Hands on with HTC One M9 smartphone

HTC One M9 edgeHTC has officially announced the HTC One M9, its new 2015 flagship smartphone. Even though I couldn’t make it to Barcelona, HTC were kind enough to reveal the new handset in a central London venue.

HTC has been rightly proud of the One since its beginnings with the (M7) and then the (M8). Both are award winning phones with the (M8) gaining more accolades than its predecessor, so the M9 has some big boots to fill.

The HTC One M9 is, as you would expect, a refinement of the HTC One (M8). As well as losing the brackets, the M9 tweaks rather than rebuilds the (M8).

The design closely resembles that of the 2014 device, but the quality has been increased for a tighter, more precise and luxurious finish. HTC said it looked for inspiration in the luxury watch market, as well as top-line designer jewelry, and that’s evident.

The front is now a single piece containing the display and BoomSound speakers which have been given the once-over by Dolby. There are four colours at launch including gold and gunmetal grey, but the real skill is in the dual tone finishes.

HTC One M9  topThrough an extensive manufacturing process, HTC has finished the silver-gold M9 with a dual tone anodising, giving a silver back with gold around the sides.

As well as the ‘hero’ two-toned version, you also get the choice of gold (which will be a carrier exclusive and then open to all in the “second wave”) and gunmetal grey models (both of which have been previously leaked) and a… pink version. I am afraid that the pink one will not be coming to the UK as far as I could be informed.

HTC One M9 coloursThe display stays as a 5-inch, 1920 x 1080 panel (440ppi).

Internally there’s a octo-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset with 3GB of RAM to give it plenty of oomph, along with 32GB of storage, expandable via microSD card by 128GB. Power is supplied by a beefy 2840mAh battery.

All of this is set inside a gorgeous unibody chassis with vital stats of 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61mm so it’s a little shorter than the One M8 but also a little fatter. It feels great to hold and using it single-handily is a breeze.

The device does feel significantly different to the touch, this might also be due to the special outside coating. Part of this new exterior is an improved scratch-resistant coating, so the handset should be a lot less scratch-prone than its predecessors.

HTC One M9  backHTC’s new manufacturing process sounds just as impressive as the end product itself. The manufacturing of a single unit is the result of a 70 step process that takes about 300 minutes per unit. It also, reportedly, involves a lot of manual labour, by “experienced craftsmen”.

Dolby is now on board providing a surround sound effect through the front-facing BoomSound speakers, with Dolby tuned headphones in the box too. In video mode the M9 will chuck out Dolby 5.1 and I am sure that this will sound more impressive at home than in the room we were in.

But the biggest change is in the camera department. There’s now a 20-megapixel camera on the rear and the 4-megapixel UltraPixel sensor has moved to the front. That should make for great selfies, and plenty of detail on the rear camera, which now offers 4K video capture.

M9 Silver and Gold pressThe phone launches on Android 5.0 Lollipop and debuts Sense 7, which brings a whole world of customisation options through Themes. You can create a theme from a photo (a guy’s jumper was used in our little session), with options to customise just about every element, from the shape of the icons, to the touch controls running across the bottom of the display. This was very easy to use and it was impressive to see the theme grab and use the colour pallet of the pullover used for this demo.

Sense 7 helps your phone understand where it is, and deliver you relevant content accordingly. This means that you can set three different combinations of apps to appear on your homescreen when you are at home, work or about and out. Your app menu will flick over less-productive ones once you’re near home and do the reverse as you approach work. It also means that Blinkfeed will start to deliver you local recommendations. In a new area at around lunchtime? Expect to see restuarant and eatery recommendations popping up on your screen, for instance.

The HTC One M9 looks and behaves like a logical successor to the iconic One line. Those expecting a a larger or higher-res screen might be disappointed but the look, feel and speed of the M9 is definitely 2015.

The HTC One M9 should be on shelves by mid-March. I couldn’t get the price from any of the people there but I’d expect it to land at around £579 for SIM free.

The HTC One M9 will be available from the following partners:

EE, Three UK, O2, Vodafone, Carphone Warehouse, Amazon, Tesco, Virgin Media, Mobile Phones Direct, Buymobiles.net, Argos, Amazon, Very.co.uk, Brightstar

HTC One M9 Specifications
SIZE: 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61
WEIGHT: 175g
DISPLAY: 5.0 inch, Full HD 1080p
Android™ 5.0 (Lollipop) with HTC Sense™
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810 octa-core CPU
4 x 2GHz + 4 x 1.5GHz
64-bit processing
Total storage: 32GB, available capacity varies
Expandable: microSD™ expansion supports additional memory cards up to 128GB
2G/2.5G - GSM/GPRS/EDGE:850/900/1800/1900 MHz
3G UMTS Varies by region 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
4G LTE Varies by region FDD: Bands 1,3,5,7,8,20,28
TDD: Bands 38,40,41
Nano SIM
Audio supported formats:
Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma, .flac
Recording: .aac
Video supported formats:
Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv, .avi, .mkv
Recording: .mp4
Capacity: 2840mAh
Talk time:
Up to 25.4 hours for 2G / 21.7 hours for 3G
Standby time:
Up to 391 hours for 2G / 402 hours for 3G 5
Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240V AC,
DC output: 5V and 1.5A
Dual-tone metal unibody
HTC Sense Home
One Gallery
Photo Editor