Today’s roller coaster of emotions has been brought to you by the letters H, T, and C.
Moments after the official announcement of the HTC One (M9), the device had already, unsurprisingly, made headlines across the tech industry. The HTC One has managed to become one of the most beloved Android flagships in the industry (especially since the revamp of the phone back in 2013 with the introduction of the M7). This year, however, the smartphone is receiving more mixed bag reviews than either of the previous two years, largely in part due to the fact that the M9 looks almost identical to the M8, and that’s not an exaggeration.
However, while the M9 does mirror the M8 in almost every which way, I think HTC would have faced flak for their phone either way this year. Either they went with a totally new design, which could have refreshed the look of the One (but not necessarily make it better), or keep the current design, which seems to have worked really well for them in the past. Then again, I guess maybe having the almost exact same design two years in a row is a little underwhelming, especially when you had this troll image shedding off hope that the M9 wasn’t going to look like rumors suggested at all:
Here we are, though, and the M9 really does look exactly as we were told it would. So, when it comes to the M9’s design, all we can really say is if you liked the design of the M8, you’ll be pleased with the design of the M9.
As the old saying goes, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” and unlike the device’s exterior, the internals have undergone some impressive changes.
The M9 has a 5-inch Super LCD3 display (1920x1080 resolution), runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64-bit octa-core processor, has 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (with support of up to 128GB external storage via microSD), and a 20-megapixel rear-facing camera, moving the infamous 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera to the front of the device. The M9 ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is skinned by Sense 7 UI.
It’s a well-rounded device for sure, but the M9 doesn’t come without its list of pros and cons.
As a plus, the M9 still features the microSD card slot introduced last year in the M8, which might be able to snag some previous Galaxy owners given that the Samsung omitted the microSD card slot this year in the Galaxy S6.
Although many might be dismayed with the lack of changes on the phone’s design, I have to admit that I’m glad the phone didn’t get any bigger. The market is saturated with phablets already, so I’m glad that HTC kept the M9 a modest size (comparably speaking). The dual front-facing BoomSound speakers also remained, which is one of my personal favorite features of the One.
HTC managed to resolve the two-year debacle about whether megapixels really matter or not. Apparently, according to consumers, they do, so instead of using the 4-megapixel UltraPixel as the rear-facing “main” camera this time around they opted for a 20-megapixel camera instead, moving the the UltraPixel camera to the front. While this sounds great on paper, HTC somehow managed to miss out on the memo that optical image stabilization (OIS for short, a feature that helps stabilize photos so they’re not as blurry) was an industry standard at this point in flagships. I’m not sure if massive megapixels will make a big difference or not if the photos have a tendency to come out blurry.
Compromises were made, but at the end of the day the M9 is still a beautiful, powerful phone; it’s just a beautiful, powerful phone that might confuse a lot of people who will end up looking at the M8 and M9 side-by-side in retail stores.
At the end of the day, we’re still looking at a lot of unanswered questions: Are more megapixels truly what people want, or was the UltraPixel camera on the right path that just needed some adjustments? Was the lack of design change the right move, or would a little bit of differentiation have made the device more impressive? It will definitely be interesting to see over the next year whether the changes that HTC made (and the ones that they didn’t) will play out well for them or not.