HTC One M9 review

HTC One M9 header
Our Rating 
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The HTC One M9 is fast and the Sense 7 UI is a big improvement, but it doesn't do enough to make it really stand out


Processor: Octa-core 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Screen Size: 5in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Rear camera: 20-megapixels, Storage: 32GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 144x70x9.6mm, Weight: 157g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2

Last year's HTC One M8 was a bit of a design statement. With its gorgeous all-metal case, it immediately stood out from the its rather more plastic competition, so much so that nearly every top flagship handset that's been announced this year are all playing catch-up - including the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge and even the Huawei P8

Ironically, it's now the HTC One M9 that feels as though it's lagging behind, as it's kept more or less the same design as the One M8 as well as its 5in 1,920x1,080 Full HD display. Samsung and LG, on the other hand, have already begun using larger 2,560x1,440 displays on several of their top-end smartphones and look set to continue to do so throughout the coming year. 

HTC One M9 and HTC One M8 side by side

^ Looking at the One M9 (left) and One M8 (right) side by side, you'd be hard pushed to tell them apart

Design and build quality

Staying the same isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the small refinements HTC has made to the One M9 make it an instantly more appealing handset than its predecessor. For instance, it's now far more angular around the edges and the distinct lip around the side of the phone makes it much easier to grip and hold securely – unlike the One M8 which constantly felt like we were about to drop it.

HTC has also added a dash of colour into the phone's frame, taking inspiration from luxury watches and fine jewellery. It's a similar idea to what we've seen from the HTC Desire Eye, which had an additional band of colour infused directly into the phone's soft-touch chassis. Here, the same effect has been applied to the One M9, only with metal instead of plastic.

HTC One M9 lip edge

^ The One M9 has more angular edges than the One M8, making it easier to hold and grip

It's a subtle effect, but one that really adds a touch of class to the handset, making it look and feel even more like a premium handset compared to last year's model. Our review sample was a fetching silver and gold model, but it's also available in a darker gunmetal grey with mirrored grey side-walls, and a gold version with mirrored polished gold side-walls.

Other small flourishes include a machined finish on the power button much like that on the Nexus 6 and 2nd Gen Moto X and a sapphire glass camera lens. Naturally, the back has a scratch resistant coating, but several contract providers are currently bundling in free DotView cases with transparent backs so you can still see the phone's metal chassis. There will also an IPX68-rated waterproof DotView case available, so you can use it in the bath or a heavy rain shower without it taking damage.

HTC One M9 DotView cases

^ A variety of DotView cases will be available for the One M9, but many of them now let you see the metal underneath instead of hiding it away

Of course, none of these are particularly compelling reasons to upgrade if you already own an M8, but for those in the market for a new contract, it's certainly got the legs to go head-to-head with either the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge. Despite being thicker and heavier than Samsung's Galaxy S6, measuring 144x70x9.6mm and weighing 157g compared to the S6's 143x70x6.8mm and 138g, it's easily just as attractive.

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