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HTC One A9 Review: Great Device But Camera Can’t Be Its USP
Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC has always been able to keep its position high up in the "Premium Android Market." More so, the company has, stabilized its sales and especially with its age-old and massively successful "One" series, HTC has scored quite an attention from the Android lovers from around the world.
Likewise, the recently launched One A9 is not an exception in any way and impressively, HTC lets the glory of the "One" series further penetrate into the mid-range Android market with the launch of this amazing device at the price of Rs. 29,990.
- Intelligent design
- Runs smooth
- Fast and accurate fingerprint sensor
- Sounds great even without stereo speakers
- Low battery
- Looks similar to iPhone 6
- Camera still needs improvement
Many wouldn't be awestruck with the design of the device, but going beyond the outer shell and form-factor, the One A9 stands out it many ways. It is critically said that the One A9 is the best clone, so far, of the Apple's iPhone 6, but that's just the design and the debate regarding the design, as to who (Apple and HTC) came up with the design first remains a burning topic among the smartphone reviewers.
But the difference between the two devices ends right there. Not an inch further are identical in anyways between the two devices, what-so-ever. Therefore, it's not worth making the fuss about the design as the gut of the two devices are what makes them unique altogether.
As GizBot reviewed the device, we couldn't help but fall in love with the HTC One A9. The major advancements in the device, like the latest Android, improved camera and the surprising part is that the device comes with a ridiculously decent specs but performs like it would defeat the flagship devices like the One M9 from the company's popular line-up.
Anyway, let's go deeper into the subject and see whether you would agree with me or not. Let's carry on with the review.
Although the HTC One A9 does look like the iPhone 6, one shouldn't forget that since the One M7 at the start of 2013, HTC has been coming up with a signature aluminum unibody design. Regarding the back panel of the One A9, instead of calling the One A9 the best iPhone 6 clone, one can call it a best possible combination of the company's very own Desire 820 (shape) and One M7 (metal unibody and graphics on the rear panel). Even the camera module looks similar to the iPhone 6, but mind you, there is a large difference if you go beyond the looks. The similarities end there.
Moving further, let's move on to the real deal. The HTC One A9 has unique charm while holding it. Not only is it smooth in the hands but it also makes you realize that the device is really lightweight. The rectangular fingerprint sensor seated at the bottom of the display further adds a granular unit of design aspect to the device.
The right side of the phone leaves room for volume rocker and just below that is the textured power/lock button. Sadly, the company has released the stereo speakers this time around and the mono speaker grill alongside microUSB, primary microphone and 3.5mm headphone jack can be found at the bottom side of the device. The left side of the device is quite plain with just the microSD card and SIM card slots. There are no buttons beside the fingerprint sensor and just above the display is where you will see the sensor and call speaker, along with the camera module.
HTC has replaced the capacitive touch buttons for on-screen buttons and at 145.75mm, the HTC One A9 is taller than most other smartphones with a 5-inch display, but it is 70.8mm wide, which is very comfortable to the hands. Moreover, the 7.26mm thickness also adds to the design language of the smartphone.
The display of the HTC One A9 is quite likable as it uses the sharp and crispy performance delivering 5-inch AMOLED display offering a resolution of1080p with a pixel density of 441ppi. The color, contrast and brightness of the smartphone is great and the addition of the edge-to-edge 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass gives it an ultra-premium appearance.
One of the major highlights of the HTC one A9 is the camera, which has quite a lot to offer. The smartphone's rear camera comes with a 13MP rear sensor with LED Flash, BSI sensor, OIS, PDAF, f/2.0 aperture and 1080p video recording. The frontal camera features Ultrapixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture and1080p video recording facility.
The Pro mode is that everyone would be interested in. However, since there are quite a lot of devices that come with the progressive camera features, HTC One A9 might possible face a huge competition regarding the camera features.
Anyway, like most of the phones off late, the HTC One A9 gives an option to use custom mode in the form of Pro mode, where you can manually set the camera. You can thus adjust White balance (2300K to 7500K), Exposure, ISO (100 to 1600), Shutter Speed (1/8000s to 2s) and focus mode in this device.
My personal favorite is the fact that it supports RAW (.DNG format) images. Unlike Sony smartphones, the One A9 doesn't come with an independent camera shutter key. However, the company is gracious enough to use the volume rockers as shutter button or use other camera options such as auto smile capture, voice capture and touch to capture.
Talking about the camera performance, frankly, the company could have done better. The images that I clicked with it were pretty good but the Pro Mode is not quite likable, both in terms of interface and performance. The Auto mode would do just fine. Compared with the Lenovo Vibe Shot's manual mode, the HTC One A9, fell short in camera performance.
The low-light images didn't show much of a perfection. However, it's better than most of the other mid-rangers. The dual-tone LED flash does play an important role as it balances a natural color tone. However, that too needs a bit of a knowledge of lights to use efficiently, which most smartphone photo snappers don't really care to think about.
Quite a lot of features make the camera likeable, if you overlook the manual mode. For instance the phase-detection auto-focus (PDAF) gives you an option to cpture anything quickly. HDR shots turned out to be really impressive.
Other camera related perks include hyperlapse mode that saves videos at 720p resolution and you can speed up the videos up to 12x before saving them. Moreover, you can also make slow motion videos out of the hyperlapse videos.
Hardware and Storage
The HTC one A9 is powered by an Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 64-bit processor that has four ARM Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.52 GHz per core and other four Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.21 GHz per core. The CPU is coupled with Adreno 405 GPU and along comes a 3GB RAM.
The hardware combination has played an enormous role in the smooth functioning of the device. The One A9 was more than what we had expected of it. High-end graphic intense games ran effortlessly and we were quite amazed with its performance. No lags, whatsoever, in terms of gaming.
People who needs numbers, the AnTuTu Benchmark v6.0.1 ranked it with 66594 points. It still scores lesser than most of the popular phones like the Nexus 6, OnePlus Two and Samsung Galaxy Note 5. But again that doesn't make the HTC One A9 a lesser efficient device in any way.
The 32GB internal storage of the HTC One A9 is quite enough for an average smartphone user. However, if you need more, HTC has generously offered 2TB microSD card support on this device.
Software and Fingerprint Scanner
The latest version of the Android jells very well with the company's Sense UI. Android 6.0 with Sense, as they call it, still integrates the HTC's signature features like the BlinkFeed, themes, or the Sense Home widget that automatically presents your most-used apps depending on time and location. Additionally, now you can also customize Android notifications shade and card-based multitasking and Google Now on Tap.
The Sense version 7 of the company's UI and Google's Android is mixed in a very congruent fashion in this device. You can't really say whether the device is dominated by HTC's UI or Google's Android in terms of software. Irrespective of the proportion of domination, the HTC One A9 shines bright in software front.
The fingerprint scanner has brought the device to a premium and elegant façade. Not only it has efficient capabilities but the design of the hardware also makes a huge difference in the overall design of the device. The scanning process is pretty fast and one wouldn't be tired of using it for multiple purpose.
Everyone who would get the glance of the specs sheet of the HTC one A9 would be concerned about the battery capacity. The 2150mAh battery with a Quick Charge 3.0 sound's pretty lame. As it is, Android as a whole consumes juice like no other OS, and then you have this 5-inch AMOLED display featuring device running on 8 core CPU.
It is obvious that the HTC One A9 is an odd combination of great capability and feeble energy source. If only the company would have managed to increase the cell efficiency. Nor HTC has ever been praised for batter battery management, which makes the situation even worse for the buyers to decide on the phone.
Unfortunately, no matter how good the device is, the review has to end with a black or white verdict. HTC has come up to a great length in determining themselves as the premium smartphone brand and sure they are. The performance of the device is quite soothing and wouldn't involve any complains except for few areas.
What we liked in the device is the fast fingerprint sensor, light and smooth build quality, camera is quite impressive but can't be its USP. However, the phone is quite likable in terms of design and gut. There will hardly be anyone who will dislike the HTC One A9 after using it.
The only one complain that I personally have is the battery capacity. It did saddened me as I watch a lot of YouTube videos and also tend to be a socially active on networking sites. I am sure most of the users do have the same complain as well.