While the speakers use up a lot of real estate on the front of the M9 they are worth it. On this phone the BoomSound has been enhanced with Dolby Audio offering two different sound modes: theatre mode for surround sound effects; and music mode for a flatter audio delivery. They are by far the best speakers you will find on a mobile device.
HTC decided to keep its questionable UltraPixel technology for the front camera it has opted for a conventional 20MP rear camera. Unfortunately, this didn’t result in better pictures, and too often, pictures taken with the M9 are worse than they were with the UltraPixel sensor. The M9 has upped the pixel count, but often the images suffer with noise reduction and smearing. Low light pictures often have odd color casts and there’s unpleasant blooming in highlights. In well lit scenes, the M9 has trouble exposing wide ranges of light to dark areas. It’s not all bad news The camera app on the M9 is great. It’s fast and easy to use, controls such as white balance are easy to access. But the end result just isn’t as good as it should be, certainly not for a flagship smartphone in 2015.
Video is pretty good but still suffers from some of the same shortcomings.
The HTC One M9 is a solid well built smartphone with a lot of interesting features. It is certainly one of the best looking phones around but unfortunately the bar for flagship phones has been set very high by Apple and Samsung especially when it comes to camera performance. The M9 camera just doesn’t cut it. Otherwise this is a great phone and is competitive in every other respect.
The HTC One M9 is available at Bell and Telus as well as several regional carriers starting at $200 with a 2 year plan.