Call Quality

Besides the underpowered speakerphone, everything is pretty okay with its call performance.

Conversations are handled moderately by the A9, ensuring that there isn’t a whole lot of challenge with the experience. Through the earpiece, its volume is at a sufficient level to make out voices, but the speakerphone is a little on the underpowered side for some reason – with a little bit of crackle accompanying its performance. Oppositely, however, there’s no issue at all with the experience, as our voice resonates clearly on the other end of the line.

Battery

Due to its smaller battery size, it’s no surprise that its battery life is short.

Right off the bat, its 2150 mAh battery cell is alarming. With its size alone, it makes us pessimistic about its longevity, especially when batteries around the 2500 mAh range are regarded as insufficient with today’s modern phones. And true to that claim, the A9 sputters out to deliver nothing more than an average-like performance. In our real-world usage, it’s effective in lasting us a solid one day. Power users, on the other hand, will need to give it a good charge after an 8-hour work day.

This claim is further clarified under our custom battery benchmark test, where it achieves a time of 6 hours and 3 minutes before calling it quits. That’s actually less than the M9’s performance, so it’s pretty convincing that the battery is just undersized for the task at hand.

However, the A9 is pretty fast with its recharge time. Using a 1.5A charger, it only takes 110 minutes to achieve full charge, which is pretty fast, but nothing extraordinary compared to class leaders like the Note5 or Moto X Pure Edition, which both offer significantly larger batteries. With support for Quick Charge 3.0 on the horizon, that recharge time can potentially be improved.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
HTC One A9 6h 3 min (Average)
Apple iPhone 6s 8h 15 min (Excellent)
Google Nexus 5X 6h 25 min (Average)
Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015) 6h 29 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
HTC One A9 110
Apple iPhone 6s 150
Google Nexus 5X 100
Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015) 76

Conclusion


HTC apparently views a flagship device very differently from the competition. Normally, these so-called flagships would be showcase devices rich in new technology, offer exceptional performance everywhere, and just premium built. With the HTC One A9, however, it redefines the term for the company.

In comparing it to the M9, the A9 will be regarded by many as being more of an upper mid-range smartphone – partly because we know what kind of specs are needed to entail a flagship phone from the competition. HTC faithfuls, in particular, will most likely be filled with that shock-and-awe feeling with the A9’s aggressively unconventional approach.

Still, this is one solid smartphone – backed up by its premium choice of materials, sturdy construction, and clean finish. Here in the US, the A9 is able to stand out for its $399.99 outright cost through HTC directly, which makes it affordable enough for what it offers. However, word on the street is this is a limited-time price which is expected to go up with about $100 in the near future. This sure is going to turn the One A9 into a tougher sell. Its exterior is of top-notch quality, but the processor sure leaves something to be desired.

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. All of them offer tremendous value below the $400 threshold and are backed up by specs that easily eclipse the HTC One A9 in many aspects. In retrospect, the A9’s size and premium design are arguably its strongest assets – whereas most of the other aforementioned phones are just bigger, more cumbersome to manage.

Go with the HTC One A9 for that particular reason, which interestingly enough, is what HTC has constantly built its reputation around time-after-time with its flagships. HTC’s regard for what a flagship smartphone should be might be different from everyone else, but if they’re able to carefully use this new opportunity to their advantage, it’s plausible that this might be the beginning of a reversal for the company’s handset division.

Software version of the review unit:
Android version: 6.0
HTC Sense version: 7.0



Pros

  • Premium design, solidly built
  • New camera sensor delivers better-than-average results
  • sRGB display mode delivers natural colors
  • Comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow from the start
  • Responsive fingerprint sensor
  • Fast recharge time

Cons

  • Disappointing graphics processing performance
  • Poor 1080p video recording quality
  • Weak peak display brightness
  • Battery life is average

PhoneArena Rating:

7.8

User Rating:

9.8
8 Reviews

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53 Comments

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.

34. SYSTEM_LORD

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 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: 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 is...lol

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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