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First Impressions: HTC One A9

If it weren’t for the HTC logo in the center of the handset’s smooth back, you would think the One A9 was an iPhone. And you wouldn’t be the only one to think so

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If it weren’t for the HTC logo in the center of the handset’s smooth back, you would think the One A9 was an iPhone. And you wouldn’t be the only one to think so. The iPhone-ness of the A9 is very deliberate. HTC is a currently troubled company that needs to be talked about – and it found a way to achieve that.

It’s HTC’S iPhone: The One A9 has a flat back that feels like it’s made of metal silk. It’s got those two antenna lines going through it, just the way the iPhone does. But what has become a signature Apple look was actually begun by HTC, all top company execs are reminding the media. That may be true, but unfortunately for HTC it’s Apple that went and made that look desirable and famous and so it’s associated with the iPhone. Anyone carrying the A9 will inevitably get that question: hey, is that an iPhone? And will have to say err… no. Or,it must be put into a case, which is then no point because the way the phone looks is a critical part of its appeal.

Slippery Customer: The handset has smoothened out and rounded edges, which together with that smooth back, makes for exceptional slipperiness.

Other than that, the A9 really feels good in the hand. It’s based on a 5-inch display and neither too tiny to use and nor too unwieldy to grip. It’s very cold to the touch – as would be anything with a lot of metal and glass – but a good in-between size.

Fast Fingerprint Sensor: The A9 has a Full HD 1080x1920 AMOLED screen. The AMOLED means it’s vivid and has strong blacks and contrasts. It’s sunlight-friendly enough, but you’ll often need to put the brightness up. The screen is crisp and easy to read things on.

On starting up, the handset has often been really annoying, going into an “Android is starting up” message and then taking its time to get past the pattern-lock. But the one thing that has worked 100% of the time flawlessly has been the fingerprint sensor on the bottom of the screen. Once you train fingerprint recognition – and that’s quite easy – it just never fails to recognise all the prints you throw at it. And it’s very fast at this.

An all-Android Phone: It may look like an iPhone on the outside, at least from the back, but on the inside, the A9 is all-Android – or you could say it’s just another Android phone. It’s running on the newest Android 6.0, Marshmallow and brings Google’s new Now On Tap and other features with it. HTC promises that the A9 will follow the Nexus phones closely with updates to Android.

At this initial stage I haven’t managed to coax the device into lagging. It’s working smoothly enough and with its specs, obviously meant for regular tasks and not being pushed beyond its limits. In the few days I’ve spent with this phone, no performance problems cropped up. HTC’s interface, Sense UI, has been pared down to a minimum so that the phone feels like it’s all Android, with nothing to interfere with the basic operating system – that’s just the way the smartphone-savvy like it.

Decent Specs: The A9 is working with a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor with 1.5GHz and 1.2GHz quad-core modules. It comes with 32GB internal storage expandable up to 2TB with the memory card. The battery is a 2150mAh and will definitely finish three-fourths way through the day. The hardware specs are good enough, but not compelling enough to give the HTC One A9 an edge over others.

Adequate Camera: The A9 has a 13MP camera on the rear – and it does a good enough job. It’s not overly noisy and though the colours seem a bit saturated, that may be on-screen. The camera has OiS, a BSI sensor, true-tone LED flash, and phase detection auto focus. It allows you to save images in RAW format – a bit unnecessary on this device, actually. You can shoot hyperlapse videos without downloading a separate app for that. The front camera is HTC’s famous ultra-pixel and lights up the image.

A huge disappointment is that the Boom Sound speakers that made HTC phones so special, are gone. The sound is fine, but not gold standard, as it was earlier.

Priceless So Far: The tricky thing is, HTC in India has revealed no price for the A9, wanting to wait until it makes the device available for purchase in about two weeks. Going by what reviewers in the US and other countries have said though, it looks like the device has been priced higher than it deserves to be, unfortunate if HTC wants to actually sell a lot of this smartphone, but just fine if the idea was to be talked about for the price as well. But neither the phone’s design nor the price are going to help HTC out of its troub


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htc HTC One A9 first impressions