We review the HTC One A9 camera, testing the everyday photo-shooting abilities of the 13-megapixel rear camera and the Ultrapixel selfie camera, as well as the HD video recording and PRO mode.
The new HTC One A9 flagship phone sports a 13-megapixel rear camera and an Ultrapixel front-facer, but how good are they at everyday photo capture? We took the One A9 out and about to see how it performs for this full camera review.
HTC One A9: Camera experience and camera samples
HTC’s camera app isn’t the most streamlined or attractive around, especially compared to some rivals such as LG, but it’s simple enough to use. As well as photo and video shutter buttons, you have toggles for the flash and HDR mode, plus a shortcut to switch between front and rear cameras and then a settings button and camera mode button.
Considering you can already switch cameras with a flick of the screen, that extra shortcut is rather superfluous – and we’d rather the settings were all tucked out of sight until needed. Still, it’s a minor niggle to be fair.
The One A9’s lens doesn’t take long to focus on your subject, with a delay of only a second or so if you move from short to long distance or vice versa. It’s certainly no Xperia Z5, but it’s not frustrating either and you can always manually focus on a specific area with a quick tap if needed. Best of all, you can take photos as fast as you can tap the shutter button or switch to Zoe mode for shooting mini videos.
As for photo quality, the One A9 camera seems to be perfectly serviceable for everyday shots but after early testing also has a few weaknesses, just like the Moto X Style’s snapper. Scenic detail levels aren’t as strong as several rivals, while low light produces grainy and often blurry shots with a lot of black mass.
On the plus side, colours are punchy and vibrant, as with the Galaxy S6’s snaps, and macro shots come out well with some nice detailing.
You can switch between auto mode and a full ‘Pro’ manual mode, which captures images in RAW format. Detail levels don’t improve but you have full control over the ISO level, white balance and other camera settings so you can take funky night photos or get exactly the photo you want.
HTC One A9: Video recording
The HTC One A9 can shoot video up to a maximum resolution of 1080p HD, with no option to record in 4K (unlike the One M9). That’s not much of an issue right now as few people have a 4K monitor or TV in their household, although in the near future 4K panels will become a lot more common as the price drops.
Video is still reasonably detailed, although the lens sometimes struggles to focus on a subject when you’re moving the camera around, with a manual tap-to-focus occasionally required to keep things sharp. Image stabilisation is also not as effective as we’d hoped. Shoot video as you’re walking and your footage will still be tainted with a bizarre, slightly surreal jerking motion. Certainly the likes of the Moto X Style and the Xperia Z5 Compact perform much better when it comes to on-the-move video recording, with a much smoother result.
You also get a Slow Motion and Hyper Lapse mode, if you want to shoot more artistic videos.
HTC One A9: Selfie camera
That front-facing Ultrapixel camera once again sports an optional countdown timer so you can pull your best pout after pushing the shutter button. You can shoot up to 4.1-megapixels in 16:9, with a 1.2-megapixel option for 4:3 snaps, and there’s built-in HDR for tricky lighting conditions as well as an optional ‘live makeup’ feature that’s basically a beauty mode. You can also record 1080p video.
Shots taken on the new camera seem to enjoy a slightly wider viewing angle than the One M9’s selfies, good news if you’ve got a few heads to cram together. However, detail levels weren’t don’t appear as strong, with muted colours compared with the One M9.
Check out our full HTC One A9 review