HTC One A9 Is Like An Android-Powered iPhone, At Almost Half The Price

HTC One A9 Is Like an Android-Powered iPhone, At Almost Half the Price

You've already heard the jokes about HTC shamelessly ripping off Apple with the design of its newest phone. The truth is, it's even funnier to hold the new HTC One A9 in one hand and an iPhone 6 in the other. They're hilariously similar — and that's not a bad thing at all.

There's more to HTC's new phone than a laughable tweak to a famous competitor's design. At first glance, it's obviously a sleek, reasonably priced new addition to the ever expanding list of Android phones. With a stacked spec sheet and a $US400 price tag, the HTC One A9 seems like a pretty fantastic deal after spending a few days with it.

Let's Talk About That Design

Here's the long and short of it: You could cover up the HTC logo and convince any random person on the street that the new A9 is actually some early version of next year's iPhone 7.

HTC One A9 Is Like an Android-Powered iPhone, At Almost Half the Price

The identical placement of antenna lines are the first giveaway, though HTC actually introduced those lines on the One M7 in 2013, but Apple made it its own with the next year's iPhone 6. But the wafer-shaped anodized aluminium case with gently rounded edges and a strikingly similar machined speaker grille on the bottom pretty much seals the deal. The A9 just feels like an iteration on the iPhone.

HTC One A9 Is Like an Android-Powered iPhone, At Almost Half the Price

But the comparison sort of starts to unravel as you really get to know the HTC One A9. The rounded edges are noticeably more squared off than those on the latest iPhone, and there's a weird plastic strip on the top hiding certain radios. Other details, like the extra slot for SD storage, would also be out of place on an iPhone. The oblong fingerprint-reading home button definitely also adds some more Android-like aesthetics. (It's very similar to the fingerprint sensor/home button on the Samsung Galaxy S6.)

HTC One A9 Is Like an Android-Powered iPhone, At Almost Half the Price

I still prefer the look and feel of my old iPhone 6. That said, I couldn't tell the difference between the two devices when they were in my pocket. With a full 5-inch screen, the A9 is slightly bigger. Only slightly, though.

Looking Past The Looks

If you fire up the HTC One A9 expecting the same snappiness as the latest and greatest, iPhone or otherwise, you're going to be a little bit disappointed. Armed with a brand new 1.5-GHz Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor, the A9 should run faster than an iPhone 6 and its 1.4-GHz A8 chip. It seemed a little bit slower for me on processor-heavy applications like my beloved SimCity Build It. Web browsing and email were a breeze, but I'll need to do more testing to figure out if the speed difference really matters.

HTC One A9 Is Like an Android-Powered iPhone, At Almost Half the Price

The other thing I noticed straight away is the screen. The full HD AMOLED display looks strikingly clear, a rare display choice for HTC who usually opts for LCD screens. Running the also all-new Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the flat icons pop nicely and text is razor sharp.

But the A9 display also fails the iPhone test as the 6 is just brighter with sharper contrast. Most people don't look at two smartphone screens at once, so you might be happy with the A9's admittedly great screen. But it's no iPhone.

HTC One A9 Is Like an Android-Powered iPhone, At Almost Half the Price

Despite those few nit-picky setbacks, the A9 is pleasure to use. The 13-megapixel rear camera includes some optical image stabilisation and neat features like a Hyperlapse editing tool that lets you speed up video. The HTC BoomSound promises "better than CD quality" in the headset but sacrifices the usual dual front-facing speaker set up. The new external speaker is fine, but unlike the great speakers on the old HTC One M9, the new bottom-mounted sound machine doesn't sound nearly as loud or crisp.

HTC also says it's improved battery life so much that you can play 12 hours of HD video on a single charge. Sounds great for binge-watching on the go.

HTC One A9 Is Like an Android-Powered iPhone, At Almost Half the Price

On the software side of things, HTC's also stripping back its Sense UI to be more inline with stock Android. What exactly does that mean? In the near term, less redundant apps, like HTC Music and Google Play Music, and more design choices instep with Android proper. Will you see a dramatic difference on the A9? Not really, unless you really go hunting. HTC's widgets, themes, and software design language is still all there for the time being, for better or worse.

Finally, Some Rhetorical Questions

Is the HTC One A9 an iPhone killer? Probably not, but at $US400 it's really not trying to be. But it could be an HTC One M9 killer, however, given the lower price and sleeker design. Should you buy it? I'm not sure yet. We'll publish a full review once we've had more time to take this gadget through its paces. Do we like it so far? Sure!

HTC One A9 Is Like an Android-Powered iPhone, At Almost Half the Price

This is all a roundabout way of saying that the A9 isn't exactly an Android-powered iPhone. It's pretty damn close in terms of looks, but you're definitely going to notice a difference in performance if you're switching from an iPhone 6 or 6s. But it's close enough that HTC could lure some users who've always wanted Apple design with Android versatility.

HTC One A9 Is Like an Android-Powered iPhone, At Almost Half the Price

All photos by Michael Hession (except ^ one by Darren Orf)

HTC One A9 Specs

  • OS: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) w/ HTC Sense UI

  • CPU: Snapdragon 617, 1.5GHz 64-bit octa-core

  • Screen: 5-inch 1080p AMOLED

  • RAM: 3GB

  • Storage: 32GB + 2TB of storage

  • Camera: 13 megapixel rear camera / 4 UltraPixel front camera

  • Battery: 2,150 mAh
  • Colours: Opal Silver and Carbon Grey (Deep Garnet later this year and Topaz Gold Internationally)
  • Price and Availability: $US400 unlocked in the US, TBC in Australia


Comments

    The identical placement of antenna lines are the first giveaway, though HTC actually introduced those lines on the One M7 in 2013, but Apple made it its own with the next year’s iPhone 6

    so once Apple rips off HTC its theirs and if HTC continues to use what they developed HTC are ripping off apple???

      Yes, it's called marketing. Truth be damned, it is what you can make people think.

      The authors at Giz pretty much praise Apple as their God. Don't expect logical conclusions in their articles when it comes to their savior.

      Last edited 21/10/15 1:03 pm

      You are grasping if you can read that into the article.

        Its grasping if you cant see that argument. Statement made was that HTC is copying Apple, with the antenna lines they first put in a year BEFORE Apple being used as one of the justifications for that statement.

        To anyone remotely neutral, how is that ever going to be seen as anything but fanboy opinion and bias?

        HTC does it first, but they consider it copying when HTC keep doing the same, because Apple somehow made it cool? Sorry, thats not how it works. Its Apple that copied, and its also something Apple does a lot.

    Wow, that's probably the most blatant rip-off I've ever seen... Worst thing is that the old HTC looked great, and the iPhone 6 has been ugly ever since it was released.

    Can't upvote enough!
    iphone 6 is UGLY! Such a disappointment.

    Even funnier is the thickness/smooth edges/etc. resemblance between the iphone 6 and the Nexus One which came out 5 years ago.

    Gotta say that the battery specs aren't great. I'm not convinced regarding 12 hours of HD video content on a single charge. 2150mAh is not much these days for a phone of that price.

    The two phones are virtually identical, yet you prefer the look of the iPhone. What does that really say about your review? Hmm?

    After my experience with the M9 I'll never buy another HTC. The M7 and 8 were great; my friend got 3 faulty M9s in a row - I thought it would just be a coinkydink of course, and bit the bullet and got my own - which was faulty. So I got it replaced. Which was faulty. Now I'm just getting a refund.

    Author must be retarded, either that or so biased that it's affecting his intelligence. HTC used that design language way before Apple ripped it off.

    I’m an apple lover too as you are but your review feels somewhat biased.
    The most someone got out the A9 phone was two days as a very-very heavy user easily a day. For me I couldn't care less if my battery lasted two days. It’s a day more than my current phone. So that’s great.
    My best mate has an i6 (and I adore the handset by the way) but he is always complaining about his battery life. The A9 not only has a bigger battery, it not only haste extreme power saving mode as well as its standard power saving mode, but it features Doze. This is a new feature from Android M. It looks at what you are not using and the apps just simply, doze off.
    The 617 chipset is brand new and performs brilliantly. The premium look and build, coupled with a camera that is better than some 21pixel units and image stabilization and amoled is a terrific all round great package and I hear Marshmallow is super crisp on the A9
    I can’t wait for mine to arrive. From all accounts it’s gorgeous.

    Last edited 02/11/15 4:45 pm

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