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.
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.
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:
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.