Monday, March 30, 2015

Chai Time: My Thoughts on the HTC One M9-Sahen Rai

I must admit, I'm a little disappointed. I got up on the day of both the Samsung and HTC events for their respective flagships, dreaming of megapixels and software fluidity. With HTC first, I settled in to be blown away by amazing, beautiful hardware and useful new features (wireless charging anyone?) Now on the software side, I'm not terribly disappointed. HTC did a pretty nice job with changes to their already pretty nice skin, and that will be gone over below. However on the hardware side, I definitely "sense" things could have gone better.


Tech Radar /HTC One M9
It's not that the M9 is an ugly looking phone; far from it. Its metal uni-body design is a trademark of the One family, and for good reason. It looks really, really nice. But the one (pun not intended) problem I have with the M9 is that it's really........ not that different. The presentation went on and on about how the new M9 was a pinnacle of good design. A revolution in design theory. After I stopped listening they probably even called it the new best phone ever. But I digress, all I'm trying to say is that the new M9 looks exactly like the M8 other than a few minor improvements.

The Snapdragon 810 processor on the M9 is what we expected. It's fast, and is certainly better than the 801 on the M8. From the claims on Snapdragon's website it should help improve battery life and allow for faster wifi connections, so hopefully this turns out to be true with the M9. From what I can tell, gaming performance and overall usability seem to be pretty speedy. With little to no slowdown for most things. Hopefully this lasts, as you never really know a phone until its used for longer than a few months.

Now camera performance seems to be where most people are still having problems. Even with the new sensor, it doesn't seem like the rear camera on  the M9 can compete with the likes of the IPhone 6 plus or Samsung Galaxy s6.

Pocketnow/6 Plus pic

Pocketnow/M9 Pic

As you can see the pictures aren't bad, but they could certainly look better given that we're now in 2015. I mean we have flagships that are a couples years old with 40+ MP sensors, come on HTC we know you can do it. Give us beautiful hardware that can take beautiful pictures.

The story is about the same on the front facing side. Being a selfie scientist myself, I definitely appreciate the front facing HDR mode, and the fact that the Ultra Pixel camera was moved to the front shows you that it's definitely an improvement from last year. 
The results aren't bad, especially considering most phones are more focused on their back facers. The camera here is definitely an improvement from my Moto X as is the back facer, but it's still not enough to be as good as its competitors.

The 5 in 441 ppi screen on the M9 is definitely good-looking, and being that my phones are pretty drop-prone. Gorilla glass 4 is definitely a nice inclusion over last year. I'm happy to see that HTC hasn't jumped on the QHD train like everyone else, because like I always say. There's no visible improvement, and its a waste of battery. Speaking of battery, with the 2840 Mah battery on the M9, the 810s improved battery usage, and relative lightness of Sense, it wouldn't surprise me to hear about great battery on the M9. A definite plus in a day and age where screen quality is more important than how long your phone lasts . 

Finally,let's talk speakers. The speakers on the M9 are apparently even better than last year, and those were some darn good speakers. They were rich, and could really immerse a listener. While I can't say for myself, I've read these ones are as good if not better. Well done HTC.


HTC has done a great job with software this time around. While I've never really been a fan of Sense personally just cause I don't really like the aesthetics. The inclusion of a theming engine is a smart move that makes my argument null and void. 

Pocketnow/M9 Theme engine

Now Sense has always been a relatively lightweight skin, so I'm sure this time around with the latest sillicon the new One is just as good in regards to fluidity. I like that HTC decided to make Sense more "homey" in a way. With suggested apps based on time of day, or restaurant suggestions. Combined with the new theme engine and Sense's already good customization, it can really make the phone feel like yours. There's not really a whole lot else to say, I'm just glad Sense has only changed for the better.

The Verdict:

The M9 is a great all around phone that is somewhat held back by poor camera performance. HTC took the original M8, and made slight improvements all over the place. While they definitely could have gone further in terms of hardware design, I'm happy they didn't mess up what they did right in the first place. Time will tell how the M9 really holds up with its competitors, so I guess we'll have to see what happens!

So there's my thoughts on the HTC One M9. Check back for a potential second look after some time has passed to really see what the M9's all about .Let me know what you think of the M9 on twitter @masala_tech, and keep things spicy!

By Sahen Rai