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HTC One A9 first impressions: an iPhone clone that Android fans would be proud of

|November 26 2015 |Android Phones, Android, HTC Mobiles, HTC, First impressions

“The One A9 looks like a worthy option in the mid range. Here are our first impressions”

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Many smartphones have tried to mimic the iPhone design over the years. While it’s not surprising that Apple has achieved such a stature in the world of mobile devices with its smartphones, what’s surprising is that there’s not even a single device which has been able to come close to them, let alone defeat their popularity. Taiwanese brand HTC thinks otherwise, as with its latest offering, it’s tried to emulate the iPhone’s design philosophy quite well. But is that all there’s to the HTC One A9? Let’s find out in our hands on, based on the brief time we spent with it.

We have always commended HTC for its design language, so much so that the HTC One M8 (review), launched last year, won the accolade of the sexiest phone of the year from us. Most recent flagship offerings from HTC have featured original designs along with metallic bodies, giving them a shiny look along with adding sturdiness. The originality may have been compromised, but the Taiwanese company does have a sleek-looking smartphone in the form of the A9.

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The chiselled edges, rounded corners, lightweight design and a compact, metal-wrapped body, makes the HTC One A9 a sight to behold, not to mention that it nestles into the hand perfectly. Of course, all this seems to be heavily borrowed (read shamelessly copied) from the iPhone’s design ethos, but nonetheless, the device is certainly an eye catcher.

Up front, the A9 sports a 5-inch display panel, which is flanked by an earpiece and a front-facing camera on the top and a physical button at the bottom. The physical button acts as a home key along with doubling as a fingerprint scanner. The physical key seem to be a bit redundant as the device also offers them as part of the software interface, along with the overview and return keys.

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Bearing a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, the display looks beautiful and offers impressive colours. Sharpness isn’t an issue either and brightness levels also seemed to be good in indoor conditions. The display is covered by a layer of fourth-gen Corning Gorilla Glass for protection against scratches.

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Towards the right, you’ll find the ribbed power button as well as the volume rocker. The left spine sports ejectable trays for inserting a primary SIM card, and a microSD card. The top portion holds the IR blaster, whereas at the bottom you’ll find precision-grilled holes along with the micro-USB port and the audio port.

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At the back, you’ll find the primary snapper that protrudes from the body slightly and is accompanied by a dual-tone LED flash. The rear of the unibody handset sports a smooth finish, which seems quite slippery. The HTC One A9 can be purchased in a litany of hues such as black, grey, silver and gold.

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In terms of cameras, the primary snapper features a 13-megapixel sensor, while at the front, you get a 4MP shooter. For helping you shoot in low light, the primary camera is assisted by a dual-tone LED flash. The primary snapper features Optical Image stabilisation, which means that it should offer stable pictures and videos by compensating for minor hand movements. The camera UI is simple, and offers a number of modes, including the ability to tweak ISO, shutter speed, etc. with the Pro mode. The camera can record videos in full HD resolution, and also lets you shoot slow-mo and timelapse videos.

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The brand claims that it’s new offering would give users the 'ultraselfie' experience because it’s using its Ultrapixel technology at the front. What this means is that even though the secondary camera has a 4MP sensor, it has a large sensor of 2 microns offering better quality even in dim environments.

On the software front, the HTC One A9 is the first smartphone, apart from the new Nexuses, that comes with the new Android treat in the form of 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box. Interestingly enough, HTC has stripped down its custom skin a lot to offer a smooth usage experience. That’s not to say that the manufacturer hasn’t offered any value additions. There are staple features such as Blinkfeed and support for Motion Launch gestures. One interesting app is Themes, which lets the user change the interface of the A9 with a press of a button. Other preloaded content include NewsRepublic and HTC’s apps such as DotView and Zoe.

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Till now, the One A9 seems like a flagship to take on the iPhone, but that’s not really the case. This is apparent when we take a look at its core hardware. Under the hood, it’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 CPU, which is made of two quad-core clusters thrumming at 1.5GHz and 1.2GHz respectively. While the processor is mid-range, it’s mated to a generous 3 gigs of RAM, which should ensure smooth usage while running multiple apps or playing heavy titles. During our brief time, the HTC One A9 seemed to zip through navigating between screens and opening apps. Of course, its actual capability will be only known once we can put it through a proper review.

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The HTC One A9 is shipped with 32GB of flash memory on board. Users would be able to access approximately 24GB for their personal use, and if that’s not enough, then you can expand it by inserting a microSD card of up to 200GB.

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For connectivity, the One A9 offers 4G support along with the standard set of options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and GPS. Providing the juice to the smartphone is an embedded 2,150mAh battery, which the company claims would last more than a day. The battery rating seems to be lower than the standards nowadays, and hence we would need to test it before giving our opinion. The device also supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charging technology.

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The HTC One A9 is a decent offering, especially considering its focus on the design aspect and the fact that it doesn’t seem to skimp on the specs front either. However, it all depends upon its pricing, which the company has decided to keep under wraps until its market launch in the next couple of weeks. If it’s priced well, it could be a solid mid-ranger.

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