HTC One A9 review: Rejuvenation

GSMArena team, 28 October, 2015.

Performance

HTC One A9 is the first smartphone to utilize the Snapdragon 617 SoC, which upgrades the mid-range Snapdragon 615 with the ability to use all 8 Cortex-A53 CPU cores at once and bumps the RAM frequency. The connectivity suite got faster Wi-Fi, support for LTE Cat.7, Bluetooth 4.1 and Quick Charge 3.0.

HTC One A9 is not a flagship device, so we didn't expect flagship results. By choosing a mid-tier chipset HTC made a clear statement the A9 won't be fighting the top of the shelf devices, but rather the upper midranges.

HTC One A9

GeekBench 3 puts to the test the multi-core performance of the octa-core processor of the One A9. It's a quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53 actually, but unlike the Snapdragon 615 chips, the S617 can use all of those cores simultaneously. The final result is a noticeable performance increase over the S615 devices (Oppo R1x and R7, vivo X5Pro), while the A9 is also very close to the hexa-core CPU of the Snapdragon 808 (LG G4, Xiaomi Mi 4c) and the Helio X10 chip performance (Xperia M5).

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    5215
  • Meizu MX5
    5110
  • OnePlus 2
    4429
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    3796
  • HTC One M9
    3761
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    3554
  • LG G4
    3509
  • Huawei P8
    3380
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    3321
  • HTC One A9
    3209
  • Apple iPhone 6
    2924
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2856
  • Oppo R7
    2683
  • Oppo R1x
    2507
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    2298
  • vivo X5Pro
    2241
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1460

AnTuTu 5 gauges CPU, GPU and memory performance and the HTC One A9 outs mid-range scores, as expected. It does the same as the Snapdragon 801-packing Xperia Z3 Compact and the Helio X10-powered Xperia M5. The S808 and S810 chips are obviously better.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    69396
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    61481
  • HTC One M9
    51427
  • Huawei P8
    50876
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    50875
  • LG G4
    49295
  • Meizu MX5
    48915
  • OnePlus 2
    47207
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    46566
  • HTC One A9
    40631
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    38786
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    35582
  • vivo X5Pro
    34649
  • Oppo R1x
    30187
  • Oppo R7 (retail)
    29452
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    21581

Another well-known compound test is the BaseMark OS II 2.0 app, which takes into consideration the CPU, GPU and RAM, but also the web and OS performances. The HTC One A9 once again came in the middle of the chart, outing similar results as the Helio X10 fellas.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    1674
  • OnePlus 2
    1622
  • LG G4
    1584
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    1440
  • HTC One M9
    1365
  • Meizu MX5
    1252
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    1233
  • Huawei P8
    1112
  • HTC One A9
    944
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    860
  • Oppo R7 (retail)
    757
  • Oppo R1x
    753
  • vivo X5Pro
    738
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    569
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    282

Its single-core performance is quite mediocre, but so are all Cortex-A53 cores out there.

Basemark OS 2.0 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    6306
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    6234
  • LG G4
    5871
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    5739
  • OnePlus 2
    5301
  • HTC One M9
    4688
  • Huawei P8
    3684
  • Meizu MX5
    3262
  • vivo X5Pro
    2767
  • HTC One A9
    2753
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    2676
  • Oppo R7 (retail)
    2452
  • Oppo R1x
    2177
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    2065
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1861

Fortunately, the true-octa core power shines at the multi-core test.

Basemark OS 2.0 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    26799
  • Huawei P8
    23676
  • Meizu MX5
    22976
  • HTC One A9
    19160
  • HTC One M9
    18047
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    17770
  • LG G4
    17739
  • OnePlus 2
    16798
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    14276
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    9979
  • Oppo R7 (retail)
    9755
  • vivo X5Pro
    8733
  • Oppo R1x
    8683
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    7891
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    7492

Now, about the graphic capabilities. The Adreno 405 GPU has never been known of its superb performance - it was designed to serve the mid-class after all. The one in the HTC One A9 does not support Quad HD resolutions, so video playback and capturing are out of the question. And while the Adreno 405 will do awesome on 720p screens, the one in the HTC One A9 is a 1080p one, which should somewhat lower the performance.

So, both the offscreen and onscreen tests reveal the One A9 is a mediocre achiever at best, putting it next to its S615 siblings (Oppo R7, R1x, vivo X5 Pro, Nubia Z9 mini). This isn't bad, but it means you should not expect smooth performance of heavy 3D games.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    24
  • HTC One M9
    23
  • OnePlus 2
    22
  • Apple iPhone 6
    17.7
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    15
  • LG G4
    14.9
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    11.8
  • Meizu MX5
    10
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    8.4
  • HTC One A9
    6.4
  • Oppo R7 (retail)
    5.9
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    5.9
  • vivo X5Pro
    5.8
  • Huawei P8
    5.4
  • Oppo R1x
    4.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1.8

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    39
  • Apple iPhone 6
    29.2
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    25.4
  • HTC One M9
    24
  • OnePlus 2
    22
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    14
  • Oppo R1x
    9.6
  • Meizu MX5
    9.5
  • LG G4
    9.4
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    8.7
  • HTC One A9
    6.7
  • Oppo R7 (retail)
    5.9
  • vivo X5Pro
    5.8
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    5.8
  • Huawei P8
    5.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.9

The latest GFX 3.1 tests and the BaseMark ES3.1 bench based on the OpenGL ES 3.1 reveal the same findings.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    18
  • OnePlus 2
    16
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    10
  • Meizu MX5
    4.8
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    4.5
  • HTC One A9
    3.8
  • Huawei P8
    3.4

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    38
  • OnePlus 2
    16
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    9.7
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    4.9
  • Meizu MX5
    4.7
  • Huawei P8
    4.3
  • HTC One A9
    4

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

  • HTC One M9
    409
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    311
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    248
  • HTC One A9
    132

Finally, the BaseMark X GPU test also puts the HTC One A9 behind the Xperia M5 and Meizu MX5, which are running on MediaTek's Helio X10 (with PowerVR G6200 GPU).

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    27169
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    23703
  • OnePlus 2
    21937
  • HTC One M9
    19848
  • Apple iPhone 6
    17054
  • LG G4
    15090
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    12096
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    12080
  • Meizu MX5
    10403
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    7780
  • HTC One A9
    6617
  • Huawei P8
    6307
  • Oppo R7 (retail)
    5382
  • vivo X5Pro
    5091
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    5003
  • Oppo R1x
    4018
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1897

A mid-ranger usually does average on the web benchmarks and so is the HTC One A9. The Chrome's JavaScript performance (the Kraken test) and the overall web performance (the Browsermark 2.1) are about the average.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • LG G4
    4085
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4154
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    4506
  • Apple iPhone 6
    4710
  • HTC One M9
    5500
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    6480
  • OnePlus 2
    6808
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    7868
  • HTC One A9
    11069
  • Oppo R7 (retail)
    11257
  • Meizu MX5
    11414
  • Huawei P8
    11867
  • vivo X5Pro
    12525
  • Oppo R1x
    12826
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    13083
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    18583
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    25088

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6
    3153
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    2718
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2113
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
    2099
  • OnePlus 2
    2055
  • LG G4
    1990
  • HTC One M9
    1681
  • HTC One A9
    1562
  • vivo X5Pro
    1509
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    1500
  • Meizu MX5
    1471
  • Oppo R7 (retail)
    1433
  • Sony Xperia M5 Dual
    1203
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1171
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    767
  • Huawei P8
    764
  • Oppo R1x
    627

Regardless of whether you opt for the HTC One A9 with 2 or 3 GB of RAM, you'll get a mid-range smartphone to the bone. Its processing power is indeed very impressive, but its GPU is an average performer and may struggle in future top-tier 3D games.