HTC One M9 Review: It’s What’s Inside that Counts

by Reads (824)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Service, Warranty & Support
    • 8
    • Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Design
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Value
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Reliable performance, fluid operation
    • Good battery life
    • Excellent display
  • Cons

    • Looks too much like the One M8 and One M7
    • Average photo quality

Quick Take

Ultimately, the One M9 is a step up from the One M8, we just wish HTC did a better job showing us that with an updated design.

Viewed from the outside, the HTC One M9 doesn’t seem much different from last year’s One M8. Take a peek inside, and you’ll see the incremental changes that have become a hallmark of successful smartphone lines.

HTC One M9

HTC One M9

So the HTC One M9 looks like the One M8 (and One M7), but includes upgrades to the front and rear cameras, key location, sound quality, and display sharpness, as well as a modernized chipset. Some of these upgrades are stark improvements, while others are a bit underwhelming.

HTC One M9 features a 5-inch Super LCD 3 display with Full HD resolution and the screen surface is covered in Gorilla Glass 4. The phone is equipped with Qualcomm’s most up-to-date chipset, the Snapdragon 810, which consists of two quad-cores: one pair running at 2GHz and the other using a 1.5GHz clock speed. It also has Adreno 430 graphics and 3 GB of RAM, complete with 32 GB of memory storage, which can be expanded via microSD. The front and back cameras have literally switched places compared to the previous model. The rear camera now snaps 20.7-megapixel images, while the 4-UltraPixel camera (using a higher-quality 4-megapixel sensor) is now on the front.

Build and Design

HTC One M9 unibody design

HTC One M9 unibody design

While the device looks identical to previous models, it definitely feels different. In fact, it feels like a premium device.  It’s carved out of a single piece of aluminum alloy, however, the textures vary on the back and the sides. Its rear is ‘brushed’, while its sides are smooth. This, along with a slimmer display rim and the a “tougher” feel, make the HTC One M9 feel like a higher-quality piece of hardware as far as Android smartphones are concerned.

Touching up the materials while maintain the design presents issues for HTC. Indeed, the manufacturer is obviously confident in the One (why change something that is exceptionally good?), but with both Apple and Samsung rolling out new looks, HTC seems behind the curve. It seems consumers simply like their new phone to look different from their old one.

Of the changes HTC actually made, moving the power button from the upper portion of the phone to the right side is praiseworthy, as it is now in a far more natural position. The top portrait edge is now covered in a black glass mask, hiding the IR transmitter, as well as several antennas and sensors.

Interestingly, the phone is a millimeter shorter and narrower than its predecessor, as its dimensions are 144 x 70 x 9.6 mm (5.7 x 2.8 x .37 inches). It weighs exactly the same as the One M8 at .34 pounds. The fact that HTC has managed to install a battery with greater capacity is notable, as it now includes a 2900mAh brick, compared to a 2600mAh battery.

Display

HTC One M9 5-inch LCD display

HTC One M9 5-inch LCD display

On paper, the display remains unchanged, coming with a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch. But compared side by side with the One M8, there is a noticeable difference. The One M8 offered immaculate image sharpness on static images, but this sharpness was lost when thin, sloped lines moved. It was especially noticeable on thinner fonts and scrolling text. Now this unpleasant effect is gone and the display offers superior detail and clarity in all situations.

The screen contrast is very good, and the screen has a particularly wide viewing angle with very bright white tones and balanced blacks. Overall, the realistic color saturation helps create a pleasant visual experience.


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