HTC One M9 Smartphone Review

Ben Andrews reviews the HTC One M9, the top of the range camera phone from HTC.

| HTC One M9 in Camera Phones

HTC One M9 Smartphone Review: HTC One M9 01 Front1

The One M9 is HTCs latest flagship smartphone, replacing the One M8. Where that phone packed a relatively low pixel count in order to improve light sensitivity and reduce noise, the One M9 follows a more conventional route and uses a 20MP sensor. Elsewhere, the One M9 retains the One series’ premium metal styling, 5.0-inch Full HD screen and MicroSD storage expandability.

HTC One M9 Features

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The HTC One M9’s camera uses a 20MP 1/2.4-inch sensor paired with an f/2.2 28mm-equivaent lens. That gives it a physically larger sensor than the 1/3-inch, 4MP device in the One M8, but with so many extra pixels, the size of each photosite has been reduced from 2µm to 1.2µm. Extra features include raw image capture and 4K video recording.

Screen size and resolution remains unchanged for the One M9, with a 5-inch 1080x1920 display that equates to an impressive – though not market-leading – 441ppi pixel density.

Inside are dual quad-core processors and 3GB of RAM, powered by a high-capacity 2840mAh battery. A MicroSD slot has also been retained from the One M8, which can add up to 128GB to the 32GB of built-in storage.

HTC One M9 Smartphone Review: HTC One M9 02 Front2

Key Features

  • 20-megapixel 1/2.4inch sensor
  • Fixed 28mm-equivalent lens, f/2.2
  • 5.0-inch touch-screen, 1080x1920, 441 ppi
  • GPS / Wi-Fi / NFC
  • Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) video recording
  • DNG raw capture
  • HDR / panoramic shooting / 4MP front-facing camera
  • MicroSD expandability
  • All-metal casing
  • Available in grey, gold, and silver

HTC One M9 Handling

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The original HTC One M7 from 2013 demonstrated that you don’t need an iPhone to get a flawless and sleek metal look, and the One M9 enhances this premium style. Now the metal rear panel extends around the edges, though the curved back causes the edges to become tapered and, therefore, there isn’t a great deal to hold on to. Consequently, the One M9 feels almost as drop-prone as the super-slippery Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+.

As with One M8, the rear-facing camera is placed well away from the phone’s edges, so there’s little chance of inadvertently covering the lens or flash when shooting.

Physical controls are kept to a minimum, with a normal power button (as opposed to the touch-sensitive version on the One A9 that also incorporates a fingerprint sensor) and two volume buttons which can also zoom the camera or snap a photo. Other functions like ‘back’ and ‘home’ are dynamically located on the main touchscreen, which works well enough, but they’re not quite as convenient as those on the One M7 which had fixed locations beneath the main screen.

Image quality from the 5-inch 1080x1820 display is good, but not outstanding. Colour and contrast are perfectly acceptable, but the screen looks slightly dull when compared with a Galaxy S6 or LG G4. These phones also have the One M9 beaten on screen resolution and pixel density, however this is less important, as the M9’s resolution is already high enough to hide individual pixels, and adding extra pixels also has a tendency to suck more battery power.

HTC One M9 Smartphone Review: HTC One M9 05 Screen On

The One M9’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 and easy to use as you’d expect for a flagship smartphone, with obvious major controls and responsive navigation.

A mode icon next to the shutter release and video record buttons accesses the various shooting modes and is used to access the front-facing selfie camera, dedicated panorama mode, and now a Raw Camera mode for shooting DNG raw images.

Settings are revealed by an icon in the upper left of the screen, though you’ll need to go into an extra submenu to access the HDR and Manual modes. The latter includes sensitivity adjustment between ISO 100 and 1600, +/- 2EV exposure compensation, white balance and focus controls, and even a manual shutter speed slider.

You’ll also find options for image and video resolution, cropping controls and self/smile timer settings hidden away in the camera settings submenu.

Battery life - The 2840mAh battery in the One M9 is a healthy capacity increase over the 2600mAh cell in the One M8 and is rated for significantly longer talk times, though software enhancements will also be working in the M9’s favour here. There’s no CIPA rating to measure how many photos the camera can capture per charge, but avoid power-hungry apps or extended periods of web surfing and the One M9 should comfortably out-snap a conventional point-and-shoot camera.

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