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HTC One A9 Cameraphone Review

Ben Andrews reviews the HTC One A9 a mid-range smartphone with the latest version of Android and a 13mp camera.

|  HTC One A9 in Camera Phones
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HTC One A9 01 Front1

The One A9 is sits a level down in HTC’s smartphone line-up, just beneath the flagship One M9. As such, its camera is ‘only’ 13MP and you’ll have to do without 4K video, but the A9 does sport a premium metal design and a large 5-inch screen.

HTC One A9 Features

HTC One A9 03 Back1

Where the flagship HTC One M9’s camera uses a 20MP sensor paired with an f/2.2 28mm-equivaent lens, the One A9 has to make do with a 13MP sensor, although the lens has a larger f/2.0 aperture and optical image stabilisation, which is good news for low light shooting. The camera will also capture DNG raw images, although video recording is limited to Full HD 1080p, rather than Ultra HD 2160p.

The One A9 shares the same 5-inch screen size and Full HD 1080 x 1920 resolution as the One M9. However, HTC has opted to use AMOLED screen technology – rather than the M9’s more conventional LCD tech – which should produce higher contrast and more vibrant colours.

Under the skin, the One A9 and M9 feature the same 3GB of RAM, but the A9’s processing power is slightly inferior and you only get 16GB of on-board storage, although this is expandable by Micro SD memory card. The One A9’s 2150mAh battery is also well down on the 2840mAh power pack in the One M9, and you don’t get the latter’s dual front-facing speakers – only a mono driver located at the base.

HTC One A9 02 Front2

Key Features

  • 13-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor
  • Fixed 28mm-equivalent lens, f/2.0
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 5.0-inch touch-screen, 1080 x 1920, 441 ppi
  • GPS / Wi-Fi / NFC
  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) video recording
  • DNG raw capture
  • HDR / panoramic shooting / 4MP front-facing camera
  • MicroSD expandability
  • Premium metal casing
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Available in Carbon Grey, Opal Silver, Topaz Gold, Deep Garnet, Pink

HTC One A9 Handling

HTC One A9 04 Back2

The first thing that strikes you about the One A9 is its obvious styling departure from the One M-series. With its sleek brushed metal casing and glass front panel, it’s obvious where HTC’s design team looked for inspiration. But like the iPhone, the One A9 is also extremely well made and shows no apparent body flex. Its back is flatter than the One M9, meaning the edges are slightly thicker and easier to hold, although for peace of mind and easier photo snapping, you’d still be better off fitting a grippy case.

The One A9 incorporates a finger/thumbprint sensor into the Home button and it works flawlessly, once you’ve taken around 30 seconds to record your print. The button’s location doesn’t fall quite as easily to hand as the side-mounted fingerprint sensor on the Sony Xperia Z5, but that’s a minor gripe.

Where the One M9’s camera is positioned well out of the way of any stray fingers, the location of the A9’s lens close to the edge of the phone does mean you’ll need to be more careful about how you hold the phone when shooting.

Whilst the One A9 isn’t quite at the top of the technology tree, its 5-inch screen suggests otherwise. Its AMOLED display technology provides deeper black levels than the IPS LCD screen in the One M9, along with colours that appear marginally more intense at maximum brightness. The Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4’s screens still have the edge in terms of overall colour and contrast vibrancy, and they pack more pixels, but you’ll struggle to notice any extra detail.

HTC One A9 05 Screen On

The One A9’s camera can be accessed by swiping the camera icon up from the lower right of the lock screen. The app itself is as clear, responsive and easy to use. Plenty of manual control is provided in Pro mode, accessed via the mode icon located alongside the shutter release icon. Here you’ll find options to control white balance, exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, shutter speed and focus distance. Pro mode also contains the option to record in DNG raw format, with duplicate JPEG images saved simultaneously.

Battery life - The 2150mAh battery in the One A9 has 25% less capacity than the One M9’s battery, which translates to nearly 30% less 3G talk time. There’s no CIPA rating to measure how many photos the camera can capture per charge, but we found the A9’s battery level dropped around 20% during all our testing, although no other phone functions or apps were used.

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