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Thread: My Review of the HTC One M9

  1. #1
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    My Review of the HTC One M9

    Immediately following my test of the Samsung Galaxy S6, Howard Chui gave me the opportunity to test the HTC One M9, as it is a direct competitor to the S6. Before I started to write this review however, I reread my opinions on the previous generation M8. What I discovered was that MOST of the aspects of the M9 are virtually identical to the M8. The only thing they "improved" was the rear-facing camera.

    The casing seemed to be of high quality with excellent fit and finish. I'm not sure why, but I don't get the overwhelming feeling that I'm holding a fragile device, as I did whenever I held the Galaxy S6. Perhaps the regular S6 would have felt sturdier, but I'd tested the Edge model, and its wrap around screen might have contributed to the feeling of fragility.

    The overall sound quality, speaker performance, and microphone quality are essentially unchanged from the M8. The front-facing stereo speakers still set the standard for smartphones, but compared to the M7, they just don't hold a candle. Despite how good those speakers CAN SOUND on multimedia audio, they are actually quite poor when used for speakerphone service. In fact, the dinky little speaker in my Galaxy S4 sounds better (and louder) in phone calls than the M9. The earpiece sounds harsh, especially compared to Samsung models, and the microphone produces thin heartless sound that I haven't heard from a phone in ages. Suffice it to say that with the exception of multimedia audio from the stereo speakers, the audio experience on the M9 is strictly sub-standard.

    The screen also strikes me as a carry-over from the M8. The overall brightness is good, but hardly excellent. I compared the screen in direct sunlight at full brightness to that of my S4 at full brightness. Surprisingly, the HTC M9 wasn't especially brighter (though to be fair, it WAS brighter by a small degree). Black levels weren't nearly as good those from an AMOLED screen, and the contrast got worse as the angle of view increased. Despite these misgivings however, the screen is actually very sharp and it's hard to really complain unless you insist on doing side-by-side comparisons with other phones.

    The Qualcomm 810 chipset in the M9 really screams (as the benchmarks demonstrate), but as I noted with the Galaxy S6, the real-world improvement over the Qualcomm 600 chipset in my 2-year-old S4 isn't quite as spectacular as one might expect. In some graphics-intensive situations, the speed difference in the processors is much easier to spot, but the days of seeing eye-popping improvements from one generation to the next are truly over.

    One aspect of the 810 chipset that's hard to ignore however, is just how HOT it makes the phone. Even when doing what seems like low-to-medium duty work on the phone, the back plate can become incredibly warm (uncomfortably so). Some critics accused the Qualcomm 810 of overheating, which was one of the reasons that Samsung decided to abandon Qualcomm for the S6 and use their home-grown alternative, and there seems amble evidence that the phone is scaling back the processor speed in a matter of minutes. It makes one wonder what the point of having such a powerful processor is if you have to cripple it almost right away to prevent it from self-destructing.

    When it comes to storage, HTC has resisted taking the route Samsung followed with the S6 and they've stuck with providing a MicroSD card slot. Many Samsung fans were probably blown away by the loss of the card slot on the S6, and will no doubt find the M9 an attractive alternative because it. However, the battery is not swappable, so if you were hoping for that, HTC doesn't have your back.

    Speaking of the battery, I found battery life to be quite reasonable, especially in light of how much power this phone wastes generating heat. I had the screen turned on for 2 hours straight and the battery dropped only to 72%. No matter how much I'd thought the battery should have been drained, it always pleasantly surprised me.

    When it comes to GPS performance, the M9 is definitely superior to the Galaxy S6 I tested, but it still doesn't quite match the accuracy I can achieve from my S4. I took the M9 on bike rides with me and I tracked the rides using both the M9 and my S4. Over 7 hours worth of tracking, the S4 produced noticeably more accurate tracks, and its GPS chip reported greater numbers of high-accuracy coordinates than the M9. If GPS accuracy is important to you, the M9 beats the pants off the S6, but doesn't match the bar set by earlier GPS chipsets. I don't pretend to know why this has happened, unless manufactures are buying cheaper, less capably chips. I assumed that like all the other hardware, the GPS would continue to IMPROVE over time, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

    As I noted in the first paragraph, the one really big change from the M8 was a switch from the unlamented "Ultra Pixel" camera to a 20 megapixel shooter. The hope was that HTC had finally got their act together and put in something that could compete with the other high-end phones. While the camera is "pretty good", it just doesn't seem to hold a candle to some of the other high-end models on the market (including the iPhone 6 and the new Galaxy S6). The sensor is surprisingly noisy, even in reasonably bright light. Despite the 20 megapixel resolution, the pictures just don't look as sharp as you get from the competition. I could find no reference to the M9 having Optical Image Stabilization, which is now pretty much EXPECTED on a high-end smartphone.

    HTC did learn one lesson from Samsung however. They've finally moved the power button from the top of the phone, where's it was always a pain to get at, to the right side. I'm sure plenty of M7 and M8 users got used to this arrangement, and the change may even disappoint some of them, but most people will find it a welcome modification.

    So in conclusion, I found the M9 far less appealing than I'd really expected. It's certainly a competent smartphone, but it just doesn't shine in any specific way that would attract someone to buying it.

    Pros:

    - Slightly better-than-average multimedia speakers
    - Fast Processor/GPU
    - MicroSD slot
    - Sturdy construction

    Could be Better:

    - So-so screen
    - Multimedia speakers could be louder
    - Somewhat disappointing GPS accuracy

    Cons:

    - Gets way too hot
    - Poor audio overall (multimedia notwithstanding)
    - No Optical Image Stabilization
    - Disappointing camera picture quality
    - No fingerprint reader (not even a swipe one)
    Last edited by Steve Punter; 06-30-2015 at 05:13 PM.

  2. #2
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    Steve really amazing review, I have already used the HTC One and my experience was very bad specially with Camera. After updating my OS Camera goes blue and when I asked to people in market about this reason they told me that you are not the only one who are facing this issue so it's manufacturing fault.

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    Thanks for sharing.

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