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HTC One A9 Review

HTC One A9 7.8
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HTC One A9 Review

Introduction


HTC One A9 Review
HTC One A9 Review
HTC One A9 Review
HTC One A9 Review
HTC One A9 Review
HTC One A9 Review
HTC One A9 Review
Oh HTC, where have you been all year? After the unveiling of the 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?

Design


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.


HTC One A9
5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches
145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

HTC One A9

Apple iPhone 6s
5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

Apple iPhone 6s

Google Nexus 5X
5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches
147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm
4.80 oz (136 g)

Google Nexus 5X

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)
6.06 x 3 x 0.44 inches
153.9 x 76.2 x 11.06 mm
6.31 oz (179 g)

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)


To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.

HTC One A9 Review

Display

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
HTC One A9 345
(Average)
11
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6829
(Excellent)
2.1
2.42
(Good)
3.01
(Good)
Apple iPhone 6s 554
(Excellent)
6
(Good)
1:1593
(Excellent)
7056
(Good)
2.21
1.47
(Excellent)
3.23
(Good)
Google Nexus 5X 487
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
1:1498
(Excellent)
6799
(Excellent)
2.31
2.06
(Good)
3.54
(Good)
Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015) 715
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
1:1072
(Good)
6748
(Excellent)
2.19
1.22
(Excellent)
1.81
(Excellent)
View all


54 Comments
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posted on 27 Oct 2015, 19:11 6

1. Pattyface (Posts: 1645; 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

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 20:15

8. zeeBomb (Posts: 2271; Member since: 14 Aug 2014)


How many nm is the 617

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 20:47 1

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

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 20:48

14. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)


Good question. It might be 14nm actually.....

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 21:41 3

17. Konsento (Posts: 136; 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?

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 22:00

19. zeeBomb (Posts: 2271; Member since: 14 Aug 2014)


14nm? No way. I was thinking still 28nm or down to 22 or 20nm.

posted on 28 Oct 2015, 03:00 2

21. Acer_Predator (unregistered)


So when designis generic why everybody saying on iphone 6 like woow what a great design?

posted on 28 Oct 2015, 06:12 2

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

posted on 28 Oct 2015, 09:49

34. SYSTEM_LORD (Posts: 885; 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...

posted on 11 Dec 2015, 13:49

52. LionStone (Posts: 784; 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!

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 19:20 10

2. hafini_27 (Posts: 890; Member since: 31 Oct 2013)


I don't understand this phone from HTC at all.

posted on 11 Dec 2015, 13:25

51. LionStone (Posts: 784; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)


Do you understand having the latest software? Premium device with fingerprint tech and quick charge tech?

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 19:29 3

3. UglyFrank (Posts: 1825; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)


This scores higher than better Chinese phones which have been given terrible scores?!?!

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 19:32

4. zeeBomb (Posts: 2271; Member since: 14 Aug 2014)


All I can say is...lol

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 19:48 2

5. Commentator (Posts: 3710; 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...

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 20:02 4

6. JMartin22 (Posts: 2000; 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.

posted on 11 Dec 2015, 13:23

50. LionStone (Posts: 784; 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.

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 20:06 1

7. roldefol (Posts: 4362; 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.

posted on 28 Oct 2015, 05:32

28. TezzaBP (Posts: 274; Member since: 18 May 2015)


Nice pun there friend

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 20:19 1

9. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3145; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


Wouldn't Make Sense For Anyone To Buy This. 5 Out Of 10 For Being A Stupid Phone.

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 20:26 1

10. JetMK (Posts: 91; 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.

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 20:30 3

12. MaryPoopins (Posts: 204; Member since: 15 Jan 2015)


Yes, you missed the reviewer's name, then it all becomes crystal clear.

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 21:07 4

16. Commentator (Posts: 3710; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


The reviews I've seen all tend to be in that average or low range area:

Phonearena: 78
The Verge: 77
Engadget: 80
Digitaltrends: 7/10
Cnet: 3/5

I guess I'm curious as to which ones you're referring to?

posted on 28 Oct 2015, 05:07 1

27. Martin_Cooper (Posts: 1573; 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.

posted on 28 Oct 2015, 05:33 1

29. TezzaBP (Posts: 274; Member since: 18 May 2015)


Holy crap that explains everything

posted on 29 Oct 2015, 11:21 1

40. dazed1 (Posts: 480; Member since: 28 Jul 2015)


Some people are.....

1 is worst, 10 is best.

7.8 is good score!

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 20:27 3

11. JakeH (Posts: 84; 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

posted on 28 Oct 2015, 13:41

38. almostdone (Posts: 236; Member since: 25 Sep 2012)


or LG G4.

posted on 11 Dec 2015, 12:21

44. LionStone (Posts: 784; 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...

posted on 27 Oct 2015, 20:54 1

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.

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HTC One A9

HTC One A9

OS: Android 7.0 6.0
view full specs
Display5.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (440 ppi) AMOLED
Camera13 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 617, Octa-core, 1500 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
3 GB RAM
Size5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches
(145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm)
5.04 oz  (143 g)

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