HTC One M9 in-depth review - Not just a pretty face

 HTC One M9 Review - Not just a pretty face
5

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,3/23/2015 2:27:35 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

10

out of 5

Look and feel

10

out of 5

Ease of use

9

out of 5

Features

10

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Boom Sound now comes with Dolby Audio | Incredibly premium looks | Themes | Sense 7 overlay is intuitive

Cons:

Over-heating issue | Camera usage in low-light conditions dodgy

By Sunetra Chakravarti

The moment every lover of good design was waiting for finally arrived in March.

The invites had been sent off in February and we all waited with (almost) breathless anticipation.

In 2013, HTC One had swept the Mobile Choice Consumer Awards. Not only did it win the highly-coveted Phone of the Year award but also Best Design. 

It repeated its feat one nippy evening in the Autumn of 2014 by winning both the top awards at the awards show. 

Does that initial excitement of ours now make sense? 

HTC One M9: Design

Let us get the specifics out of the way first so we can fawn over the phone at ease. It is a full-metal unibody chassis like its previous generations. The HTC One M9 weighs 157grams and measures 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61mm.

HTC say that the inspiration for the newest addition to their impressive list of devices was jewellery, and not just any jewellery but premium luxury jewellery.

With the One M8, the design of the phone had evolved and moved forward from the One M7. It was the first time that they wrapped the metal around the sides of the phone. This year they have brought all those design ethos forward with all the craftsmanship, ergonomics and structure. The back of the phone is still a curve- fitting snugly into the palm of your hand.

The metal gives it a pleasant weighty feel, making it seem very premium and like an extension of your accessories, jewellery and probably a very expensive watch. The two-tone element of the dual coloured metal on the phone stuns and do forgive us for going on and on about it.

Available with polished sides and brushed metal back- the metal seems to ebb and flow around the device, presenting itself really well right from the machined touch power in the power button to the sapphire crystal lens.

The One M9 is a little more unctuous than the One M8 and also a little shorter. This could be due to the bigger battery, but more on that later. However, we are pleased to report that the size is very manageable. The convex back makes it a very good fit in the palm.

HTC One M9: Camera

A phone is more than just what it looks like.  Ultrapixels have been brushed aside for the primary camera which rocks a 20-MP snapper and a sapphire lens cover. However, the selfie camera is still a 4-MP Ultrapixels job. 

And if you have forgotten what an Ultrapixel is: it basically packs a bigger pixel size than is usually found in cameras. When we take photos, the camera shutter opens to let in light on the lens. Light is then converted to electricity and eventually recorded as data. Each pixel is a photo site and hence bigger the pixel, more the amount of light that is let in, which then results in more electricity being generated giving us better images where the lighting is a bit off.

And where do we use such lighting? In nightclubs, of course!

And here is another no-brainer question for you. On a night out with friends at a bar or club, what do you do most apart from downing cocktails? Take ill-judged selfies, of course!

And, so that there are no issues with low light selfies,the Ultrapixel camera on the front snapper has remained.

 HTC One M9: Performance and Battery

There are four cores at 2.0GHz and four at 1.5GHz making this a super zippy octa-core 64-bit Snapdragon 810 processor. And it isn't just about showing off brains, the phone switches between cores depending on what tasks it is performing so while the slower of the eight cores are used to conserve energy, the faster ones pump into action when heavy-duty processing brawn is required. Web-browsing was nippy and we had no problems with streaming content over 4G.

The battery packs 2800mAH and is plenty for more than a day and a half of regular mid-heavy usage including data tethering and intensive Google Maps usage.

HTC Sense 7.0UI

Android 5.0 Lollipop comes as stock on the phone but HTC have used the latest version of their interface overlay to personalise the user experience.

The name of the game here is customisation.

Not only does Blinkfeed pull all your favourite news sources through to one place, but Themes app lets you customise not just your phone’s wallpaper but also the app placeholders, the colour of the buttons, everything. Think of it as an interior designer. 

You take them your favourite photo and they design your home around its look and feel.

Sense 7.0 actually goes further with notifications. Like a personal butler service, HTC’s bespoke overlay also intuitively adjusts icons on the home screen, moving them along and changing them to your needs. It can figure out if you are at home or outside, offering up a smorgasboard of suggestions based on where you are. So, expect a smart remote control if you are home (sadly, no comfy pyjamas yet!) to bus timetables when you step outside- to routes home when you step out of work.

When you step out of home, it will suggest you take an umbrella because there is a chance of rain… around the time you usually finish work, it will let you know how long the commute home will take as well as give recommendations on the best places to have a drink.

The idea is to let the owner be the designer while the phone just helps them along. 

HTC One M9 Verdict

HTC tapped into the need felt by consumers very early on and delivered the style, pizzazz and chatter usually reserved for pieces of jewellery or Swiss watches. It gave its One range of phones the kerb appeal that the Samsung Galaxy S5 could only dream of. 

With the HTC One M9 massive transformations internally are, sadly, thin on the ground. 

But then the One series already delivers on what key needs of the paying public is: size, performance, battery, camera and looks. We found its predecessors faultless and we find the latest addition faultless too. 

One of the biggest transformation is the themes application. Completely transformational, and personisable (if there is such a word, but am sure you get what we mean!) Themes bring in visual transformation to all your real estate on the phone not just as a front-door makeover.

It always had the upper hand, but now HTC will have the upper hook in a fiercely competitive market.