So, it is finally here. Officially revealed for the first time moments ago here in Barcelona, the HTC One M9 is the fourth flagship smartphone in HTC One series with its lineage can be traced back to the original HTC One X smartphone back in 2012.
However, it is hard to ignore how similar the One M9 looks like to its previous two predecessors: the 2013’s One (a.k.a the M7), and 2014’s One M8. Nevertheless, HTC insists that the One M9 is a much more refined product than previous flagship devices. So, let’s take a closer look.
Despite having the same design as its predecessors, HTC has spiced up the One M9 with a mixture of finishes that combine brushed metal on its back together with a mirror-polished frame. The company has chosen the Gold on Silver finish as the signature colourway for the One M9, but consumers are also able to obtain the One M9 in Gunmetal Gray and Gold on Gold.
As compared to One M8, the One M9 is around 0.26mm thicker at 9.61mm but at the same time, the new smartphone also weighs 157 grams, making it is 3 grams lighter than its predecessor. In addition, HTC has also repositioned the power button on One M9 to the right side of the phone which is a much more natural position for users to unlock the device, as opposed to One M8’s power button that is located on top part of the device.
In terms of hardware specs, there’s no doubt that HTC has provided One M9 with plenty of firepower. Apart from its Full HD 5-inch display, the new smartphone also comes with the Qualcomm 810 octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB internal storage which can be expended further through its microSD card slot.
The One M9 also comes with the famed HTC BoomSound dual front-facing speakers together with additional enhancements by Dolby Audio. At the same time, the One M9 is also equipped with a slightly bigger battery than its predecessor at 2840mAh which is able to provide up to 21.7 hours of 3G talk time and 402 hours of 3G standby time. Not to forget, the One M9 also features quick charging just like the One M8.
Other than that, the One M9 is also equipped with a brand new 20-megapixel BSI sensor, dual LED flash and F2.2 27.8mm lens made from sapphire for its rear autofocus camera. The camera is also able to capture video in 4K and is claimed to be the best camera that HTC has ever created.
While the One M9’s rear shooter might not be an UltraPixel camera but that doesn’t mean HTC has dumped it away from the device. Instead, the company uses it for the One M9’s front camera which is paired together with an F2.0 26.8 mm lens with 1080p video recording capability. Here are several initial image samples from both cameras that was taken using a pre-release unit of the One M9:
Click on the images to view their original sizes
[Sample 1: Main Camera – Auto – Without Flash]
[Sample 2: Main Camera – Auto – Without Flash]
[Sample 1: Front Camera – Auto – Beautification level 0]
As the first device to come standard with the new Sense 7 user experience on top of Android 5.0.1, the One M9 does have few new tricks up its sleeves. One of the most interesting among them is the ability to customise the smartphone’s four (yup, four) on-screen navigational buttons. Not only that, users are able to rearrange its position to their liking as well.
Sense 7 also offers a high level of system-wide theme personalization through on-the-fly customisations or the web-based HTC Theme Maker. Users also have the option to download new themes from the Theme Store but unfortunately, we were not able to test this particular feature as well as the Mealtime Bundle for HTC BlinkFeed on One M9 due to time constraints.
Another new capability that Sense 7 has provided for the One M9 is the location-based contextual widget for the device’s home screen. This particular widget displays a list of apps that changes based on locations which users are able to define as home, office or (going) out. That being said, users are actually free to switch from one list to another at any given time. The widget also provides apps suggestion based on users interests and locations.
Meanwhile, the HTC Eye Experience for One M9 also received several new features such as new effects for Photo Editor that includes Photo Shapes, Prismatic, and Elements. There is also the new One Gallery that allows users to view their photos from Facebook, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Flickr in one single gallery which can be searched via date, location, event, album, or even using the image itself through a function called Image Match.
Perhaps the most interesting of them all is the ability to download new modes into the Camera app. We were informed that additional modes can be downloaded directly from the app itself once they are made available, although the additional modes that we have seen on our One M9 test unit such as the Photo Booth and Split Capture already exists on previous versions of the HTC Eye Experience.
As far as first impressions go, the HTC One M9 certainly looks beautiful just like its predecessors, the One M8 and One M7. The new smartphone does feel much more refined and obviously performs better than older HTC One flagship smartphones but at the same time, it feels rather odd to see HTC using the same design once again for the third time.
That is the reason why I feel that the One M9 is missing the fresh factor even though it is equipped with the latest hardware, a new rear camera sensor and user experience through Sense 7. I’m not saying that it is a bad smartphone but the more I look at One M9, the more I feel that it is an upgrade package to its predecessor rather than a complete and worthy successor to One M8.
Nevertheless, let’s wait for the full verdict once we are able to provide a proper review for the HTC One M9 (hopefully) in the near future.