HTC One M9 Review: Lollipop, Octa-Core Snapdragon, Boomsound Impress

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Introduction and Specifications

As has become the norm, major smartphone manufacturers are expected to launch a new version of their flagship phones annually. On top of that, the average consumer expects greater improvements and features with each successive release. It’s a tall order to meet such demands on an annual cycle, but that’s exactly where many of the major players find themselves. Now on its third iteration, the One line of high-end Android phones by HTC is hitting the market. It comes right around two years after the One M7, and just under a year after last year's HTC One M8.

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Casually glancing at the One M9, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the handset for last year’s version. The 5-inch display size hasn’t changed, nor has HTC’s reliance on an all-aluminum and composite finish. The company’s design cues are now linked fairly tightly with the brand, much like Samsung has done with its Galaxy design and Apple with its iPhone - which in the One M9's case is a good thing.

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The real magic with the One M9 happens within the shell, however. This year’s model has Qualcomm’s latest 64-bit engine, the Snapdragon 810. That’s powering Android 5.0.2 (Lollipop) and a new 20-megapixel rear camera, combined with 3GB of RAM and HTC’s Sense overlay. That's a solid put-up of hardware and software for sure. Below, we’ll break down everything behind the metal.

HTC One M9
Specifications & Features

OS
Android 5.0.2 (Lollipop) with HTC Sense Overlay
CPU
64-bit 2.0 GHz quad-core + 1.5GHz quad core (Snapdragon 810 Octa-Core)
GPU
Adreno 430 GPU
Memory
3 GB RAM
Up to 32 GB flash memory, up to 2TB on microSD
Display
5.0-inch Full HD (1920x1080 pixels)
Rear Camera
20 MP with Saphhire Cover Lens; f/2.2, 27.8mm lens
Auto-Focus
BSI image sensor
4K video recording
Front Camera
4MP UltraPixel Camera
BSI Sensor
f/2.0, 26.8mm lens
HD 1080p video recording
Audio Output
HTC BoomSound with Dolby Audio technology, 3.5 mm audio jack
Network
2G/2.5G - GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
3G UMTS: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
4G LTE: FDD: Bands 1,3,5,7,8,20,28 TDD: Bands 38, 40, 41
Wireless
NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz), DLNA
HDMI MHL 3.0, CIR
Ports
3.5 mm stereo audio jack, micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) port
Size
157 grams - 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm
Battery
2840 mAh
Talk time: up to 25.4 hours for 2G or 21.7 hours for 3G
Standby time: up to 391 hours for 2G or 402 hours for 3G
Color Options
Black, Gold or Silver
Price
$649.99 off-contract; $200 with 2-year agreement: AT&T, Sprint, Verizon
 
One thing seems certain, at least on paper: this year’s M9 is more evolution than revolution. Not that we’re complaining — we’ll take a honed Android phone with an octa-core processor any day of the week — but you won’t find any magical features here that aren't already widely available. So, that puts the One M9 in a bit of a tough spot. With the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge earning early accolades (our full review in the works), Sony’s latest flagship looking strong as well, and new entrants like Xiaomi and OnePlus proving that high-end performance can be had without spending a fortune, how does the M9 stack up? We’ll seek to answer that in the pages ahead.

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