You all know how we feel about the HTC One range of phones. They have been a top-notch phone for the last three years, winning award after award and making new features the must have feature to copy for competitors like forward facing speakers. Now, HTC has recently launched their new phone with new features and makes useful use of the new Android Marshmallow software. This is the HTC One A9 review.
HTC One A9 Review:
There are many new features to make the HTC One A9 stand out from its predecessors and the competition, but what can be said to be the one defining feature of the new flagship model from HTC that stands out from everything else? This is what this HTC One A9 review endeavors to reveal.
Design & Display:
First off, you notice straight away that the HTC One A9 has a brand new design, and it looks gorgeous. Some will say that it’s borrowed some design tips from Android’s main competitor, but I don’t see this being a bad thing. First off, the HTC One A9 has lost the curved back which adorned all it’s predecessors and opted for flat metal back. This gives it a good feel in the hand, and stable footing when sitting on a flat surface. It also makes the HTC One A9 thinner than any of its predecessors (albeit only by 2.3mm) as well as marginally lighter (17 grams from the previous two generations). It has, however, also lost some features which made this a great phone. For example, the HTC One A9 has lost the forward facing speakers that made the other generations stand out against all other phones till recently. This is for two reasons: One, HTC are no longer partnered with Beats audio since they partnered with Apple; Two, the HTC One A9 has a fingerprint sensor on the front where the speaker used to be.
With a full metal back and a full glass front (with Corning Gorilla Glass 4), the HTC One A9 looks stunning both in the hand and resting on the table-top. The back is made of one piece of metal available in four colours: carbon gray, topaz gold, garnet red or opal silver. The organisation of the buttons have changed too with the power button moving from the top to the right hand side below the volume rocker. Some have said this makes it awkward to access the power button, but we haven’t got any complaints. The bottom has the speaker grill, Micro USB port and 3.5mm jack for the new supplied headphones (more on that later). The left hand side is now home to the two trays, one for the Micro SIM and Micro SD card. The only downside is that these two trays can only be ejected with a special tool, meaning that unless you have one with you when out and about, you can’t access your SD card. The top of the device now has no function, other than a plastic cover to allow the antenna to transmit.
The display of the new phone is a 5 inch, 1080×1920 AMOLED display with a pixel density of 441ppi. Former generations had a LCD3 display, so the AMOLED will not only give you better contrast and richer colours, but also better battery consumption. The screen has multi-touch support for up to 10 fingers.
This HTC One A9 review unit was the 16GB version. This is important because which size storage you get depends on how much RAM your device comes with. With the 16GB version, you get 2GB of RAM. with the 32GB version, you get 3GB of RAM.
Either way, your HTC One A9 will be powered by an Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 SoC with a Quad-Core 1.5GHz and a Quad-Core 1.2GHz processors. These are slightly lower than the 1.5GHz/2GHz arrangement in the HTC One M9, but the 617 is more efficient than the 820 on the M9.
The HTC One A9 has a Adreno 405 Graphics card which performed well in our tests.
Other hardware features on the A9 include a fingerprint sensor, SD card slot which can take cards up to 200GB, dedicated noise cancellation microphone, hi-res audio output through the included earphones and FM radio.
The HTC One A9 has lost the infra-red port it could use to control your TV, because it lost the licence for the software and encouraged you to download a third-party app from the Google Play store. Even earlier generations lost this built-in feature, having to resort to the third-party app. What it has gained, however, is the fingerprint sensor placed on the front of the device just below the screen. After setting up the fingerprint sensor, which is an easy process of having to simply touch the sensor with your finger several times till it has a full scan of your print (which doesn’t get sent anywhere, it’s encrypted on the device), the sensor can be used to unlock the device without having to enter your password/PIN/pattern as well as be used as a home button whilst inside an app. Simply hold your finger to the sensor and you’re returned to the home screen (of course, there’s still the software key that does the same). Your fingerprint can also automatically wake up and unlock your phone from sleep, requiring less key presses. We have no doubt that once Android Pay comes into force next year, you’ll also be able to use your fingerprint to pay for purchases too.
As usual, we subjected our HTC One A9 review device to a series of benchmark test from AnTuTu Benchmark v. 6.0. This app tests all aspects of the device and gives a score which can then be compared to the competition.
The HTC One A9 device was given a score of 60292, which is a great score for modern phone. This was lower than the HTC One M9 according to AnTuTu, but we also run our HTC One A9 review unit through another app to compare. This time we used Geekbench which gave a score of 3084 for multi-core performance, placing it higher than the Samsung S5, which sounds more plausible.
the HTC One A9 comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box and is due to be updated to the latest version within weeks. This means that not only it takes full advantage of all the new features of Marshmallow (such as the built-in fingerprint security) but also comes with the latest security updates to keep you safe. With this, HTC have included the latest version of the HTC Sense UI. The new version of HTC Sense allow you to make your own theme for the UI with downloadable Icons, wallpapers, sounds and fonts. You can either choose your own, or download the pre-made ones by HTC and other users.
Other than this, your new device doesn’t come with any bloatware that will slow down you down.
The HTC One A9 comes with a new camera. Rather than using a ultrapixel camera like previous generations, this version uses a straightforward 13MP camera for the rear and a 4MP camera on the front. The rear camera is supported by a dual tone flash to give better skin tones when taking pictures with people, and with an aperture of f/2, low light pictures aren’t too bad. More importantly, the rear camera is supported by Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) which means the lens is moved slightly when taking the picture which drastically reduces blurring from small shaking from your hands.
The camera app has also been given an update from HTC, meaning you can choose the Pro setting which will allow you to take full control of the picture by setting the ISO, white balance, shutter speed and focus. What’s best is that you can even shoot in RAW file format, which keeps all the information from the sensor without compressing it into a JPEG format (which loses you a bit of data). Other than this, you can use the general setting allowing the camera to make all the settings choices for you.
There are also two other features of the camera which are a Hyperlapse mode and slow motion mode along with the Panorama feature. The hyperlapse mode allows you to take a video and then speed it up so that things that take a long time are compressed and sped up. The slow motion is the same but in reverse, turning fast moments slow. You can have a lot of fun with these features, just see the example videos we tried below.
In our HTC One A9 review, we put the phones 2150mAh battery through its paces to see how well it lasted. With daily use, the battery lasted well into the night, with still about 30% remaining at the end of the day. What’s most significant about the battery of the HTC One A9 is the quick charge feature, something which is now becoming standard amongst phone manufacturers. With HTC’s Quick Charge 2.0 (upgradable to Quick Charge 3.0 in the future), you can get 7 hours more music playing time with just 10 minutes of charging. This requires you to have the Quick Charge charger, however, something which isn’t supplied in the box. However, we found with the standard charger, you got a charge time of just shy of 90 minutes from dead.
In a new section in our HTC One A9 review, we’ve added accessories because they deserve a mention all of their own.
Packed in the box, HTC give you a pair of earphones. When plugged in to your HTC One A9, your music is internally upgraded with BoomSound to Hi-res Dolby Audio. HTC claim it’s like having your music in an uncompressed 24 bit music with Dolby Surround sound. And with high power output, you get better fidelity sound from your music making it sound better.
Another great accessory we were shipped with the HTC One A9 is the new DotView case 2.0. This case has a cover to protect your screen, but it still allows you to get information such as caller ID, missed calls, text messages and select app notifications. Further to this, it also allows you to decorate your device with an active screen saver, viewable through the cover. You can either have your own photo as cover art, or choose more than one from HTC. You can even play simple games without opening the case, as well as answer calls without opening the case by simply swiping up to answer, or down to decline.
the rear of the case has also been changed to a clear polycarbonate shell, so you’re no longer ‘hiding’ your beautiful new phone behind a cheap plastic cover. The side and buttons are covered as well, with rubber seals to not only give better grip, but also keep your buttons scratch free. What’s more, because the HTC One A9 has a flat back, when you fold the cover whilst using the phone, it no longer feels awkward with a flat cover and curved back, feeling rather like one piece.
HTC have clearly worked hard with their new flagship to get it competitive with the competition not only in looks, but also in hardware and software. It’s been a delight to test and write this HTC One A9 review. We’d like to thank HTC for allowing us to review their new flagship phone.