Coming off a rather hot 2014, HTC  was looked upon as one of the companies that was going to set the tone for the future and its new line of flagship devices.  If you were anything like me, you were waiting for the game changer and possibly the phone that was going to be the trend setter for all other companies to follow.  We’re talking best build, a solid display, and finally a camera to be the icing on the cake; I wasn’t hoping for the best phone in every category, just the best phone overall (no major flaws, that is).  How did HTC come around to serving its new flagship device?

Hardware

The HTC One M9 was given the refreshing treatment and is definitely no slouch on paper.  We’re given a Snapdragon 810 processor with 3 GB RAM and an internal storage of 32gb (which is also expandable to 128gb).  HTC also gave us the metal body we all learned to love but it also looks extremely similar to last years model.  They seemed to have given the device a more rectangular shape by flattening the top and bottom; no longer that oval type design of the M8.  Oddly enough, its really difficult to even tell it’s a newer device unless you turn the device on its back to reveal that new 20-megapixel sensor.

On front, you still have your Super LCD3 1080p display with 441ppi.  Yep, its pretty much the same display that was on the M8.  The M9’s display is a bit cooler compared to its predecessor and (for me) a bit dimmer than the M9.  Its still a pretty solid display and always a pleasure to look at.

The phone still has a slippery feel to it but with the edges being more pronounced, they seem to dig into your hand a bit for more grip.  Its much more pleasing than I thought it would be.  Much of HTC’s fans and others alike found the design to be quite disappointing and even I was a bit let down.  But like some state, you can’t drastically change the design year in and year out, so “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” is in full effect.  Big companies like Samsung and Apple do the same year in and year out, so why can’t HTC catch a small break.  Its not like the design is flawed in any way; still one of the best feeling aluminum in your hands.

Software

HTC brought us the newest rendition of their Android skin, Sense 7.  This version of sense is over Android 5.0 lollipop which has that material design to it.  Of course, you have some aesthetic changes to the interface but there are a few additions that can make the device much more personal to the user.  First, you have a new widget on the main screen.  This widget predicts what apps you use based on where you are and how often you use them when your there.  This can be useful as some people use different applications based on where they are such as home or work, but if the apps are usually the same, you’re better off just having the apps up front.

Second, you can now apply themes to your phone without having to download an additional application.  You can say they took a page out of cyanogenmod or nova launcher and decided to save you a couple steps.  This adds personality to your phone and adds a certain level of uniqueness.  If you want an all black theme, they have that.  Love blue?  Problem solved.  They have a whole marketplace with selectable themes .  Best part is, you can create your own theme based off of a wallpaper which I’ve done myself.  Takes a few minutes, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy the end result.

Performance & Battery Life

The HTC One M9 was my daily driver for three weeks and it performed as expected.  I never had any problems playing any games or running through applications.  Multitasking was fairly quick with a slight stutter when I actually press the button.  I did however experience slow downs and stutters when I spent long periods of time with a bunch of open apps and didn’t close them.  Nothing too serious.  The biggest downfall is the heat retention in the device and boy, does this phone heat up.  I usually have a case on my devices and it still bled through the TPU plastic of my Tech 21 case.  You might not have the same result with all cases but this was a bit of a surprise for me.

As for battery life, this phone is packing a 2840 mAh battery which is slightly higher than the older model.  This proved to be just enough to get me through the day as I used the device full time.  I generally got about 11-12 hours of usage out of the day while also using bluetooth and wifi.  It wasn’t surprising though because much like the M8, it has a really great standby time.

Camera

One of the biggest weaknesses to last years M8 was the camera.  It performed above average but just couldn’t keep up with some others like the Galaxy or the LG G series.  Well, this year HTC decided to fix that by throwing a 20mp sensor at the problem.  This is also proof that “more megapixels mean better pictures.”  The camera takes great photos but only in typical well lit situations.  It has trouble getting the focus right and often times gets the exposure wrong.  You tap the subject and if you have too much light in the background, it blows it out of the water and makes for one ugly photo.  This is due to the metering chosen by the sensor and doesn’t really take into account what is around the subject in focus.

The Ultrapixel sensor isn’t all gone though as its placed on the front.  Consider your selfie game upgraded.  The detail is among the best you’ll see on any front facing camera and its great to be able to capture everyone in your photos.  It would be nice to see theses successes on the rear camera at this point of the game HTC.

Wrap-Up

HTC hasn’t exactly taken a step forward but more like a step to the side with this years One phone.  Whether or not this will be a contender for phone of the year remains to be seen but so far they are pretty far from first.  If your still on the M7, the leap to the M9 is going to be a welcomed step up.  If your still on the M8, I’d say be patient and wait a bit.  The HTC One M9 is available now on all major networks in two colors, Gunmetal Grey and a two tone Silver and Gold.  Make your choice wisely.

Mobile Review: HTC One M9
HTC played it safe and tried to fix its only flaw by throwing more, but more doesn't mean better.
Hardware9.3
Software9
Display8
Performance9
Battery Life9
Camera6.5
The Good
  • Boom sound above everything
  • Squared out design helps for holding
  • Options for customizing baked into Sense 7
The Ugly
  • Camera is just not up to par in 2015
  • Heating problems
8.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

JC Taveras
Managing Editor

A 24 year old city crawler with an ambition to try all gadgets and games. I do what I love and love what I do. Did I mention I'm a proud Audiophile? Follow me on twitter at @JC_Tav

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