Let’s start with a confession; this is my 3rd official HTC phone, The HTC One M9. Not because I am a die-hard HTC fanatic, but they have either produced the best handset at time of upgrade or they have the feature I need. So before I review my new phone without techy boring bits, let me give you some background.
- I used to work in a Mobile Phone shop for an actual network
- I used to love Symbian before I became an Android man
- I have had the same phone number since around 2000
- Since 2000 I have probably owned 30-50 phones (mostly because of the shop)
And my phones in reverse order just before Android launched:
- HTC One M9 (Current)
- HTC One M7
- HTC Desire HD*
- Samsung Galaxy S2
- HTC Desire
- Nokia E61 (Symbian)
- T-Mobile G1
- Nokia E61 (Symbian)
Three handsets there were the best available at the time. The Desire, S2 and the M7 all winning handset praise when it came to my upgrade. Now, the upgrade point is important I feel. Most reviews you’ll see about phones think you can just drop £500-600 on a new handset at will. Now I know some people can, most of us can’t or won’t. So the upgrade window is very important.
It would appear my window always seems to coincide with the World Mobile Congress which is held at the start in Barcelona and often when manufactures launch their new products. This year being no exception, with the HTC One M9 and Samsung S6 & S6 Edge being announced. This means when I come to upgrade, these phones are nice and new. Lucky for me.
So I had a choice of HTC One M9 or one of the Samsungs. Having already had an M7 which has lasted very, very well (until I smashed the screen) I decided to plump for… well you already know. So why did I go for the HTC One M9? Let’s break it down.
A number of factors convinced me to go down the HTC One M9 route. First the BoomSound speakers which featured on the M7, M8 and the M9. Each version improved on the sound quality and, from what I have heard, the volume clarity. For the record, there is a very good reason for this. No, it’s not to annoy those poor commuters with some rubbish techo dance track made by a 14 year old in his bedroom, but SatNav.
As standalone SatNavs die, more and more people use the phone to navigate, and what could be better than front facing speakers which are both loud and full to help you hear that important “take the 3rd exit at the roundabout” voice? On all HTC One phones this works amazingly well. Although not sure the addition of Dolby Audio has added anything to this as yet.
The full aluminium body of the One is something to behold. It feels expensive, lush and best of all, sturdy. No plastic or bits which might break off. Just solid and a little heavy, which I kinda like. It’s also splash-proof, so checking a message in the rain won’t be an expensive mistake. The only downside is it feels a little slippery under my hand. I have dropped it a few times where it simply slid through my palm. The back feels smoother than the M7, which didn’t seem to suffer from this issue.
Ok, so the HTC One M9 will have the same OS as the Samsungs, all running Android. There are subtle differences with how manufactures tweak the software to suit them. Both have their own launcher which alters native Android; setting the screen, app draw and basic apps like dialer and SMS to suit their branding.
When I first used android, you were stuck with using those preinstalled, but as time moves on you are free to customise the look and layout of your phone how you want, and can pretty much replace all default apps with downloaded ones from the various stores.
I used to replace the built in SMS app, but it seems like a pointless exercise with things like Whatsapp and Kik becoming the go-to messaging option. I will, however, replace the dialer and launcher (more of that soon as I will look at these separately). Currently the stock versions are brilliant, fast and functional.
This has taken a lot of stick on all One handsets. The M7 and M8 both had ultra pixel that should work better in low light. It kinda does, but images were limited to 4mp. Not big enough for most online needs nowadays. My M7 had a strange purple glow over it on the pictures, which meant I Instagramed most of them using the filters to make them more interesting.
With the HTC One M9 I have found the camera to be excellent. Early review units seemed to suffer from slight pixelation. When I started the phone it did a software update, so I presume that fixed those issues as I have nothing but praise for it… but this is coming from the purple M7.
The biggest praise I can give it is that I actually want to take pictures now and not mess with them through instagram. I want them untouched in all their 20mp glory. The camera also shoots 4k video which I can’t try as I don’t have anything 4k…. but they look good.
Battery is ok, nothing brilliant. I use the power saving mode which turns off data when the screen is off but it still checks periodically for updates from email and messaging etc. This really helps if you don’t need that facebook update or tweet that second.
A nice trick is the configuration of the buttons on the bottom. You can have them in any order you wish, and even add and remove some. Another trick is the call answer. No need to touch the screen, simply lift the handset to see who’s calling, then put it to your ear and it auto answers. If you don’t want to answer it, just flip it over screen down, and it mutes the ring tone.
Finally, you can launch the camera when in standby by holding the phone horizontally and clicking the up volume button. Quick and easy, and again no need to touch the screen. Ideal for that quick snap while out and about. I am sure there are other shortcuts and tricks, so I will update this as I come across them.
I am very happy with the HTC One M9. I mean VERY happy. It does everything my old one did, just quicker and easier. It’s certainly an evolution, which I think is a great thing. No messing with every element every time a new handset comes out. A certain fruit company like to do that, so why can’t a company entrenched in Android.
Sure it’s not perfect, no phone is, but this is the best phone I have ever had and will have for another two years.
*not my phone as such but the S2 somewhere along the line got liquid contamination. So needed to use something