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HTC One A9 review: A stylish iPhone clone that isn't worth its premium price

Florence Ion | Oct. 28, 2015
HTC would have a hit on its hands if it weren't so optimistic about how much you'd be willing to pay for this small, mid-range phone.

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Credit: Florence Ion

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and whether HTC copied Apple with the One A9 doesn’t really matter here, no matter how much HTC protests it.

What matters—and what HTC should focus on—is whether or not the One A9 is a good enough phone to help pull HTC’s business out of deep waters. The Taiwan-based smartphone maker desperately needs a hit, and unfortunately, I don’t think the One A9 is it. It’s a decent, smaller-sized Android device, but it simply costs too much and offers too little compared to other phones in its class. 

No more iPhone comparisons

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Yes. We know what it looks like. We get it. Credit: Florence Ion

HTC has always been a “design first” kind of smartphone company, and it continues that tradition with the One A9. As I mentioned in my initial hands-on, HTC’s new phone is supposed to be the design convergence of the flat-stack Desire 816 and three-year-old One M7. It definitely achieves that; the One A9 is flat and dense like the best phones in the Desire line, and it borrows the same rounded edges and a metal unibody design as its flagship predecessor.

The One A9 also features a 5-inch, 1080p AMOLED display, which is nice change from the IPS LCD displays of the past. It offers fantastic viewing angles and rich color profiles. You’ll be comfortable staring at this phone in the dark before bed and even in bright sunlight.

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HTC stuck with its signature brushed aluminum aesthetic on the One A9. Credit: Florence Ion

I’m enjoying my time with the Nexus 6P, but there’s not much elegance to its masculine build. The One A9 appears much more polished alongside it, and it’s a handsome piece of industrial design. If you don’t like the slate gray coloring, you can also choose from gold, white, and red.

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The ridged power button helps you locate it without looking at it. Credit: Florence Ion

HTC paid mind to the “little” things about the One A9, too. For instance, it features a power button with ridges on on the side, so it’s easier for you to locate by feel. The antenna is also placed at the top of the device, so that your grip won’t interfere with the phone’s wireless connections. It also has a fingerprint reader on the front, which works really well. You can also use it as a Home button, though you can’t long press it to activate Google Now on Tap.


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