Thanks to the kind folks at Three UK, I’ve been able to spend some time with the HTC One M9. And, while I won’t be bringing you the full review (Marco is bringing that), I wanted to share some things I liked and didn’t like about the phone from my past week or so. Think of it more as real-life usage feedback than a full-on objective analysis.
Two key questions rose for me before I even switched it on. First: Is the camera any good? And second: Does it really get too hot?
And I’ll answer in reverse order. No, the phone doesn’t get unbearably hot. When I first got it, I spent some time watching videos and playing games and it did get warm. Then I received a small software update and it’s been no trouble since. Granted, it gets a little warm when used for extended periods, but no warmer than my iPhone 6 Plus gets.
Secondly, the camera isn’t as terrible as I was fearing, but it really doesn’t know what to do with its exposure. It regularly over-exposes, leaving the image with less color and contrast than you’d like. And the same can be said of the 4K video recording: it seems to flicker a lot. Unedited, most results will be a little washed out, and it takes a lot of editing to get them looking really good. So if you want to just take a quick picture and have it looking great straight away, this isn’t the phone for you. With that said, it does take pictures really, really quickly.
And while I’m criticizing it, I’ll go on to the display. It just doesn’t seem as good as previous HTC display panels. It’s bright and sharp. And on its own, you might not think there’s anything wrong with it, until you try a display on the Note 4, Galaxy S6 or Nexus 6. Even the Xperia Z3’s display is more lively than the HTC One M9’s. Also: Those bezels...
With that said, there was a lot about it I did like. First off, I love the way it looks. Its brushed metal back and gold trim really do have a classy feel to them. Catch it in the right light and it looks stunning. There’s a solidity and a refinement to it, and it’s nowhere near as slippery as its predecessor.
Second, it’s incredibly fast. I mean, this thing does not hang about. Animations and transitions are fluid and almost instant. That Snapdragon 810 processor makes this thing fly.
And the Dolby-powered BoomSound? Just, wow! Games and movies are so much more immersive than any other phone out there. Even other devices like the Xperia Z3 or Moto X don’t have anything on the speakers on the One M9. It’s not just the volume; it’s the quality of the audio. It doesn’t distort, and even manages respectable levels of the middle and bass frequencies.
None of my complaints from using the One M9 are serious. HTC hasn’t really excited me with the M9, but that’s perhaps my own problem for being so blown away by the M7 and M8 that I was expecting the same this year. Instead, we got some incremental improvements. And here’s the killer: I’ve realized that in my time with the M9, I’ve not once found myself upset or frustrated at anything. Sure, it has its imperfections, but nothing drastic enough for me to want to put it back in its box early. I guess that means it’s actually pretty great overall.