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HTC One A9 Smartphone Review

Andreas Osthoff, Tanja Hinum, 11/17/2015

Design instead of performance? The design and the price of the new HTC One A9 are top-class, but the performance is only mainstream. Can this work?

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Unlike the smartphones from HTC’s M-series (M9 here in review), the new One A9 from HTC has a greater focus on the design. However, the M-series continues to remain as the  technological leader from the Taiwanese manufacturer. This is confirmed in view of the specifications, because a Snapdragon 617 SoC, Adreno 405 GPU and 2 GB of RAM are at least on paper, clearly inferior to the top-class competition. Because of the design, there will also be comparisons with the current iPhones from Apple. 

With an RRP of 599 Euros (~$639), the 5-inch HTC One A9 has to face some high-quality products. Examples are the Huawei P8 or the brand-new Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, but the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Apple iPhone 6 are also in the price range of the new One A9. There is also a strong rival from HTC with the One M9. How many compromises do you have to make in terms of performance and can the high price be justified by the design?

HTC One A9 (One Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
5 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel, capacitive, AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glas, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 9.8 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo jack, Card Reader: microSD (up to 2 TB), 1 Fingerprint Reader, Sensors: Ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, magnet sensor, MHL 3.0, USB-OTG, Google Cast, NFC, A-GPS, GLONASS
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1, 2G (850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz), 3G (850, 900, 1900 and 2100 MHz), LTE Cat. 6 (FDD bands: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20 and 28; TDD bands: 38, 40 and 41)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.3 x 146 x 71 ( = 0.29 x 5.75 x 2.8 in)
Battery
8 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 2150 mAh (Quick Charge 2.0/3.0), Talk time 3G (according to manufacturer): 16 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 432 h
Operating System
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Camera
Webcam: 4 MP UltraPixel (Fixfocus, f/2.0, 1080p-Video), Main camera: 13 MP (Autofocus, OIS, f/2.0, 1080p-Video)
Additional features
Speakers: Mono at the bottom, Keyboard: virtual, Power adaptor, USB cable, headset, SIM tool, quick-start guide, HTC Sense, HTC Club, HTC Zoe, News Republic, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
143 g ( = 5.04 oz / 0.32 pounds), Power Supply: 59 g ( = 2.08 oz / 0.13 pounds)
Price
599 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

HTC uses a metal unibody chassis. After the release of the first product images, there were obviously comparisons with the current iPhones from Apple. There are certainly many similarities, but you will quickly notice some differences when you actually use them side by side. The smartphone from HTC uses a different material and the surface on the sides in particular is much smoother compared to the iPhone. The radii of the sides are also larger and the transition to the display is "harder". This will result in a different feel when you hold the two devices in the hand. From an objective point of view, it is hard to tell which design is better; you should probably try both and decide for yourself.

The build quality of the HTC One A9 is impeccable and does not have to hide behind the smartphone from Apple. The chassis is very sturdy and cannot be twisted or pushed in, and creaking noises are not an issue for the device. One thing that could be improved, however, is the power button. It does have a ribbed surface to differentiate from the volume rocker, but the pressure point and therefore the feedback is too spongy. Because of the narrow power button, you also notice how much space is wasted underneath the display. There would have been enough room for a speaker similar to the HTC One M9. The camera lens at the back is slightly protruding, but due to the central positioning, the smartphone sits pretty comfortably on a hard surface. On the left side of the chassis are the two (separate) slots for Nano-SIM cards and microSD-cards.

The wide frame above and below the display contribute to the comparatively large dimensions. Despite the smaller 5-inch screen, the HTC One A9 is actually the longest device in this comparison. In addition to the "Carbon Gray" of our review unit, HTC also offers the smartphone in the colors "Opal Silver", "Deep Garnet" (dark red), "Topaz Gold" and "Cast Iron". The latter does not only have a different color, but also a different surface structure.

144.6 mm / 5.69 inch 69.7 mm / 2.74 inch 9.61 mm / 0.3783 inch 157 g0.3461 lbs146 mm / 5.75 inch 71 mm / 2.8 inch 7.3 mm / 0.2874 inch 143 g0.3153 lbs144.9 mm / 5.7 inch 71.8 mm / 2.83 inch 6.4 mm / 0.252 inch 147 g0.3241 lbs143.4 mm / 5.65 inch 70.5 mm / 2.78 inch 6.8 mm / 0.2677 inch 138 g0.3042 lbs138.1 mm / 5.44 inch 67 mm / 2.64 inch 6.9 mm / 0.2717 inch 129 g0.2844 lbs127 mm / 5 inch 65 mm / 2.56 inch 8.9 mm / 0.3504 inch 138 g0.3042 lbs

Connectivity

Fingerprint scanner in the home button
Fingerprint scanner in the home button

At the bottom is a Micro-USB port that can be used for charging and data transfers with a computer. It only supports the slower USB 2.0 standard, but also MHL 2.0 for the playback of pictures and videos via TVs or displays. USB-OTG also works and we had no problems using a USB flash drive with the HTC One A9. The 3.5 mm stereo jack is situated next to the USB port.

On the left side of the case are two separate slots for microSD-cards and Nano-SIM cards however, a dual-SIM operation is not possible. You can expand the 16 GB internal storage by up to 2 TB via microSD-card. Apps can also be transferred to the SD-card, but you will have to format it as internal storage first. This also means that you can only use this card in combination with the smartphone since the contents are encrypted. After the initial set-up, you can use around 9.8 GB, but you will lose another 600 MB after all the preloaded apps were updated. 

The home button is integrated as a sensor button and includes the fingerprint scanner. Thanks to the slight depression, it is easy to find the sensor with the finger and the scan of the fingerprint works very quickly and reliably. Five different fingerprints can be stored.

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Left side: MicroSd-slot, Nano-SIM-slot
Left side: MicroSd-slot, Nano-SIM-slot
Top: No ports
Top: No ports
Bottom: Speaker, Micro-USB 2.0, microphone, 3.5 mm stereo jack
Bottom: Speaker, Micro-USB 2.0, microphone, 3.5 mm stereo jack
Right side: Power button, volume rocker
Right side: Power button, volume rocker

Software

The HTC One A9 is shipped with the new operating system, Google Android 6.0 Marshmallow. HTC has also installed its own user interface HTC Sense (7.0), which follows the current material design of the operating system. However, there are no dramatic changes and the UI is very easy to use. It is also possible to customize it comprehensively. A swipe gesture to the right launches the Newsfeed, which shows news from different categories (customizable). There is also a handy widget on the home screen that can show different apps according to your location (Home, Work, On the road) based on Wi-Fi and GPS information. Overall, the manufacturer is pretty restrained in terms of additional software. Apart from the usual Google apps, the Zoe Video Editor, the app News Republic and a link to the app HTC Club, there are no software additions. HTC does not even provide its own apps for some essential functions like mails, music, or the browser. There is a small notification light above the display, which can be used for different actions like new mail.

Home screen
Home screen
Preloaded apps (1/2)
Preloaded apps (1/2)
Preloaded apps (2/2)
Preloaded apps (2/2)
Setup fingerprint scanner
Setup fingerprint scanner
Stagefright
Stagefright

Communication & GPS 

In addition to GSM quad-band and UMTS quad-band (downstream up to 42.2 Mbps, upstream up to 5.76 Mbps), the HTC One A9 can establish Internet connections via LTE Cat. 6. The maximum download speed is up to 300 Mbps (uploads up to 50 Mbps) if the provider supports it. The signal quality was very good in our review in the metropolitan T-Mobile network. We were able to use 4G in almost all situations, while our concurrently used iPhone 6S sometimes used Edge. The integrated Wi-Fi module supports the 802.11 standards a/b/g/n/ac in 2.4 as well as 5 GHz networks. During our test, we did not encounter any problems with two different routers (Fritz!Box and Asus RT-AC56U). Wireless data transfer between two devices is possible via Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC.

GPS-Test: Outdoors
GPS-Test: Outdoors
GPS-Test: Indoors
GPS-Test: Indoors

The position of the smartphone can be located via A-GPS and the Russian GLONASS. The initial satellite fix takes about 20 seconds outdoors and the location is accurate down to 5 meters (~16 ft). The location fix is also possible indoors close to a window with similar accuracy. We compared the results of the HTC One A9 with the professional navigation device Garmin Edge 500 on a bicycle ride. In the main, the performance is very good because the overall deviation is just 90 meters (~295 ft). However, it should be noted that the One A9 does not review the position as frequently, which can sometimes result in shortcuts. However, there should not be any restrictions when used for navigation in a car or on a bike.

HTC One A9: Overview
HTC One A9: Overview
HTC One A9: Crossing
HTC One A9: Crossing
HTC One A9: Turning point
HTC One A9: Turning point
Garmin Edge 500: Overview
Garmin Edge 500: Overview
Garmin Edge 500: Crossing
Garmin Edge 500: Crossing
Garmin Edge 500: Turning point
Garmin Edge 500: Turning point

Telephone & Voice Quality

Phone app
Phone app

The large number pad dominates the phone app. You also get direct access to the favorites, contacts, groups and caller lists. The One A9 left a good impression during calls. There was no annoying static and the understandability was always very good. However, the microphone has some issues with wind noise, so there is room for improvements. The supplied headset works well and has a small remote to accept calls. On the other hand, the hands-free feature via the single speaker at the bottom distorts quickly and can be easily covered by the hand.

Cameras & Multimedia

Picture with the front camera
Picture with the front camera
Picture with the front camera in a poorly illuminated room
Picture with the front camera in a poorly illuminated room

A 4 MP UltraPixel camera is installed on the front of the HTC One A9. The module is not different from the HTC One M9 and takes pictures with up to 2688x1520 pixels (16:9) and videos in Full HD (1920x1080). The camera takes decent pictures, even when lighting conditions are not perfect. However, due to the absence of a  flash, the results are not that impressive in low-light conditions.

The most interesting change is at the back, because unlike the One M9 (20 MP), HTC has equipped the One A9 with a 13 MP camera including an optical image stabilizer. The default resolution is 10 MP (4208x2368 pixels, 16:9), the full resolution of 13 MP is only available for 4:3 pictures (4208x3120 pixels). The camera app provides various modes, each with its own options. The Pro mode is particularly interesting since many settings (like exposure, ISO) can be adjusted. It is also possible to store the pictures as RAW-files to be edited later on a computer. There are also modes for selfies, panoramas, time lapses and slow motions, but at just 1024x576 pixels, the quality of the latter is rather disappointing. The pictures can either be stored on the internal storage or – which is recommended for RAW files in particular (~25 MB/s) – on the microSD-card.

The 13 MP camera leaves a much better impression than the 20 MP camera of the M9. The results show many details and rich colors in all scenes except for the low-light situation, even though the sharpness of the pictures could be better. The flash works very well at a short distance, but the camera takes much longer (around 2 seconds) in this case, and even slightly longer in the Pro mode.

The camera now has an optical image stabilizer, but the maximum resolution of videos is only Full HD (1920x1080 pixels). On the other hand, high-resolution 4K recordings are not possible. Recordings can be paused to take screenshots, but the resolution can only be adjusted in the settings. In sufficient light conditions, the video quality is good and fast movements are not an issue, but picture noise can quickly develop in darker environments. Nevertheless, the camera is an improvement over that of the One M9.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

Accessories

The scope of delivery for the One A9 includes a modular power adaptor, a USB cable, a SIM tool and a quick-start guide. The manufacturer also includes a decent headset, which we will have a closer look at in the Speakers section.

There are some interesting accessories for the One A9. Apart from several headphones and protective cases, the most interesting items are the Dot View Ice cover ($50) as well as the Rapid Charger ($35).

Warranty

The standard warranty period of the HT One A9 is 24 months and cannot be extended.

Input Devices & Handling

The keyboard of the HTC One A9, HTC Sense Input, offers the usual features such as word predictions and Swype inputs (have to be activated in the settings first). Other models from the Play Store are also available. The capacitive touchscreen provides good gliding capabilities and thanks to the rounded edges, gestures from the side work well. 

HTC uses on-screen Android buttons, which means that part of the display is not available in all the apps. This is particularly annoying in the browser, where the buttons and the status bar are constantly visible (see pictures below). The handling is very smooth and we did not notice any stutters.

The whole display is used on the home screen, but...
The whole display is used on the home screen, but...
...this is not the case in all apps.
...this is not the case in all apps.
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode

Display

Subpixel array
Subpixel array

The HTC One A9 uses a 5-inch AMOLED screen with the Full HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. This results in a pixel density of 440 PPI, so individual pixels are not visible at a normal viewing distance. Some rivals already feature higher resolutions, but Full HD is still more than sufficient for sharp images.

AMOLED panels are usually at a disadvantage compared to LCD rivals in terms of maximum brightness. This is also the case for the HTC One A9, but an average of 350 cd/m² with the deactivated light sensor is not a bad result. The disadvantage is also more than compensated by the contrast ratio, which is infinite in theory thanks to the black value of 0.0 cd/m². We measured a maximum of 486 cd/m² with the automatic brightness control via sensor on a pure white picture. We also measured the luminance with an even distribution of bright and dark contents (APL 50). The result is 431 cd/m², but the black value is still 0.0 cd/m². The subjective picture impression is very good: Colors are very rich, which is typical of AMOLED screens and the picture is very vivid. There is also a sRGB option if you prefer colors that are more natural.

343
cd/m²
351
cd/m²
364
cd/m²
340
cd/m²
346
cd/m²
360
cd/m²
338
cd/m²
344
cd/m²
359
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 364 cd/m² Average: 349.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 93 %
Center on Battery: 346 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 1.55 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.2
ΔE Greyscale 2.05 | 0.64-98 Ø6.4
Gamma: 2.15
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
-59%
-92%
-115%
-19%
-35%
Brightness middle
346
453
31%
474
37%
547
58%
335
-3%
520
50%
Brightness
349
439
26%
458
31%
532
52%
345
-1%
511
46%
Brightness Distribution
93
91
-2%
85
-9%
94
1%
89
-4%
88
-5%
Black Level *
0.28
0.4
0.54
0.61
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
1.55
4.7
-203%
6.32
-308%
7.37
-375%
2.51
-62%
3.92
-153%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2.05
5.03
-145%
6.36
-210%
8.39
-309%
2.59
-26%
4.33
-111%
Gamma
2.15 102%
2.27 97%
2.43 91%
2.28 96%
2.43 91%
2.46 89%
CCT
6267 104%
7439 87%
8218 79%
9074 72%
6424 101%
7384 88%
Contrast
1618
1185
1013
852
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
72.04
58.81
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
99.9865

* ... smaller is better

We used the professional software CalMAN for an objective analysis and compare the two available color profiles AMOLED and sRGB. Even the default AMOLED profile manages decent results and the average deviations compared to the sRGB color space are 4.85 (ColorChecker) and 2.76 (Grayscale), respectively. The gamma value is perfect at 2.2 and the color temperature of 6673 K (ideal: 6500 K) is just a tad too cool. The performance of the sRGB mode is even better. The gamma value is slightly worse at 2.15 and the color temperature is now a bit too warm at 6267 K, but the average DeltaE deviations for the colors and the grayscale drop to just 1.55 and 2.05, respectively (target value smaller than 3). These are excellent results and significantly better than the rivals.

ColorChecker (color profile: AMOLED, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (color profile: AMOLED, target color space sRGB)
Colorspace (color profile: AMOLED, target color space sRGB)
Colorspace (color profile: AMOLED, target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (color profile: AMOLED, target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (color profile: AMOLED, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (color profile: AMOLED, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (color profile: AMOLED, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (color profile: sRGB, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (color profile: sRGB, target color space sRGB)
Colorspace (color profile: sRGB, target color space sRGB)
Colorspace (color profile: sRGB, target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (color profile: sRGB, target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (color profile: sRGB, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (color profile: sRGB, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (color profile: sRGB, target color space sRGB)

Thanks to the excellent contrast ratio and the high brightness, the HTC One A9 works very well in the outdoors. Even with direct reflections, the screen contents can be recognized and there are absolutely no restrictions without those reflections or in the shade. The viewing angle stability of the AMOLED panel is excellent. The content is perfectly visible from all directions without any apparent contrast or brightness loss.

Outdoors with reflections
Outdoors with reflections
Outdoors without reflections
Outdoors without reflections
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

HTC has equipped the new One A9 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 SoC. The processor with 64-bit support consists of eight Cortex-A53 cores, which are divided into two clusters of four cores each. One cluster can reach up to 1.5 GHz, while the second cluster runs at up to 1.2 GHz. The graphics calculations are handled by the Adreno 405 GPU, which is also provided by Qualcomm. The SoC is supported by 2 GB of memory. These components already show that HTC acts conservatively and does not aim for the performance crown. We have also included the Allview X2 Soul Pro (~400 Euros/~$426) in the benchmarks, because its MediaTek MT6752 SoC (1.7 GHz) should provide roughly the same performance.

This is supported by the synthetic benchmarks, where the review sample is usually at the bottom of the rankings within our comparison group. The differences are sometimes very clear, but the subjective impression of the review unit is positive. We have already mentioned that the handling of the smartphone is always smooth and we could not determine any stutters. A look at our database shows that the Snapdragon 617 (1.5 GHz) is actually on par with the Snapdragon 615 (1.7 GHz), which is used in many mainstream smartphones.

The graphics card Adreno 405 is also at the bottom of the charts in the 3DMarks. Our review unit can only compete with the Allview X2 Soul Pro in the more demanding tests with OpenGL ES 3.0 or 3.1, the other rivals are sometimes twice or three times as fast. We will see the impacts on the gaming performance later.

AnTuTu v5 - Total Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
40780 Points ∼41%
Huawei P8
45927 Points ∼46% +13%
HTC One M9
55374 Points ∼56% +36%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
50098 Points ∼51% +23%
Samsung Galaxy S6
60804 Points ∼61% +49%
Apple iPhone 6
49093 Points ∼50% +20%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
43753 Points ∼44% +7%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Huawei P8
2955 Points ∼9%
HTC One M9
3499 Points ∼11%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
4078 Points ∼13%
Samsung Galaxy S6
5073 Points ∼16%
Apple iPhone 6
2889 Points ∼9%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Huawei P8
698 Points ∼14%
HTC One M9
1163 Points ∼24%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
1375 Points ∼28%
Samsung Galaxy S6
1146 Points ∼24%
Apple iPhone 6
1619 Points ∼34%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
3032 Points ∼8%
Huawei P8
3458 Points ∼9% +14%
HTC One M9
3835 Points ∼10% +26%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
4109 Points ∼11% +36%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
747 Points ∼15%
Huawei P8
864 Points ∼18% +16%
HTC One M9
1275 Points ∼26% +71%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
825 Points ∼17% +10%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Physics (sort by value)
HTC One A9
1060 Points ∼25%
HTC One M9
1132 Points ∼27% +7%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
1472 Points ∼35% +39%
Samsung Galaxy S6
1320 Points ∼31% +25%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
1399 Points ∼33% +32%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Graphics (sort by value)
HTC One A9
326 Points ∼6%
HTC One M9
1084 Points ∼20% +233%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
1137 Points ∼21% +249%
Samsung Galaxy S6
1152 Points ∼21% +253%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
262 Points ∼5% -20%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) (sort by value)
HTC One A9
385 Points ∼8%
HTC One M9
1094 Points ∼23% +184%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
1198 Points ∼25% +211%
Samsung Galaxy S6
1186 Points ∼25% +208%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
320 Points ∼7% -17%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics (sort by value)
HTC One A9
1051 Points ∼25%
HTC One M9
845 Points ∼20% -20%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
1100 Points ∼26% +5%
Samsung Galaxy S6
1553 Points ∼37% +48%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
1415 Points ∼34% +35%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics (sort by value)
HTC One A9
618 Points ∼7%
HTC One M9
1892 Points ∼23% +206%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
2353 Points ∼28% +281%
Samsung Galaxy S6
1492 Points ∼18% +141%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
404 Points ∼5% -35%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 (sort by value)
HTC One A9
680 Points ∼11%
HTC One M9
1484 Points ∼23% +118%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
1878 Points ∼29% +176%
Samsung Galaxy S6
1505 Points ∼23% +121%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
480 Points ∼7% -29%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
HTC One A9
9423 Points ∼11%
Huawei P8
10494 Points ∼12% +11%
HTC One M9
10432 (min: 10432, max: 10786) Points ∼12% +11%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
13065 Points ∼15% +39%
Samsung Galaxy S6
18649 Points ∼22% +98%
Apple iPhone 6
9137 Points ∼11% -3%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
13759 Points ∼16% +46%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
9015 Points ∼2%
Huawei P8
8743 Points ∼2% -3%
HTC One M9
34429 (min: 34429, max: 34485) Points ∼6% +282%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
37319 Points ∼7% +314%
Samsung Galaxy S6
23193 Points ∼4% +157%
Apple iPhone 6
22509 Points ∼4% +150%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
10019 Points ∼2% +11%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
9163 Points ∼4%
Huawei P8
9080 Points ∼4% -1%
HTC One M9
22783 (min: 22783, max: 23171) Points ∼10% +149%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
26420 Points ∼11% +188%
Samsung Galaxy S6
22002 Points ∼9% +140%
Apple iPhone 6
16985 Points ∼7% +85%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
10663 Points ∼5% +16%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Physics (sort by value)
HTC One A9
8761 Points ∼10%
Huawei P8
9404 Points ∼11% +7%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
12722 Points ∼15% +45%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
HTC One A9
4969 Points ∼1%
Huawei P8
6064 Points ∼1% +22%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
6047 Points ∼1% +22%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
5498 Points ∼3%
Huawei P8
6584 Points ∼3% +20%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
6845 Points ∼3% +24%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Physics (sort by value)
HTC One A9
8656 Points ∼6%
Huawei P8
9337 Points ∼6% +8%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HTC One A9
9962 Points ∼1%
Huawei P8
10515 Points ∼1% +6%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
9639 Points ∼1%
Huawei P8
10228 Points ∼1% +6%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
HTC One A9
16 fps ∼0%
Huawei P8
10 fps ∼0% -37%
HTC One M9
49 fps ∼0% +206%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
56 fps ∼0% +250%
Samsung Galaxy S6
46 fps ∼0% +188%
Apple iPhone 6
42.6 fps ∼0% +166%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
16 fps ∼0% 0%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
HTC One A9
16 fps ∼0%
Huawei P8
11 fps ∼0% -31%
HTC One M9
50 fps ∼1% +213%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
57 fps ∼2% +256%
Samsung Galaxy S6
30 fps ∼1% +88%
Apple iPhone 6
51.9 fps ∼2% +224%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
16 fps ∼0% 0%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
HTC One A9
6.4 fps ∼0%
Huawei P8
5.5 fps ∼0% -14%
HTC One M9
23 fps ∼0% +259%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
25 fps ∼0% +291%
Samsung Galaxy S6
22 fps ∼0% +244%
Apple iPhone 6
17.8 fps ∼0% +178%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
6.1 fps ∼0% -5%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
HTC One A9
6.7 fps ∼0%
Huawei P8
5.8 fps ∼0% -13%
HTC One M9
24 fps ∼1% +258%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
45 fps ∼1% +572%
Samsung Galaxy S6
16 fps ∼0% +139%
Apple iPhone 6
29.8 fps ∼1% +345%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
6.4 fps ∼0% -4%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
HTC One A9
3.8 fps ∼0%
HTC One M9
16 fps ∼0% +321%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
18 fps ∼0% +374%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
HTC One A9
4 fps ∼0%
HTC One M9
17 fps ∼0% +325%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
38 fps ∼1% +850%
PCMark for Android - Work performance score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
4293 Points ∼32%
Huawei P8
4479 Points ∼33% +4%
HTC One M9
4193 Points ∼31% -2%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
4084 Points ∼30% -5%
Smartbench 2012
Gaming Index (sort by value)
HTC One A9
3336 points ∼73%
Huawei P8
4340 points ∼94% +30%
HTC One M9
4454 points ∼97% +34%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
4326 points ∼94% +30%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
4489 points ∼98% +35%
Productivity Index (sort by value)
HTC One A9
5824 points ∼31%
Huawei P8
5433 points ∼29% -7%
HTC One M9
5738 points ∼30% -1%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
7148 points ∼38% +23%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
5589 points ∼30% -4%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
HTC One A9
786 Points ∼39%
Huawei P8
694 Points ∼34% -12%
HTC One M9
789 Points ∼39% 0%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
976 Points ∼48% +24%
Apple iPhone 6
1086 Points ∼53% +38%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
737 Points ∼36% -6%
Graphics (sort by value)
HTC One A9
726 Points ∼3%
Huawei P8
882 Points ∼3% +21%
HTC One M9
3210 Points ∼11% +342%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
3094 Points ∼11% +326%
Apple iPhone 6
2264 Points ∼8% +212%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
601 Points ∼2% -17%
Memory (sort by value)
HTC One A9
1018 Points ∼16%
Huawei P8
1216 Points ∼19% +19%
HTC One M9
933 Points ∼15% -8%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
963 Points ∼15% -5%
Apple iPhone 6
709 Points ∼11% -30%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
1127 Points ∼18% +11%
System (sort by value)
HTC One A9
1595 Points ∼10%
Huawei P8
1860 Points ∼11% +17%
HTC One M9
1672 Points ∼10% +5%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
2082 Points ∼13% +31%
Apple iPhone 6
2042 Points ∼12% +28%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
1746 Points ∼11% +9%
Overall (sort by value)
HTC One A9
981 Points ∼12%
Huawei P8
1085 Points ∼13% +11%
HTC One M9
1410 Points ∼17% +44%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
1569 Points ∼19% +60%
Apple iPhone 6
1374 Points ∼16% +40%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
966 Points ∼11% -2%
Linpack Android / IOS
Multi Thread (sort by value)
HTC One A9
306.67 MFLOPS ∼10%
Huawei P8
272.482 MFLOPS ∼9% -11%
HTC One M9
685.383 MFLOPS ∼23% +123%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
727.011 MFLOPS ∼25% +137%
Apple iPhone 6
1439.05 MFLOPS ∼49% +369%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
280 MFLOPS ∼9% -9%
Single Thread (sort by value)
HTC One A9
228.43 MFLOPS ∼22%
Huawei P8
122.028 MFLOPS ∼12% -47%
HTC One M9
578.161 MFLOPS ∼57% +153%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
250.998 MFLOPS ∼25% +10%
Apple iPhone 6
768.27 MFLOPS ∼75% +236%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
110 MFLOPS ∼11% -52%

Legend

 
HTC One A9 Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 MSM8952, Qualcomm Adreno 405, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei P8 HiSilicon Kirin 930, ARM Mali-T628 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
HTC One M9 Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S6 Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa, ARM Mali-T760 MP8, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
 
Apple iPhone 6 Apple A8, PowerVR GX6450, 128 GB eMMC Flash
 
Allview X2 Soul Pro Mediatek MT6752, ARM Mali-T760 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash

All the browser-based tests were performed with the preloaded Google Chrome 46.0. The HTC One A9 is often in the last place and is usually just beaten by the Allview X2 Soul Pro. However, we can reiterate our impressions from the last paragraph that subjectively, the review unit feels fast enough and there are no restrictions.

Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1227.9 ms * ∼13%
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1163.6 ms * ∼13% +5%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
839.7 ms * ∼9% +32%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
566.1 ms * ∼6% +54%
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
546 ms * ∼6% +56%
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
340 ms * ∼4% +72%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
Mali-T760 MP2, MT6752, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1281 ms * ∼14% -4%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
3911 Points ∼8%
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
4084 Points ∼8% +4%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
6493 Points ∼13% +66%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
5691 Points ∼11% +46%
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
8518 Points ∼17% +118%
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
7478 Points ∼15% +91%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
Mali-T760 MP2, MT6752, 16 GB eMMC Flash
4139 Points ∼8% +6%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
11053.7 ms * ∼19%
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
11807.9 ms * ∼20% -7%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
6508.2 ms * ∼11% +41%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
4210.4 ms * ∼7% +62%
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
4597.1 ms * ∼8% +58%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
Mali-T760 MP2, MT6752, 16 GB eMMC Flash
17068 ms * ∼29% -54%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
3607 Points ∼18%
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
4419 Points ∼23% +23%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
6440 Points ∼33% +79%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
5617 Points ∼29% +56%
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
8384 Points ∼43% +132%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
69 Points ∼9%
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
70 Points ∼9% +1%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
72 Points ∼9% +4%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
104 Points ∼13% +51%
JetStream 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
24.79 Points ∼7%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
26.852 Points ∼8% +8%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
49 Points ∼15% +98%
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
49.193 Points ∼15% +98%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
Mali-T760 MP2, MT6752, 16 GB eMMC Flash
26.7 Points ∼8% +8%

* ... smaller is better

Transfer rates microSD-card
Transfer rates microSD-card

The 16 GB eMMC internal storage is average in the benchmarks. We measured almost 190 MB/s for sequential reads for the HTC One A9, which is enough to beat the two devices Huawei P8 and Allview X2 Soul Pro. Our review unit cannot keep up with the other three flagship devices HTC One M9Samsung Galaxy S6 and Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (235 – 319 MB/s). All other tests show the One A9 in the last place.

We checked the performance of the microSD-slot in combination with the Toshiba Exceria SD-CX32UHS1 memory card. With 50 MB/s reading and 15 MB/s writing, the full potential of the card cannot be utilized. This will affect larger copy processes or the storing of RAW pictures on the memory card, which can take longer and delay the time before you can take the next picture.

AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
3.61 MB/s ∼1%
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
10.04 MB/s ∼4% +178%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
13.91 MB/s ∼6% +285%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
7.81 MB/s ∼3% +116%
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
19.9 MB/s ∼8% +451%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
Mali-T760 MP2, MT6752, 16 GB eMMC Flash
4.6 MB/s ∼2% +27%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
10 MB/s ∼6%
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
22.46 MB/s ∼13% +125%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
20.66 MB/s ∼12% +107%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
14.15 MB/s ∼8% +42%
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
80 MB/s ∼46% +700%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
Mali-T760 MP2, MT6752, 16 GB eMMC Flash
18 MB/s ∼10% +80%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
39.61 MB/s ∼16%
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
39.58 MB/s ∼16% 0%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
123.81 MB/s ∼49% +213%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
88.91 MB/s ∼35% +124%
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
138.9 MB/s ∼55% +251%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
Mali-T760 MP2, MT6752, 16 GB eMMC Flash
54 MB/s ∼21% +36%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
187.57 MB/s ∼21%
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
139.95 MB/s ∼15% -25%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
235.14 MB/s ∼26% +25%
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
248.15 MB/s ∼27% +32%
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
319 MB/s ∼35% +70%
Allview X2 Soul Pro
Mali-T760 MP2, MT6752, 16 GB eMMC Flash
147 MB/s ∼16% -22%

Games

The graphics card Adreno 405 has a core clock of 550 MHz and is the smallest chip from Qualcomm's Adreno 400-series. The results in the benchmarks have already demonstrated that the review unit clearly falls behind the rivals and there can be restrictions when you play games that are more demanding. For example, in the racing game “Asphalt 8: Airborne” as soon as medium or high detail setting is selected stutters can be noticed.  It will only run smoothly at low settings. Simpler games like “Angry Birds 2” are not a problem, but you have to expect limitations in the long term. The sensors and the touchscreen work well and do not affect the gaming experience.

Asphalt 8 Airborne only runs smoothly at low details.
Asphalt 8 Airborne only runs smoothly at low details.
Simpler titles like Angry Birds are no problem.
Simpler titles like Angry Birds are no problem.

Emissions

Temperature

Because of the lower performance, we expected a pretty cool device. This is only true while idling or under light workloads where the average temperatures are at 28 °C (~82 °F) at the front and the back. The smartphone does get really warm in the upper half and up to 41 °C (~106 °F) are clearly perceptible. These maximum temperatures were determined during our impractical stress test, but the smartphone also gets very warm during gaming – too warm for the performance.

We checked the performance of the components under sustained load with the GFXBench Battery Test. While the T-Rex Test is repeated thirty times, the app logs the performance and the temperatures. The performance curve might look rather wild in the diagram, but the differences between the individual runs are within 1%, so there is no throttling.

GFXBench Battery Test
GFXBench Battery Test
Max. Load
 41.2 °C
106 F
40.9 °C
106 F
37 °C
99 F
 
 41.3 °C
106 F
41 °C
106 F
36.4 °C
98 F
 
 40.4 °C
105 F
40.1 °C
104 F
36.4 °C
98 F
 
Maximum: 41.3 °C = 106 F
Average: 39.4 °C = 103 F
36 °C
97 F
36.9 °C
98 F
39.7 °C
103 F
36.4 °C
98 F
38.8 °C
102 F
39.8 °C
104 F
36.5 °C
98 F
38.5 °C
101 F
39.2 °C
103 F
Maximum: 39.8 °C = 104 F
Average: 38 °C = 100 F
Power Supply (max.)  35.5 °C = 96 F | Room Temperature 22.3 °C = 72 F | Voltcraft IR-260
(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 39.4 °C / 103 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 41.3 °C / 106 F, compared to the average of 35.6 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 39.8 °C / 104 F, compared to the average of 34.1 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 28.4 °C / 83 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speakers

HTC BoomSound
HTC BoomSound

With the new chassis design, HTC has also dispensed with the two stereo speakers at the front. The new One A9 only has one speaker on the lower edge. Therefore, it cannot keep up with the One M9, but the small module is still pretty loud and you can also listen to it at maximum volume. Bass on the other hand is not available and there are no software enhancements. The HTC BoomSound with Dolby Audio can be used only when the headphones are attached. There are not many settings though, because you can only activate it and select a profile for HTC headphones or "Others" (see screenshot). The result is a slightly richer sound, which is particularly audible with less expensive headphones. High-quality models on the other hand, reveal distortions but thanks to the integrated DA converter, the software  can be deactivated. The supplied in-ear headset is one of the better additions on the market and includes different tips for the ears. Another advantage of the headset is the flat cable, so you cannot twist it. All in all, the sound output of the 3.5 mm jack is really good and sufficiently loud.

If you want the playback to be even louder, you can obviously connect external speakers. This is possible via stereo jack, Google Cast or Bluetooth. A connection with the Bluetooth speaker Denon Envaya Mini worked without any problems; we noticed dropouts only when the distance was more than 10 meters (incl. two walls/~33 ft).

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption of the HTC One A9 is average and often better compared to the rivals, which however, is not surprising considering the lower performance. That there is still room for improvements is obvious when you look at the idle measurements of the Samsung Galaxy S6 or the similarly powerful Allview X2 Soul Pro. HTC ships the smartphone with a modular 7.5-watt (5 V, 1.5 A) power adaptor, which is powerful enough for the maximum consumption of almost 6 watts.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.4 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.9 / 1.2 / 1.4 Watt
Load midlight 3.8 / 5.9 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 870
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
Allview X2 Soul Pro
Mali-T760 MP2, MT6752, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Power Consumption
-30%
-55%
-17%
15%
6%
12%
Idle Minimum *
0.9
0.7
22%
1.1
-22%
0.6
33%
0.4
56%
0.3
67%
0.7
22%
Idle Average *
1.2
2
-67%
2
-67%
1.4
-17%
0.6
50%
1.5
-25%
1.1
8%
Idle Maximum *
1.4
2.1
-50%
2.4
-71%
1.7
-21%
1.2
14%
2
-43%
1.4
-0%
Load Average *
3.8
4.9
-29%
7.2
-89%
5.3
-39%
5
-32%
3.1
18%
2.8
26%
Load Maximum *
5.9
7.4
-25%
7.5
-27%
8.4
-42%
6.8
-15%
5.2
12%
5.7
3%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

The lithium-polymer battery of the HTC One A9 has a capacity of 8.17 Wh (2150 mAh). All other Android rivals offer much more (at least 2550 mAh @Samsung Galaxy S6), only the Apple iPhone 6 has an even smaller battery (1810 mAh). Considering the average consumption values, we do not expect any new runtime records. 

We used a Wi-Fi reading script at the minimum brightness to determine maximum runtime. The HTC One A9 manages slightly more than 19 hours in this scenario, which is an average result within our comparison group. At the other extreme, the minimum runtime is simulated by the app Stability Test at the highest brightness. Our review sample ran for almost 3 hours and can only beat the Apple iPhone 6 (2:08 h) and the Allview X2 Soul Pro (2:45 h), some of the other Android smartphones have much more stamina despite the higher performance (+22 up to +58 %). 

Maximum load or full idle is not very common in practice, which is why our Wi-Fi test at an adjusted brightness of 150 cd/m² is more interesting. Once again, a result of just six hours confirms the small battery of the HTC One A9, because all the other rivals except for the HTC One M9 manage better results. This situation is also confirmed in the video test, where we run a loop of the quick movie Big Buck Bunny (1080p, H.264) at 150 cd/m². 7 hours and 45 minutes is not a bad result, but once again, the competition is more enduring.

Extreme energy-saving mode
Extreme energy-saving mode

HTC has implemented two different energy-saving modes to increase the runtime if necessary. The normal energy-saving mode (can be automatically activated at 5 or 15% remaining capacity) reduces the CPU usage, limits location services, reduces the display brightness and deactivates the tactile vibration feedback. The other mode is the extreme energy-saving mode, which can also be automatically activated at different capacities. This mode really limits the functionality of the smartphone; you can only make calls, use messages, mails, the calendar, the calculator and the watch (see screenshot).

The HTC One A9 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology (2.0), but you will need a special power adaptor. HTC offers the optional Rapid Charger for $35. According to HTC quick charge 3.0 will be available soon, but it will probably require another power adaptor. The supplied 7.5-watt PSU needs almost two hours for a full charge when the device is turned on.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
19h 14min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
6h 08min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
7h 45min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 56min
HTC One A9
Adreno 405, 617 MSM8952, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
Allview X2 Soul Pro
Mali-T760 MP2, MT6752, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
9%
-3%
42%
33%
7%
16%
Reader / Idle
1154
826
-28%
805
-30%
2249
95%
1300
13%
1369
19%
H.264
465
581
25%
421
-9%
525
13%
595
28%
WiFi v1.3
368
434
18%
348
-5%
440
20%
475
29%
507
38%
Load
176
215
22%
236
34%
242
38%
278
58%
128
-27%
165
-6%
WiFi
573
575
530

Pros

+ high-quality chassis
+ excellent AMOLED screen
+ good camera
+ microSD-slot for storage expansion
+ fingerprint scanner
+ LTE Cat. 6
+ very good sound at the 3.5 mm jack
+ decent headset

Cons

- mediocre battery runtimes
- high RRP
- slower than the rivals
- inconvenient memory card mangement
- no 4K video recording

Verdict

In Review: HTC One A9. Review sample courtesy of HTC Germany.
In Review: HTC One A9. Review sample courtesy of HTC Germany.

The HTC One A9 is a new approach for the Taiwanese manufacturer. The focus of the new smartphone is clearly on the design. Despite the big similarities to the current iPhones from Apple, it would not be fair to say that the One A9 is just an iPhone clone. Actually, the handling is very different between the two models, but the build quality is on a similarly high level. Other advantages of the review unit are the good camera and the excellent display.

The biggest issue is the performance. The smartphone does not seem too slow in practice when you browse the web, watch YouTube videos or write mails, but there will be limitations when you play current games. We would have also expected that the lower performance has a positive effect on the temperatures and the battery runtimes, but unfortunately, this is not the case.

The HTC One A9 does have a great chassis, but this is also true of other Android rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S6 or the HTC One M9. Those devices also provide significantly more performance for the same price.

With an RRP of 599 Euros (~$638/current street price around 550 Euros/~$585), the HTC One A9 has to face high-end competitors that also offer great cases (sometimes metal) and have a clear advantage in terms of performance. The One A9 is a good smartphone in some respects, but we cannot recommend it for the current price. We are eager to see if HTC will implement some of the improvements (like the camera or the slimmed down HTC Sense) for the upcoming One M10, which will probably have no issues with performance.

HTC One A9 - 11/11/2015 v4(old)
Andreas Osthoff

Chassis
91%
Keyboard
65 / 75 → 87%
Pointing Device
91%
Connectivity
48 / 60 → 80%
Weight
93%
Battery
91%
Display
88%
Games Performance
58 / 63 → 92%
Application Performance
37 / 70 → 53%
Temperature
87%
Noise
100%
Audio
51 / 91 → 56%
Camera
67%
Average
74%
85%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > HTC One A9 Smartphone Review
Andreas Osthoff, 2015-11-17 (Update: 2018-05-15)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.