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Phone Review: HTC One M9

Phone Review: HTC One M9

The M9 is a good-looking phone that can compete with the very best in interface.

Last year, it was Sony with the Z2 and then the Z3. Samsung has been doing it with its Note and Galaxy range of phones. Even smaller firms like Huawei are doing it.

I am talking about the trend of mobile manufacturers increasingly not going for radical changes when it comes to putting out new phones in the market.

What we are seeing now is that manufacturers are figuring out their way to an excellent and efficient device and then tweaking and shaping that device every half a year to put a ‘better’ one out in the market.

It might not create the buzz but it works for sales, and it’s probably much easier on the margins too.

The HTC One M9 is a product of that trend.

In almost every department, the M9 is an exact replica of the M8, a brilliant phone that did almost everything right, and which itself was a successor to HTC’s last game-changer, the HTC One.

However, the M9 is not all minor tweaks. For one, the new avatar is definitely as good looking as any phone out there.

Crafted from a single aluminium block, the M9’s unibody design definitely hits the right, premium notes. Available in dual-tone gunmetal grey, silver and gold, it definitely has the looks to stand out in an increasingly crowded premium smartphone market.

A peculiarity of the M9 and something that sets it apart from the M8 is the raised edge (gold in the case of our silver unit) running all around the sides.

This addresses the M8’s issue of rounded edges – many people complained that the phone was prone to slipping out of one’s hands. Having said that, the M9 does feel a tiny bit thicker with this edge and it also creates an issue with the power button. Now relocated to the right, under the volume buttons, it is extremely easy to mistakenly lower the volume when you want to put the phone to sleep.

Overall though, the M9 feels safe and solid while upgraded innards have increased its usability.

The new Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor coupled with 3GB of RAM makes switching between apps superfast. Indeed, it could be said that this is one of the fastest phones out there. There is almost no lag between apps and you are almost never stuck in-between.

The new processor powers Sense 7.0, HTC’s latest iteration of its proprietary interface that sits on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop. Customisable and fast, we have no complaints with Sense 7.0.

If anything, HTC has dialed back on some of its own influence and let native Android creep back a bit to the front. Blinkfeed is still one of the best on-board aggregators for those who love their social media – which is probably almost all of us.

Apps, along with videos, are viewed on a 5-inch 1080p screen that delivers sharp and crisp pictures. However, we don’t recommend watching too many videos as the 2840 mAh battery is not able to keep up, lasting over a day only if you don’t overdo the high-speed data, WiFi and videos. On average use, the battery lasts 12 to 16 hours.

The M9 comes with 32GB of internal storage though, should you still want to load it with videos. There are also the very impressive BoomSound speakers for which HTC partnered with Dolby Audio – the sound is crisp and sharp, and made us question our Jambox.

However, the camera, for which the M8 drew the most criticism, still has problems. We used the M9 in multiple lighting conditions and came back a little perplexed.

The M9’s rear camera comes with a 20-megapixel sensor with HTC doing away with the second sensor, as seen on the M8. But pictures with this new camera were fuzzy – especially under low light.

The front-facing selfie camera is, however, sharper than what we have seen on other phones, making us wonder why the rear-facing one is still not fixed.

Overall though, the M9 is a very good-looking phone that can compete with the very best in looks and interface.

Yes, it has a battery issue but so does every other smartphone including the iPhone. Although for Dhs2,300, we would expect to buy a phone that has a camera comparable to the best.

In the Middle East, especially Dubai, a lot of people would not go for a device that can’t get their pictures right.

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