Finally, HTC manages to get it right with the A9’s still image performance – not so much with the video recording, however.

HTC has steered away from the idea of using the UltraPixel tech for its main cameras for good – the One A9 rocks a 13 MP sensor for its rear camera, assisted by optical image stabilization for those dynamic or low-light scenarios. It’s paired with an f/2.0 aperture, sapphire crystal lens, BSI sensor, and a two-toned dual-LED flash. Unfortunately, though, there's no 4K video recording. The 4.1-megapixel UltraPixel tech, instead, can be found on the front – where the phone's selfie snapper employs HTC's signature tech to provide superior performance in low-light scenarios.

The camera app does not fall behind the competition and offers a Pro mode, granting the user control over ISO, shutter speed, and white balance. However, we wish its max shutter speed were longer than 2 seconds. The One A9's camera can also capture RAW images, allowing those who are a bit more knowledgeable edit their own photos post-shot. Alternatively, one can use the phone's own Photo Editor, which has a one-tap enhancer that auto-corrects RAW images. In addition, the phone also allows video edits, such as hyperlapse and slow motion, allowing users to create various dramatic effects in clips. And finally, HTC's Zoe app is also on board, making the creation of quick collages a breeze.

Image Quality

HTC has been criticized in the past for the lackluster performance of its cameras, partly including the M9. That, of course, adds more pressure for the A9 to produce better-than-average results. And to its credit, the A9 prevails in a solid fashion!

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
HTC One A9 3.1
No data
Apple iPhone 6s 1.7
Google Nexus 5X 2.8
Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015) 2

Video Quality

While we’re pleased with the enhancements made to its still image quality, the A9’s video recording performance fails to impress. Yes, there's lack of 4K video recording support, but this would have been OK if the 1920 x 1080 recording was good enough. Sadly, it isn't.

First and foremost, its constant focus hunting action is a bit distracting – it’s just constantly sniffing out and never settling on one thing for a long period of time. Secondly, there’s not a whole lot of definition when it comes to its detail capture. And finally, it’s exceptionally noisy and blurry looking with its capture under low light.

Indeed, HTC makes some great strides in the still image department, but here with video capture, it’s just a disappointment everywhere.


Even though it says goodbye to those dual front-firing speakers, the single one here manages to perform decently.

Those who regard themselves as being extremely creative will adore what the A9 has to offer with its Gallery app. When it comes down to it, HTC offers a myriad of editing tools at our disposal to give images both a professional and artistic touch. Artistic elements are achieved by using the shapes, photo shapes, and prismatic effects – while things like the double exposure effect adds that professional grade touch by combining two photos together. There are some fun modes as well, like face fusion, which takes two portrait shots and mixes them together.

Shockingly, the Sense music player is gone! This is surely a shocking turn of events for any HTC faithful, because the Sense music player has been a common staple in HTC’s phones. The duty is now all placed on Google’s Play Music app. Love it or hate it, there’s nothing out of the ordinary with this one.

Trying to get over the fact that the Sense music player is no longer offered out of the box with the A9, it’s equally as tough trying to believe it’s a part of the One series without those dual front-firing speakers on previous phones. Going with only a single speaker configuration, it manages to produce an acceptable 72.3 dB of power, which is close to the M9’s mark of 72.8. Honestly, the quality is still crisp and clear on the loudest volume setting – so it’s effective to cover confined spaces.

Even though the HTC One A9 doesn't have stereo front-firing speakers like the One Mx series used to have, however, BoomSound has still found its way to the new phone. This time around, it’s incorporated with the headset that comes with the phone, combined with Dolby Audio surround tech. The A9's headphone amplifier is said to deliver “double the output” of other handsets, which should give users more headroom for superior dynamics. In our experience, there’s a great deal of fidelity with its quality – ensuring that there’s enough substance to back up its punch.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
HTC One A9 0.928
Apple iPhone 6s 0.986
Google Nexus 5X 0.287
Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015) 0.981
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
HTC One A9 72.3
Apple iPhone 6s 69.6
Google Nexus 5X 69.2
Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015) 79.1



1. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 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

8. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

How many nm is the 617

14. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

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

19. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

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


Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 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

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

It's oled not Lcd. I actually think that this might sell to all the closet iPhone fans. Lol

17. Konsento

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 10, 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

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 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: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 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 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: 949; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

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

51. LionStone

Posts: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

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

3. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

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

4. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

All I can say

5. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 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: 2370; Member since: Apr 30, 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: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 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: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 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.

28. TezzaBP

Posts: 274; Member since: May 18, 2015

Nice pun there friend

9. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

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

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

16. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 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?

27. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 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: 799; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

Some people are..... 1 is worst, 10 is best. 7.8 is good score!

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: 448; 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...

15. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Lol this is awesome. I love troll devices. The N1 tablet and this are hilarious.
One A9
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 4 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 617, Octa-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2150 mAh(16h 3G talk time)

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