Hardware & Software
When you pick up the One A9, you’ll notice it is a well-made smartphone with a matte aluminum finish and an all-metal unibody design. We have the Opal Silver version on hand for testing. The phone measures approximately 5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches and weighs approximately 5.04 ounces.
On the right edge of the One A9, you’ll find the volume rocker and Power button which protrude slightly from the edge of the phone. Since expandable storage is becoming increasingly less common on smartphones, we were very pleased to see the microSD expansion tray on the left edge of the One A9. Next to the microSD expansion tray, you’ll find a SIM card slot. Both of these trays require a pin to eject; HTC includes one in the box. On the bottom edge of the phone you’ll find a speaker grill, microUSB connector/charging port and a 3.5mm headset jack.
Much to the dismay of many customers, HTC moved the One A9’s speaker to the base of the phone, rather than offering front-facing speakers. Although the One A9 offers BoomSound with Dolby Audio, it’s only available during wired playback. During our tests, the speaker sounded a bit tinny and missed the lows. Overall, we felt the speaker quality from the One A9 doesn’t compete very favorably with previous HTC phones.
HTC’s AMOLED display, however, has excellent color saturation and brightness levels. The display may not be the highest resolution on the market at 1080p but for a 5-inch device it’s definitely sufficient. The Back, Home, and Apps keys are integrated into the base of the display. When you’re viewing the Home screens, you’ll see four customizable icons (Phone, Messages, Chrome, and Camera) as well as an icon for the Apps menu.
The back cover of our HTC One A9 features a brushed silver finish with two small white strips. This finish did a good job at avoiding fingerprints. Above the top white strip, you’ll find the camera and LED flash. The camera protrudes slightly from the phone. A HTC logo is centered on the back.
With extended use of the HTC One A9, it will get warm to the touch. We particularly noticed this when the display was on for multiple hours running our HotHardware battery test. After completing the battery test, the phone was hotter than we would prefer it to be if we were to put it in our pocket.
HTC layered its Sense UI on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Overall, Sense and Marshmallow make a good pair and offer a snappy user experience with easy to use controls and settings and a clean interface.
HTC is also offering Now on Tap with the One A9. When you press and hold the Home button, the phone asks Google to use what’s on your screen at the moment to show you additional related information, apps, or actions using Google Now. For example, if a friend emails you about a restaurant, Now on Tap can provide reviews and additional information about that restaurant.
You’ll find the typical Google apps on the One A9 including Android Pay, Chrome, Gmail, Google Now, Maps, Play Music, Play Movies & TV, Drive, YouTube, Photos, and Hangouts. HTC has also included a File Manager, Flashlight, FM Radio, HTC Dot View, Photo Editor, and Zoe Video Editor on the phone. Because this is an unlocked phone, you won’t find any of the standard carrier apps preinstalled.
Typical camera controls also grace the One A9 along with a Pro mode that gives you more control over various settings and an option to shoot in RAW. Another unique addition is the ability to shoot in a Hyperlapse mode which captures a moving time-lapse. In this mode, camera movement and hand shake is stabilized and reduced.
Unfortunately, many of the images we captured during our tests were slightly over saturated or not as sharp as we’ve seen from other flagship phones as of late. You can click through the gallery above for some examples in indoor and outdoor lighting conditions.