We got a chance to take the HTC One M9 out for a spin for several months. Does HTC still have the touch or does the phone come up short. Take a look below to find out.
- Gorgeous Screen – HTC has put a lot into making this phone and it’s quite evident with the build quality of the HTC One M9. The first thing you’ll notice is the very capable 5.0 inch, Full HD 1080p display. It is Gorilla Glass so it’s super tough as well. The colors are very vibrant and it was a welcome step up from my Nexus 5. When playing games, the display really shines making games like World of Tanks or any other high def game look awesome.
- Speakers – HTC hit a home run with their dual front facing speakers earlier on and haven’t fixed what wasn’t broken. This is easily one of my favorite features of the phone. I do consume quite a bit of media on my cellphone in general so this is a big deal for me. . What I love most about it is that my hands don’t get in the way of the speaker as much. Usually, when the speaker is at the bottom when I hold my device in landscape mode one of my hands is muffling sound from the speaker. This doesn’t happen nearly as often with the front facing speakers on the M9. They’ve also got what they’re calling “HTC Boom Sound” which I initially thought was going to be gimmicky. It’s not. It does make a difference. I’ve even caught myself looking around because I thought someone else was in my apartment because of a sound that came from one of the speakers. They are very crisp and loud enough for personal use. If you are using it for outdoors or for an impromptu dance party you’ll still want some external bluetooth speakers. The HTC One M9 does have the ability to stream to multiple bluetooth speakers and control setup of each one individually but I don’t ever use that as I don’t have that many speakers – but some may. While I’m here, I might as well mention that there is also included an expansion microsD card slot which theoretically can support up to 2TB of additional storage. This will come in handy for taking media with you wherever you want.
- Luxurious Feel – I loved the way the phone felt in my had as soon as I picked it up. Compared to many of the Nexus earlier Nexus devices, this phone has a lot more heft to it. It feels solid and you definitely don’t want to drop it on your toes as it will hurt. Seriously. The polish really does make you feel like you have something very expensive in your hands and I really like that. I have the Gold on Gold option which is a lot more shiny than my usual tastes but it is something that is immediately noticeable in a room once you pull it out. I’ve already gotten more than a few “What phone is that” inquiries. I’ll also take some time to mention here how tough the phone is. As you probably already guessed, I’ve dropped this phone a few times and it doesn’t have any noticeable damage. No scratches on the back and the screen has held up to the punishment of city living. I haven’t gotten a case for it yet, but it’s doing pretty well naked. It’s been in the pocket with keys and change and it’s totally fine. Full marks in my book for durability which is what I’d expect from a phone that is this well made.
- Camera Features – I liked the rear facing 20MP camera as it took well balanced photos but I wasn’t wowed out of my seat with image quality but it does record video in 4K – not that I have a 4K display to view it on yet. I did like the fact that it has a sapphire crystal lense cover, but it might have been over kill as I’ve never had a scratch on any of my lense covers on previous phones. That said, I’m happy to have it as it makes me feel elite! I was actually more impressed though, with the front facing camera and some of the camera features. The front facing camera took really good selfie shots in low light and without a flash. I was super impressed and this phone is now my official selfie phone. The front facing camera didn’t have a megapixel count that I could glean, but it is what HTC is calling “Ultra Pixel” whatever that means. Long story short, it’s just a way of saying that the pixels in their images are are bigger than normal sized pixels so you get more bang for your buck where pixels are concerned. Not as many pixels, but the pixels you do have are ummm… Ultra! I did like some of the features that came standard with the phone like a slow-mo cam and saving camera settings as selectable icons.
- slow mo – with a nice camera you can have lots of fun in social media using this functionality. Comes in handy on vacation, night out with the guys, or dilly-dallying around at home or work. It works well and I like having this extra option when taking videos.
- Saving camera settings – I’ve already saved slow-mo as a separate setting so that I don’t have to fiddle with the settings in camera every single time if I want to use it. This saves so much time and headache especially when you have to think fast. I can just maneuver to that setup and oila! This works for other settings such as ISO and Exposure settings. It’s already come in super handy.
- Runs Hot – This is something that hasn’t traditionally bothered me before in any other device, but I found it concerning on this one. It can get really, REALLY hot when doing something graphically intensive like playing a particularly long video or playing a graphic heavy game for more than 20 minutes. I really can’t imagine down in a place like Florida or the Caribbean on a hot day playing a quick game outside. I mean you could, but at your own risk. It gets so hot that I honestly worry about the phone’s innards at times. It’s hot enough to bring discomfort to the hand. I’ve left a game on for a little while and come back and have been significantly worried that I may have caused long term damage to the screen or chipset because of how hot the phone was.
- Volume buttons – I really don’t like the placement of the volume buttons right above the power button on the right side. I do like the power button where it is on the right side as I find it very handy when turning off the screen or waking the phone with just one hand, but I often struggle to adjust volume with one hand because the device is so tall. When watching a video in the dark I also accidentally turn off the device when trying to turn the volume down which happens a little more often than I would like and is actually pretty annoying. I end up feeling up the device to make sure I have the right buttons ahead of time which take a little time but is a little more accurate. In the future, I’d really like to see HTC move the volume buttons back to the left side and the single power button on the right.
- Interface – Back in the day, was the bomb and did a much better job than many of the major stock OSs in terms of cleanness and simplicity. Honestly, I think Android, and Microsoft for that matter, have cleaned up their act significantly and so Sense isn’t as needed as it once was. I find myself drawn back to the stock Android experience. I do like a few of the Sense features like the “Boom Sound” or the Camera features like Bokeh, Slow-Mo and Photobooth but that’s really it. I don’t use anything else and I actually got another launcher just because I didn’t really like stock designs. Granted, you can actually take a picture and have Sense take colors from the picture you took and integrate them into the interface which is impressive, but I’m not really a photo-as-a-background sort of guy. Others may find Sense just fine, but it didn’t work well for me.
Overall – This is pretty solid phone. It will turn heads because it’s quite stylish and well made. It is quite capable as well with it’s 3GB of DDR4 RAM, 20MP Front Facing Camera with Dual LED Flash, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64 bit processor. It’s no slouch when compared to other flagship phones and it’s speakers set it apart as a go-to device for media consumption. I wasn’t as impressed with the Sense Android skin as I once was but I think this has more to do with Android stepping up their game than it does with HTC slipping on their software development. I was really concerned about the heat issue which I hope gets better with further iterations but I’d have no problems recommending this device to anyone who asked.