So you want to buy the HTC One M9. It’s one of the latest 2015 flagship smartphones to hit the market, pretty and featuring some interesting new software features. The smartphone is available online from major carriers and will hit stores April 10.
The M9 will face heavy competition from Samsung, which also will begin selling its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge on April 10, as well as Apple, which has had its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on the market for five months.
With extensive design revamps to the latest iPhones, Apple has sold record numbers of handsets quarter after quarter, with 74.5 million iPhones sold globally in the first quarter alone. Meanwhile, Samsung’s Galaxy S6 devices bring new designs, in-house hardware by the manufacturer and a host of new features such as built-in wireless charging and Samsung Pay. Analysts expect that the Galaxy S6 could reverse Samsung’s 2014 sales slump with customers buying 55 million units in 2015.
HTC has struggled to sell smartphones at the same rate as rivals. The HTC One M8 was praised as one of the best built on the market, but the handset has sold only about 500,000 units. Noting the vast similarities between the M8 and the HTC One M9, pundits wonder if the new flagship can reverse HTC’s fortune.
Before you run out to buy the HTC One M9, get all the details you need to make an informed decision. We list them for you below, with negative features first and then positive features.
Looks Like The M8
Everyone’s said it: The HTC One M9 looks very familiar. That is exactly how HTC intended it to look. The smartphone is a perfect blend of the previous HTC One M8 and the HTC One M7. It takes its rounded back from the M8 and its sharp edges from the M7. HTC has been lauded for the high-end, all-metal designs on its smartphones. But at this point -- recycling the same general design -- it feels as if it’s not actually putting much effort into the look and feel of its devices.
If you already own an HTC smartphone, you may feel like there’s no need to purchase the latest model, especially since HTC makes many of its software features available for older models. However, what’s interesting about the M9 design is its dual-tone coloring. The smartphone features one color with a hairline finish on its back and another color with a shiny mirror finish on its sides. Colors include silver and rose gold or gunmetal gray.
It Gets Warm
Some reports say the HTC One M9 suffers from overheating issues, likely stemming from its Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chip. While the reports have largely been discredited, it is important to note that the M9 does get warmer than usual while charging or while executing a strenuous process like gameplay. This can be typical for a smartphone, and on the M9 it’s noticeable but not dangerous. Whether that’s a problem depends on the user. The M9 does remain cool while asleep or during simple processes like browsing.
Camera Is Just Okay
HTC isn’t known for its cameras and the HTC One M9 camera likely won’t impress photography enthusiasts. The smartphone features a 20-megapixel rear camera, which HTC claims can capture photos at near single-lens reflext (SLR) quality. It’s an improvement from the M8, but still has issues. In particular, images run on the dark side, even in decent lighting. Close shots have a tendency to blur, and the camera easily catches light glare, giving many photos a blownout look. Overall, photos just aren’t as sharp and rich as you’d want them to be.
Hardware Specs Lacking
Smartphones are getting to the point where many have the same internals and manufacturers have trouble providing major hardware upgrades. Many still try, but HTC does not appear to have made much of an effort with the HTC One M9. Outside of its Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chip, many hardware specifications have not changed much from the M8.
The device includes a 5-inch full high-definition, or HD, (1920 x 1080 resolution) display when many rival flagships are sporting a Quad HD (2560 x 1440 resolution) display. The M9 falters in brightness and color accuracy in comparison with smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Xiaomi Mi Note, which both feature Quad HD displays.
The M9 also features 3GB of RAM memory and 32 GB of internal storage, which is pretty standard at this point.
Its 2,840mAh battery is a power upgrade from the 2,600mAh cell in the M8. The M9 has no problem getting through an average day, but the smartphone will likely require at least one charge. In comparison, some devices with similar-sized batteries, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 (2,800mAh) can easily survive overnight without a charge with its battery at less than 50 percent. HTC claims that the battery can last up to 391 hours (16 days) on standby; however, our M9 battery went from full charge to dead in about one week.
The Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 feature on the M9 works well. HTC promises a 50 percent power increase in 30 minutes if the charge starts below 10 percent, which is largely accurate. The M9 alerts users when they are using a charger that does not feature quick charge technology and lets them know that the charging time might be slower.
Price Not Fully Justified
The HTC One M9 will sell for $649 unlocked, which puts its premium pricing on par with that of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6. However, the manufacturers of those devices justify their high prices with major software and hardware upgrades. In comparison, upgrades on the HTC One M9 are largely found in software, and it’s not guaranteed that users will find those useful. Luckily, the M9 will sell for $199.99 with a two-year contract on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.
Cool Software Upgrades
What the HTC One M9 lacks in hardware upgrades, it does attempt to make up for in interesting software upgrades that some users may enjoy. Its Sense 7 user interface includes a widget called Sense Home, which recognizes a user’s location and allows them to change their M9 home screen to include their most used apps for each location.
Speakers That Boom
HTC is known for including quality sound systems in its devices, and the HTC One M9 is no different. Its dual front-facing BoomSound speakers feature 5.1 Surround Sound by Dolby, which offers impressive playback for a smartphone. It won’t have audio enthusiasts switching out their subwoofers, but users should feel safe leaving their portable speakers at home. The M9 provides an enjoyable listening experience without headphones.
Users should have no complaints with headphones either, outside of the fact that the headphone jack is located at the bottom of the M9 handset. A big plus is if you like your music loud, you won’t have to turn it up to maximum volume.
MicroSD Expansion? Check
Critics have noted that the Galaxy S6 does not feature a removable back and in turn no MicroSD expansion. However, the HTC One M9, which also features a unibody design, does include MicroSD expansion. The MicroSD slot is located on the right side of the device. It allows users to expand their internal storage up to 128GB.
"Uh Oh" Protection
If you happen to need a new device within the first 12 months of owning an HTC One M9, the manufacturer has got you covered. Users can sign up for HTC’s Uh Oh Protection, which grants a one-time free phone replacement for a cracked screen or water-damaged phone. HTC will also grant a replacement if a user is switching carriers within the first 12 months after purchase and needs a compatible phone.
If the "Uh Oh Protection" warranty isn’t used, HTC will give buyers a $100 credit towards an HTC One purchase. Users can sign up for Uh Oh Protection while setting up the M9, or can go to HTC’s Uh Oh Protection website for more information on how to sign up.
Create Custom Themes
The HTC One M9 allows users to create a unique user environment. The flagship includes a theme feature, which allows users to build a custom look snapping a photo. HTC’s Sense 7 user interface will then generate a full theme with the image as wallpaper, a custom color palette based on the photo and unique app icons that match the photo and color scheme.
Users can upload their custom themes onto HTC’s Themes website for others to download and use. More advanced users can access HTC’s Maker Pro theme editor to make fancier themes than those made on the standard custom theme template.