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HTC One A9 review: A once flagship phone for just £200

Christopher Minasians Katharine Byrne
25 Jul 2018
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
470
inc VAT (SIM-free)

The HTC One A9 used to be a great phone with a superb screen and camera, but how does it stack up in today's market?

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The HTC One A9 was once a flagship device. Released in 2015, the phone was rather expensive at £470. It's now a lot cheaper at around £200 brand-new. This makes it a much more tempting proposition, as it's faster than the Motorola Moto G6 and Honor 9 Lite, and a lot cheaper than the G6 Plus that houses a similar chip.

Being a 2015 phone, it doesn't have an elongated 18:9 display, nor runs on the latest iteration of Google's operating system. Still, this phone is well worth considering if you've got a tight £200 budget.

Below, you'll find Katharine's original review.

READ NEXT: Moto G6 Plus review: Another cracking phone from Motorola

HTC One A9 review: Design

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 a little more obvious who's imitating who.

Still, the One A9 actually feels much more comfortable to hold than the iPhone 6S, thanks to the subtle ridge on the back of the handset which gives you something to hold on to when gripping the phone in one hand. It's a fraction thicker than the iPhone 6S, measuring 146x71x7.3mm, but, despite dwarfing the 6S in almost every respect, the One A9 still weighs just 143g.

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, thes ehave 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.

HTC One A9 review: 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 when 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.

HTC One A9 review: Performance and Battery Life

As for the rest of the phone's specs, the One A9 is powered by an octa-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor and 2GB of RAM. It's a shame it doesn't use a Snapdragon 810 like the One M9, but it's still very quick. In the Expert Reviews benchmark suite, it showed a significant increase in speed over older Snapdragon 615 handsets (including HTC's own Desire 820), as its Geekbench 3 scores of 732 in the single core test and 3,050 in the multicore test were roughly 100 and 800 points faster respectively. As a result, Android felt silky smooth and apps were very quick to load.

However, when you consider the phone costs £470 SIM-free or around £32-per-month on contract, this starts to seem a little sluggish compared to other handsets in this kind of price range. The Galaxy S6, for example, which now costs just £400 SIM-free or £28.50-per-month on contract, is streets ahead of the One A9, and the difference is plain to see in day-to-day use. Apps open much quicker and the whole operating system feels that much slicker, leaving the One A9 feeling a little behind the curve.

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