This post was published 4 years ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.
HTC has now unveiled their new flagship phone: the HTC One (M9). It’s certainly a beautiful device and packs a powerful punch but somehow I can’t help but find it incredibly familiar. I just can’t put my finger on it…
Joking aside (for the minute anyway) this is HTC’s new flagship: the HTC One M9. It will replace the One M8 of yesteryear and do battle with the newly announced Galaxy S6 and the upcoming 2015 efforts from Sony, LG, Apple and the like.
The phone was announced yesterday on the build up to the MWC which is currently underway in Barcelona.
There’s no avoiding it really, this looks almost exactly like an M8 and could easily be mistaken for one at first glance. If you haven’t already seen the comparison video with the M7 and M8 that leaked a day early, you then should definitely check it out because it shows just how similar they look.
We imagine the directive from HTC CEO Peter Chou to the designers for the new One M9 went sort of like this…
In all fairness though, the One M8 was a beautiful device and won many awards for its design. Consequently, the M9 is still one of the best looking devices out there. Even a year on since the M8 and two since the M7, all three iterations of the design still look gorgeous.
I think the main reason for some disappointment is that there was just one change people were really hoping for and was that HTC would find a way to remove the black bar and push the speakers to the edges for a cleaner look with less wasted space and a shorter distance to reach the screen from the bottom.
Here’s the issue with that though, while it looked great in the pictures and all seemed to fit sensibly from the outside, there’s a good chance they just weren’t able to do that on a real working phone. I mean, with BoomSound clearly not going anywhere and display drivers pretty much the same size as they were last year, what were people expecting them to do?
If HTC had announced the new M9 and it looked like the early renders we saw then I am sure everyone would gasp in awe at first, but would they be happy to find it had weaker speakers as a consequence?
The BoomSound speakers are of the defining features of the One series and they need a large internal volume in order to sound so powerful. The trouble is that they occupy the space where the display drivers normally reside. The black bar exists for a similar reason that the Moto 360 has a “flat-tyre” look. They could put the capacitive buttons there like on the M7 but then people will (as they did at the time) complain they want onscreen buttons – I guess you can’t please everyone.
Also, it should be noted that Samsung, Apple, Motorola and Sony have all barely changed their device designs over the past few years so it’s not like HTC is standing still while the others are coming up with completely new designs.
I mean, from the front how much has the iPhone changed since well…ever? It’s a similar story with Samsung’s Galaxy devices and Sony’s Xperia Z series and even Motorola’s 2014 line-up did not look drastically different from the 2013 versions.
Sometimes manufacturers change a lot, sometimes not so much, but I think it is important once we’re done joking about it looking the same as the M8 we realise that:
1. The M9 still looks AWESOME
2. It’s still a totally brand new phone on the inside
3. HTC are far from the only company recycling their designs
4. There have actually been some small refinements to the design
Yes, it may look pretty much the same, but there a few differences. Firstly, it has a dual tone finish to the metal, meaning that the edges are not the same colour or texture as the sides which also helps with grip – something the M8 suffered with. Also, the M9 is just a tad smaller than the M8. It’s a hair narrower, and a little bit shorter too while keeping the same size display and managing to squeeze in a larger battery.
Finally, the build process has changed and the body now has fewer seams and fewer individual parts than the M8 which should make it feel even more solid in the hand.
So rip open the familiar body and what do you find? Well, make no mistake about it, (on the inside) this is a completely new device!
The HTC One M9 has is powered by a beastly new 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC which has 4 super fast Krait cores clocked at 2.0Ghz for the heavy stuff and 4 more lower power cores clocked at 1.5Ghz for performing lighter tasks without draining the battery so quickly.
In terms of memory, things now sit at 3GBs of brand new LDDR4 RAM and internal storage is 32GB or 64GB – but, get this Samsung: it can be expanded by an additional 128GB with a MicroSD card (and with SanDisk’s latest card potentially even by an additional 200GB!).
Also, addressing perhaps the biggest complaint with the M8, gone are the Ultrapixel duo cameras on the back, replaced instead by a 20MP BSI sensor with a sapphire covered f/2.2, 27.8mm lens and support for 4K video recording. This should bring it much more on par with the quality you’d get with other flagships.
Next, they have also done what I have been saying they should do for a while and used the UltraPixel™ camera on the front. You see, the front of the device is typically without a flash and so having really high low-light sensitivity is more of an advantage than at the flash-equipped rear of the phone.
Also, perhaps more importantly, the comprise of having a lower resolution is less of an issue for video calling or quick ‘selfies’ and so front cameras tend to be around that resolution anyway. This front snapper will manage up to 1080p video recording at 30fps too and so should do just to trick for crazy VVS-inducing party videos or Hangouts/Skype calls.
On board are all the usual sensors you’d expect in a flagship device such as LTE, WiFi AC, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC etc. The IR remote is still present though which is a nice feature not available on all devices.
You’ll find no wireless charging on this device thanks to the metal back, but it is compatible with Qualcomm’s quick charge 2.0 technology which will get your battery to 60% in just 30 minutes which is certainly nice to have.
Lastly, but certainly not least, the BoomSound speakers are back and packing more umph than ever before! This will no-doubt be wonderful news to anyone who’s heard the One M8 or even the M7. No other phone can even hold a candle to these speakers, not even the dual speaker set-up on the Nexus 6.
The HTC One M9 ships with Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with HTC’s Sense 7 atop and generally it looks quite nice. The skin won’t be to everyone’s tastes (I still prefer stock Android personally) but it’s more in-line with Material design guidelines than Samsung’s TouchWiz for instance. The colour palette is pretty similar to stock and not it’s not a crazy overload of bright colours.
In terms of functionality, not a whole lot has changed from past versions of Sense and most new additions are actually just those which were introduced with Lollipop rather than Sense 7. They have added a new features such as glove-mode for winter use and an improved theme engine with support for community made themes which is really nice, but not much else especially major.
HTC’s news aggregator “BlinkFeed” is still present and as are the other features you’d find in Sense 6 so if you’ve used an M8 or another recent HTC device you’ll feel right at home.
Probably the most significant change on the software side of things is the navigation buttons. They are customisable so you can add, remove or reorder them, a feature much like you’d find in custom ROMs like CyanogenMod. This is a nice touch and a huge relief to me (and no doubt others) who were worried to see that soft power button in the screenshots and press images!
So yes you can have a power button on your navigation bar if you want to, but if like me you find the idea horrifying, then fear not because you don’t have to have one!
The camera software has been tweaked slightly too and brings a slightly better interface and some improvements to exciting features such as HTC Zoe. Also, while it won’t be supported at launch, HTC says that they have an update coming for the device which will bring support for the new Lollipop camera APIs shortly. This will bring features such as RAW image capture and so is very good to hear.
Release Date & Pricing
HTC have said it will be available from “mid-march” so it should be here in just a few weeks. They have not said anything regarding the pricing yet but we would expect it to cost the same as the M8 did at launch.
5.0 inch LCD, Full HD 1080p
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810, octa core 64-bit, 4 x 2.0GHz + 4 x 1.5GHz
ROM: 32GB / 64GB
Extended memory: microSD™ up to 128 GB
2G/2.5G – GSM/GPRS/EDGE:
FDD: Bands 1,3,5,7,8,20,28
TDD: Bands 38, 40, 41
Wi-Fi®: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz)
HDMI MHL 3.0
3.5 mm stereo audio jack
micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) port
Ambient light sensor
Main camera: 20MP with sapphire cover lens, auto-focus, BSI sensor, f/2.2, 27.8mm lens, 4K video recording
Front camera: HTC UltraPixel™, BSI sensor, f/2.0, 26.8mm lens, 1080p video recording
Android™ Lollipop with HTC Sense™
Audio supported formats:
Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma, .flac
Video supported formats:
Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv, .avi, .mkv
SIM Card Type
Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS
HTC BoomSound™ with Dolby Audio™
Capacity: 2840 mAh
Talk time: Up to 25.4 hours for 2G/ 21.7 hours for 3G
Standby time: Up to 391 hours for 2G/ 402 hours for 3G
144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm
So that’s the HTC One M9. What do you guys think, is this a device that interests you? Do you feel the design is too similar to the M8? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.