It is not a stretch to say that the HTC One M8 was our favourite phone of 2014. It picked up five stars in our review, got an Editor’s Choice badge, and also received the Editor’s Choice Award in the 2014 What Mobile Awards. So¦ No pressure on the sequel, eh?
The HTC One M9 has now been officially revealed. Whilst the M8 had the element of surprise in just how excellent it was, despite the numerous accolades handed to the original One, the M9 arrives under considerably different circumstances.
Obviously very much aware of what made the M8 so popular, HTC has epitomised the theory of ‘evolution vs revolution’ in the M9. The handset looks very similar and feels very similar, and has taken some very sensible steps forward in terms of hardware. And that’s a good thing.
The handset still uses a 5-inch 1080p full-HD display and still features the dual BoomSound front-facing speakers. The result is a handset identical in height and width to the M8. The edges of the device are perhaps a touch flatter, with the back of the sides squared off rather than rounded. The result is in a phone which feels a little more square in your hand, but you’d be hard pushed to notice a difference with the naked eye.
The unibody metal design that was invariably loved by all is back again. The rear of the M9 feels slightly rougher than its predecessor, whilst the grain of the metal is actually a little more subtle – at least on the design we handled.
Like last time around the new One is available in three different colours, albeit with a slight twist. The Gunmetal Grey, Silver and Gold hues return, but with a contrasted edge. On the Gunmetal Grey design the edges are glossy black, on the Silver they’re gold and on the Gold it’s yet more gold.
Whilst these are all fairly subtle changes there is one undeniably big one. The main criticism of last year’s M8 was the controversial rear-facing camera. It used HTC’s own ‘UltraPixel’ dual-lens design, which offered fewer megapixels of much greater size. These two cameras worked in tandem to offer a fairly unique photographic experience.
Not everyone was a fan however, and much was made of how supposedly inferior it was to other flagship snappers. Rather than try and force the issue, HTC has gone back on its initial vision and installed a single 20-megapixel rear-facing camera on the M9. Even more interestingly, the UltraPixel lens of the M8 is now the front-facing camera on the M9. This could potentially be the best selfie-taker ever.
There’s change on the inside too as HTC opts to go with Qualcomm’s latest processor, the Snapdragon 810. It’s octa-core rather than quad-core, meaning you should get greater efficiency in day-to-day use whilst losing none of the top-end power required to play the latest games. Smoothness is something we instantly associate with the One series, so this is extra promising.
The handset will come running Lollipop, the latest version of Android, straight out of the box with HTC’s Sense overlay present as ever. There’s been some tweaks this time round, with a new feature allowing you to completely customise the theme of your device with one touch.
The M9 is capable of using any one of your favourite photos as a source of inspiration for a theme. It extracts the key colours from the image and completely changes the colours everywhere else on the device, from fonts to menus to icons. We’ve seen it demonstrated and it’s a great concept, and will certainly help distinguish your M9 from everyone else’s.
And now for the one key bit of information you’re surely most eager to hear: the release date. The HTC One M9 will be available to buy in the UK from March 31st. That’s right, you’ll be able to buy it before the end of the month – just 30 days after its official announcement. Good job, HTC.