|Style & Handling|
|+ Good looks||- Unoriginal design|
|+ Great camera||- Mid-range processor|
|+ Android Marshmallow||- Suspect battery|
Verdict: The HTC One A9 is stylish and feature-packed, but it’s a little too expensive and a little too similar to a certain Apple phone.
The HTC One A9 looks a lot like a flagship, but this is no successor to the HTC One M9. Instead it’s a slightly lower end iPhone-inspired device, with stylish good looks and a fingerprint scanner.
That might sound promising and in many ways the HTC One A9 is a great phone, but there’s certainly room for improvement.
The HTC One A9 has a slim and compact aluminium shell, coming in at 145.8 x 70.8 x 7.3mm and 143g. It’s not tiny then, but it’s far from phablet sized either and it’s impressively thin. It looks good, though it’s not quite as comfortable in the hand as the curvier HTC One M9.
Another issue is that it looks a lot like the iPhone 6S. You might not mind that, after all Apple’s handset is incredibly stylish, but it’s a shame HTC couldn’t have come up with something more original and it does mean people might mistake it for an iPhone, or an iPhone knock-off. Check out the video below to see for yourself.
There’s a 5.0-inch 1080 x 1920 AMOLED screen on the HTC One A9. Visuals are as bright and vibrant as you’d expect with AMOLED technology and that size and resolution translates to a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch.
That’s as sharp as anyone really needs their phone to be, though compare it side by side with the QHD Samsung Galaxy S6 for example and there are differences to be found, with the S6 visibly the sharper of the two.
Still, the HTC One A9 isn’t quite meant to be a flagship and it still matches the HTC One M9 for size and resolution, so that’s no bad going.
Thankfully there’s nothing bad to report about the camera. The A9 has a 13-megapixel snapper on the back, complete with optical image stabilisation and a dual-LED flash, so it’s not lacking for features and it performs well even in dim environments.
There are even tools for those more serious about their photography, with for example the ability to save your snaps in RAW format, or if you’re all about selfies you can use the 4 UltraPixel front-facing camera to take high quality ones.
Video is capped at 1080p and 30fps, which is no match for the 4K shooters we’re seeing on some phones, but the quality is pretty reasonable. You can see some of the camera features in action in the video below.
The HTC One A9 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, which is something very few phones do and most are yet to be updated to it either.
While it will be coming to a large number of handsets in the short term it gives the HTC One A9 almost exclusive access to new features, like the battery-saving Doze mode and improvements to Google Now.
The HTC One A9 also has a fingerprint scanner, baked into a button below the screen. This is another area where it feels a bit iPhone inspired, but it’s undeniably useful and speedy and should get even more useful once Android Pay arrives.
The other major feature of the HTC One A9 is its ability to play Hi-Res audio and even upscale lower resolution tracks. Sony has been doing this sort of thing for a while but it’s nice to see HTC get in on the act.
The HTC One A9 has a 2150mAh battery. That’s pretty small. To put it in perspective the HTC One M9 has a 2840mAh battery with the same size and resolution screen and even that doesn’t have particularly great battery life.
Sadly, the A9’s battery performance is almost as underwhelming as you might expect. It’s not a total disaster and the battery saving tools built in to Android Marshmallow probably help there, but you’re going to be charging it daily. Thankfully when you do it won’t take long as it supports fast charging.
Memory comes in at 16 or 32GB, but you’re not just choosing the storage amount as you only get 2GB of RAM with the 16GB version, while the 32GB one has 3GB of RAM. Either way you’ll also get a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 200GB.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and Bluetooth 4.1.
The HTC One A9 achieves quite a lot considering it’s not even a flagship. It has an octa-core processor, a great camera, a good screen, a stylish build, a fingerprint scanner and Android Marshmallow.
But with iffy battery life and an noncompetitive price tag of around £480 it’s still not the easiest sell in the world. You can pick up an HTC One M9 for less or an iPhone 6S for not a whole lot more.
Taken on its own merits it’s a great phone and one you won’t likely be disappointed in, but unless you really want the exact combination of specs and features offered by the HTC One A9 there are better options out there.