HTC's One M9 now available

Dressed up in an aluminum uni-body casing, the HTC One M8’s successor, the One M9, is now available, as of last week on the major carriers, excluding Verizon Wireless, in the United States.

Aesthetically, the One M9 looks nearly identical to its predecessor, the only differences being the large square glass lens on the back and the power button’s placement to the side.

The internals are packing Qualcomm’s best chipset and a one-GB increase in memory over last year’s model. In addition, HTC’s UltraPixel camera has been moved to the front. On the back sits a 20 Mp camera, capable of 4K video. Compared to the One M8, the screen size and the resolution remain unchanged.

Here are some key features of the smartphone:

  • 5” 1920 x 1080-pixel display (441 pixels per inch) with Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 chipset with dual quad-core processor: 2 GHz quad-core Cortex A57 plus 1.5 GHz quad-core Cortex-A53 processor, Adreno 430 GPU (graphics processing unit), 3GB of RAM
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop with HTC Sense UI 7.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • 20.7 MP rear-end camera with a 1/2.3" BSI sensor; 27.8mm f/2.2 lens; dual-LED flash; 2160p@30fps video capture
  • 4MP fixed-focus UltraPixel front-facing camera with BSI sensor; 26.8mm f/2.0 lens; HDR; 1080p video recording
  • 32GB of internal storage, microSD card slot, 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years, NFC (Near Field Communication), IR (infrared) port, Bluetooth 4.1
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated microphone
  • Front-facing stereo speakers featuring BoomSound and Dolby Audio
  • 2,840 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 support

Despite this impressive list of specs, some critics have panned HTC’s new flagship too cautious. For example, the screen size and resolution on the One series have been the same for three years. HTC argues that no one needs a resolution higher than 1080p, but its competition, namely Samsung and LG, has already released phones with 1440p displays.

And yet, with smartphones and tablets rivaling low-end laptops of today, is it fair to continue expecting drastic leaps in specs every year? In my opinion, hardly anyone needs the horsepower any of these products possess, unless he or she is using the device as their primary computer. I wouldn’t. A laptop still beats a 10-inch tablet with a keyboard dock and mouse for multitasking.

Unfortunately, HTC also faces troubles relating to the company’s leadership. Shortly after the One M9’s release, the company replaced now former CEO Peter Chou with co-founder Cher Wang.

In 2013, Chou stated he was temporarily giving some CEO duties to Wang so he could focus on product development. Currently, he has been demoted to the head of the Future Development Lab.

Even if this change was planned well in advance, to make the switch this close to the release of the company’s flagship suggests that HTC still is struggling financially, especially as high-level managers continue to resign.

Exercising caution generally is considered to be a good trait for one to have, and HTC is doing that for good reasons. However, mobile products that are deemed innovative typically sell better (i.e. the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy S III from years ago).

Already, the One M9 has been relegated to an evolutionary device upon its release, and I will not argue otherwise. Still, this is a high-end device that is future-proof in nearly every aspect. Unless you desire a really high-definition display (the LG G3, although a bit dated by mobile standards, or the Galaxy S6) or a curved one (the Galaxy S6 Edge), you’ll be content with the One M9, should you need to buy a smartphone right now and it’s the device you choose.

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