HTC One M9+ 2-day review: Great design, good camera, no major issues

The HTC One M9+ is made for the emerging markets like India. But how effective will the phone be? We live with it real time for two days.

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: May 22, 2015 5:28:30 am
HTC One M9+ is priced Rs 48,362 on Flipkart. (Source: Nandagopal Rajan) HTC One M9+ is priced Rs 48,362 on Flipkart. (Source: Nandagopal Rajan)

A couple of months back, I was in Barcelona as a part of a small group from around the world that got a sneak peek of the HTC One M9 which was to be launched days later at the Mobile World Congress there. The first impressions of the phone were good: it carried the legacy of the full-metal phone ahead, though it discarded the much talked about dual camera of the M8.

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However, by the time the phone reached India a month later, it had metamorphed into the HTC One M9+, showcased a week before in China and meant primarily for the emerging markets. So it had a larger screen, a MediaTek processor and, of course, the popular dual camera was back along with a fingerprint scanner.

Specs: 5.2 inch Super LCD3 capacitive touchscreen (1440x2560p, ~534 ppi) | Octa-core 2.2 GHz Mediatek MT6795T with 3GB RAM | 32GB storage, expandable up to 128GB | 20MP  + 2.1MP dual rear camera, 4 MP front camera | Android Lollipop with HTC Sense UI 7 | 2840 mAh battery

Rs 48,362

I have been using the phone for almost a week now and from today will clock my experiences living with the phone. Here goes:

CONCLUSIONS

While I chronicled what I could of how I used the phone over the past two days, the fact is that I have been testing the phone on and off for well over a week. I am convinced that this is the best looking Android phone, carrying forward the legacy of the HTC One range. It has one of the better cameras in the business, if not the best. The M8 had the best camera at the point of time, the M9+ does not have that badge on its chest. The phone works well in all scenarios and is very powerful. However, like most other top-end phones these days, the M9+ too has occasional heating issues. The HTC Sense 7 UI gives a high degree of customisation that you can play around with. And the battery life is good to last a full working day.

If you are one of those people who want to show the world that you have a top-end phone that looks like one, the HTC One M9+ is one of your best bets. It is an investment, especially with all the metal in the phone. Also, with HTC itself bringing in some good affordable phone, you need to take a call on whether there is a need for a phone that costs close to Rs 50,000.

DAY 2

6 am: A pleasant surprise awaits me as a I wake up. There is still 56 per cent battery left on the phone. No, the phone does not have WhatsApp, which for me keeps buzzing all night long thanks to friends and family spread across many time zones. No need to charge my phone before the walk.

6.30 am: I realise that I keep forgetting this phone has a fingerprint scanner. I just need to wipe my thumb on the home button-like (it does not do anything else) slot below the screen, but I end up tapping the screen and invoking the PIN lock. Anyway, the fingerprint scanner is effortless and there is something very James Bondish about this feature, even though I get to wipe my finger twice a day at the office for attendance.

20150515_085836_HDR8.15 am: I am quite adept at writing long mails and even articles on the phone. In fact, I use the swipe more that regular keyboards for typing on Android phone. I am now attempting a longish letter on the M9+. There is no swipe here. But the tactile feedback is good and that means I know every time I hit a key. Fewer misses on this keyboard. I can get used to this.

Also, the phone comes with a bunch of Indian languages including my mother tongue Malayalam. Typing digitally in my native language is not one of my strengths and I could not figure out how to write Malayalam in the script. The closest I could get was malayoram, or mountain range. This is when I skipped to Google voice type.

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11.30 am: I’m at a coffee shop waiting for a meeting to start. I try to play around with the dual camera. The camera works on macro too, but the software will keep asking you to move 30 cm away from subject. The detail on macro shots is really good. But I am still not convinced this camera is better than the M8. Maybe as good, but not better. (Sample image on the left. Click to see full size.)

11.50 am: I use the macro shot of the coffee glass to create a theme for the phone. This is a new feature in the Sense UI. You can click a shot and use it to create multiple themes. And as you can see from the screenshots the software does much more than create a homescreen.

HTC blinkfeed

It also brings the color theme yo the enter UI. Each shot gives you multiple such options.

3 pm: On way back to office from my first set of meetings I browse through the Indian Express website on the Chrome browser. The experience was pretty smooth though I had multiple tabs open.

I also use the opportunity to hear some songs on YouTube. The HTC BoomSound is among the best audio playbacks available on any mobile device. It might not be as loud as some of the cheaper phones, but if offers the best clarity and detail.

HTC one m9 plus battery

7 pm: The phone still has 11 per cent battery life left. No, I have not charged the phone since as i was out for most of the day. But I have also not used the phone for calls that much as I could not take more than a handful as I have been in meetings most of the day.


DAY 1

6 am: My day has begun. The phone as about 30 per cent charge, I plug it in the charger.

7 am: The phone has 85 per cent charge now. I am off for my 40-minute daily walk. I use this time to catch up with news on Twitter and on Google Newstand.

7.15 am: I’m inside Sanjay Lake Park in East Delhi and already sweating from my efforts. However, it is a good thing that the phone, though smooth with all the metal, has a ridge that makes it easy to grip. And the curved back, too makes it a perfect fit for your hand.

7.30 am: I’m listening to latest songs on Saavn and with the phone constantly trying to stay connected, I can feel the metal body heat up a bit. It is not hot, but the phone is certainly warm. I pause for a second to click a couple of photos. You tell if you like these snaps.

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8.15 am: I’m back home. The battery is down to 20 per cent. I realise the Moves app I used to track my walks is draining the battery a lot. But then, with fitness trackers becoming so popular, smartphone makers will have to figure a way to optimise battery life.

9.20 am: The phone has been charge and I’m on my way to office. I am browsing some sites on the page and I can feel the warmth in the phone. However, there is absolutely no lag with many tabs open on the Chrome browser. Yes, this is a powerful phone.

Sorry for the inordinate delay in the updates. It has been a rather busy day. But here is what happened in between.

10.30 am: The flurry of calls that dominate most of my working days start. The call quality is really good. But I think the feel of metal on the ear during a rather long call is not that great.

11.30 am: I am trying to send out some photos from the phone using the native Gmail app. However, I am suddenly struggling for network. Nothing is uploading. After a frustrating few minutes, I pull out a cable from the locker and transfer the photos the old fashioned way.

12 noon: I am in another part of the office building in Noida and suddenly realise that the photos are suddenly landing in my mail. The phone has found network in another part of the building. But wait, I have not had issues with network where I sit. So does the phone have issues with data connectivity? This needs to be investigated more. However, despite all this the battery hasn’t budged much.

2 pm: I am supposed to cover the #DigitalBharat event supported by The Express Group. Covering an event for the web these days also means live tweets with photos and videos. But ironically, there is no way a tweet with any sort of media is going to upload from this venue in Central Delhi. The importance of pushing for #DigitalBharat dawns on me. I stick to text only tweets till about 6 pm.

Shot using the rear dual camera. There is a slight 3D-like effect with the rear camera. Shot using the rear dual camera. There is a slight 3D-like effect with the rear camera.

7 pm: I am on way back home, I need to urgently check something on the web. But yes data is still an issue. It is not that this phone has connectivity issues. Just minutes before, I played a song on the Wynk. Using a pair of JBL Synchros Reflect headphones, that was one of the best mobile music experiences I have had in recent times. Not sure who to thank – the headphone, the app or the phone for this experience.

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