HTC One A9 review - HTC's best smartphone yet

The One A9 is a gorgeous phone with a superb screen and camera, but at this price it just isn't fast enough to compete with other flagships

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HTC One A9
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
470
inc VAT (SIM-free)

Specifications

Processor: Octa-core 1.5GHZ Qualcomm Snapdragon 617, Screen Size: 5in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Rear camera: 13 megapixels, Storage (free): 16GB (10GB) / 32GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 146x71x7.3mm, Weight: 143g, Operating system: Android 6.0

2015 hasn't been a great year for HTC. After the disappointing One M9 and several staff layoffs, the media at large have been prophesising that it might well be time to call it a day for this Taiwanese giant. I really hope this isn't the case, as its latest smartphone, the gorgeous One A9, could be the saving grace it's been looking for.

Previously known as the Aero, the One A9 will be HTC's second top-end smartphone to launch this year, sitting just beneath the One M9 in terms of specification. However, while the One M9 was a beautiful but ultimately sub-standard handset, marred by poor battery life and a rather hopeless camera, the One A9 is a much more promising prospect right from the outset.

^ The One A9's 5in 1,920x1,080 AMOLED panel looks fantastic, and colours really pop out of the screen

Design

A big part of that is down to its stunning design. Of course, if it wasn't for the prominent HTC logo on the back of the handset, you might mistake the One A9 for another smartphone altogether, as the clean lines and simple metal chassis are eerily reminiscent of Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. HTC told me it's flattered that Apple has chosen to mimic its metallic design - it did, after all, make the move to metal smartphones first - but this time it's perhaps a little more obvious who's imitating who. 

Still, it's a winning combination, and I'd say the One A9 actually feels much more comfortable to hold than the iPhone 6S. This is thanks to the subtle ridge on the back of the handset which helps break up its curved edges, giving you something to hold on to when gripping the phone in one hand. It's a fraction thicker than the iPhone 6S, too, measuring 146x71x7.3mm. However, despite dwarfing the 6S in almost every respect, the One A9 still weighs just 143g, making it feel surprisingly light for its size. 

It's a beautiful smartphone, with the eye-catching Deep Garnet model being particularly gorgeous. However, this version (along with the Topaz Gold model) won't actually be available at launch. Instead, these will come later (but hopefully before the end of the year, HTC promised) and will be exclusive to certain networks. For those that can't wait that long, you'll have to pick between the standard Carbon Grey and Opal Silver models, which have a black and white front panel respectively. 

^ Each model of the One A9 looks stunning, but the Deep Garnet version (far left) is my favourite

Display

My review sample came in Carbon Grey, and I have to say it's immediately more appealing than the M9, not least because of its 5in 1,920x1,080 AMOLED display. Again, the display on the M9 was something of a let-down when I tested it earlier this year, as its colour accuracy just wasn't as high as I was expecting. The A9's AMOLED panel, however, rectifies this instantly, as it covers a full 100% of the sRGB colour gamut and produces perfect 0.00cd/m2 blacks, allowing colours and text to really jump out of the screen without appearing too oversaturated. Its contrast ratio of infinity:1 also ensures there's plenty of detail on show in dark photos and images.

The only downside is that the colours are a little warm, so whites look a little yellow, at least compared to the Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy S6, for example. This can be quite a common problem with AMOLED panels, but it's not something I find particularly bothersome on this particular handset. The screen's peak brightness is also a little low at 347.19cd/m2 when you put it up against its LCD-based rivals, but again this isn't out of the ordinary for AMOLED display. 

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