HTC One M9: so what exactly is new?

The HTC One M9 has been officially unveiled. The third iteration of the product, it retains the same design as the previous models (with a few tweaks here and there). It means all the changes are on the inside. But what exactly are those changes? What is new about the One M9, and is it worth upgrading from a One M8 or even an M7? We take a look.



HTC One M9 specs

First, a quick rundown of the key specs of the HTC One M9.

  • OS: Android 5.0 with Sense Seven
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, oct-core with 4 x 2GHz and 4 x 1.5GHz, 64-bit
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB, of which 21GB is available. microSD card slot
  • Screen size: 5-inch
  • Display resolution: 1080p
  • Dimensions: 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm
  • Weight: 157g
  • Rear camera: 20MP, f/2.2, 27.8mm equiv. lens
  • Front camera: HTC UltraPixel (4MP), f/2.0, 26.8mm equiv. lens
  • Battery: 2840mAh

htc-one-m9-back

HTC One M9: what’s changed?

The difference between the HTC One M9 and the One M8 are actually fairly minimal, in what is only an incremental update to the flagship handset.

Design tweaks

The design remains largely unchanged, with the large speakers at the top and bottom that add extra height to the device, as well as the black bar below the screen containing the HTC logo.

htc-one-m9



Contrary to popular belief, this is not unused space. There’s a whole lot of tech beneath it, and HTC has obviously been unable to reconfigure the device’s innards in such a way that this bar could be removed.

The build materials have been upgraded further, with metal throughout. Best of all, the power button has now been moved to the side, where it is within easy reach of your thumb.

BoomSound improvements

HTC has regrettably not improved the name of the otherwise splendid speakers that sit at the top and bottom the handset.

With support for 24-bit sound you can listen to audio at qualities beyond CD levels, assuming you have content at this quality.

HTC has also added 5.1 surround from Dolby, which should significantly enhance the movie watching experience.

A new camera

The biggest change in the HTC One M9 is to the camera. The UltraPixel camera, of just four megapixels, has been moved to the front for selfies. On the back is a new 20MP camera for much higher resolution images.

htc-one-m9-selfie

We always felt that HTC’s UltraPixel camera was an unnecessary risk to take on an otherwise excellent device, especially since its performance never even came close to the levels that HTC was claiming. The move to a 20MP camera will make the phone more attractive to the average consumer, which generally still views more pixels as being better.

This is a myth, of course, but will help to make the phone an easier sell on the high street.

Sadly, early word suggests that the camera may still be a relative weak point for the phone, although for most ambitious shooters HTC has added support for RAW.

Is it worth upgrading from an HTC One M8?

There’s plenty of life in the HTC One M8 just yet, with the upgrade to Lollipop and a potential future upgrade to HTC Sense Seven.

It’s hard to make a compelling case for switching from last year’s flagship to this year’s. The One M9 is a very incremental update, and even the camera change offers nothing truly revolutionary.

The Snapdragon 810 processor should offer improvement performance, and potentially better battery life. But since performance was never a weak point with the M8 in the first place it’s questionable how far you’d even notice this.

From a One M7 the performance improvements will be more noticeable, and the addition of a memory card slot will be very welcome for many users. Battery life should be better too.

For many One M7 the question may be whether they want to upgrade to what is just a newer version of the same device, or whether they fancy trying something else.

The newly resurgent Samsung, with the Galaxy S6, may make that a tougher choice.

  • fako namo

    Coming from an Xperia Z original to the M9 I notice few differences. Design is moderately fugly with curved back which makes the phone impossible to lay flat and therefore it skids all over the console in your car. The allegedly 20 mp front camera is almost unusable due to the downright wonky user interface. Processor speed is meh, most features need to be turned off in order to save power in the wimpy battery. Overall I miss my Xperia.
    M9 isn’t recommended.