HTC One A9 Review

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HTC has been keeping quiet for the last few months when it comes to high-end devices. Its M10 is still not here, but the company did launch its mid to high end device named the One A9. Let’s see if this HTC phone hits the sweet spot at Rs. 29,999 or not.

The One A9 made out of metal and glass with smooth and curvy sides and edges. As soon as you see one, you might as well notice its similar design, especially the rear side, to the iPhone 6. The dual antenna lines, and otherwise a plain Grey look apart from the protruding 13 MP camera module mounted in the centre-top with the dual LED flash. The front has a 5-inch full HD AMOLED with speaker-grille, sensors and the 4 MP camera above it, and the HTC logo and Home button, that doubles up as a fingerprint scanner, towards the bottom. On the bottom, you have the loudspeaker, microUSB port, primary mix and 3.5mm headset jack. The bottom and left side are left plain, while the right side gets a textured Power/ lock key and volume buttons above it – both tactile enough. The phone feels really nice and premium to hold, might be a bit slippery for most, but not that big a problem with this A9, in my opinion.

The phone sports a 5-inch (1920×1080) AMOLED that has Gorilla Glass 3 on top. The screen is definitely on par with other smartphones in this price range. It has rich Black, saturated colours and good enough for watching high definition videos. Viewing angles are okay, but just that its sunlight visibility is a bit disappointing. Overall, the AMOLED, which HTC doesn’t usually go for, is one of the better things about the One A9.

On the back, there is a 13 MP camera (f/2.0) with dual tone LED flash. Here are a few sample images: 

Added OIS feature helps in low light conditions, but I wasn’t really impressed with the video capability (max. 1080p). The camera can take sharp and detailed photos with decent contrast in good lighting. The camera app also gives you RAW support as well as Pro mode for better control, but for some reason HTC has removed the in-built dual focus mode. Photos seem to have good colour reproduction most of the times but often come out noisy in low light. On the other hand, the 4 MP UltraPixel front-facing camera does a good enough job of selfies whether solo or in groups, plus the camera captures without any shutter lag.

The device is equipped with a 2,150 mAh battery unit. The phone often required to be charged twice in a day, giving me about 14-15 hours that includes nearly 3.5 to 4 hours of screen on time. So, battery life isn’t a strong point, but still not the worst amog phones we saw last year. The phone got charged in nearly two and a half hours using a standard charger (not using a quick power charger). Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS worked just as well as you would like on the phone and didn’t cause any trouble in regular use. The phone also supports 4G but I could only use it for a day, so won’t be okay I comment on it in detail. It requires a nano SIM card. The loudspeaker at the bottom is far from the best I have seen from HTC and its placement doesn’t make it any better for videos and games.

The One A9 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 617 SoC (1.5 GHz quad-core + 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, Adreno 405 GPU) along with 3 GB of RAM. It runs on Android 6.0.1 with HTC’s Sense 7.0 UI (December security patch installed) on top. The phone feels and works very much like any other HTC device from last two years. HTC still has BlinkFeed on the left of Home screens and allows you to add your preferred content to it. Home screens can be poplated with app icons and widgets in usual fashion and the App drawer can be customized through arranging apps in your chosen order. HTC has no longer pre-loaded its music player on the phone, which was one of my favourite music apps on Android, but of course you can download a decent music player from the Play Store. Fonts and toggle buttons in the drop-down shade have been tweaked a little (more condensed look) and both appear a little better to me. Otherwise, app icons and Settings remain untouched. Theme Center also hasn’t gone under much change, but there are definitely more and better options to select from now – from icons, wallpaper, to full themes – there’s a lot of things you can try and customize the OS’s look. Recent apps list is now more like stock Android with all cards in centre, and the previous nine cards look has been done away with. Performance-wise, I wouldn’t say this phone will let you down. Swiping through Home screen,s Settings, switching between apps works smoothly, and there’s not much lag or even stuttering during normal day-to-day usage. Only once did the camera app worked in a rogue manner (kept starting up on its own from the lockscreen), but that got fixed with one reboot. The device (32 GB model) offers about 23 GB of available space and you can use a microSD card, too. The fingerprint scanner does a fine job for unlocking the screen – it is accurate and mostly quick, provided your thumb or finger doesn’t have any moisture. 

All in all, the HTC One A9 comes as a device that gets a lot of things right – latest OS, great screen, design (other than some copy-paste), front-camera, with some things falling in the average category – battery and loudpspeaker. At Rs. 29,999, you might be better wating for a price cut, for a phone that doesn’t have anything majorly wrong in it.

Student. I also write a bit about phones, apps, and stuff here and there. Almost nobody.

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