HTC One M9 vs HTC One M8 screen-to-body ratio comparison: which one’s …

23 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

HTC One M9 (Unlocked).

Taste matters, and you can’t deny HTC has it. While most of our collective attention has been focused on HTC’s new flagship, the One M9 (which we reviewed already), another device from the manufacturer may prove just as interesting – the One M9 Plus.

Android 5.1 Lollipop is certainly not a big deal, but with a fair share of bugs plaguing the user experience on most devices running 5.0, it’s understandable why everyone wants a piece of the fresher pie. The new HTC One M9 is still the most elegant Android smartphone on the market, with a beautiful all-metal body and tasteful software themes that make Samsung’s designers look like a bunch of kids with crayons.

Leaks and rumors concerning the M9 Plus are sporadic at best, giving us that weird feeling that its fate is not yet decided, though that’s not for lack of such. We’re looking at you, 2013 HTC One proprietors, treated with the same respect as those on 2014 models initially, then left in the lurch, according to VP of Product Management Mo Versi.

HTC sent us an unlocked, international One M9 with non-final software that doesn’t map exactly to the phone being sold in the U.S. (Any other “review” coming out today will have the same issue, as we’re all waiting for carrier units.) So we’re not rating this phone, but providing an extended preview. It’s a solid, all-metal phone at 5.69 by 2.74 by 0.38 inches (HWD) and 5.5 ounces, with a 5-inch, 1080p LCD on the front and Volume and Power buttons on the side.

The rest of the specs we’ve gathered so far (which are in no way confirmed, mind you) include the likes of an octa-core Snapdragon/MediaTek chipset powering the thing, depending on region, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a 20.7-megapixel camera (possibly with a 2.1-megapixel sidekick alike to the One M8), a 4-megapixel front-facing selfie cam, and a 2,840 mAh cell. In terms of launch, word has it that HTC is planning to release launch it in Q1 2015 which means that we should be hearing an announcement before the month is out. In response to outcries, protests and petitions for goodwill, Mo Versi again took to Twitter to leave room for hope. “I heard you all on M7 5.1 for Carrier versions” he tweeted, stressing he “understands everyone’s concerns” and suggesting they will be addressed after all. He also wanted to make it clear “many of the fixes are already in our current SW”, so in other words, M7’s skinned 5.0 firmware is extremely similar to Google’s stock 5.1. It’s not out of the question a non-5.1 maintenance update will ultimately go out to the erstwhile flagship, bundling fixes for every known 5.0 stability issue, but possibly snubbing add-ons like “Device Protection”.

The update has gone live for the unlocked version of the device (the one that isn’t locked to any carrier), and to the developer edition that is sold exclusively stateside. The update weighs in at 584MB and brings all the major features of Lollipop, including Material Design UI touches (though HTC’s Sense skin still reigns supreme), a redesigned recent apps screen with support for multiple pages, lockscreen and heads-up notifications, a search function in the settings menu, support for multiple users, faster performance, and improved battery life thanks to Google’s Project Volta. Within the first year of ownership, HTC will replace your phone once if it has a cracked screen, water damage, or if you’re trying to switch carriers. That last bit is important because each of the four U.S. carriers has its own model of the phone, which may not be compatible with all of the other carriers’ models.

HTC has doubled down on its Sense 7 skin this year, with a range of setup and theming experiences that extend the company’s tasteful physical design into the virtual world. You’re most likely to look at it when you’re waiting around somewhere for a few minutes; I found it a bit frustrating because I didn’t have LTE (as I’ll explain below). It includes the Cloudex cloud-storage software, HTC’s Zoe video-sharing app, Zoodles Kid Mode parental controls, and the Scribble drawing-notebook app, to point out a few you might want to replace. It had excellent results on integer and floating-point math measures, but dragged a bit on graphics compared with more arcane processors like Apple’s A8 and Nvidia’s K1.

Those processors aren’t widely available in Android devices, though, and the Snapdragon 810, for better or for worse, is the fastest mainstream Android processor available right now. The models HTC sent to reviewers lack both the 1700MHz 3G band and all American LTE bands, which means it underperforms on both AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks. Compared directly with a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, low-light photos taken with the HTC M9 have more pixels, but they’re darker and blurrier, with less saturated colors and much more visible artifacting.

Outdoors, the Note 4 (and an iPhone 6) had much better-balanced exposure, whereas the M9 tended to throw darker areas into deep shadow unless I manually adjusted the exposure. The main video camera records at up to 4K resolution, and has a 1080p60 mode. 1080p video captured with the main camera had a perfectly good frame rate of 30 frames per second, but image stabilization was not in evidence, with very wobbly footage. The front-facing camera only captured 1080p video at an unacceptable 12 fps in a standalone video, although it had no problem with 24 fps in split-screen mode.

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