Mobile Reviews Mobiles

HTC One M9 (Unlocked)

Written by Lisa Scholfield

Taste matters, and also you can’t deny HTC has it. The brand new HTC One M9 remains the most elegant Android smartphone available on the market, having a beautiful all-metal body and stylish software styles which make Samsung’s designers seem like a lot of youngsters with crayons. But a minimum of for now, I’m not sure if that is enough to drag potential Samsung Galaxy S6 or Apple iPhone 6$199.00 at AT&T purchasers away.

HTC sent us an unlocked, worldwide One M9 with non-final software that does not map exactly towards the phone being offered within the U.S. (Every other “review” being released today will have a similar problem, as we are all awaiting company models.) So we are not rating this phone, but supplying a long preview.

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The HTC One M9 looks nearly the same as its predecessor, the HTC One M8. It is a solid, all-metal phone at 5.69 by 2.74 by .38 inches (HWD) and 5.5 oz ., having a 5-inch, 1080p LCD around the front and Volume and Energy buttons quietly. The rear is shiny although not slippery, also it does not show fingerprints. There is a gunmetal grey model, an exciting-gold model, along with a two-tone, gold-and-silver model. We’ve got the gold-and-silver unit, that is subdued, not fancy. There is a lip round the edge in which the silver and gold halves meet. It’s lovely.

I’m not sure if this sounds like due to our pre-production unit, however the phone demonstrated a couple of nicks in one week of moderate use. That simply should not happen by having an all-metal phone. You will find some scratches within the finish across the top, along with a rough patch around the right bezel. For any phone that depends on design, this really is distressing.

Should you really bang your M9, you are able to make use of HTC’s Uh-Oh protection, that is a long warranty that is included with the phone. Inside the newbie of possession, HTC will replace your phone once if it features a cracked screen, water damage and mold, or maybe you are attempting to switch service providers. That last bit is essential because each one of the four U.S. service providers features its own type of the phone, which might not be compatible with all the other carriers’ models.

Samsung should note: I really like how HTC handles to integrate a sd card slot inside a phone with no detachable back. The memory slot is basically another Sim slot on the other hand from the device, also it labored all right with this 64GB SanDisk Extreme.

Android and Sense

If you purchase the HTC One M9, it will be simply because (not regardless) of Sense, HTC’s skin over Android Lollipop 5..2. This might make Android purists recoil, but it is true. HTC has bending lower on its Sense 7 skin this season, with a variety of setup and theming encounters that stretch the business’s stylish physical design in to the virtual world.


Yes, I understand you are able to download third-party styles and launchers for the phone. But many individuals don’t. They do not know how, they discover the process confusing, or they cannot choose. HTC, however, has both some gorgeous curated styles along with a great Web-based theme maker at The important thing here’s curation. HTC’s styles, including fonts, symbols, colors, and sounds, are merely more appealing and stylish compared to other producers I have seen.

There is a new widget around the desltop which, allegedly, picks up whether you are in your own home, work, or out, appearing the right apps. For example, I am now at the office, therefore it is showing Twitter, Mail, Calendar, the Play Store, and Drive. In Out mode it’s Facebook, Twitter, Maps, Calendar, and Messages. You cannot personalize this, though.


Plus there is BlinkFeed. Should you swipe left out of your primary desltop you’ll be able to HTC’s Flipboard clone, that has been refined and enhanced. It weaves together selected news sources, social systems, as well as keyword searches right into a scrolling feed of interesting content. You are probably to check out it when you are holding out somewhere for any couple of minutes I discovered it a little frustrating since i did not have LTE (as I’ll explain below).

Yes, Sense does mean there’s a great deal of extra software loaded to the phone. It offers the Cloudex cloud-storage software, HTC’s Zoe video-discussing application, Zoodles Kid Mode parental controls, and also the Scribble drawing-notebook application, to indicate a couple of you might like to replace. Alas, they are uninstallable. Which means preloaded system software leaves only 22.9GB of the 32GB available, therefore it is excellent you have the memory slot.


The Fir.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor here shows the reason why you can’t take a look at clock speeds or cores as pure arbiters of performance. In testing, the M9 got excellent benchmark scores: 4,180 on PCMark, 3,527 on Geekbench, and 52,185 on 64-bit Antutu. It had excellent results on integer and floating-point math measures, but pulled a little on graphics in comparison with increased arcane processors like Apple’s A8 and Nvidia’s K1. Individuals processors aren’t broadly obtainable in Android products, though, and also the Snapdragon 810, for much better or worse, may be the quickest mainstream Android processor available today.


The Snapdragon 810 heating saga continues, also it remains just a little mysterious. It’s beginning to appear such as the nick requires more aggressive restricting than producers initially anticipate, to be able to prevent getting too hot. Both pre-production versions from the LG G Flex 2 and also the One M9 from time to time had getting too hot issues, and both teams of problems were fixed with software updates. The phone is fast despite the processor settled to some awesome temperature, therefore it all appears to become about manufacturers’ learning curves.

Now, here’s where obtaining the unlocked worldwide model becomes trouble.

About this unit, we can not really test call quality, reception, or network performance. The models HTC delivered to testers lack both 1700MHz 3rd generation band and all sorts of American LTE bands, meaning it underperforms on AT&T and T-Mobile’s systems. Additionally, it does not appear to possess either carrier’s HD voice calling feature triggered. All this ought to be fixed within the final versions.

Since the radio is foreign, I could not test the two,840mAh battery either, as that needs LTE. We’ll need to observe how it works once the U.S. models arrive. And don’t forget, you will see four U.S. versions.

Camera and Multimedia

The HTC One M8’s camera was its greatest problem. HTC was right to check out bigger pixels in an effort to improve low-light performance, however the 4-megapixel resolution only agreed to be lacking to gather the type of detail people wanted within their photos. So HTC changed the primary camera having a 20-megapixel Toshiba (HTC had formerly stated Sony, and remedied itself) sensor, and turned the “Ultrapixel” 4-megapixel camera towards the front.

I am likely to be careful here, since there will most likely be further firmware updates prior to the phone’s U.S. launch. However the new camera continues to be troubled.


Low-light performance really suffers. In comparison directly having a Samsung Galaxy Note 4$.00 at Amazon . com, low-light photos taken using the HTC M9 convey more pixels, but they are more dark and blurrier, with less saturated colors plus much more visible artifacting. Test is readable within the Note 4’s images where they are noisy and blurred-on the M9.

The phone also had some trouble knowing exposure in shots with vibrant skills, such as the sky. Outdoors, the Note 4 (as well as an iPhone 6) had far better-balanced exposure, whereas the M9 tended to throw more dark areas into deep shadow unless of course I by hand modified the exposure.

That front-facing camera, though, is ace. In comparison using the Note 4, I saw overturn situation around the front instead of around the back: In low light, HTC’s camera was better, sharper, and did not possess the pointillist pixelation I saw around the Note. Individuals Ultrapixels are really a factor, as well as for low-light selfies, they repay.

You will find a couple of camera modes, one being huge fun. An authentic split-screen way of both photo and video uses both the back and front cameras, which is much more compelling compared to postage-stamp dual-camera modes that Samsung and LG use.

The primary camcorder records at as much as 4K resolution, and it has a 1080p60 mode. 1080p video taken using the primary camera were built with a perfectly good frame rate of 30 fps, but image stabilization wasn’t in evidence, with very shaky footage. The leading-facing camera only taken 1080p video in an unacceptable 12 fps inside a stand alone video, even though it didn’t have trouble with 24 fps in split-screen mode. Clearly, something’s still not in the actual firmware, and we are going to need to retest the ultimate U.S. models.

The HTC One is the greatest music-playing mobile phone available on the market, because of individuals large and well-separated “BoomSound” loudspeakers. (You need to contain the phone in panoramic mode to obtain the full effect, though.) It isn’t about volume-it comes down to richness, texture, and bass. With Dolby audio software aboard, I discovered the phone really attempted to boost the depth and positioning of music in earphones, too. It arrives with a good pair, but you are best getting your personal. Additionally, there are to play with as well as an IR emitter for handheld remote control software.


The One M9 holds HTC’s course. The One M8 had been the very best-searching Android phone available on the market, with terrific front-facing loudspeakers, attractive styles, as well as an unfortunate camera. The M9, a minimum of the one I am searching at at this time, seems to become a lot of same.

That puts the M9 inside a tough position with forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S6. This past year, Samsung’s chintzy, cumbersome Galaxy S5 didn’t have attract the style- and taste-minded purchasers who have been attracted by HTC Sense and also the M8’s all-metal body. This season, when the S6 offers better performance compared to M9, its new metal-and-glass design may win more Android purchasers over.


There’s still hope, though. I am confident that lots of your camera issues we experienced might be solved by enhanced firmware, and a few of the story is not yet been written-everything getting related to network connectivity, call quality, battery existence, and LTE Web surfing, for example. We’ll possess a review of the official U.S. unit from the One M9 soon (U.S. models will end up available beginning April 10), and we are searching toward going for a much deeper dive.

About the author

Lisa Scholfield

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