HTC One M9 Review

Last year I almost traded my Nexus-fanboy card for an HTC One M8. I’m glad I didn’t, though I do sometimes look longingly at my colleague’s phone.

With the Nexus 6 being the phone that I definitely don’t want, I was left wondering if the M9 would be the One for me.

After spending some time with it I can, unfortunately, say that it isn’t. Here’s why.

Design

HTC aren’t breaking their heads to come up with new phone designs, and that’s a good thing.

With the M7 they found something that works well, and with minor tweaks they got to what I think is the most beautiful phone (the M8). However, the M9 loses a bit of the sleek style, adding a slight edge which bites into your hand a little more than is comfortable.

The usual microSD and nano SIM slots are on the left and right side, and the 3.5mm jack and microUSB ports can still be found on the bottom.

Also on the right side are the volume buttons, and, finally, the power button. Although the power button is so close to the volume buttons that I ended up pressing the volume down all the time instead of the power button.

The double tap to wake gesture is still around, though it wasn’t as responsive as I would have liked.

Specifications HTC One M9
Dimensions 144.6 x 96.7 x 9.61mm
Weight 157.5g
Operating system Android 5.0
Display 5-inch 1080p (1080×1920)
Rear camera 20MP
Front camera 4MP “UltraPixel”
Storage, internal 32GB
Storage, expandable microSD
RAM 3GB
Processor 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 810
Battery 2,900mAh
Cellular data LTE, HSPA+

Performance

As with so much of the M9 nothing has changed with the screen or speakers, and I can’t think of a good reason why HTC would need to. The screen is great for everything it needs to be great at, and the speakers are still the best you’ll find on a smartphone.

When it comes to speed in use, unless there are catastrophic hardware failures, I think we’ve reached the point where it’s tough – if not impossible – to notice the difference from one top-end phone to the next.

Battery life also offered nothing to write home about (and yet here we are). A day’s worth was easy to come by, and two days would probably be within reach for the thrifty.

Which brings us to the software where, surprise, nothing spectacular happened either.

HTC has a new homescreen which attempts to be smart about what it thinks you need, and it even suggests new apps that it thinks you’ll be interested in.

It’s nifty, but I’m glad that you can pick your launcher on Android.

HTC One M9
HTC One M9
HTC One M9
HTC One M9

Camera

HTC made a big deal of their Ultrapixel cameras and how they would Change Our Lives. They didn’t, offering only different trade-offs from what we had.

Thus, HTC decided to take a different strategy by putting a 20MP sensor on the M9. With that, they’ve brought back the old complaints of noise in low light, though at least they offer more detail in decent light.

I actually struggled to take good photos with with M9, and it left me feeling very disappointed. Maybe I was just holding it wrong.

Conclusion

The HTC One M8 was a solid piece of work. From a consumer point of view, there were a few minor annoyances to be ironed out, and one big stumbling block: the camera.

The M9 not only fails to address this major thing, but arguably takes steps backward in other areas.

When HTC announced the M9, there seemed to be a lot of disappointment around the fact that it looked very similar to what they had before. I’m not so sure that’s it. I think people were, and are, disappointed because there’s no big change anywhere, and we’re left wondering why the HTC One M9 is even a thing.

That said, the M9 is a beautiful phone.

However, if you weren’t interested in the M8 you won’t be interested in the M9, and if you have an M8 you won’t be interested in the M9.

That cuts out a lot of the potential market for HTC, and that’s a market filled with competition from Samsung and Apple which both offer big changes to their products.

The Bottom Line: HTC One M9
The Good The Bad
  • Beautiful
  • Best speakers on a smartphone
  • Camera
  • No big change from its predecessor

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HTC One M9 Review