Mobile Technology

HTC One A9 hands-on: Looks like an iPhone, feels like a good phone in its own right

Gizmag went hands-on with the HTC One A9 at a NYC launch event this week
Gizmag went hands-on with the HTC One A9 at a NYC launch event this week
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The HTC One A9 has a 5-inch, 1080p AMOLED display
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The HTC One A9 has a 5-inch, 1080p AMOLED display
The unibody aluminum phone is 7.26 mm (0.29-inch) thick
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The unibody aluminum phone is 7.26 mm (0.29-inch) thick
The One A9 has a 13 MP, ƒ/2.0 aperture camera on its backside
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The One A9 has a 13 MP, ƒ/2.0 aperture camera on its backside
The One A9 launches with (nearly stock) Android 6.0 Marshmallow
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The One A9 launches with (nearly stock) Android 6.0 Marshmallow
The One A9 has a premium design that you aren't likely to find elsewhere in the $400 full retail price range
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The One A9 has a premium design that you aren't likely to find elsewhere in the $400 full retail price range
Rather than repeating the (nearly) identical design we saw in the last three One M flagships, HTC is drawing a little inspiration from the most popular phone in the world
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Rather than repeating the (nearly) identical design we saw in the last three One M flagships, HTC is drawing a little inspiration from the most popular phone in the world
HTC Sense is now more about extra features like Blinkfeed and the camera app, and less about changing Google's stock UI
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HTC Sense is now more about extra features like Blinkfeed and the camera app, and less about changing Google's stock UI
Gizmag went hands-on with the HTC One A9 at a NYC launch event this week
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Gizmag went hands-on with the HTC One A9 at a NYC launch event this week

Earlier this week HTC announced a new One handset that's a little mid-ranged, a little high-end and (as you may have heard by now) looks a hell of a lot like an iPhone. Read on for our early impressions of the HTC One A9 from this week's launch.

Most reviews and hands-on coverage you read about the One A9 are likely to focus on its striking resemblance to the latest iPhones. And for good reason: it's very close to being a spitting image. Metal body, rounded edges, dual horizontal antenna lines on the back.

But if you can get past that, the One A9 also looks like a promising handset. HTC says it wanted to combine the best parts of the high-end One and mid-ranged Desire lineups, and we think that's a pretty good description. It isn't completely mid-ranged like the Desires, but it also doesn't quite have the cutting-edge specs we'd expect from a One M flagship. It's a premium phone with highish-end (but not quite highest-end) specs.

HTC Sense is now more about extra features like Blinkfeed and the camera app, and less about changing Google's stock UI
HTC Sense is now more about extra features like Blinkfeed and the camera app, and less about changing Google's stock UI

The A9 feels very light in hand (it weighs the same as the iPhone 6s, despite being a bigger phone) and, at 7.3 mm, is also thin.

Its Snapdragon 617 processor zips through Android 6.0 Marshmallow with no perceptible lag (at least in our limited use during the hands-on time). HTC's Sense UI is subtler than it's ever been, to the degree that the A9 feels very close to being a Nexus phone.

The One A9 launches with (nearly stock) Android 6.0 Marshmallow
The One A9 launches with (nearly stock) Android 6.0 Marshmallow

HTC's new software approach is a bit like Motorola's from the last couple of years: more about adding unique features to stock Android, less about re-branding Android with a custom UI that may slow things down (though HTC's Theme store is also back, letting you customize the look of the UI to your liking).

It's way too early to comment on camera quality and battery life, but our overall first impressions are that the One A9 is worth paying attention to. Launching at a limited time price of US$400 unlocked and paid in full, it's priced well below most flagships, with a premium design that you won't find elsewhere in that price range.

The One A9 has a 13 MP, ƒ/2.0 aperture camera on its backside
The One A9 has a 13 MP, ƒ/2.0 aperture camera on its backside

Stay tuned for Gizmag's full One A9 review. The handset is available to pre-order now from the link below.

Product page: HTC

4 comments
loopdaloop
"And for good reason: it's very close to being a spitting image. Metal body, rounded edges, dual horizontal antenna lines on the back" Pretty sure the HTC's came out with the dual horizontal lines with the M8, before the iPhone...
SilentHightimes
Its sad people buy iPhone when they are some of the most outdated phones the day the come out. Just compare the specs and it is clear. look at the note 5 vs iPhone 6s its a complete joke.
SilentHightimes
I meant 6 Plus!
rizo
Actually, the original HTC One (M7) had it. Stop comaring this A9 to the iPhone... Still think the M7 is the best designed phone thus far. Just wish they would just update the internals and decrease the bezel. Welp, jumped shipped to the M8 and now LG G4.