HTC has announced the One M9, their new flagship smartphone remains true to the look and feel of the One Series with it’s uni body metal design. They’ve stayed true to their design philosophy but definitely made some interesting improvements. Let’s find out the good the bad and the Awesome!
The HTC One M9 has a definite air of luxury with it’s two tone metal finish. What I love about the change in design has nothing to do with looks, HTC listened and they made the device much less slippery. The corners are less round and the edges of the device are much sharper. The HTC M9 remains 5 inches with a 1080p display, under the hood we’ve got a Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
Design – Two Tone UniBody Metal Goodness
The body is carved out of one piece of aluminum in over 70 steps that takes over 300 minutes, only 5% of the raw materials that is the single block of metal survives the crafting process. What is interesting is that the device is actually finished by hand, HTC says ‘Master Craftsmen’, but it just means that it’s hand finished by a person. Over all the device weighs in at 157grams and is 9.61mm thick.
The battery capacity has also increased to 2840mAh and it’s running Android 5.0 with Sense 7.0.
Camera – What’s Going on the Ultra Pixel Camera?
They’ve moved the Ultra Pixel Camera to the front and put in a 20MP camera in the back that’s capable of 4K video recording. This has been a move that many people have been waiting for, even though I’ve always thought that the Ultra Pixel has unreal low light performance. So if you’re a night owl or vampire there is no other phone more suited to your lifestyle. The 20Mp rear facing sensor is from Toshiba and offers you 4K video recording, in great lighting conditions you can see that they are really making good use of the pixels As soon as you hit low light you’ll be happy that you’ve still got the Ultra Pixel camera upfront. Which arguably is one of the best moves ever for a front facing shooter. If you’re familiar with the HTC M8, it is the same improved 4MP Ultra Pixel camera that was found on the rear of last years flagship.
We got to go hands on a HTC Frequencies, a multi-day event where we sit down with executives to learn everything we can about the device, such access is amazing, but it does mean that the version of the handset we got to sit down with didn’t have final software. This was apparent with the camera we can’t judge what we got to check out too harshly since they are going to be pushing an update to the phone before the launch.
One of the biggest missteps on the HTC One M9 is that they didn’t include OIS, this is a feature that is desperately needed. If HTC didn’t play the spec race by adding in a QHD display (which I’m glad they didn’t…I’ll take battery life over the 5 minutes that playing screen porn for your friends is interesting) they should have added in OIS to make the One M9 all about experience. They knocked it out of the park with Sense 7.0.
Sense 7.0 – Love it! Even Though I’ve Never Really Like Sense
I was ready to throw down on HTC if I didn’t see them add in the ability to customize the interface. They’ve give us that with a Theme store whose most amazing feature is that you have the ability to select a photo and theme is generated based on the colors found in the photo. In the video you’ll see Michael Fisher from PocketNow and Chris Hall from Pocket-lint got a hold of my phone and made a questionably beautiful theme. Regardless of the ability to make your phone terrible…lol…it has the ability to increase the level of customization to the shapes and styles of the icons on every level of the UI. This is a huge step forward for HTC, if we remember the One M7 didn’t even come with the ability to change a single UI element. Right now you can upload your theme to the store to share with the community, the next iteration will allow people to sell their themes.
Blinkfeed got an update, there is going to be a higher focus on location specific information. You’ll sometimes see recommendations pop up for places to to eat near by, the suggestion is being populated by Yelp. The lockscreen now provides the ability to push news, events and messages to your lock screen. Notifications can also include your days agenda.
HTC has come out with a Smart launcher, which is basically a light weight widget that uses your location to provide you with a list of apps that are useful in that specific location, it automatically suggests Home, Work and Out. But you can also set one for say the Gym which is a clear use case for when you will always use the same set of applications. The Smart launcher will show you the apps that you use the most in different contexts. If you don’t like it you can just get rid of it, that’s one thing that I dig about Sense 7.0, if you don’t like their suggested applications folder, you can simply delete it. This is feature that could use a bit of an update since the words cut off, but regardless some people will actually find it useful. Right now it’s being populated based on your Apps in Google Play, but in the future HTC would like to get a little more involved.
Like I mentioned earlier HTC is going to be pushing some updates to the Camera but in April the camera is also going to get a significant feature upgrade. The upgrades are going to be available for download through the Google Play Store and what we’re getting in April has the potential to be amazing. HTC will be providing the ability to shoot RAW, each photo will end up around 10MB and to make up for this space hogging activity, you’ll be able to sync to the 100GB of Drive space you’ll get for free for 2 years.
To go along with the photography push we’re going to be seeing is an app called Beautiful Book will be preloaded that lets you print physical books with your images…think flip book style photobooks.
HTC One M9 – The Way the One Should have Always Been
Holding the HTC One M9 in your hand it’s great in hand feel, the edges are sharp and feels very solid. I really think that everyone who gets up on their soapbox to knock down HTC for not putting a QHD display should get down, I’d take more battery life any day and I think your average consumer would as well.
If you’re looking to upgrade from the HTC One M8, you’re going to find it hard to justify the money you’re going to have to spend. If you’ve got an HTC One M7 this is the phone for you. It’s got a similar design in terms on in hand feel and they’ve nailed everything else UI wise, Sense 7.0 screams and it really makes the Snapdragon 810 processor seem like a true beast.
You’ll have to wait for a full review to know how the camera turned out, I can’t wait until the review units are handed out later this month.