Tech Tools Review: HTC One A9

HTC’s latest offering fits in with most of the current crop of smartphones

Product name: HTC One A9

Price: €0.0

Where to buy: phone stores

Website:

Thu, Dec 10, 2015, 13:00

   

The HTC One A9 may not be the flagship One handset, but it tries to hold its own among the mid-range market.

HTC’s latest offering fits in with most of the current crop of smartphones: a metal uni-body design, 5in screen and Gorilla Glass 4. In fact, looking at it from a distance, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for an iPhone 6s. Yes, they share some common elements. But to be fair to HTC, the metal uni-body is a design drum the company has been banging for a long time. Look back some years at the HTC One design and you’ll see the similarities to the current One A9. The edges are more rounded and it has been slimmed down, but the design DNA is there.

The A9 though has some of its own personality. That 5in screen is edge-to-edge, which makes it larger than other phones of similar dimensions and yet still compact.

But it’s the camera that deserves a bit of attention. The A9 comes with a 4 megapixel front-facing camera, a 13 megapixel rear facing one, enough modes to cover most situations and optical image stabilisation.

The camera adjusts for your current conditions – bright sunlight, low light – but you can switch to panorama at a swipe or access the pro option which allows you to shoot in Raw rather than Jpeg file format. Raw would appeal to those who want a little more control over their finished images and who like to process the footage themselves rather than trust it to the chip in the camera phone.

Even if you prefer the point and shoot option, the end results are more than decent. The photo quality on the camera is impressive, with good detail and colour reproduction. There’s a few video options, including a time-lapse mode and slow motion.

You can edit the resulting footage on the phone before sharing it with friends or uploading it to a sharing service.

Running the latest version of Android, known as Marshmallow, the A9 has also worked in the ubiquitous fingerprint reader to keep information secure. It works reasonably well, with only one hiccup when trying to read my thumbprint.

The A9 offers the choice of 16gb and 32gb versions, which doesn’t quite meet the standards of the iPhone 6S. But you can expand that capacity with a Micro SD card, unlike other metal-bodied phones. It’s a good decision on the part of HTC.

What is less of a good move is the decision to remove the dual front speakers that have become a part of HTC’s design. While the sound is still okay, it doesn’t have the same quality as before.

The good

The camera on the HTC One A9 is worth a mention as it gives a good level of control over what you’re shooting. The pro mode in particular resulted in better images than we expected from a camera phone.

The not so good

The price of the HTC One A9 may be a sticking point. In a crowded mid-range market, the ones that are rising to the top are those with a mid-range price for high-end spec, such as the OnePlus range, Motorola’s X Play and Huawei’s Ascend G7. HTC may have stiffer competition than they’d like in this sector.

The rest

The A9 also supports quick charge, which means a few minutes of power will get you a lot of talk time.

Verdict

HHH A nicely designed phone that will undoubtedly be compared to the iPhone 6S. It may find it is up against a lot of competition in the mid-range market though.