HTC has announced its lastest device, the HTC One A9.
HTC's last two flagships - the One M8 and One M9 - released with very similar designs, but now, for the first time in a couple of years, HTC has broken with tradition and launched a new smartphone, with a new design, in a new A family.
Originally codenamed the Hima Aero, the new HTC One A9 was announced on 20 October.
Here's everything you need to know about this new sub-flagship handset.
HTC's next smartphone name
The HTC One A9 appears to sit in a new catregory of phones for the company. It carries the flagship One name, but rather than the M that's applied to the flagship devices, it's an A class device.
There has been plenty of speculation as to whether this is a true flagship handset, or a mid-ranger, but offering One quality build and Desire style design, it's a bit of both.
Hima was the codename for the HTC One M9 prior to launch, suggesting that Hima Aero is an evolution of that existing handset, rather than a complete reinvention. The final result is this fusion device that's definitely premium, but sitting slightly lower in terms of specs.
Hima_Aero gonna be one of the thinnest HTC devices...— LlabTooFeR (@LlabTooFeR) August 17, 2015
HTC One A9 release date
HTC announced the One A9 at a virtual launch event on 20 October 2015.
Pre-orders for the new handset on htc.com open on the same date, so you'll be able to buy an unlocked handset right away. The HTC One A9 will be available globally starting in November, with pricing subject to each carrier and region.
The HTC One A9 comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage and starts at £429.99 in the UK.
- O2: O2 will offer the HTC One A9, including an exclusive Topaz Gold version. And if you want to trade in your old phone, you can use O2's Recycle scheme.
- Giffgaff: Giffgaff will offer the HTC One A9, but we're waiting on specific pricing and release details.
- Vodafone: There's no official announcement yet.
- Carphone Warehouse: You can get it for £469 SIM free, or from £31.99 on contract.
- EE: EE will be offering the One A9 in Carbon Grey, across price plans. You can get it for £44.99 a month, for 2GB data, with £9.99 upfront.
- Three: There's no official announcement yet.
The One A9 will be available on all US carriers.
A SIM-unlocked version in the US will feature 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage for $399.99. It comes with an unlockable bootloader that doesn’t void the warranty and gets updates straight from HTC. Along with that, you will get six free months of unlimited Google Play Music and HTC's Uh Oh Protection.
That $399.99 price is a special offer, however, and the price will revert to $499.99 (unlocked) from 7 November.
HTC One A9 design
The HTC One A9 was comprehensively leaked prior to launch, showing off a design that was immediately alikened to the iPhone, thanks to its full metal body and slim profile.
The HTC One A9 measures 145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26mm and it's a lightweight 143g. The display has curved 2.5D edges, dropping into the curves of the sides of the handset for a really slick and smooth finish.
The sides are polished, sitting in contrast to the bead-blasted rear of the phone. The finish on the One A9 is very high quality, with HTC continuing its trend of looking for new finishes.
The HTC One A9 will be available in Opal Silver, Deep Garnet, Topaz Gold and Carbon Grey, although the devices available will differ by territory.
The front of the HTC One A9 is topped with a Gorilla Glass 4, which runs from edge to edge, for a great seamless finish. The front glass is only broken for the fingerprint scanner beneath the display and the speaker hole at the top.
One of the big changes from many HTC devices of the past 3 years is that there are no BoomSound speakers on the front, instead offering a single speaker in the bottom.
HTC One A9 hardware specs
The HTC One A9's specs position it as sub-flagship, with the One M9 still being the more powerful device.
Inside the HTC One A9 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 chipset, one of Qualcomm's latest 64-bit octo-core chips. There will be two different versions of the One A9 - one offering 2G of RAM and one offering 3GB of RAM. Different territories will get different models, depending on how the device is being positioned in that market. In the UK, we get the 2GB version.
There will be 16 and 32GB storage options too, although the HTC One A9 supports microSD card expansion up to 2TB. As this is an Android 6.0 Marshmallow device, this external storage can be integrated into the internal storage, using Android's new Flex Storage feature.
In terms of connectivity you get everything you'd expect from a modern handset, as well as a full run of sensors, so you'll get the same sort of gesture support that you have on the One M9.
HTC One A9 battery
The slimness of the One A9 comes at a cost: the battery only has a capacity of 2150mAh, one of the smallest batteries we've seen for a while.
However, HTC is promising you'll get 16 hours of talk time from it, 60 hours of music playback or 18 days of standby.
The HTC One A9 has been designed to be efficient, with that new chipset, as well as Android Marshmallow's Doze function to reduce drain from apps running in the background.
HTC One A9 display
The HTC One A9 has a 5-inch display on the front, topped with Gorilla Glass 4. As we've mentioned, it has 2.5D edges, for a nice slick design.
Making a departure from many of HTC's past devices, it's an AMOLED display rather than LCD3. This means it delivers inky deep blacks and has been set-up to deliver punchy colours with plenty of vibrancy.
The HTC One A9 display has a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, for 440ppi, meaning it's nice and sharp.
HTC One A9 camera
With the One M9 receiving a fair degree of criticism for its camera, the HTC One A9 needs to better it, so there's plenty of change from previous devices.
The rear camera has a 13-megapixel sensor, with F/2.0 aperture, and optical image stablisation, the first HTC device to offer this feature for some time. That should boost the performance of his camera in lower light conditions, something the M9 struggled with.
There's a dual tone flash in support.
The rear camera supports video capture up to full HD, so you don't get the latest UHD 4K capture offered elsewhere.
The A9 has a 4-megapixel UltraPixel sensor on the front for all those essential selfies.
There's also a new camera app that elevates the more common functions - like HDR - so they are available with a tap. All the manual controls fall into a new Pro mode, also supporting RAW capture and there's now a RAW editor too.
Elsewhere there's a new hyperlapse function, for handheld timelapse capture.
HTC One A9 software
HTC was quick to tell us that it would be first to launch a device running Android 6.0 Marshmallow after the Nexus devices. The HTC One A9 is it, with HTC saying that the software is Android 6.0 Marshmallow with HTC Sense.
This is Sense 7, but it's listed in the device as Sense 7.0_g, a reflection of its condition, which is closer to Android than previous Sense builds have been.
Although you get all the things that HTC Sense is known for - BlinkFeed, lots of customisation and Themes - there's been the removal of a number of apps for a more bloat-free result.
Some of the areas that HTC would once have changed have been left alone. For example, the recent apps arrangement is the standard Marshmallow scrolling cards approach, rather than the grid HTC has used in the past.
The real appeal here is that this brand new handset come with the latest version of Android, so you'll get Now on Tap and a whole lot more, without having to wait for an update to be pushed.
HTC has also confirmed fast Android updates, and that you'll be able to unlock the bootloader without invalidating your warranty. In the US, this version will get Android updates within 15 days of Google pushing updates to Nexus devices, and it will come with 6 months of Google Play Music.
HTC One A9 price
The HTC One A9 in the UK will cost £429.99 SIM free from htc.com.
In the US, the HTC One A9 will be available unlocked through htc.com for $399, reverting to $499 from 7 November.
We'll update as soon as we have full details of the prices from other retailers.
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