MORE HORSEPOWER. That’s usually a buyer’s biggest criteria when looking for a smartphone. It’s also what people look for when determining the value-for-money aspect of a device, as consumers will try their best to squeeze every bit of horsepower for as low of a price as possible.
It is these buyers that were ultimately disappointed when HTC launched the One A9 because it had decidedly mediocre specs for a not-low-at-all asking price of USD400. In a world where smartphone manufacturers are churning out devices with incredible specs for an equally incredible low price, this is simply unacceptable. Thankfully, HTC’s new “hero” device seems to rectify this problem, to some extent at least.
Rumours have been floating around for awhile now about HTC’s new One X9. Early leaks suggested that it could run the latest top-of-the-line processor from Qualcomm or MediaTek, which reignited the fire within the hearts of many an HTC fan. However, as time progressed, the rumours changed and on paper it looked like the One X9 was going to be another disappointment.
Well, the device has finally come out from the shadows and at first glance, it definitely doesn’t look like the flagship device everyone was clamouring for. Then again, since this was launched this year, were we realistically expecting it to outperform the One M9 especially since it doesn’t even bear the M badge?
The One X9 sports a 5.5″ 1080p panel (though there doesn’t seem to be any information on whether it will be an AMOLED or IPS screen) which results in a pixel density of 401 ppi that HTC claims has a 170-degree viewing angle. On the inside, the device is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor and 3GB of RAM with 32GB of internal storage. Thankfully, HTC has included a microSD slot that allows expansion up to 2TB.
It will also feature a reasonably large 3,000 mAh battery and support for dual-SIM. Optics-wise, the device sports a 13-megapixel f/2.0 rear camera with optical image stabilisation and 4K video recording, plus a 5MP f/2.8 front-facing shooter. It is likely that the device will come pre-loaded with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, much like the HTC One A9.
Although the specs are nothing to shout about, the device does bring back HTC’s much-loved BoomSound front-facing stereo speakers, something that is missing from it’s smaller brother, the One A9. HTC also went further down “nostalgia alley”, bringing back their backlit capacitive keys, which is placed where the HTC logo usually goes. One aspect that will be missed is the absence of a fingerprint sensor, something that is available on the HTC One A9.
Another serving of good news is that the metallic smartphone looks to retail at a lower price than the One A9, coming in at 2,399 Yuan, which translates to around RM1,598. Yes, if you did pick up on it, the retail price is in CNY which means that this device — as of now — has only been launched in China with no information about availability elsewhere. This device, it seems, represents HTC’s stab at trying to get a bigger cut of the affordable premium smartphone market by competing with other Chinese manufacturers on their home soil.
If you think horsepower is the be all and end all of smartphones, then this HTC One X9 will look like another disappointing HTC “hero” device that could have been so much more. It isn’t the best value-for-money device out there, but is a device’s worth measured only by how well it does on benchmarks? Sure, 4GB of RAM looks good on paper, but can you realistically feel the difference between 4GB and 3GB of RAM?
Fit and finish has always been one of HTC’s strongest selling points. That and their front-facing speakers, both of which can be found on One X9. It honestly doesn’t look too bad either — except for that slightly sketchy camera visor — and based on the company’s track record, they certainly know how to do metal unibodies. The device’s closest competitor would probably be the Sony Xperia M5 Dual, and based on build alone, we definitely prefer a metal finish to the Xperia M5 Dual’s fingerprint-magnet glass-plastic construction.
With proper optimisation, these specs should get you through day-to-day usage without a hitch and for a frankly reasonable price tag, this doesn’t seem like that bad a deal for HTC fans. Yeah, sure, you won’t be able to brag about it to your friends but then again, there aren’t that many brag-worthy HTC devices to begin with. With HTC’s flagships only managing to stay afloat as well as the Titanic could, perhaps the midrange premium market is where they can reclaim some of their former glory.