A safe choice: HTC’s One M9 (2015) reviewed

In use, the 20 megapixels offered here are far more useful than the 4 megapixels we had last year, though the camera interface can be a little slow, not just for firing, but also for focus, noted earlier in the review.

Picture quality isn’t the best in the business, either, with details mostly missing and soft instead when viewed up close, and an overall exposure issue, with both under- and over-exposing applied to many of the images.

Image sample from the HTC One M9's rear camera
Image sample from the HTC One M9’s rear camera

This last one could easily be fixed up in firmware, though HTC hasn’t always nailed camera firmware.

Some shots work perfectly, though, and there are some manual camera modes thrown in for good measure, just in case you don’t trust the automatic software to do its thing.


On the other hand, we didn’t think too much of the selfie camera, with the images out of the Ultrapixel camera up front lacking clarity and feeling soft, even with the included beauty mode turned down, a feature that generally seeks to soften up skin tones to remove blemished or the look of, well, skin.

Image sample from the HTC One M9's front-facing Ultrapixel camera
Image sample from the HTC One M9’s front-facing Ultrapixel camera

At least the rear camera has the potential to handle itself well enough — in some situations, anyway — and we’re happy to see that HTC has brought 4K to a smartphone camera finally, a year after Samsung did, so that’s something.


Let’s talk battery life, because it seems like we might be going a little backwards with this one. While the HTC One M8 managed a day and a half, the most you’ll really find on the One M9 is a full day, with the battery conking out before the full 24 hours is reached.

In our test, we found a rundown of making phone calls, sending messages, surfing the web, listening to music, taking photos, and general use of a phone provided life from 6.30am to 11.30 pm that day, where we killed the test at 16%.

A day of life is acceptable, but mediocre, and not enough to really cite an improvement over what HTC released in last year’s flagship smartphone. In fact, it actually goes a little backwards.

With fairness to HTC, the One M9 does include a few little power saving software options, so you might be able to squeeze some more life out of the handset, but in general, a day is all you’ll find for this phone.


Heating can also be a little bit of a problem with this phone, or rather, overheating. Use the phone regularly and you’ll find it can get a wee bit toasty, which we suspect might be something Qualcomm and HTC will iron out over time.

It’s not an uncomfortable amount of heat, but it’s definitely noticeable, and the metal used in the construction of the handset doesn’t do much to keep the warmth down.

There’s also no ruggedisation, which isn’t a huge deal since HTC has never included that feature, but is noticeable since we’re beginning to see more phones take on a degree of water and dust resistance. Just not this phone.



HTC’s latest take on the M9 feels like a firming up of what we’ve already seen, as HTC makes the One series of phones a little more mature, rather than make a stab at something new altogether.

Really, if you had to say nine things to say about the handset about the M9 with an emphasis on the letter “M”, you’d say it was meticulously crafted thanks to it’s machined metal make, meaty in weight, modifiable, emphasising multimedia, making a case for megapixels over Ultrapixels (a surprise given the push from the M8), and in general being a meagre update, if not one that shows HTC knows how to mature devices, rather than going for a full-out remake.

Was that nine things? We’re not even sure.


What we are sure of is that the HTC One M9 is stylish yet safe. It’s still an excellent phone, and there is a lot to admire about what HTC has made here, but if you’re looking at the new handset and expecting an evolution, a revolution, and more of that panache HTC has brought for the past few years, you’ll get some of it, but not likely all.

For the first shot in the 2015 smartphone race, there’s certainly a lot to like here, and customers will likely love just how well made and finely tuned the One M9 is, but there’s more to come, and we think HTC could have done a little to make it a little more remarkable, rather than being merely memorable.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Very, very solid; Aesthetically pleasing; Easy to customise; System performance is mighty snappy; Fast 4G speeds; HTC's front-facing BoomSound speakers are still awesome; Infrared port still included, and yes, it can control a TV; Upgradeable via microSD slot; High-res audio support included; Supports DotView cases for that retro look (and will fit in old cases-ish, but not load the DotView when closed on these); 
Chassis lip can feel a little strange in the hand, and removes the slick unibody feeling of the prior two models; The M9 can get mighty warm over use; Mediocre battery life; Camera can be a little slow to start up and doesn’t offer the best image quality out of the box; No ruggedisation; Screen hasn’t changed dramatically to keep up with the times;