Long Term Review – HTC One M9, July 2017
Almost two years ago, I reviewed the HTC One M9. It seems hard to believe that the first 64-bit HTC flagship is two years old, but a glance at the device shows that it’s been through the works! Since July 2015, the HTC One M9, bought on the AT&T carrier, has been updated to Android 7.0 Nougat. My particular model has a cracked rear camera cover and some cosmetic scrapes and bumps, despite (or perhaps because) it’s been kept in a tough case during this time. Let’s take a look to see how the device fares, starting with the look and feel of the device.
Here, I need to say that the HTC One M9 feels as solid as it ever did, but whilst it’s easier to handle than the HTC One M8 thanks to that lip on the edge, it’s still a slippery device. It isn’t as bad as the LG Nexus 4, which was so slippery it could fall off a level coffee table, but I wouldn’t recommend using the HTC One M9 out of a case. This one has been in a toughened case since close to the start but despite this, the rear lens cover has broken and there’s gold peeling from the chassis. This is where the case sat on the device, so arguably it’s not the fault of the HTC One but of the case. Of course, with no case the smartphone might have been dropped!
In terms of speed, the HTC One M9’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 is still a powerful chipset and the device still has a definite snap to it. It’s not the same as 2017 flagships, but it’s still pleasant to use and is faster than devices such as the Wileyfox Swift 2, but I would expect this: the Snapdragon 810 is a faster chipset and it’s supported by 3 GB of RAM. There’s a healthy 32 GB of internal storage plus a microSD card slot. One issue with the One M9 is heat: the Snapdragon 810 can run warm and when it does, it slows down the chipset, meaning the smartphone feels noticeably slower. Things have improved over the life of the device presumably as HTC refine the chipset settings.
Writing of software; currently the One M9 is running Android 7.0 Nougat, having been launched on Android 5.0 Lollipop and updated through Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It is unlikely to be updated to a newer version of Android, as HTC typically abandon supporting their devices after a couple of years. HTC Sense as a user interface is fast and smooth, and for me it retains enough of HTC’s identity without becoming overbearing. The theming engine, in particular, is fun and easy to use.
HTC BoomSound still sounds amazing, although calls over the speakerphone don’t sound as good as media. There’s also a weird glitch with media volume whereby if a notification sounds, the media audio is muted during this time. However, media volume is not restored to where it was. The fix is to pause and resume playback; hardly a deal breaker, but annoying all the same.
Otherwise, the 5.0-inch, 1080p IPS SuperLCD display is still as crisp as it was when new. It isn’t as glamorous as the modern QHD resolution display panels but it’s perfectly serviceable. Battery life is firmly in the one day camp: as I noted in the original review, standby battery life is pretty good, but work the ‘phone hard and the battery drops quickly. Android 7.0 Nougat’s advanced power saving technologies help here, but if you use the ‘phone for gaming or plenty of network activity, you are probably going to be disappointed with battery life.
Overall, the HTC One M9 has stood up to everyday life reasonably well. It runs Android 7.0 Nougat under HTC Sense well and it’s fluid and responsive. It’s difficult to know what to blame for the cosmetic marks on the device, but they don’t change how well the handset works day by day.