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HTC One M9 deep-dive review: Third time's (almost) the charm

JR Raphael | April 9, 2015
HTC's latest luxurious smartphone isn't a radical upgrade, but it offers subtle refinements that bring it closer to perfection.

The One M9 has an Easy Mode, too, which simplifies the home screen to a small series of large buttons. I could definitely see that being valuable for less savvy smartphone users -- though somewhat ironically, the option to enable Easy Mode is buried in the system settings and difficult to find.

Last but not least, the M9 has a smattering of bloatware, though less than what I saw on the T-Mobile version of the Galaxy S6. Most of it can be disabled and hidden from view but not completely uninstalled.

Bottom line
With years of refinement, HTC has managed to create one of the world's most beautifully designed and well-built smartphones. The One M9 is truly a luxurious object, and its exceptional form alone is enough to make it worth considering. Factor in its excellent display, best-in-class speakers and accompanying perks like HTC's free phone replacement plan, and the M9 has some very compelling qualities.

As impressive as those elements are, however, other parts of the phone leave something to be desired. Despite all the fine-tuning from year to year, the device's camera is still just okay. Battery life is similarly so-so, and the power and volume buttons are bafflingly difficult to find by touch alone.

Ultimately, no phone is perfect -- and it all comes down to what strengths and compromises make the most sense for you. If you want the best possible camera or the longest possible battery life, the M9 isn't going to meet your needs. But if you can live with a phone that's decidedly average in those regards, HTC's new One will give you an experience that's delightfully extraordinary in others.


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