The leaks kept flowing right down to the wire, with a full hands-on video appearing less than 48 hours before HTC pulled the official curtain up on its shiny new flagship. Nonetheless, if you hadn’t heard the HTC One M9 is finally here.
HTC’s One (M8) was arguably one of the hottest phones of 2014 and the M9 is hoping to continue the lineage with aplomb. All of the same core elements that made the original One and the M8 such desirable smartphones are there; front-facing BoomSound stereo speakers, a beautifully milled all-metal body and the newest take on the company’s Sense Android interface.
The company has finally stopped toying with more unorthodox camera technologies and given the M9 a single 20-megapixel rear snapper, capable of 4K video instead. It makes for a more even comparison with the current array of rival devices, but we’re still waiting to see if LG, Sony or Samsung bring something even beefier to the table at this year’s MWC. The UltraPixel technology that was HTC’s differentiator in previous years is still alive too, although this time it’s bundled with a 4-megapixel sensor on the phone’s front.
Aesthetically the M9 doesn’t appear to be a huge departure from older flagships, you gets curves and hard edges, meaning it’s a little closer to the M7 than last year’s well-rounded M8. The IR blaster still dominates the entire top of the handset but the power button has now become a machine-milled hardware key on the right side under the volume rocker, similarly to Sony’s Xperia handsets.
On the front you’ll find the aforementioned BoomSound speakers hidden behind grilles, which HTC says are not only bigger and better, but now officially tote Dolby Audio support. The screen sitting between the speakers isn’t the 2K display we were expected, but rather an iterative upgrade on the M8’s panel – a 5-inch Full HD LCD.
In spite of its all-metal form, HTC has also granted the M9 IP68 water and dust resistance by means of an additional case, the idea being that fitness fanatics can get a sweat on without harming the shiny new blower. Other accessories include a new DotView case, which supports games with the cover closed such as Brickbreaker, clear-backed cases so you can both protect and admire the craftsmanship of your M9 and dual-driver headphones too.
On the software side, the One M9 is as you might expect an Android Lollipop-based smartphone. HTC’s customised the user experience with its Sense 7 interface which makes some subtle, but important changes over Sense 6. The most exciting addition looks to be Sense Home, which uses a user’s location, time of day and usage habits to dynamically change which eight apps appear on their homescreen. If a user is on their way to work it might produce the National Rail app and a bus timetable app, but if they’re at home Netflix and Spotify might take their place instead.
Here’s the full spec sheet:
- OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop w/ HTC Sense 7
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core 64-bit processor (2GHz + 1.5GHz quad-cores)
- Memory: 3GB RAM
- Storage: 32GB inbuilt storage (expandable via microSD up to an additional 128GB)
- Cameras: 4-UltraPixel front-facing camera, 20-megapixel rear camera
- Screen: 5-inch Full HD LCD
- Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, 4G, GPS
- Battery: 2840mAh
- Weight: 157 grams
It’s part and parcel of HTC’s efforts to make the new M9 a more personal device. Themes are also a big component of this, with a pre-made assortment of themes that change everything from font colour to widget design. There’s also an option to automatically create themes by letting the M9 scan a picture from your photo album and user created themes can also be shared with other users.
HTC’s also maintained its relationship with Harman Kardon who’ll be launching a portable Bluetooth speaker to sit alongside the M9 in certain bundled retail offerings and the phone also plays nice with the company’s Blackfire wireless multi-room speaker technology. All activated with a three-finger swipe up gesture from the M9, users will be able to pipe their audio all around their house, or just in a specific room.
We still don’t have price or availability information, but we do know that the HTC One M9 will initially launch in three colours: Gold on Silver, Gunmetal Grey on Grey and Gold on Gold. Both gold variants adopt a subtle gold hue on the anodised body, with polished gold or silver sides for contrast, whilst the gunmetal grey version is darker, akin to the launch imagery of last year’s One (M8).
Next read this: HTC One M9 hands-on review at MWC 2015