Living with the HTC One M9

What's it like spending some time with the HTC One M9? Check out what our reviewer thought after getting to know it for a week.
Living with the HTC One M9
HTC One M9

This week, we asked one of The Lowdown’s trusted reviewers to put down their Sony Xperia Z3 and see what it’s like to live with the HTC One M9.

After seven days with the new M9, here’s what they thought…


As soon as I picked up the M9 I liked it. It’s got a decent weight to it and feels perfectly balanced. And because the back isn’t too smooth, it’s nice and easy to grip.

I was impressed with the M9’s looks too. I was a fan of the M8’s design, and not much has changed. There’s a new two tone effect – gold edges with a silver back on my M9 – which might not be to everyone’s taste, but I thought it was quite subtle and understated.

Another change from the M8 is that the power button has now been moved from the top to the side. The only trouble is, it’s been placed directly underneath the volume up and down buttons, which are exactly the same size. Yes you’ve guessed it; throughout the week I regularly turned the phone off when I was trying to adjust the volume. I did eventually get used to it though.

I then spent some time setting the M9 up to my preferences. I downloaded a few of my favourite social media sites, apps and games, and chose a suitably funky theme from the selection available.

HTC One M9 theme

You can also create your own theme by uploading a picture, and the M9’s colour scheme will change to match it. So, for example, a football fan could add their team’s badge and instantly get a theme based on their team colours.

It was getting late and I knew that my M9 and I had a busy week planned, so I ended by doing a bit of multitasking - just to see if the M9’s Snapdragon 810 processor really was as fast as I’d heard.

HTC One M9 Apps

I found I could easily whizz in and out of different apps quickly, with no lag at all. Everything felt really responsive and slick. Very impressive.


An outing to the local park gave me the perfect opportunity to test out the M9’s 20MP camera. Overall, I was quite impressed with the quality of photos I took, and the images looked nice and sharp:

HTC One M9 Tree

HTC One M9 pond photo

I also took a couple of short videos that looked fine, although they did get quite grainy when the zoom was used.

Back home in the evening, I took a few more family snaps and the 20MP camera didn’t do quite as well. It struggled in the slightly lower light, and the photos weren’t great. It was a different story with the UltraPixel selfie camera though – it takes great selfies and even coped with the close-up glare of my shiny, bald head.


Taking the phone to work on Monday gave me the opportunity to see Sense Home in action, and I had mixed feelings about it...

Sense Home is the widget that populates your homescreen with the most relevant apps based on your location (‘home’, ‘work’, or ‘out’), and automatically switches them as you move.

It didn’t quite work for me. The ‘suggestions for you’ box in the widget didn’t seem to get much right. Dubsmash at work? Erm, no thanks. I was also disappointed that it kept suggesting I download the ‘My EE’ app, after I’d selected my network operator as O2 in settings.

Having said that, you can remove the suggestions box entirely – and then manually ‘pin’ your own apps.

Apparently Sense Home learns and adapts to your behaviour, so maybe after a week or two it would have impressed me more.


Every Tuesday evening at 9pm my wife enjoys watching the award-winning maternity ward documentary One Born Every Minute, while regaling with me tales about her own pregnancy and labour. So I felt that this was the perfect time for me to try out the M9’s headphones and sound system.

The M9 has added Dolby virtual surround to its BoomSound speakers and it sounds awesome. Music on my cheapish headphones has never sounded so good, and it really brings movies to life too (loud action movies, especially).

And with the headphones off and the volume turned up, the sound is impressively loud, and doesn’t suffer from any distortion as far as I could tell.


Wednesday evening was all about social media and gaming. I found it quick, slick and easy to write messages and upload photos on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

I then gave Real Racing 3 a run out, and the M9 coped with this hefty 3D game without any problems. Everything looked great and sounded even better, with the BoomSound speakers coming into their own again.


On Thursday I took the opportunity of comparing the M9’s Full HD display with the Full HD screen on my Xperia Z3. I ran the same Netflix movie (Captain America, great film) on both devices simultaneously, and the difference was striking…

The M9 won hands down. Everything was brighter and better. Colours were more vibrant and blacks deeper. Add the BoomSound speakers into the mix and there was no contest. Watching movies on the M9 is a real joy. It might not have the superior Quad HD display that some of its competitors do, but I was more than happy to sit back and enjoy it.


Friday came around all too soon, and I got quite emotional as I waved farewell to my M9, and said hello again to my Xperia Z3.

I had a great time with the M9. It’s a great looking phone, with unbeatable sound and an impressive display.

It’s not quite perfect though.

All the fun I had with the M9 seemed to hit the battery pretty hard. It definitely needed charging every night, and I even found myself giving it a top up charge in the early evening to get by. And as I said earlier, the photos I took with the 20MP camera didn’t blow me away (especially in lower light). Even so, I’m definitely going to think about getting reacquainted with the M9 when my upgrade date comes around.

Topics:  , , ,

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

comments powered by Disqus
We've finally got our mitts on the HTC One M9, following its announcement at Mobile World Congress.
With HTC launching the One M9 and One M8s we decided to see how the both compare to last year's flag
HTC will unveil the successor to the HTC One M8 at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in March. Here's what

16 June, 2020
Get tips on the best remote working technology to help enhance your freelance life,...
4 May, 2020
The Huawei P40 smartphone camera is packed with AI tech to take your photos to the...
4 May, 2020
The Huawei P40 smartphone camera is packed with AI tech to take your photos to the...
30 March, 2020
In the market for a new smartphone? We’ve rounded up all Carphone Warehouse’s 5G-connected...
30 March, 2020
In the market for a new smartphone? We’ve rounded up all Carphone Warehouse’s 5G-connected...

27 March, 2020
Looking for a next-level camera for perfect pictures and super smooth video? Then...
11 February, 2020
Excited for the Galaxy S20? Get the tech and specs for the S20, S20+ 5G and S20 Ultra...
15 November, 2019
Excited for Android 10? Here’s our round up of the best new features including Dark...
18 October, 2019
Excited about the new OPPO Reno 2? We check out the Quad cameras, battery life and...
15 October, 2019
Ready for the new Google Pixel 4 and 4? We get all the latest news about cameras,...
24 September, 2019
Excited about the new Google Pixel 4? We get all the latest news about cameras, battery...
10 September, 2019
Want to buy an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro or an iPhone 11 Pro? Find out the specs and...
29 August, 2019
The next Apple smartphone is on its way. There are lots of rumours circulating, so...
8 August, 2019
Samsung has officially launched the new Note 10 at their Galaxy Unpacked event in...
9 July, 2019
Vodafone has rolled out 5G coverage across the UK, rumours abound from Sony and Google....
27 June, 2019
See the latest news and events in mobile tech, including Facebook's new crypto wallets...
14 June, 2019
Google’s Pixel 4 leaks and one new craze: Pokémon Sleep. We’ve got the latest mobile...