The HTC One (M8) didn't earn our smartphone of the year honors in 2014, but it came darn close and impressed us throughout the year with its sleek metal build, stellar performance, and distinctive styling.
Unsurprisingly, the HTC One M9 (no more brackets) is nearly ready to take its place as HTC's top flagship, although what is surprising is just how similar the new device seems compared to its predecessor. It's uncanny, really, but there's obviously more to it than just a new name.
Between the better back camera, new processor, and slightly refined build, we can come up with many reasons – seven, to be exact – why an upgrade might be on your radar in the coming weeks. But being practical, we also have three reasons why you may reconsider such a swift bump to the next generation this time around.
1. All about that camera
If there was one major complaint about the HTC One (M8), it was easily the back camera. Yes, the UltraPixel tech is interesting, and it can be fun to go back and tweak the focus of your photos. But that's a neat party trick we want to pull out here and there, not something we'd like in place of a fantastic everyday shooter.
Luckily, the M9 makes the smart call to put a more traditional 20-megapixel camera on the back, so we can snap potentially excellent photos throughout our daily travels. No longer must image quality be compromised for a gimmicky addition. And now you can shoot 4K video as well, assuming you have something to watch it on.
2. Better in the hand
HTC has proven itself a serious player with its industrial design for this line, and the HTC One (M8) was pretty fantastic: weighty, polished, and distinctive. The M9 looks really, really similar at a glance. Incredibly so. To the untrained eye, they might as well be the same phone.
But they're not, of course. You won't discover that solely through what you see, but rather what you feel during daily use. More angled edges make the M9 easier to hold, with differently-textured side buttons for easier use when you're not actually staring at the phone.
3. Looks nice too
We imagine the two-tone silver and gold aesthetic of the primary model won't appeal to everyone, but when it comes to making an eye-catching tweak over the (M8)'s already impeccable styling, it definitely does the trick. The other colours similarly stand out in a serious way.
And while nearly identical to the last model, the M9's refined edges and rounded back combine to create a phone that looks like it's been fussed over to an absurd degree. Which is a very good thing for you, of course.
4. More power
The HTC One (M8) was the most powerful phone we'd ever tested when we put it through its paces early last year. It's no longer the top of the pack today, but it's still one heck of a speedy, high-performance smartphone. And the M9 is even better.
It comes equipped with an octa-core, 64-bit processor – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 – augmented by 3GB RAM. In other words, you should have no trouble enjoying glossy games and media, as well as zipping through apps and menus with ease.
5. Enhanced speakers
Already love the dual, front-facing Boomsound speakers on the (M8)? Luckily, HTC hasn't walked away from that winning design. In fact, the speakers on the M9 actually go a step further and implement Dolby surround audio for immersive soundscapes. That might sound a bit excessive for a smartphone, but we bet you'll enjoy the difference when you compare it to other flagships.