HTC wants to beat the iPhone with a phone that looks like one

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HTC is in dire need of turning its fortunes around. With the HTC One M9 not living up to its expectations, their next device has got to be something incredible to make up for lost ground. Confirming our worst fears, the recently announced HTC One A9 isn’t exactly the flagship that we’re looking for.

Couple of days back, its CEO Cher Wang has mentioned that the One A9 is a good alternative to Apple’s new iPhone 6s. They have probably taken that too literally, as the design is almost identical especially from the back. Of course there are some design changes to avoid being too blatant like the Lenovo S90 Sisley. Meanwhile at the front, it has a hint of a Samsung Galaxy with smooth edges and a home button which also doubles up as a fingerprint scanner.

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In terms of specs, the front gets a 5″ Full HD AMOLED display that’s toughen with Gorilla Glass 4. The front looks cleaner and disappointingly it lacks HTC’s trademark BoomSound front stereo speakers that we liked a lot. Instead it opts for a single down firing speaker that’s similar to the iPhone 6s/Galaxy S6. Under the hood, it runs on Qualcomm’s newer 64-bit Octa-Core Snapdragon 617 processor, with a choice of either 2GB RAM with 16GB storage, or a higher-spec 3GB RAM and 32GB storage version. If you need more, storage is still expandable with microSD up to 2TB.

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For imaging, the back camera is a 13MP f/2.0 unit that’s assisted by Optical Image Stabilisation. It supports RAW shooting with one touch enhancement and there’s also a hyperlapse feature to speed up or slow down your action videos. At the front, it still retains HTC’s 4MP f/2.0 Ultrapixel unit for brighter selfies in low light conditions.

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Despite its shortfall on external speakers, the One A9 compensates by having a HiFi DAC built-in. This delivers 24-bit/192KHz Hi-Res Audio with Dolby Audio™ Surround technology for better enjoyment with some quality headphones plugged-in. On top of that, the One A9 runs on the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box and HTC pledges to update the software within 15 days after the Nexus lineup gets them.

In typical HTC fashion, it gets a smaller than average battery at 2,150mAh that supports Quick Charge 2.0. On the spec sheet, it mentions that Quick Charge 3.0 will be compatible once it is available officially. Overall it weighs 143 grams and has a thickness of 7.26mm. That’s the same weight as the iPhone 6s but the iPhone is thinner at 7.1mm.

The HTC One A9 will be available globally beginning 1st week of November and it is expected to be priced at US$400, which is about RM1,718 with our current exchange rates. Overall, this isn’t a flagship to challenge the likes of the Galaxy S6 or the Xperia Z5.

With a premium metal build and a mid-range hardware, the HTC One A9 is looking like Samsung’s Galaxy A series that offers a premium build quality at a more affordable price range. Even the One A9 naming convention does seem to mimic the likes of the Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A8. HTC is pushing this as a design centric smart phone and the One A9 gets a range of colourful options including Carbon Gray, Opal Silver, Deep Garnet and Topaz Gold.

For half the asking price of the iPhone 6s, HTC might be up to something but you probably can get better devices like the Galaxy S6 that isn’t much more expensive than its purported RM1,718 price range.

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Does the HTC One A9 appeal to you? Let us know in the comments below.

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