Introduction


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

HTC One A9

Dimensions

5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches

145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Apple iPhone 6s

Apple iPhone 6s

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Google Nexus 5X

Google Nexus 5X

Dimensions

5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches

147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.80 oz (136 g)

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)

Dimensions

6.06 x 3 x 0.44 inches

153.9 x 76.2 x 11.06 mm

Weight

6.31 oz (179 g)

HTC One A9

HTC One A9

Dimensions

5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches

145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Apple iPhone 6s

Apple iPhone 6s

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Google Nexus 5X

Google Nexus 5X

Dimensions

5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches

147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.80 oz (136 g)

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)

Dimensions

6.06 x 3 x 0.44 inches

153.9 x 76.2 x 11.06 mm

Weight

6.31 oz (179 g)

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


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.



FEATURED VIDEO

53 Comments

53. LionStone

Posts: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 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.

54. Leboragio

Posts: 5; Member since: Oct 21, 2015

so you are very satisfied with the A9 cause even today im planing to buy this phone wich is free for me cause im extending my contract with my operator !

42. Older1

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 01, 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.

41. FrankUnderwood2

Posts: 243; Member since: Oct 01, 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?

39. vuyonc

Posts: 1094; Member since: Feb 24, 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).

35. Shocky unregistered

HTC Acrapolla9 low/mid end specs with a premium price. Goodbye HTC.

33. davthom123

Posts: 121; Member since: Mar 02, 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: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

this A9 absolutely compares with phone with other flagships

32. Limbopope

Posts: 63; Member since: Aug 12, 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. A9 DOA

26. brasstax

Posts: 546; Member since: Apr 16, 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

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 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: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 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

23. NotoAA

Posts: 16; Member since: Oct 03, 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: 16; Member since: Oct 03, 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: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 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.

22. donrox

Posts: 204; Member since: Jul 18, 2014

Where are the Z5 and Z5 compact reviews PA?

20. waqarz

Posts: 41; Member since: Nov 21, 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: 16; Member since: Oct 03, 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.

36. Shocky unregistered

Yep, scored much higher than it should.

37. Shocky unregistered

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: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 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.

18. rsiders

Posts: 2068; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

This was going to be my next phone but alas I will stay with the Xperia Z3 a while longer.

49. LionStone

Posts: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 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!

15. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Lol this is awesome. I love troll devices. The N1 tablet and this are hilarious.

11. JakeH

Posts: 89; Member since: May 01, 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

38. almostdone

Posts: 452; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

or LG G4.

44. LionStone

Posts: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 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...

10. JetMK

Posts: 97; Member since: Jan 31, 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: 324; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

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

29. TezzaBP

Posts: 274; Member since: May 18, 2015

Holy crap that explains everything
One A9
  • Display 5.0 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP (Single camera)
    4 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 617, 3GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 2150 mAh
  • OS Android 7.0 Nougat
    HTC Sense UI

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