HTC One A9 is the above mid-range but below the high-end category device from the HTC which comes with high-end hardware, a great design and under the semi-premium segment of smartphones.
I was trying the HTC One A9 since last few days and in this post, I am going to share the detailed hands-on review of HTC One A9 with all Geeky Stuffs readers. This review is divided in multiple sections considering the pros and cons of each of them.
So, have a look on this detailed hands-on review of HTC One A9 and feel free to share your feedback and experience about the device if you are already using it.
HTC One A9 : Hands-on Review, Specs and Features
Retail Box and Unboxing
HTC One A9 comes in a nice retail box with a textured top very similar to our HTC One M9+ retail box. It resembles the HTC’s popular Dot View smartcovers. Inside the retail box you will find the phone along with the USB cable, earphones, charger , SIM card tray ejector tool and few user manuals.
You can watch the HTC One A9 unboxing video below.
HTC One A9 sports a premium design and it feels the same while holding in the hand. The good and bad thing about HTC One A9 design is that it is not having the same old and popular design of HTC One series of smartphone. And another good and bad thing about its design is that it is dangerously similar to iPhone 6 even though it is still similar HTC One M8. So if you like the iPhone’s design, you will like the One A9 too and if not, you won’t like One A9’s design.
On the front, there is the set of sensor and the UltraPixel front camera. The LED notification is hidden well along with sensors. There are no navigation keys on the device and navigation keys are given on the screen. The fingerprint sensor also doubles up as the Home key.
There is the HTC branding below the screen which occupies a good amount of real state of the device and reduces its “screen to body” ratio and increase the overall size of the device which is a negative point of its design. One HTC logo on the back should be enough for the branding purpose.
On the back side, we got a 13 MP primary camera coupled with the dual tone-dual LED flash. There are volume rockers and power keys given on the right side of the device. The SIM card slot and microSD card slots are on the left. 3.5 mm audio jack, speaker and USB port are given at the bottom.
HTC One A9 is having the full metal body and the sophisticated brushed design which gives it a premium look. The backpanel is non-removable and curved at the corners to fit perfectly in the hands.
Screen and Display
HTC One A9 sports a 5-inch screen with 1080 x 1920 pixels resolutions which provides you 441 ppi pixel density. Since the navigation keys are provided on screen, it occupies a good amount of the screen and reduces the effective size. The screen-to-body ratio we get on HTC One A9 is only 66% that is average and could be better if the branding was removed given below the screen or by using the off-screen navigation keys.
The screen is protected by the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 which performs really nice to save the screen from scratches and minor damages. The AMOLED display is really nice and bright enough. The viewing angles and sunlight readability are impressive too. There is also Color Profile option provided in which you can select the AMOLED or sRGB option for your viewing pleasure.
Hardware Specs and OS
HTC One A9 comes with Qualcomm MSM8952 Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor along with the Adreno 405. The 2GB RAM version comes with 16 GB of internal memory and 3 GB RAM version sports 32 GB internal memory. The one we got for the review had the 2GB of RAM. The memory is expandable expandable up to 200 GB using the dedicated microSD card.
The sensors provided in HTC One A9 are accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor, magnetic compass and fingerprint scanner and all of them are very responsive.
Fingerprint scanner on HTC One A9 is fast and very responsive. It is designed just to unlock the device, go to Home screen or to lit up the screen and works as "One touch unlock". Unfortunately, there is nothing else you can do by it. It would be great if there were more functions like using the fingerprint sensor to take images in Huawei Mate S or scroll the content in the gallery.
The performance of the hardware and all sensors are good. You can watch our AnTuTu benchmarking test of HTC One A9 in which it scored better than the HTC One M9+ and equivalent to LG G4. Overall performance of the device is nice and you will not feel any kind of lag while using the device heavily, playing high-end games or any issues. And the 3 GB RAM version of HTC One A9 should perform even better.
On the connectivity side, we got the 4G LTE connectivity, Bluetooth v4.1 with A2DP and apt-X, NFC, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA. There is just one SIM slot provided in this device. So if you are looking for a dual-SIM smartphone, you can reject the HTC One A9 at the very first glance.
It runs on the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow OS and comes with the HTC Sense UI 7.0 which is feature rich UI. Though the UI is good and user friendly but also resource hungry and consumes lots of RAM. But still, the performance is not affected by it and you will not any feel any lag while using the device.
Camera and Imaging
HTC One A9 sports a 13 MP primary camera which is capable of taking 1080p full HD video recording. The images coming out of primary camera are good in quality and detail. Also the colors are more accurate and vivid than the camera of HTC One M9+.
There are lots of option available in the camera settings. Few new options are added and few old and useless ones like PhotoBooth and Split Capture are removed. Even the manual controls are provided as Pro mode to let manually adjust the brightness, ISO level, shutter speed up to 2 seconds etc. to get the best shot from your HTC One A9. RAW option in Pro mode let you capture images in high quality RAW format for editing them later. There are Hyperlapse, Slow Motion shooting modes available as well and the auto-focus is really fast.
On the front side, we got the 4 MP UltraPixel camera with 2µm pixel size which performs really great. The low light imaging capability of HTC One A9 front camera is really nice, thanks to HTC UltraPixel technology. But for some reason, the front camera images do not look as vivid as the one coming from the HTC One M9+ even though both are having the exact same camera.
When it comes to video recording, HTC One A9 can record the 1080p full HD resolution in good quality, also in the low light situation. The front facing camera of HTC One A9 can also record 1080p Full HD video in good quality with great details. While using the Hyperlapse, you will only get 720p video quality.
One big drawback of HTC Camera app is that the Panorama mode doesn’t let you take images vertically which is a very old feature of the Android stock camera app but still missing in HTC Camera app. But for casual photography, HTC One A9 scores pretty good specially for the front facing camera quality.
Entertainment and Gaming
When it comes to entertainment, HTC One A9 is a good performer. Thanks to Dolby Audio and High-Res audio support, you will enjoy playing games and watching videos on it for sure. But if you are a fan of BoomSound available on previous HTC One smartphones then you are going to be disappointed with the HTC One A9 as it supports BoomSound only in wired playback. And also the dual speakers in the front are not provided.
The music app is pretty basic with not much options and settings in it. But the sound quality is good. It also let you download the Album Art and song lyrics for the songs you are having in your phone. While you are using the earphones, you will have more options to select depending on the type of earphone you are using.
HTC One A9 supports the high-resolution audio format that is above the CD quality audio. So if you are having the high-res audio files, you can enjoy the great quality music on your HTC One A9.
The video player of HTC One A9 is pretty good and support most of the formats. But it does not support the 4K video playback. But since this device do not record a 4K video in itself, you are rarely going to transfer a 4K video file to it and play.
Gaming performance of HTC One A9 is really nice. Thanks to high-end processors and nice screen, you will enjoy playing the high-end games on this device. The graphics quality is nice and so is the performance of all the sensors which enhance the user experience while games. We played few high end 3D graphics games like N.O.V.A. 3, Asphalt 8 : Airborne etc. on our HTC One A9 and the eprformance of the device was really nice.
The only drawback is that the speaker is provided at the bottom and while playing a game in landscape mode, you will end up covering the speaker with your palm and fingers. It is a bit annoying and if you have used the HTC smartphones with front speakers then, you are going to miss them for sure.
When it comes to productivity HTC One A9 is having its own set of productivity features and app. There is the HTC Sense Home widget which smartly categorized the apps and provide you to use when you are at Work, Home or Outside. You can even improve the experience by providing the GPS location of your home and workplace and then it will automatically switch its status to provide you the most suitable app depending on your current location. It also suggests you new apps to download for that particular app category.
Then there is HTC BlinkFeed which let you get all the latest news, updates from social media accounts etc. on your Home screen in a beautifully designed magazine theme. But keep in mind that it will consume a good amount of RAM on your device and also the Internet data if you allow it to be loaded on the mobile Internet.
Zoe Video Editor let you create videos from the images in the gallery, make hyperlapse videos easily with lots of nice features and options. Also, there are lots of gesture settings provided to increase your productivity on HTC One A9.
HTC One A9 comes with small non-removable 2150 Li-ion mAh battery. The standby performance of the battery is pretty good but once you start using the phone for awhile, you will find that the performance is not great. Due to resource hungry processor, small battery capacity, big screen size and the HTC Sense running in the background, the battery performance is not that great.
For general usage, the battery performs is pretty good but if you play high-end games, record and play HD videos and keep the brightness at full, the battery drains really fast. The good thing is that HTC One A9 comes with few battery saving modes like Power Saver and Extreme Power Sving Mode that improve the battery performance by cutting the features of your device and turning off hardware. But if you are a heavy user like me, you will try to avoid using the battery saving mode as it reduces the device performance.
HTC One A9 supports the Quick Charging too but the compatible charger is not provided in the retail box and you will buy one to use the quick charging feature on your HTC One A9.
HTC One A9 is a great device with beautiful design, premium looks and good performance. The camera performance is nice, specially the front camera is brilliant. It is having a premium feel from every angle and comes with a nice overall performance as well from productivity to entertainment.
Though the device is a bit expensive and you can find a smartphone with similar features and performance at similar or slightly cheaper price, if you are looking for a great looking device with nice camera quality and good performance then you should go with the HTC One A9.