HTC One M9 first takes: refined, not reborn


The One M9 is the latest flagship device from HTC and the successor to the One M8. The One M9 features beefed up internals such as the new Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 GB of RAM, and a huge 20.7 megapixel camera. Although the internals have been revamped, the externals have seen more of a refinement.

HTC One M9 front

I have previously owned the HTC One M8 and it was a great device. It was nice to have an Android device that actual had a ‘premium’ design for once, and I loved it. Fast-forward to 2015, it was thought that HTC would re-design the One M9 from the ground up, but instead they chose for more of a refinement.

The design is nearly identical to the One M8, aside from the new locations for the volume and power buttons. The one thing I do think is a welcome change is that the edge of the device is more flat than before. It makes the device much easier and more comfortable to hold. The brushed metal backed has a different feel and is less slippery than the One M8, which is good as well.

Speaking of the buttons, one thing to note is that the volume buttons protrude slightly, but the power button is nearly flush with the frame. On top of that, it is hard to differentiate between the three right at first. They have a nice click to them, but aren’t as tactile as I’d like. reminds me of the Nexus 9 buttons.

Another design change I don’t mind is the square-ish sapphire glass cover the camera. While some dislike it, I think it adds a unique feature to the One M9. It makes it distinguishable from other devices, which is good to see in the Android market, especially in 2015.

HTC One M9 back

As far as performance goes, HTC Sense 7.0 is as fast as ever and is a lot smoother than TouchWiz is on the Galaxy S6 edge. The Sense UI took the the same approach as the design of the One M9, as in it isn’t any thing radically different, but is definitely refined.

My complaint about Sense 7.0 is that HTC didn’t really stick to Material Design. There isn’t much to differentiate Sense running Lollipop over Sense running KitKat (aside from new notifications, notification drawer, etc.). HTC stays with their own animations, they axed the Android Lollipop mini game, and even the recent apps doesn’t follow the card stack. I did find out you can enable card stack in recents however.

HTC One M9 recent apps

Lastly, the biggest upgrade the One M9 received over the One M8 is definitely the camera. The M8 had a 4 UltraPixel camera whereas the M9 has a 20.7 megapixel camera. It is an enormous upgrade and you can tell in the photos. So far with my experience, while the camera itself was upgraded, HTC’s image processing software wasn’t. It is almost like the phone doesn’t know what to do with that high of a resolution photo.

I am enjoying my time with One M9 and it is definitely a good phone for 2015. So far, it has performed well (hasn’t overheated) and is definitely a great device to look at and hold. I haven’t had a long enough time to judge battery life, but so far it is better than the S6 edge. I will update that in my full review.


About Author

I skateboard, listen to metal, write on my website FWNED, autocross, and love messing with new phones. Currently I'm using a Pixel XL running Pure Nexus with ElementalX as my daily driver.