HTC One M9 review: One up
One of the hottest bodies in business just got hotter, in time for next season. Touched-up and brushed-down, the HTC One M9 arrives spot on time third year in a row, looking like a celebrity and acting like a pro. There's an engine boost and upgrades in both the camera and sound department to go with the latest Sense over Lollipop, packed in a gorgeous glass and aluminum case.
This is the One we've come to know and love and this is HTC taking no risks. If it wasn't for the large square glass lens on the back, the casual observer would've been hard-pressed to recognize the new model. A minor, but welcome, tweak helps reveal the smartphone's true identity. The power button has, at long last, been relocated to the side.
Under the hood, several notable improvements ensure that the One M9 won't face its 2015 rivals unprepared. Qualcomm's top-of-the-line chipset is backed by a bump in operating memory. The questionable UltraPixel camera has been moved up front, to make room for a proper 20MP sensor at the rear. It can even do 4K videos, a feature the One (M8) didn't offer last year.
Unfortunately, there is no change in screen size or screen resolution.
- 5" 1080p capacitive touchscreen with 441pi; Corning Gorilla Glass 4
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset with dual quad-core processor: 2 GHz quad-core Cortex-A57 plus 1.5 GHz quad-core Cortex-A53 processor, Adreno 430 GPU, 3GB of RAM
- Android 5.0 Lollipop with HTC Sense 7 UI
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz); DLNA, WiFi direct, hotspot
- 20MP AF camera with a 1/2.3" BSI sensor; 27.8mm f/2.2 lens; dual-LED flash; 2160p@30fps video capture
- 4MP fixed-focus UltraPixel front-facing camera with BSI sensor; 26.8mm f/2.0 lens; HDR; 1080p video recording
- 32GB of built-in memory; microSD card slot; 100GB of free Google Drive storage for 2 years
- LTE Cat.6, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, GPS/GLONASS, NFC, IR port, Bluetooth 4.1, FM radio; microUSB 2.0 port, MHL, USB host
- Active noise cancellation with a dedicated microphone
- Front-facing stereo speakers with BoomSound and Dolby Audio
- 2,840mAh battery; Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 support
- Screen has the same specs three years in a row
- Non-removable battery
- No water and dust protection
- Camera lacks OIS or digital video stabilization
- Not particularly slim or compact
OK, there's no escaping it - the HTC One M9 is a rather cautious, measured upgrade of the previous generation. Some may argue that the industry is long past the point where we can expect revolutions - let alone one every year.
By going for the latest Android and the latest Snapdragon, and perfecting the stereo speaker setup, the One M9 is leaving nothing to chance. On the other hand, it seems like HTC is a bit too much on the safe side.
Considering the toll on battery life, a QHD screen is still a risk and HTC argues no one needs resolution this high at this size. The dual-tone finish makes a difference but it's essentially the same design. Fair enough. HTC chose to not follow the crowd and the One M9 is still a compelling smartphone package.
Enough teasing, join us on the next page where we kick off our usual review routine with a close look at the One M9 from all sides.