HTC One A9 Hands-On Preview

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Positioning it as its “second flagship,” the HTC One A9 might otherwise be called the One M9 Mini, according to its features, which are actually more impressive than HTC’s “first flagship,” the One M9. The One A9 differs from One M9 with its design, rear camera, chipset and Android version.

The HTC One A 9 looks a lot like an iPhone.

The HTC One A 9 looks a lot like an iPhone.

Speaking of the design, HTC has taken quite an unexpected turn in regards to the original, and highly regarded, aesthetics of its flagship models. The One A9 does not look like One M9 (or its predecessors) at all, and instead resembles an Apple iPhone 6/6S. They are almost identical, except that the HTC model is slightly larger, given that it has a 5-inch display instead of the iPhone’s 4.7-inch display.

Despite the unoriginal appearance, the device reveals an exceptionally high level of finish and seems solid. The metal unibody has two slim plastic stripes, covering the back of the device along the upper and bottom sides, which aid the antenna signals. The edges are rounded, as is the display glass, just like the iPhone 6/6S. The similarity with the Apple phone is uncanny even on the bottom side, which includes the speaker perforations, microUSB hub and the audio jack, even though they are in reversed order compared to the iPhone 6/6S.

The HTC One A9 has a metal unibody design.

The HTC One A9 has a metal unibody design.

In addition, HTC introduced a physical key to One A9 and located it under the screen, while the capacitive Back, Home, and Task keys sit along the bottom of the user interface, on the display. The physical key is a hybrid of the Home and Power keys, just like on iPhone, but unlike the Apple device, this button is oval, and apart from the HTC logo, is the only way to tell the Apple and HTC smartphones apart from the front at a glance. Looking at the rear, and the HTC One A9 has its camera lens centered on the upper back portion, and not the side like the iPhone.

Copying the design of an exceptionally successful phone is certainly not a bad idea, and it is clear that those who wish to swiftly migrate from iOS to Android will be happy to consider HTC One A9.

Compared to the HTC One M9, the back-facing camera now has a smaller resolution of 13 instead of 20 megapixels, but it also has optical image stabilization. This should result in far sharper imaging, as well as drastically more realistic exposure, color interpretation and noise level, something we had the opportunity of experiencing while taking a few shots. Compared to the M9, the One A9 undoubtedly has a better camera, which just might rival other flagships like the Note5. The front shooter is still the same 4-UltraPixel camera the M9 has in the front, which is the same the M8 had for its rear camera.

HTC One A9 has familiar speaker placement.

HTC One A9 has familiar speaker placement.

HTC One A9 comes with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 running a 1.5 GHz clock with Adreno 405 graphics and 3GB of RAM, along with 16GB or 32GB of memory storage (the US is getting the 32GB version). The 5-inch display is AMOLED, not Super LCD3, but it has the same Full HD resolution, resulting in the same density of 441 pixels per inch. This is why One A9 likely won’t be the ‘performance king’ when synthetic benchmarks do their thing, nor does it include a realistically saturated color specter on the display. But when it comes to fluidity and imaging quality, it’s at least above average, and maybe just a step below flagship range. And that’s not a bad thing. We wrote the same thing about the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition.

The HTC One A9 will cost $400 when it launches in the States, so we likely won’t be disappointed with the device’s hardware performance, the less than perfect color dispersion, or somewhat lighter blacks… even if it’s all less than what the powerful smartphones output.

On top of all that, this is the first non-Nexus phone that comes with Android OS 6.0 (Marshmallow). In addition, it supports microSD cards, which can act as internal storage thanks to Android 6.0, as well as all global active LTE frequencies.

The HTC One A9 launches the first week of  November. It’s unpretentious and well-rounded tech specs, coupled with its Apple-esque design might do a lot for HTC, at that price.

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