- Great display
- Great build
- Android 6.0 feature turn microSD cards into internal memory storage
- Merely average battery
- Rear-facing camera also average
- Hardware can struggle with intensive apps
Don't call it an iPhone clone. The HTC One A9 may look like Apple's smartphone, but it's a solid mid-range smartphone in its own right.
The HTC One A9 is proof HTC can change. After sticking by the previous HTC One design for too long, which may have cost HTC market share, the company has embraced market trends for 2015’s second flagship.
Certain A9 features surpass even the first flagship, the One M9. Yes, this is a less powerful device hardware-wise; but its design, a blatant copy of the iPhone 6s, is a definite improvement.
HTC One A9 features a metal unibody and a 5-inch 2.5D Full HD display, and is one of the first non-Nexus devices to launch with Android OS 6.0 (Marshmallow). It is driven by Qualcomm’s octa-core Snapdragon 617, and it is equipped with a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with OIS, 4-megapixel UltraPixel selfie-camera, and 16 or 32 GB of internal memory, which can be expanded with microSD cards. It also includes a 2150 mAh battery and an attractive price in the US, but a much steeper price in Europe.
Build & Design
The HTC One A9 design stands out with a most peculiar feature. HTC flattened the rounded unibody back of its previous build (which goes back all the way to 2013’s HTC One M7) making the device look more like the latest iPhone than any other previous HTC model. Two slim plastic strips along the top and bottom of the rear surface enable appropriate antenna reception, adding to the resemblance (to be fair, this was originally an HTC quirk, before Apple made it a recognizable iPhone feature). On the other hand, the 2.5D display (the screen’s glass edges are slightly rounded, which can result in a seamless and pleasant-looking display edge), is a popular Apple feature, and pushes the A9 very close to being an iPhone clone.
Despite this, or maybe because of it, the device features an exceptionally high level of finish, seems solid, credible, and reliable. Its similarity to the iPhone is uncanny, as the lower side of the device includes speaker perforations, microUSB slot and the audio connector, which are lined in the opposite order than on iPhone 6/6S. At least here, HTC has Samsung beat, which arranged the bottom side of its Galaxy S6 identical to that of iPhone 6/6S.
The upper side of HTC One A9 is bare, apart from a matte plastic plate laid across the entire width of the device, clearly covering another antenna. It’s a shame HTC ditched the IrDA port found here on the previous One models. The left side of the handset holds nanoSIM and microSD card slots, while the right side includes the volume rocker and the power key (complete with a very pleasant texture), located at thumb-height.
Another feature “borrowed” from rivals Samsung and Apple is a physical home key, with the HTC One A9 sports right under the display. Capacitive keys for Back, Home and Task are also located on the very display, taking up screen space at the bottom of the user interface. This make the home button redundant, and is an odd thing considering the Samsung Android phones don’t have on-screen keys.
The HTC One A9 back includes the camera lens with a LED flash, located in the center of the upper portion of the phone, along with the HTC logo, sitting just below it.
Apple iPhone clone or not, the still phone is fantastic. It’s easy to use with just one hand and it feels solid. This is a premium device. Even if it is unoriginal, we have no objections. It’s great, and that’s good enough. It weighs only 5.04 ounces, and measures 5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches, which seems optimal, and even natural, for a 5-inch phone.
With a 5-inch Full HD AMOLED display (1080 x 1920 pixels), HTC One A9 has a density of 441 pixels per inch. It’s AMOLED, so you know it has an impressive contrast and excellent sharpness. Full HD is ideal, as anything more than 441 ppi on a 5-inch smartphone is overkill. The display is a deal-maker, especially compared against devices with similar specs.
The display has two color settings: AMOLED, with overly saturated colors, which is striking and characteristic for this display technology; and sRGB, with more precise colors. We’ve seen a few phones embrace a software fix to the AMOLED saturation, and here it works well. Users should be pleased.
The One A9 has great viewing angles, and it does a great job cutting through glare. In fact, it’s one of the best on the market at this. It’s virtually impossible to find a shortcoming when it comes to the display.