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Review: HTC One M9

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The One M9 maintains the same size and resolution of the M8's screen. It measures 5.0 inches across the diagonal and has full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels). HTC prefers LCD panels and the M9's looks fantastic. It's colorful, pixel-dense, and bright. Viewing angles are superb. I do wish it were easier to use outdoors, though, as the glass panel covering the screen is easily gunked up with fingerprints. HTC is not matching the competition's recent jump to quad HD screens (2560 x 1440 pixels), but it doesn't need to. Full HD resolution is plenty sharp enough at 5.0 inches. I have absolutely no complaints about the M9's display.


We tested an unlocked European version of the One M9, so please keep in mind that our review unit isn't optimized for U.S. networks. We used it on AT&T's network in and around New York City. Without LTE support, our One M9 was limited to HSPA for data. That said, the phone performed very well. The device remained firmly attached to AT&T's network, even in the signal-scrambling urban canyons of Manhattan. The phone connected calls on the first dial every time, and never dropped or missed any calls. Data speeds via HSPA were understandably slower than what we'd expect from LTE, but still managed to do well enough for casual web browsing, email, and social networking. Bottom line: I was pleased the way the unoptimized version of the device worked, so I expect carrier versions to perform even better.


Despite the lack of optimization for AT&T's network, the M9 offered solid call quality. I was pleased with the clarity and tone of voices coming through the earpiece speaker. I didn't notice any interference while I tested the phone. More volume would have been nice. The earpiece generates just enough power to handle the regular spaces through which you might traverse (home, office, coffee shop, city streets, restaurant). It is easily swamped in really loud environments, however, like a bar or near construction. People I spoke to through the M9 said I sounded very good.

The BoomSound speakers are great for speakerphone calls. Both clarity and volume are excellent. You should be able to hear calls in most places. Thanks to the BoomSound speakers, ringers and alerts are incredibly loud. This phone will always get your attention.

The real reason the M9 has BoomSound speakers is, of course, for music and video playback. The high-quality speakers make the M9 an ideal entertainment companion. I found myself cranking up the music when working in my basement over the weekend. The stereo speakers are most effective when watching movies or TV shows. I enjoyed watching some NCAA basketball games on the phone while writing this review, and the sound quality was excellent.


Since our review model is a European variant, it does not support LTE in the U.S. Further, it isn't optimized for U.S. networks. Together, these can have a measurable impact on battery life. We plan to more fully evaluate the M9's battery once we have official versions from AT&T, Verizon, etc. That said, the unit we tested lasted consistently from breakfast to bedtime with some juice to space.

The M9 offers several power-saving tools to help maximize battery life. The Power Saver mode, for example, lets you conserve CPU usage, reduce screen brightness, turn off vibration, and put the data connection to sleep when the screen is off. This setting must be toggled on/off manually.

The Extreme Power Saver mode takes it a step further. With EPS turned on, the phone will automatically conserve power once the battery reaches 5%, 10%, or 20% left. It really ramps down what the phone can do and is meant as a last resort so you can make phone calls and send messages until you find power. Things like email, remote lock, and other basic Android functions are turned off completely. HTC claims Extreme Power Saver mode will provide for nearly a day of additional battery life.



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