The One A9 is HTC's attempt at a budget flagship


— 12:27 PM on October 20, 2015

HTC has fallen on hard times, and it's trying to turn its fortunes around with the One A9. This phone offers a blend of high-end and mid-range components wrapped in an all-metal frame that has a familiar look about it.

Before the Apple fans start screaming "iPhone copy," it's important to note that HTC more or less created this look when it released the HTC One M7 back in 2013. Still, the A9's flatter shape and rounded edges do evoke the latest from Apple, so iPhone fans may have a point. 

HTC touts the One A9 as the first third-party phone to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and the company has taken the time to wrap Google's latest OS in its Sense skin. The One A9 may need that latest version of Android, too. The 2,150-mAh battery doesn't inspire confidence that the phone will run all day without 6.0's Doze mode.

HTC made a big deal about the A9's camera during its introduction, and the shooter sounds pretty nice on paper. The 13-megapixel rear snapper has optical image stabilization to help cut down on shake when taking photos. HTC has also enabled raw capture from the A9's camera, an unusual feature. The front camera is an Ultrapixel-branded selfie shooter. The company says the front camera's 1.1-micrometer pixels can capture plenty of light, but declined to share the selfie cam's resolution.

Inside the metal shell beats the heart of a Snapdragon: a Snapdragon 617, to be specific. The variant we'll see in the United States will have 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded with a microSD card. A stripped-down version with just 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of flash will make its way into other countries, though. 

Those internals will drive a 5.0" 1920x1080 Super AMOLED display. That screen can be set for the eye-popping color that comes to mind when many people think of AMOLED displays, or in a more subdued sRGB mode that should display images more accurately. HTC includes a fingerprint reader beneath the display, as well. Android 6.0 Marshmallow supports fingerprint readers natively now, so hopefully HTC is using Google's implementation after its last lesson about secure fingerprint storage.

HTC has put the One A9 up for preorder on its website at the sort-of tantalizing price of $399. Specs junkies might opt for a Nexus 5X, Moto X Pure Edition, or OnePlus 2 (assuming your number gets called) at similar prices. The One A9 comes in several colors—gray, dark gray, light gray silver, red, copper and yellow. Here in the States, HTC's latest will run on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. 

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