The HTC One X9 was originally launched in Asia in December 2016, and now this handset is spreading its wings and making its way to Europe, fusing design close to the HTC One A9, with a larger display, and the restoration of BoomSound.
This probably isn't the HTC One that you were anticipating reading about, as this isn't HTC's new flagship handset. We're not sure if, when, or how it might come to the UK, or how much this handset costs, although it was pretty affordable when it launched in China.
HTC One X9 design
The One X9 borrows from the One A9, offering the softly brushed metal finish across its unibody design. We like that finish, it's good quality and makes the 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.99mm handset look the part.
The screen doesn't quite sit in place quite as seamlessly as it does on the One A9, however, sitting more distinctly raised, with a more pronounced but rounded lip, above the metal sides.
The biggest thing you'll notice about the One X9, however, is around the bezel of display. At the top and bottom, pushed right to the edges, you'll see that BoomSound is in back in place, offering those dual front-facing speakers that have won a lot of fans over the past few year. Fire up the audio, and the X9 is a good head and shoulders above the quality of the One A9's single bottom speaker.
The HTC One X9 will come in a range of familiar colours - silver, dark grey, gold and rose - and these claim to have been inspired by natural materials. We're not sure we're following the message there, but there's a choice of colours for those who have a preference.
But this handset misses out on some of the elegance of the A9, especially around the camera. Rather than the A9's central camera, the X9 pushes it to one side, sitting in a plastic strip. That probably also aids antenna reception, but it doesn't look quite as slick.
The One X9 also returns to capacitive buttons beneath the display, so you get the full expanse of that screen to enjoy your content.
HTC One X9 display and hardware
But the story of the One X9 is perhaps best told by the hardware it contains. This isn't a power house, it's a metal-bodied mid-ranger. Starting with the display, that 5.5-inch Super LCD display (topped with Gorilla Glass) is full HD, so it's not the highest resolution device out there, especially at this size.
First impression is that it's a bright and vibrant display, packed with plenty of colour, although we've not had the chance to full explore its performance.
Powering the One X9 is a MediaTek Helio X10 chipset. This offers octo-core power, but it's another indicator of this phone's slightly lower positioning. That said, opting for MediaTek hardware usually brings with it a lower price, but our experience has always been that most will be satisfied with the power. There is 3GB of RAM and this is destined to be a dual SIM handset.
Joining the party is 32GB of internal storage, with microSD for expansion. That will be a welcome option for many, and can take advantage of Android's Flex Storage function.
There is a 3000mAh battery at the heart of this handset, offering fast charging, but we've no idea of what the performance might be like.
The software was far from final on the device that we were looking at (it was loaded with Android Lollipop), so it's difficult to assess the performance at this time.
HTC One X9 software
As we have just mentioned, the demo device we saw was loaded with Android Lollipop, whereas the retail device will launch with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This handset will also have HTC Sense over the top, although HTC has said that it will be coming with a refined user interface.
It looks like the experience of the One A9 is something that HTC wants to preserve. That handset offered a stripped back version of HTC Sense, removing some of the bloat and duplication of apps - there's no additional music app for example. That seems to be the direction that the HTC One X9 will head in too.
When we asked what the position was with Sense at the unveiling at Mobile World Congress, HTC told us that we could expect software similar to the A9 on devices moving forward.
Of course we can't assess that on the X9 we saw, as it wasn't in place.
HTC One X9 camera
Finally we come to the camera. This adopts the camera from the A9, with a 13-megapixel sensor and optical image stabilisation and f/2.0 aperture. It offers 4K video capture, RAW capture, HDR and all the bells and whistles.
If the experience is like the A9 then it's a pretty good camera. It might not be the best in class when set up against the likes of Apple or Samsung, but we've found the One A9 to be fairly competent.
There's a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for all those essential selfies.
The HTC One X9, like the One A9 is perhaps a slightly odd handset. It slips in under HTC's premium flagship - and we're yet to see that updated for 2016 - but then sits above the Desire mid-range. It brings that lovely metal design, and in this case plenty of power. Specced as such, this is the sort of handset that should be challenging the likes of Huawei, with its devices positioned slightly under rival flagships.
A lot will hang on how the HTC One X9 is priced. That's the missing piece of the puzzle here. The HTC One A9 was far too expensive when it appeared in the UK and we're hoping that the One X9 can keep things in check. There's a danger, however, that rivalry from the likes of OnePlus, Huawei and others, will make this HTC handset seem too expensive.
We're expecting the HTC One X9 to be available from the end of February, but there's no word on where it will be launching.
We continually monitor 1,000s of prices from a range of retailers to show you the lowest prices we can find. We may get a commission from these offers. Our reviewers and buyer's guides are always kept separate from this process. Read more about our approach here. © Squirrel 2019