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HTC One M9

Can the HTC One M9 compete with phones such as the Galaxy S6?

HTC has recently release its flagship phone for this year, an improved model based on last year’s successful HTC One M8. While it didn’t break any records in terms of sales, last year’s M8 proved to be a very solid choice, with some great design options and reliable hardware hidden inside. Thus, more of something good can’t be bad, right? Well, not quite.

We’ll put it out there from the very start: this year’s HTC One M9 does not impress, not because it’s a bad phone, but because it doesn’t really innovate in any way and feels somewhat outdated. Last year’s model ran well with a solid Sense 6 UI, good hardware and nice design. It however lacked severely in the camera department, the area where most of the negative criticism was hitting HTC’s flagship. Out goes the 4 Ultrapixel sensor from the phone’s back, as it is moved to the front, becoming the front-facing selfie camera. The rear, main camera has been replaced with a 20.2 megapixel Toshiba-made sensor, one that should, on paper at least, prove to be a lot more impressive. Sadly, it’s not, and once again we have proof that the number of megapixels isn’t enough to make a camera stand out.

The HTC One M9 does relatively well in good daylight conditions, holding its own against the more recent Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge or iPhone 6, but in low-light conditions, expect to see blurry, noisy images that are reminiscent of 2013 phones more than anything else. It’s bad, simply put. But hey, at least we get a new UI in the shape of Sense 7, right? Based on Android Lollipop 5.0.1, the new HTC Sense UI is messy, chaotic and unpleasant to use. Where HTC’s previous versions of UI were a nice touch, proving to be more popular than Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, the reworked UI just isn’t having the same effect. It seems to have modified every aspect of core Lollipop, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. On the brightside, the phone’s hardware is strong enough, and in most cases, Sense UI 7 runs flawlessly and without lag, similarly to the UI found on the S6. Then again, this is a highly-priced flagship, were we expecting anything less?

Speaking about the hardware, let’s see what HTC hid under the hood this year. We get a Snapdragon 810 processor, combined with 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage and, a plus here compared to the Galaxy S6, microSD support (we still can’t imagine why Samsung decided to remove its microSD support). Needless to say, the phone flies, and even when multitasking, it seems to have no problems running the most hardware-abusing aps out there. Still, this alone doesn’t really warrant an upgrade from last year’s M8, as the older HTC flagship still runs great too. In terms of displays, we’re getting a Full HD one, which is not bad, but somewhat seems to be lacking when compared to the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S6. After all, HTC reused the same panel as last year, and that’s a big minus when competitors are taking strides forward.

Last but not least, the design elements. Here HTC did well, and we love the rounded, metallic back of the M9. The phone feels really solid, looks good and is pleasant to the touch. However, competitors also ramped up the competition – the LG G4, Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, and even the Moto X bring customization and solid finishes. Where HTC was once stomping the competition in terms of looks, it’s now on-par with the rest of them. Another drawback of the phone seems to be the integrated battery, and a design flaw that does result in the phone heating up extensively while under heavy load. It won’t burn you, but it’s surprisingly hot at times.

So, where do we stand with the HTC One M9 then? It seems the biggest improvements to the phone are in terms of hardware, with 1 GB of extra RAM and a slightly better processor hidden inside. The design is more or less the same, the display hasn’t changed, the new camera is almost as bad as the old one, the new Sense 7 UI just doesn’t feel right, and the price…well, it’s $1,000, since we’re talking about a flagship phone, after all. There simply isn’t enough value for money to warrant an upgrade, or even a purchase. HTC’s competitors managed to improve their flagships on multiple levels, where this one seems to be a slightly revamped version of last year’s M8. Thus, it’s hard for us to recommend picking up HTC’s new phone over the similarly priced Samsung Galaxy S6 or LG G4. And if you’re on a budget, Motorola’s Moto X 2014 still provides a lot more bang for the buck.


About Jessica Morgan

I am passionate about gadgets and everything tech related.

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  1. Sebastian Bartlett

    HTC released a new phone? Wow so under hyped and barely anyone is talking about it, maybe the final nail in the coffin for HTC.

  2. He didn’t want to inform people that HTC is much more special than every phone in the world. It’s by far the best audio phone ever built year after year! We have HTC One M9 in first place with 80% more power in it’s audio amplifier for headphones and it’s supreme front facing stereo speakers. In second and last place we have a thousand way tie of all the different types of phones that ever been produced in the world (excluding M8 and M7).it’s capable of streaming to a very wide variety of Bluetooth and nfc compatible setups at the same time! Just 3 finger swipe up on the home screen and bam, all of the connectivity options for your party! Your amplifiers and speakers are only able to amplify the signal that it is being fed with. So drive your amplifier’s input with a rich and powerful signal from the power from a HTC One and experience a night and day difference in volume and sound quality of your own car audio and home audio systems. Just be careful not to clip the imput! Support your precious HTC company because without them… It’s going to be a very sad day. Just like how the car audio industry lost the only special deck that truly was head and shoulders above the competition in sound quality, Eclipse by Fujitsu Ten. Because the way big bad Pioneer (Samsung) had flashy displays and huge marketing. Making herds of inept sheep purchase them and not the more professional Eclipse (HTC) radios. Keep up the excellent work HTC and I’m close to upgrading from my M7 to your gorgeous and very professional jewel the HTC One M9! Thank God for a company that still cares about people who have a great interest in audio quality!!

    • Except for the fact that it’s amplifier destroys every phone ever made by a long shot! The rest of the industry isn’t even close. We’re talking about all other brands having around only 20% of amplifier power compared with the htc one. You must not enjoy sound quality or lighting up even the most difficult of cans that require a lot of power to make them shine the way that they are designed for. Bumping hard! There’s nothing quite like the feeling that your headphones and ear buds are like 10 inch deeply tuned ported boxed subwoofers kicking bass directly down into your ear canal. Rocking the ear drums and shaving the hair inside of your ears at the same time! I’ve been Bumping music hard for 30 years and have no problems with hearing and this phone is the only device outside of powerful amplifiers that satisfy my craving to always be hearing and feeling strong bass drops well below 30 hz. Have fun not having that option with the Samsung, lg, Apple, and Sony! Htc rules and is untouchable in the music category.! Thanks again htc! Xoxo!

  3. HTC continues to improve its iconic One design line and the One M9 is its best. HTC listened to customer feedback on the One M7 and One M8 with the M9 better in every aspect, from hardware to software.

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