While HTC's brand new and today's announced One M9 is a really important release for HTC, the Taiwanese smartphone specialist tried rather an evolution than a revolution of ithe current line of high-end smartphone series. While the specs all read good, the One M9 (formerly known and code-named as "HTC Hima which stands for "Himalaya") comes with Android 5.0.2/Lollipop, the brand new and enhanced HTC Sense 7, the clear focus was again on design (more about it later). Other high-end specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64 bit octa-core CPU where 4 cores running at up to 2 GHz and the other cores run up to 1.5 GHz. It furthermore supports GSM/GPRS/EDGE at 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, UMTS/HSPA+/HSUPA at 850/900/1900/2100 MHz (varies by region) and 4G/LTE bands 1,3,5,7,8,20,28 or TDD bands 38,40,41 (also varies by region).
Other wireless features include Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX, WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (at 2.4 and 5 GHz), NFC, HTC Connect
for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to compatible multi-room audio systems, TVs, portable speakers and home entertainment systems, DLNA for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to a compatible TV or computer as well as HDMI MHL 3.0 via the micro USB 2.0 port.
There will be one memory version only. The One M9 will have 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of flash memory which can be expanded by microSD memory cards.
Also enhanced is the camera. Unlike the last two Ones, HTC has given up with UltraPixel but is now using a 20 megapixel autofocus camera (from Sony) with a BSI sensor and a f/2.2 27.8 mm sapphire cover lens which allows to record 4K UHD videos. However, HTC has not completely given up with ultrapixel but this time it put it into the front-camera which is now a f/2.0, 26.8 mm ultra wide-angle HTC UltraPixel lens which allows 1080p Full HD video recording.
Not a surprise at all is that the M9 is also featuring HTC BoomSound which now comes with Dolby Audio 5.1-like support.
All this is shown on a 5.0" Full HD 1080p Gorilla Glass protected display and the dual-tone metal unibody measures 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm and weights 157 g; including the 2840 mAh battery.
As said before, the M9 is rather an evolution than a revolution since the HTC's plan was to build an icon and to keep what was great before - the precision of M7 and the ergonomics of M8 - by addressing the weakness. The result is the very fashionable M9, which comes with a minimal design and reduced part count, a single part front bezel which is overall thinner and smaller and a much stronger focus on materials. And HTC is very proud to introduce an industry first dual finish (as used in the watch industry) which also sports jewelry grade hairline finish and a new scratch resistant coating. All this results in over 70 steps and 300 production minutes per M9.
Due to the new design, HTC is also able to introduce new colors and even more important color combinations. Not unexpected are gold and gunmetal gray, since these colors were already introduced with the M8. However, quite unusual is the silver on gold combination which makes the M9 more looking like a jewelry than a mobile phone.
During the recent days here in Barcelona, I had the chance to test the One M9 and it leaves me impressed and a little bit perplex. While there is now doubt that the design evolved again, combining the best of the One M7 and One M8, HTC kicked-out some features of the M8 I really loved. But first about the design: It's outstanding, most likely making it one of the best looking devices at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, if not the whole year. The device isn't as slippery as the M8 used to be, thanks to the razor-sharp edges and different scratch resistant coating. Unfortunately it's (still) not water-resistant, like the M9's Japanese sibling, the Butterfly 2, but that's a problem of the used materials and design. I'm fine with it since the focus was on design. While I see a bright future for the color combinations, neither gold on gold nor silver on gold or pink on gold are my kind of colors. Hopefully HTC will introduce further color combinations in the future, like gunmetal grey on silver, this would be just awesome. But nevertheless, in terms of the design, the used materials and the built-quality HTC gets 12 points from me! More and better is hardly possible.
Now to the downsides, some of the lacking features. This for sure includes everything but HTC Sense 7 which is another major improvement with some cleaver features and functions, which is this time focusing pretty much on customization. But why the heck has HTC given up with UltraPixel and its dual camera as the M8 had? And if not UltraPixel anymore, why not going the Butterfly 2 way which had a 13 megapixel dual camera? Sure, 20 megapixel reads great but this is something every manufacturer can do. Dual camera, with all the special effects, was outstanding and unique. Now the M9 is one of so many. Not a deal-breaker at all but also irritating is the fact that the M9 is also lacking the barometer sensor, which was just introduced with the M8. If the One M9 is about evolution, I have to really wonder why just recently included features are left again in another makeover? It's these small details which frustrates me a little bit. While HTC did a great job in continuing to evolve the design and materials, I don't understand why they switch through features and kick them out as they were just introduced. For me, evolution also means carefully evolving something without replacing one thing with another, just for God's sake.
Anyway, the HTC One M9 is high on my want-list and I can hardly await its commercial release mid of March. But if everything works well, I should receive my review unit anytime before, so stay tuned.
Cheers ~ Arne