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Meet the HTC One M9, a flagship smartphone that looks uncannily familiar

Jason Cross | March 2, 2015
The new model looks almost exactly like last year's M8, but there are substantial changes inside.

Are you a fan of the HTC One M8? Are you such a big fan that you hope HTC never changes the design? Then good news, because the new HTC One M9 is here, and it looks exactly like the M8.

Okay, its not exactly like the M8. There are a few differences, but theyre subtle enough that you can barely tell the two phones apart. The new M9 is more than just a minor bump in terms of specs, but the design hasnt changed a bit.

A new processor
At the heart of the M9 is an upgrade to the system-on-chip. Moving from the Snapdragon 801 to the 810 will provide a measurable increase in performance, especially for graphics, photo, and video. RAM is boosted from 2GB to 3GB, too.

All that additional 3D graphics muscle isnt wasted on a higher resolution display, either. The screen in the M9 is the same as in the M8, measuring 5 inches with a resolution of 1920x1080. That may be bad news for those hoping for a Quad HD display, but at this screen size, Quad HD is arguably a waste. Certainly, HTC feels higher pixel density isnt worth the tradeoff in cost, battery life, or graphics performance.

Bye-bye Duo Camera
Remember the ill-fated Duo Camera on the M8? It combined an UltraPixel camera sporting a paltry 4-megapixel resolution with a secondary depth camera. It was supposed to offer amazing low-light performance and enable all sorts of cool features like changing the focal point after the shot. Unfortunately, the low-light shooting really wasnt that much better than other premium phones, and all those nifty photo editing tricks never caught on.

HTC one m9
Instead of a low-resolution "UltraPixel" sensor plus secondary depth sensor, the M9 opts for a single high-res 20 megapixel camera on the rear.

So the M9 dumps Duo Camera for a single 20-megapixel camera, capable of 4K video recording and 720p/120fps slow motion video.

The UltraPixel camera isnt dead, though. It has just moved around to the front, where better low-light performance is sorely needed, and the limited resolution isnt a problem.

If you dont look at the camera module on the back, where two cameras is now one, the M9 looks almost exactly like the M8. HTC has managed to trim the length by a couple millimeters by reducing the width of the black HTC-branded bar beneath the display, but its still a rather long phone. The stereo speaker grills still prominently surround the screen (and should provide even better sound, thanks to new Dolby Audio technology). The brushed aluminum shell is the same shape, with a very slightly less curved back. 

 

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