HTC One A9s hands on

Review

HTC's latest smartphone marvel...
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HTC One A9s hands on

Monday – setting it up

I’ve been given the HTC One A9s, and I’m more than pleased with it. It’s a stunning looking phone. I love its slim flat body and round edges, and the glass and metal design gives it a real high-end look and feel.

I knew I was only having the phone for the week, so I removed the HTC Sense Home widget straight away. It displays different apps depending on your location, but I tried it with a previous ‘phone for a week’ and it didn’t quite work for me. I’m guessing it needs longer to learn your behaviour and do its thing properly.

I was more than happy to set up the Highlights feed though. This gave me a stream of my latest social media updates and news articles, all on one handy page. It’s a great feature, and it was usually my first port of call whenever I picked up my phone - a quick swipe left from the homescreen, and I was there.

Finally, I fired up the fingerprint scanner. It was easy (and kind of cool) to set up. It worked flawlessly, every single time throughout the week.

Tuesday – turning on Google on Tap

The A9s is Google through and through, running Android Marshmallow.

I’d heard lots about Marshmallow’s Google Now on Tap (it gives you more info on what you’re looking at when you tap the Home button) so I was keen to see it in action.

I tried it on Spotify first and it worked a treat. A simple press of the Home button while listening to New Order gave me loads of links to the band’s social media pages, and also a link to the video of the song I was listening to. Exactly what I wanted.

It doesn’t seem to work on Netflix though. So if you’re watching Iron Man 3 and want to find out more about the comic book action flick, you’re out of luck. A ‘Nothing on tap’ message comes up. I fared a bit better with the Iron Man 3 trailer on YouTube, and got some useful links to information on the movie and cast. I was kind of hoping that it would tell me that the film was available on my Netflix app, but this didn’t happen. I was expecting too much, I realise that now.

Wednesday – sound and vision

The HTC One A9s has a 5-inch HD AMOLED display. Colours are vivid, and blacks are black. I mean, noticeably black. The Netflix movie that I watched (I’ll admit it - Iron Man 3 again) looked great – really sharp and full of detail.

On the sound front, the HTC One A9s has a single mono speaker at the bottom. It can crank out a decent volume, but it’s a bit of a step down from HTC's signature BoomSound stereo speakers. However - you do get to experience the joys of BoomSound if you don a pair of headphones…

My headphones are cheap and cheerful, but the HTC One A9s’ BoomSound turned them into something special. The song I listened to ('The Other Side' by Public Service Broadcasting - recommended listening) is full of atmospheric synths and complex drum sounds, and I could hear each layer of sound and subtle hit of the hi-hat clearly. Even when I turned up the volume to as much as I could handle, there was no loss in clarity.

Thursday – photo opportunities

The HTC One A9s has a 13MP camera on board, which does a great job all-round. With autofocus and an LED flash, all the shots I took over the week were well balanced without any blur, and full of colour. HTC's got a load of special features on board too, to jazz up any photo collage.

The HDR (high dynamic range) mode, for example, can be set to come on automatically, which is handy if you're shooting into the light. For example, if you're taking a photo of a sunset, the brightness will be balanced so I can still see the green grass in the foreground.

On the front there's a 5MP lens, which, I admit, was used for the odd selfie here and there. It captures lot of light thanks to the large pixels, and it was even noted that my Snapchat Story was looking a little better.

Friday – the verdict

I had a great week with the One A9s and it would be fair to say that it exceeded my expectations.

The only downside for me was its battery life. The 2,300mAh battery isn’t huge, so if you’re hitting the A9s hard throughout the day, you’ll be low in juice come night time. I found myself giving it a cheeky charge at work before I headed out for the night – just to be on the safe side.

I can’t fault the A9s on anything else though, and there are definitely a few things I’m going to miss when I hand it back. I’m going to miss my faithful fingerprint scanner. And I just know I’ll be pressing the Home button on my LG G Flex 2 phone now, vainly trying to get Google Now on Tap to appear.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the HTC One A9s follow the link through to our website.

Are you a lucky HTC One A9s owner? Let us know what you think of it – what are your favourite features? Feel free to share your comments below.

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