Hands On With the HTC One A9

21 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Does it matter that HTC ripped off the iPhone?.

HTC on Tuesday released the new HTC One A9, its latest flagship phone, which will run the latest version of Android and a style that rivals the iPhone — or any other top smartphone on the market. But chances are pretty good that sales aren’t going to be what they need to be for the Taiwanese company, which was once the world’s premier Android phone maker. (In fact, it was the first Android smartphone maker.) That isn’t a commentary on the phone or on HTC’s design team, which has really gone out of its way listen to what consumers want and create a phone that should have great appeal to many smartphone customers. The One A9 packs a 5-inch screen, a 13-megapixel camera and an all-metal construction, running Android 6.0 Marshmallow on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octacore processor. The aluminum design resembles the iPhone 6S, but users can tell it apart by looking at the 13-megapixel rear camera, which is actually in the center rather than justified to the left. And, in a web-only press conference, HTC America president Jason Mackenzie promised that the unlocked version of the phone will receive Android software updates quickly — within 15 days of Google’s own Nexus devices.

But look at the image below, showing the iPhone 6, One A9, and One M9 side by side, and tell me which device the new Android smartphone resembles most. If HTC can pull that off, it should address major gripe among Android users, who often can’t get the latest versions of the system due to obstacles from their carriers or phone manufacturers.

If HTC’s version of events is to be believed, the refinement and lightening — the A9 was also rumored under the codename of Aero — of the M9 design has somehow, magically landed on the exact same proportions and aesthetic as Apple’s iPhone. The iPhone’s double will also have a fingerprint sensor that automatically unlocks the phone — which is reportedly two times faster than the Apple’s TouchID. What I’m curious to know, though, is how you feel about it: will it even matter that this phone is such a blatant iPhone ripoff if it also happens to be really good?

My early impressions have been very positive, and I’m torn between frowning disapprovingly at HTC’s shamelessness and suppressing a smile at the quality of the eventual product. Consumers have shown there’s little room for anyone else looking to make a profitable high-end phone; even Samsung is straining to hold onto its slice of the market. Design features, for which HTC had been highly praised such as previous models’ front-facing speakers or its comfortably curved back, have been stripped from the latest model. But there’s also a danger in designing a smartphone that looks and functions so closely to the iPhone: HTC inevitably will finds itself in competition with a bigger company that accomplishes its goals better.

Even the promise of fast updates highlights HTC’s difficult position — those who want updates quickly will probably opt for Google’s Nexus phones, after all.

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