4. HTC One M9 (from £525) ★★★★★
Feeling a bit of deja vu? The HTC One M9 looks quite a lot like last year’s One M8. All that lovely textured aluminium is back, making this perhaps the smoothest, fanciest-feeling metal Android phone of the year. It’s a stunner.
This year it has a two-tone style, and comes in silver, grey or gold. HTC hasn’t gone overboard with the gold one either. No bling nightmares.
One other bit HTC hasn’t messed with too much is the speaker. You get the pair of BoomSound front speakers we loved so much last year. This time there’s a Dolby mode too, to squeeze a slightly larger sound out of them.
So what has changed? The camera is totally different. Rather than a 4MP UltraPixel main sensor, the M9 has a 20-megapixel one. That means way more resolution, but worse low-light skills. The UltraPixel camera has moved around to the front: it’s on selfie duty.
Despite having more megapixels than any other phone here, though, it’s not one of the top cameras. It struggles with reliability, often getting its settings a bit wrong.
Next to the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 you don’t quite get the same grade of screen either, using a 1080p Super LCD3 panel. It’s still great, but if you’re a screen fanatic you may well prefer one of those others. You pay for the ultra-premium design here, so make sure you like it.
Screen 5.0in, 1920 x 1080 LCD (538ppi) > Processor Snapdragon 808 Hexa-core 1.8GHz > Cameras 20MP rear, 4MP front > Storage 32GB (with microSD) > Battery 2840mAh > Dimensions 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.6 mm, 157g
Design - Luxury time 9/10
It’s not skinny or particularly small, but the HTC One M9 looks and feels great thanks to its luxuriously curvy back. The back isn’t just beautifully curved, it also has a very fine brushed finish to get you that extra hit of quality. There’s a microSD slot too although no fingerprint scanner or other bonus bits, but stereo front-loaded BoomSound speakers get you the best quality of the lot. They’re not louder, but they are richer, more refined at less strained at max volume. The M9 ultimately cares more about acing the basics.
Camera - Problems with the meter 7/10
Awesome megapixel specs aside, the One M9 camera needs some know-how to get the most out of. Make the effort to learn to use it and you’ll get great shots, but it’s not fool-proof. The 4MP UltraPixel selfies are great, though.
OS and Apps - Talking Sense 8/10
HTC Sense is back, this time with themes. It’s starting to seem pretty dated in parts, having looked the same since 2013, but it runs like a dream. You can also de-fust with those themes and the usual Android tweaks.
Screen - Good enough? 8/10
With the smallest screen of the lot, and resolution we now see in much cheaper phones, the One M9 isn’t immediately impressive. Is the difference all that great? No, but you want the best when you’re paying £500-odd, right?
HTC keeps what works, gets rid of what doesn’t