So here’s the thing. Earlier this year I broke my phone, and when it came to replacing it I dithered for weeks over what seemed like an impossible choice. The HTC One (M8), or the Sony Xperia Z3. I much preferred the look and feel of the HTC, but the Sony’s screen and camera begrudgingly won me over.
Which means I for one am very happy with the updates HTC has made in the One (M9), which it showed off on stage at Mobile World Congress this evening.
To call the update incremental is something of an understatement. There’s a slight tweak to the design: the whole phone is now under a unibody aluminium enclosure that has a slight two tone finish, shiny on the squarer sides, still etched to a matte finish on the back. But when it’s in your hand there’s really no way to tell the difference: HTC had a design win with the One and the One (M8), and it’s not changing things for the sake of it, oh no.
The CPU has been upgraded to one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 chips, with its primary four cores running at a col 2.0GHz. It weighs 157g, and measures a mere 144.6×69.7×9.61mm. Android Lolipop is present [as it is in the One (M8)] and there’s a tasty 3GB of RAM inside too.
Curiously, there’s also been a tweak to the way Grid View works. For those who’ve never tried it, Grid View cases for the One (M8) have a matrix of dotted windows on the front, and when closed the One (M8)’s screen does things like tell the time by peaking through them with pleasingly retro effect. Apparently, now you can also play simple games, too, ZX81 style.
The real news, however, is that the firm has capitulated and accepted that the One (M8)’s camera, at 4MP, wasn’t really up to scratch. The M9’s rear facing snapper is a cool 20MP affair, capable of 4K video recording with an F2.2 lens. No word on the fancy uber pixels or whatever they were called of yore. Basically, the (M8) was supposed to do something clever with larger pixel sites for better photography. It didn’t work, so hopefully the new camera fixes that.
Even better news is that the screen is slightly larger, now matching other flagship phones with a full 5inch diagonal and 1080p resolution. My two bugbears are potentially fixed. Hurrah. (The M8’s screen was also 5inches, so no change there. See comments.)
And for the final touch, the screen is now gapless to the glass too, so all those leaky backlight issues people liked to complain about should be done with too.
The bad news? No wireless charging. Boo. The firm is, however, launching a new range of wearables and Android add-ons under the Under Armour brand, starting with a fitness band called the Grip that let’s you compete against 20 other people over the internet in real time.
Here’s some more photos of the One (M9). It also comes in gunmetal grey, silver, pink and the gold below.
Disclosure: Adam is a guest of Qualcomm at Mobile World Congress this year. The firm is covering travel expenses but there is no agreement regarding coverage in place.