Tech Review: HTC One M9

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HTC One M9

HTC One M9

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The problem with smartphones is that they’re all starting to look alike!  The processors get better, the cameras get better, the screens get clearer but the phones aren’t changing much.  The HTC One M9 looks a lot like the M8 before it and the M7 before that.  It’s not a bad thing, it’s a sign of how far we’ve come.  I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Hardware

It has brushed metal on the back and glass on the front covering a nice 5″ 1080p screen.  The HTC One M9 falls into the sweet spot for me.  It’s not too big (hello iPhone 6 Plus) and not too small.  Inside is an octa core  Snapdragon processor.  It keeps the M9 screaming right along.  HTC isn’t know for having the best cameras but this time around they packed a 20 Megapixel shooter into the back.  They took their “UltraPixel” technology and moved it around to the front.  The UltraPixel camera was a decent, albeit not amazing, back camera.  On the other hand it makes for an awesome front-facing camera.  The 20 Megapixel shooter does a good job in outdoor light but many shots turned up blurry in my testing in normal office lighting.

The M9 also has a built in IR transmitter on the top that lets you use the Peel app to turn your M9 into a remote control.  This is a cool feature that Samsung has also been doing for a while.  I like it but personally don’t use it much.

The M9 feels rock solid.  HTC knows how to build a phone and you can tell with the M9.  From the finishes to the tightness of the build, it’s just a solid smartphone.

Software

The M9 runs Android 5 with plenty of HTC modifications.  While Samsung has pulled back on the Android mods it seems HTC has stayed the course.  They brag about their “themes” that let you change the overall look and feel of the OS with just a few taps.  I know a lot of people enjoy changing the fonts, icons and colors.  It’s cool!  For me though, it feels a bit gimmicky.

HTC also replaces the Google Now menu (to the left of your home screen) with their blink feed.  It’s a feed of social updates along with news and info from the web.  You may find this useful if you’re looking for a all-in-one hub for your info.

Something I found very useful, HTC adds a cool feature that automatically changes your home screen icons based on where you are.  This makes total sense.  I use different apps at work than I typically use at home.  This is smart, simple and effective.

Uh Oh Protection

If you’re looking for something to seal the deal, Uh Oh will do it!  HTC includes Uh Oh protection for the first year with every HTC M9.  Essentially, if you break, dunk or smash your phone within 12 months HTC will replace it.  No questions asked.  If you don’t use it, HTC will give you $100 towards a new HTC phone.  This is awesome and something that could easily convince me to buy a certain phone.

Overall

The HTC One M9 is not revolutionary but it is what we’ve come to expect from HTC.  It’s a solid phone that is built well, has impressive specs and includes HTC’s own software touch.  HTC seems to be avoiding the urge to increase the screen size and I love it.  5″ is the perfect screen size for a smartphone.  You really can’t go wrong with the HTC One M9.  It won’t blow away the competition but it proves to be a solid, reliable top-tier smartphone from a company with good track record.

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