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Old 06-24-2015, 09:41 AM   #1
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HTC One M9 Review

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It's no secret that I'm a fan of Android. As a result, I use and test a lot of different Android phones. I plan to start actually reviewing more of them. First up is the HTC One M9. You may remember that I mentioned the One M8 when I reviewed the Nexus 5. HTC's 2015 top-of-the-line phone builds on the same sleek design as last year's M8, sticking to the luxurious all-metal case and 5 inch Super LCD3 1080p HD screen while incorporating some key spec improvements, such as an upgraded Octo-core Snapdragon 810 processor, a 20 mega-pixel camera and a 2840 mAh battery. While it's a bit heavy at 157g, especially compared to the iPhone 6 or Galaxy S6, I prefer the weight and balance HTC has created. At 5.69 by 2.74 inches, it's about as large as I prefer a phone to be (For comparison, the iPhone 6+ is 6.22 x 3.06 and the Nexus 6 is 6.27 x 3.27) The M9 is one of the few flagship phones to still feature expandable storage via SD card, and it offers a unique Uh Oh one-year replacement program in the US. While the phone ships with Android 5.0, I'd expect a 5.1 roll-out in the next month or so. The device is priced at $649 unlocked in the US, with on-contract pricing starting at $199.

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With the specs out of the way, let's get to what's important; how does the One M9 perform on a day to day basis. Let's start with the first thing you'll notice if you're coming from a non-HTC phone, which is Sense 7. Sense is the UI skin that HTC puts on their Android phones. If you're a Samsung user, it's the equivalent to TouchWiz. My last couple full time phones have been from the Nexus family and I tend to prefer the stock Android experience. That said, Sense 7 is actually quite nice. It's clean, performs well and has a few little touches that would be welcome additions to Android proper. An interesting new feature is a home-screen widget which dynamically changes which apps are displayed within it, depending on your location. (Work, Home, on the go). The theme generator is also pretty cool: you can take a snap of anything and the phone will analyze the image and create a full palette of colors to use with icons and app headers. Even the font and icon shapes will be altered to match the overall feel of the new theme.

While the screen doesn't have the density or resolution of the Galaxy S6 or LG G4, its 441 pixel per inch screen looks better than the similarly spec'd Nexus 5. HTC has once again eschewed playing the number game here and opted for a non-2k experience which offers almost no discernible benefits to me at this screen size while eating up more of your limited battery. While the speakers haven't changed much since the previous version, they are still far and away the best available in any phone. The camera is one area that has had a big change since the previous model. The 4-mega-pixel Ultrapixel sensor has been moved to the front of the phone and the aforementioned 20-mega-pixel camera now sits on the back. The phone produced quality photos in my tests, although low light scenarios are a bit of a weak point. I did notice some shutter lag at times, but there are similar lags on my Nexus 5.

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Screenshot from Nexus 5 on the left and HTC One M9 on the right

While the battery is slightly more capacious than the previous One and HTC estimates you should get a full day of use out of the phone, I'd say that's ambitious. To be fair, most Android flagship phones seem to be roughly equivalent in this regard and it's really an area manufacturers need to focus on in my opinion. One other thing that's changed, and this time not for the better in my opinion, is the power button transferring to the right-hand side of the phone. This may be a more natural place for it to be positioned and some people seem to prefer it, but the fact that it's the same size and shape as the volume buttons above it results in me inadvertently hitting the incorrect button at times. It's placement has also resulted in me accidentally powering the screen off. Perhaps I hold my phone in a different position than most people, but I suspect it's something I'd get used to over time.

One frustrating thing about the phone is that, while it supports QuickCharge 2.0, which can charge the phone 60% in just 30 minutes, the charger that ships with the phone is not QuickCharge enabled. That seems ludicrous for a phone in this price range. It should also be noted that during serious use, the phone tends to get a bit hotter than other phones I've used.

So, what's the Bad Voltage verdict? The One M8 was one of my favorite phones last year. The slick design of the M9 is still amazing, but I will say the competition has upped its game considerably. While the M8 had the plasticky S5 and the small iPhone to contend with, the M9 has to compete with the also well designed S6 and the newer updated iPhone 6. A flagship phone has to score well in a lot of areas for me to consider it a phone worth recommending. It has to have solid performance, gorgeous design, a camera that will capture memories accurately and expediently, last through a full day of use and be reasonably priced. That's a tall order to be sure. I think the HTC One M9 makes the short list (along with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and if you don't mind a giant phone, the Nexus 6 or LG G4). If you're looking for an Android phone I'd recommend you look at those phones and pick the one that suits your personal tastes best. As the Nexus 6 is too big for me, my personal choice would currently be the One M9. As a testament to just how good the phone is, I lent my review device to an iPhone user so they could get a feel for Android. They're no longer an iPhone user.

A direct quote from a previous iPhone user:
Having been an iPhone user for the last 5 years over multiple models I decided to take the "use Android for a bit" challenge and try HTC's new One M9. As a complete newbie to Android (before my iPhone days I was an avid Blackberry user, go ahead and judge) it took a bit to get used to in doing basic activities, such as figuring out how to put the phone on vibrate without a designated side button. However, the first thing I noticed about the M9 was the incredible UI and screen compared to the iPhone 5S. It's sharp and clear with vibrant colors and themes. From there, I played around with camera and video camera. This again was stellar in comparison to the iPhone's capabilities. The M9 was definitely on the heavier side than any iPhone I've had in the past as well and the screen being significantly bigger was a downside for me. However, the quickness of the processor and the pretty impressive battery life trumped my size and weight concerns. I took to the Play Store and downloaded all my favorite apps that I use on Apple and compared how my day would be cut loose from the coddled world of the Apple ecosystem. Interestingly enough, the M9 got me to to not only love HTC's new phone but also Android as well. Once I got the hang of the basic operational differences, I found myself not missing the old Apple world. The HTC M9 exceeded my expectations and then some. It brought me into the Android community in a very impressive and sophisticated way. The day after my HTC trial concluded, I turned in my Apple hat and am now a proud Android device owner. Well done, HTC.
Don't forget The Questions Network also has an Android site:

Old 06-24-2015, 08:35 PM   #2
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I have an HTC One M7. It's a really nice device.

Indeed, every smartphone I've had has been an HTC, starting with the HTC Excalibur (which was a Windows CE phone, so it wasn't very smart). Every one of them has lived up to its billing.

Last edited by frankbell; 06-24-2015 at 08:38 PM.
Old 06-26-2015, 09:19 AM   #3
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Nice, thanks for this!
Old 09-01-2015, 09:59 PM   #4
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Thanks for the review, very helpful!


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