HTC One A9 ReviewHTC One A9 7.8
HTC One M9 earlier this year, the company has been relatively quiet. To be fair, however, the company has been garnering attention in the virtual reality space with the HTC Vive – so yeah, there’s still anticipation for that. Going back to the M9, though, it was undoubtedly one of the first major phones of 2015, but it didn't seem to get the attention it deserved.
Many folks point to an inevitable demise for the once acclaimed phone maker, but HTC begs to differ as we’re diving ever so closer to that crucial time of the year; the holiday season. Going back to the drawing boards, the company that’s highly esteemed for its impeccable designs, takes everything it knows from its Desire and One lines, and combines it together in its new HTC One A9 – a redefined phone that’s hailed as the company’s new flagship in the US market.
This year alone, we’ve seen phones from every side of the spectrum – from premium-priced ones that impress with their incredible performance, to budget ones that still manage to pack some punch. The HTC One A9 is a very different phone for the Taiwanese company, seeing that it combines that premium build quality we’re accustomed to seeing, with a price point that aims to appease a wider set of consumers. Can this new venture help swing HTC back into the limelight?
If you’re to talk to HTC directly, they would argue that they’ve come up with the ultimate design with the One A9, as it combines the ‘flatter’ characteristics from its Desire line with the smooth, all-metal design from its One line. Still, nearly everyone we showed the phone to initially mistakes it for the iPhone 6/6s, where the similarities are undoubtedly uncanny.
The flat front and back surfaces of the HTC One A9 offer uniformity to its design, while the home button, earpiece, HTC logo, and camera lens are all positioned directly towards the middle for balance. Strangely, though, the microUSB port is just a smidgen offset.
There’s no shortage of high-level feel here, as the phone sports that lovable all-metal design that we’ve come to expect from its designers. It feels great in the hand, thanks in part to the dual brushed and bead-blasted finish of its metal chassis – while being accentuated by its polished sidewall. What makes it even better is that it’s pretty comfortable to hold in the hand, compared to some of today’s ginormous-sized devices, offering effortless one-handed operation. Its metal body is accompanied with a bit of substance to its weight, but it’s something that’s warranted to give it that sturdy feel.
The entire package is a seamless design that doesn’t have many compromises, with the exception of how it very well looks like an iPhone. We can argue who did what first, but at the end of the day, it’s almost guaranteed to be mistaken for an iPhone in public.
Minor design improvements have been carried out on its power button, which offers a rigid feel over the smooth finish of the nearby volume controls, enabling us an easier time distinguishing it with our finger. At the same time, though, most HTC faithfuls will be shocked to know that the A9 forgoes having those dual front-firing speakers that have been a staple feature in the company's phones – replaced instead by a single speaker grill on its bottom edge.
Adding to that, they’ve brought on a capacitive home button below its display. It manages to be up-to-date by doubling as the phone’s fingerprint sensor as well. And boy does it work pretty well by offering the same lickety-split, accurate response as some other, top-tier sensors. Best of all, the addition of the fingerprint sensor means that it’s Android Pay compatible.
145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)
147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm
4.80 oz (136 g)
153.9 x 76.2 x 11.06 mm
6.31 oz (179 g)
Say goodbye to Super-LCD, hello AMOLED!
A tradition of sorts for HTC, they’ve favored Super-LCD technology for its displays, but in a strange turn of events, they’ve gone to the dark side by choosing to put an AMOLED panel in the A9. This reversal of sorts is undoubtedly surprising, but not entirely so, because it’s actually not the first time it has opted to go with AMOLED, as the DROID Incredible, Nexus One, One S, and a couple of other phones in its portfolio have used it in the past. Still, it’s just an odd revelation – more so when this phone is already greeted with rogue qualities.
Visually, this 5.0-inch 1080 x 1920 AMOLED display looks great. It comes with two available color modes: one that gets you inaccurate but oversaturated colors, and one that enables a more natural type of image. These are complemented by bright viewing angles and the trademark perfect black color, making for a contrasty, dynamic look.
While its color production is on the exaggerated side when it’s on the AMOLED profile, putting it on the sRGB profile actually tones it down to offer accurate, true-to-life colors, with just a slight hint of a dominant blue.
As a result, its 6800K color temperature is very close to achieving that ideal 6500K reference value. The only downside here with the screen is its peak luminance of 356 nits, which makes it troublesome to view outdoors with the sun present. Simply, it washes out tremendously, making it impossible to see without shielding it.
Who knows if this is just an indication of what’s to come from HTC going forward. By itself, the A9's screen is a different approach for the company – one that seems to work better for us, compared to their latest LCD panels, such as the one we saw on the One M9.
Display measurements and quality
|Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better||Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better||Contrast Higher is better||Color temperature (Kelvins)||Gamma||Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better||Delta E grayscale Lower is better|
|Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)||715
|Apple iPhone 6s||554
|Google Nexus 5X||487
|HTC One A9||345
The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.
|Maximum brightness Lower is better||Minimum brightness Lower is better||Contrast Lower is better||Color temperature Lower is better||Gamma Lower is better||Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better||Delta E grayscale Lower is better|
|HTC One A9||48.4%
|Google Nexus 5X||77.6%
|Apple iPhone 6s||82.9%
|Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)||85.7%
The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
1. Pattyface (Posts: 1510; Member since: 20 Aug 2014)
There are so many things I dislike about this phone..
1. Design is one of the most generic I've ever seen out of htc
2. Processor used
3. No second speaker on the front
4. Not a hero device
5. Don't love lcd
6. Not bright enough screen
The list goes on and on.. HTC is done
14. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
Good question. It might be 14nm actually.....
19. zeeBomb (Posts: 1723; Member since: 14 Aug 2014)
14nm? No way. I was thinking still 28nm or down to 22 or 20nm.
34. SYSTEM_LORD (Posts: 304; Member since: 05 Oct 2015)
It's 28nm. They won't start putting the 600 series on 20nm (if at all) until sometime in 2016. The 618 and 620 may go 20nm, but I suspect that they should go with a more mature process, like the high performance - low power material in 28nm.
Overall, this thing is disappointing for something that'll cost $500 in the US really soon. I'll just wait for the Z7C, as it'll come with all the bells and whistles, will only improve further with photos/videos, and once again be a battery life champ. Sorry htc, you almost had a new customer...
13. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
It's oled not Lcd. I actually think that this might sell to all the closet iPhone fans. Lol
17. Konsento (Posts: 98; Member since: 10 Apr 2015)
1. You do have a point there
2. It still flies. Get over it.
3. Yes, I'm genuinely sad about that too. But you probably do have earphones to take around as well, eh? Plus they'll sound even better.
4. Meh, give or take this is a well-designed midrange phone that'll not be worth buying after the price goes up
5. It's AMOLED, not LCD
6. Isn't that a problem with many other phones?
21. Acer_Predator (unregistered)
So when designis generic why everybody saying on iphone 6 like woow what a great design?
30. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
Apparently Apple designs are immune to criticism when they run IOS and not when they run android.
I mean they can reuse the exact same design for two years and still get a 9.3 when Android OEMs. You would figure that HTC could clone it and still get the same benefit of the doubt. I guess not. Lol
52. LionStone (Posts: 717; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
Unfortunately not everybody has good foresight with modern tech. The premium metal build is the best there is...without the extra banding on the 6s and the centered camera lens, the A9 has a much cleaner design than apple or other Android oems. The processor is neglible, it handles all tasks with high performance and fluidity. No boomsound physical speakers but still has outstanding speaker quality for phone calls, speaker phone, headphones. All phones have trade-offs, as much as I'd love to have dual front speakers, it was not a deal breaker since it still brings great sound quality. Hero device? Whatever you what to call it, the A9 after using it for a month now absolutely performs as well as other flagships..in fact it has better specs than some flagships. It has an excellent display with Oled, screen is plenty bright. Kinda funny how people who don't use this device know all about it? And reading biased reviews don't count lol!
2. hafini_27 (Posts: 854; Member since: 31 Oct 2013)
I don't understand this phone from HTC at all.
51. LionStone (Posts: 717; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
Do you understand having the latest software? Premium device with fingerprint tech and quick charge tech?
3. UglyFrank (Posts: 1544; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)
This scores higher than better Chinese phones which have been given terrible scores?!?!
5. Commentator (Posts: 3651; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
I really hope this isn't HTC's last smartphone. I want to buy HTC's last smartphone, but I don't want to buy this...
6. JMartin22 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Apr 2013)
What's wrong with that God-awful design? A Home key, logo and on-screen buttons eating into the screen estate and screen to body ratio? Not to mention the middling quality of the hardware as a whole.
50. LionStone (Posts: 717; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
There's nothing wrong with an ultra premium device, just because it's not appealing to you doesn't make it any less premium. There is a fingerprint sensor on the front, like all the latest modern phones (or back or side), it CAN be enabled to act as a HOME key, it's silly but I think that's to pacify the Sammy users and Apple users. The latest software and hardware combination is a great, fast device but you wouldn't know about it since you don't use one.
7. roldefol (Posts: 4097; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
"combines the ‘flatter’ characteristics from its Desire line with the smooth, all-metal design from its One line"
Well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flatter-y.
9. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 1930; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)
Wouldn't Make Sense For Anyone To Buy This. 5 Out Of 10 For Being A Stupid Phone.
10. JetMK (Posts: 88; Member since: 31 Jan 2015)
From most of the reviews that I've seen, a lot are calling it a pretty great smartphone.. Phonearena seems to be the only one giving it an average, or low score.
Or maybe I missed some things
If it were lower than its $CAD 549 (499 $USD) price, I'd give it a try. But at that price range then nvm.
12. MaryPoopins (Posts: 133; Member since: 15 Jan 2015)
Yes, you missed the reviewer's name, then it all becomes crystal clear.
16. Commentator (Posts: 3651; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
The reviews I've seen all tend to be in that average or low range area:
The Verge: 77
I guess I'm curious as to which ones you're referring to?
27. Martin_Cooper (Posts: 1368; Member since: 30 Jul 2013)
His nit picking 1-2 rare good reviews of this phone out of 20 that say its okeish phone and nothing more.
40. dazed1 (Posts: 304; Member since: 28 Jul 2015)
Some people are.....
1 is worst, 10 is best.
7.8 is good score!
11. JakeH (Posts: 77; Member since: 01 May 2014)
I would take an older phone like the Galaxy S 5 instead of this. You could pick up an S5 for $300 on Ebay and it would have better battery life, better camera, microSD card slot, equal or better processor, and better camera too
44. LionStone (Posts: 717; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
Really? An S5 that is almost 2 years old, 2GB ram, not the latest update (Lollipop), worst UI Touchwiz (opinion), inferior low light performance, inferior front face cam, older processor, I mean, if you like all that. Instead of latest software and prompt updates, near stock UI, premium build, easily removable minute amount of bloat, 3GB ram, all-day battery life w/ 4-5 sot, fast fingerprint tech, fast all around...
15. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
Lol this is awesome. I love troll devices. The N1 tablet and this are hilarious.
18. rsiders (Posts: 830; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)
This was going to be my next phone but alas I will stay with the Xperia Z3 a while longer.
49. LionStone (Posts: 717; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
I hear ya, my Z3v is a pretty nice phone and battery life it's a beast but I ordered the A9 sight unseen and barely use my Z3v anymore, except to turn on the Mobile Hotspot (unlimited) or other small tasks. Plus it's stuck on KitKat, thanks Verizon! So I'm hoping for the update soon so I can put the A9 on my Unlimited data line!
20. waqarz (Posts: 19; Member since: 21 Nov 2012)
From the beginning I have noticed that this man John V has hated HTC or he is paid by someone to give a low score to HTC devices.
I am not saying that A9 is an excellent phone but though its a fantastic phone enough.
HTC one m8 and m7 was awarded top smartphones of their time....but I don't know why pa loves to give a poor score to HTC devices......why pa why.....
25. NotoAA (Posts: 13; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)
Compare this review to some of the upper midrange / discount flagship competition like the Meizu MX5, Galaxy A8, and Oneplus 2 that they've reviewed recently. While the tone of this review is a little negative PA still gives it a higher score than any of those phones.
37. Shocky (Posts: 2063; Member since: 16 May 2012)
It's overpriced garbage, they're charging £500 plus for this piece of crap in the UK and it has worse specs than the US version.
HTC have lost the plot, if anything i deserves a lower score.
45. LionStone (Posts: 717; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
Guess that just depends on where you live. The Unlocked A9 with 3GB ram at $436. shipped US was a steal, so the score should be higher actually.
22. donrox (Posts: 121; Member since: 18 Jul 2014)
Where are the Z5 and Z5 compact reviews PA?
23. NotoAA (Posts: 13; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)
I think the A9 actually has pretty respectable battery life given the battery size. It's essentially in the same range as the iPhone 6 and a lot of recent phones with much larger batteries like the Oneplus 2, Xiaomi Mi 4c, and the Nexus phones.
Still, I don't like the trend toward weaker battery performance in most of this year's flagships and mid-range phones, so I don't mind PA criticizing OEMs on this.
24. NotoAA (Posts: 13; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)
BTW, the decent battery-life to battery-size ratio from the A9's SD 617 gives me hope that the 618 and 620 could actually be worthwhile chips with the improved 500-series GPU.
I think the 615's mediocre battery and GPU performance really held back a lot of mid-range phones that would have been better off sticking with a SD 801 or even a Mediatek or Intel chip.
46. LionStone (Posts: 717; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
After using an A9 for about a month now, I can attest that the 617 and battery performance are legit, all day battery life not a problem with 4 hrs sot easy.
26. brasstax (Posts: 239; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)
Can somebody kindly tell me one good reason why one should buy this instead of the Moto X Pure/Style for the price?
31. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
I am not an HTC fan by any means but I would get this over the Moto X pure and so would most people. Sorry but the Moto X pure is almost as bad as the Nexus 6. It's HUGE!
47. LionStone (Posts: 717; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
form factor as mentioned by Taters and Marshmallow...the "Pure" is still waiting to get it and A9 has it out of the box with updates to come 15 working days after Google releases it...Moto says almost nothing and track record is weak
32. Limbopope (Posts: 62; Member since: 12 Aug 2014)
It's not really competing with any of these phones
Finding itself in an interesting position price-wise, it’s competing in a crowded space that has seen notable waves in the last few months from devices like the ZTE Axon Pro, OnePlus 2, Moto X Pure Edition, and Google Nexus 5X
It's going to cost $499 after November 7th and here in Europe...forget about it...it's going to cost the equivalent of $664 AND that's the 2GB of RAM and 16GB version. I can get the LG G4 for $480 here now or the OnePlus 2 (If I get an invite) for 390 euro or the Moto X Style(Pure) for $550 equivalent. I'll get either of those thanks HTC.
33. davthom123 (Posts: 22; Member since: 02 Mar 2015)
the one a9 isn't a bad phone at all.but most similar phones are priced around 200-300$.at its current price of 500$ its asking to be compared with flagship phones and am not sure its is even a better phone than the m9
48. LionStone (Posts: 717; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
this A9 absolutely compares with phone with other flagships
35. Shocky (Posts: 2063; Member since: 16 May 2012)
low/mid end specs with a premium price.
39. vuyonc (Posts: 982; Member since: 24 Feb 2014)
IMO HTC should have made a smallish (4.7 inch 720p) plastic unibody, Boomsound phone with a cheaper SD610. Super LCD 3 or IPS with the same great colour calibration and superior brightness would cut price or boost margins. Also this deserves a MUCH larger battery. HTC should have used a design similar to the Desire Eye's (subtle Boomsound speakers, bezels don't 'feel' big, no physical home button, centred front and rear facing cameras give off an aesthetically pleasing symmetry).
41. FrankUnderwood2 (Posts: 209; Member since: 01 Oct 2015)
Way too much praise from John V and PA for his unnecessary piece of garbage. In the meanwhile, Samsung Galaxy A-8 got a 6.5 from Pa. Doesn't make any sense. PA's biggest gripe with A-8 was that it pretended too much to be a flagship when it was not. so my question to PA especially John v. is, does this A9 justify its flagship status?
42. Older1 (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 Nov 2015)
I want to admit up-front that I have loved my HTC ONE M7 more than any other cell phone I've ever used. What eludes me in all of the current reviews on the A9 (and, really all cell phone reviews) is how good a phone is it. The issue isn't even addressed! My M7 has the best reception and clarity. Period. It beats my wife's iPhone 6 and is dramatically better than all others I've tried. Admittedly, I don't have any hands-on experience with LG, but the M7 is clearer and stronger, whether in ear or speaker, that Samsung, Apple, Nokia, and dramatically better than Motorola.
Some of you have questioned why anyone would buy this phone. If the reception and overall call quality is as good as the M7. that, for me, would be a very compelling reason. Additionally, although now outdated, I have no complaints at all with the processing quality in my M7. Speaker sound is second to none. Will this still be true with the A9 now that they've removed that second speaker? Well, we'll see.
From the standpoint of pure aesthetics and hand-feel, I love the M7. Again, I won't know whether this will be true of the A9 until I actually get it in my hands. I also feel that I should point out that many of you are ignoring the pre-order price of $399.99 from HTC. And that' s for the unlocked version. I'm sorry, but that's a deal no other manufacturer has come close to matching.
43. odavrog (Posts: 1; Member since: 02 Nov 2015)
The only problem HTC really has is carrier support
1st Android phone
1st all metal phone
1st hiden antenna
As far as apple its the copy cat
The Hacking Chinese government done there should be no
Imports from China sorry Apple
THE EMBORGO OF CHINA IS OVER DUE
53. LionStone (Posts: 717; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
Was a pretty good review until I got to the Camera section. The review should be updated because you CAN absolutely Zoom in Video mode so there is bad misinformation being displayed here. Also I can't for the life of me understand how it took this reviewer 3 seconds to take a pic when you can pull it up in landscape and press vol button...sooo it only REALLY takes about a second or 2 at the most! This phone is super fast, great form factor if you don't like mini tablet for a phone. It whips the 6s in almost every way in the "real" world.