In the M9, HTC may have found the solid performer it was always looking for

2 Mar 2015

In what has got to be the most leaked device in smartphone history, HTC last night took the wraps off its M9; building on what it has learned from the M7 and M8 – that refinement and style go hand in hand.

I remember when HTC were the darlings of the show at Mobile World Congress in 2010 and the names of the devices were a statement of intent – Fire, Hero and so on.

HTC was the underdog that showed ambition and nearly won. Originally a contract manufacturer that made smartphones for other brands, it had the temerity to come up with its own branded devices and instantly granted kudos to the emerging Android operating system by building on it and making it stylish and usable.

But then it came asunder for HTC. Fire and Hero were unfortunately replaced by Indecisive and Bloated. As if drunk on its own success HTC began throwing out all kinds of new smartphone models for any operating system that would have it, meanwhile other players like Samsung had cottoned on to Apple’s style of sticking to one or two signature devices.

Less is more

A few years ago HTC calmed down – sobered no doubt by plunging revenues and profits. The M7 just about made it to market, held up by supply chain issues.

But the M8 has won the quiet admiration of the Android faithful and is certainly at the top of the wish list of most Android smartphone buyers.

With the M9 which was unveiled last night in Barcelona, HTC has completed its return to greatness – it has Fire in its belly and a Hero in its ranks.

As expected the device comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core CPU capable of 64-bit processing.

The device has 32GB of total storage and comes with 3GB of RAM built in.

An expandable microSD slot can support memory cards up to 128GB.

The all-metal device uses a nano-SIM and is festooned with a variety of sensors including an ambient light sensor, a proximity sensor, an accelerometer, a compass sensor, a gyro sensor, a magnetic sensor and a sensor hub.

As expected it works across all 2G, 3G and 4G networks as well as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, DLNA, HDMI, NFC and micro USB. The device also comes with HTC’s Connect platform for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to a variety of TVs and entertainment systems.

A sapphire wrapped in a diamond

The ultimate unique selling point of the M9 isn’t its gorgeous industrial design and powerful features including HTC’s Dolby Audio BoomSound speakers, the key selling point is its camera.

The main camera is a 20MP beast with a sapphire cover lens, auto-focus and a lens capable of 4K video recording.

The front camera comes with HTC’s UltraPixel technology and is capable of 1080 video recording.

The 2840mAh battery is also worth talking about – it has up to 25.4 hours of talktime on 2G and 3G networks and 402 hours of standby time on 3G networks.

In the M9 it looks like HTC has created a signature device that can take on the might of Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as Samsung’s new S6 and S6 Edge feature for feature.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years