HTC One X9 review
The HTC One X9 promises high-spec design in a mid-range phone, though that promise comes at the price of power.
While the Taiwanese company’s HTC 10 flagship gets the bulk of the attention, it’s not the only new Android phone to launch this year rocking the HTC badge. The HTC One X9 is available outright through JB Hi-Fi, as well as on contract with Vodafone.
With its 5.5-inch Full HD display, the One X9 brings some of the One family’s better features to a more affordable device. Boomsound front facing speakers, optical image stabilisation in the camera and a similar processor to last year’s One (M9) all give this phone plenty of appeal to anyone looking for a premium device without a premium price tag.
HTC One X9 Specifications
|HTC One X9|
|OS||Android 6.0 ("Marshmallow")|
Upsides: Why you’d want the HTC One X9
- Booming sound. The top and bottom front-facing speaker system on the One X9 may look a little strange with its integrated glass cover, but there’s no denying that the audio quality out of the dual speakers far exceeds many other devices in this price bracket. Playing back music at loud volumes may be a little on the tinny side, but short of having an external speaker system connected, this is an impressive little sound system.
- Crisper pics. Optical Image Stabilisation isn’t a common feature in smartphones, especially devices available for under $700. Admittedly it doesn’t completely counteract all camera shake, and in poor light you’re still going to end up with blurry shots if you move the phone too much while taking photos, but the camera is still a solid performer.The rear camera records 4K video, while the front facing camera can automatically snap a selfie whenever you smile, or keep your duckface pose perfectly still. In terms of pure photographic quality, you’ll still get better images from a flagship Galaxy S7 or iPhone 6S Plus, but those devices both cost a lot more money.
- Solid battery life. It doesn’t win any awards, but the HTC One X9’s 3,000mAh battery performs well, sitting on par the flagship HTC 10 when compared using the GeekBench 3 battery tests.
|Handset||Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration||Geekbench 3 Battery Score|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge||11:55:00||7150|
|Huawei Mate 8||11:14:40||6659|
|Samsung Galaxy S7||10:01:20||6013|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 5||9:18:00||5580|
|Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+||8:24:10||5041|
|Apple iPhone 6S Plus||7:48:10||4681|
|Samsung Galaxy S6||6:51:30||4115|
|Sony Xperia X Performance||6:46:51||4068|
|Google Nexus 5X||7:14:20||4062|
|HTC One X9||7:03:10||3971|
|Google Nexus 6P||6:39:20||3754|
|Sony Xperia Z5||5:41:30||3414|
|LG Stylus DAB+||8:11:40||3278|
|Huawei P8 Lite||4:39:40||2768|
|Apple iPhone SE||4:27:10||2671|
|Apple iPhone 6s||3:52:10||2321|
- HTC Sense UI is solidly subtle. While many manufacturers used to impose a completely different user experience over the top of Android, the trend more recently has been to supplement the base experience with small customisations. HTC’s Sense is one of the best at this approach, offering subtle feature improvements over Google’s base operating system, like the Highlights news feed and HTC’s standard communications apps.
- Solid construction. Behind that sheet of glass on the front of the One X9 is a solid aluminium unibody construction. While the phone doesn’t feel overly thick in its design, it does feel solidly built – there’s no real threat of it bending in your back pocket accidentally here.
- Profiles for work, rest and play. One of the HTC Sense inclusions is a useful widget that offers different app shortcuts for work, home and out, which helps customise your experience depending on your location or Wi-Fi network.
Downsides: Why you might not want the HTC One X9
- Middle of the road performance. The HTC One X9 may have a 64-bit octa-core processor running the show, but it can’t compete with the higher-powered processors of this year’s flagship models, as its GeekBench 3 scores attest.
|Handset||Geekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)||Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge||2169||6446|
|Samsung Galaxy S7||2156||6240|
|Huawei Mate 8||1738||6092|
|Sony Xperia X Performance||1988||5198|
|Sony Xperia Z5||2076||5165|
|Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge||1324||4626|
|Google Nexus 6P||1251||4597|
|Samsung Galaxy S6||1347||4569|
|HTC One X9||892||4558|
|Apple iPhone SE||2538||4455|
|Sony Xperia Z5||1358||4134|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 5||1111||3686|
|Google Nexus 5X||1188||3198|
|LG Stylus DAB+||470||1418|
Things don’t look much better when it comes to 3DMark’s numbers, showing that this device won’t necessarily deliver on performance if you’re after a phone that doubles as a portable games console.
|Handset||3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result|
|Apple iPhone SE||29276|
|Samsung Galaxy S7||28903|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge||28402|
|Apple iPhone 6s||28171|
|Sony Xperia X Performance||26125|
|Google Nexus 6P||24703|
|Sony Xperia Z5||19197|
|Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus||17981|
|Huawei Mate 8||17947|
|HTC One X9||16877|
|LG Stylus DAB+||4321|
- No fingerprint scanner. The inclusion of fingerprint scanners for additional biometric security is admittedly a premium feature found on the top-tier models, but given that last year’s flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S6 included the feature and can be bought for about the same price (or even a little cheaper), it’s a disappointing exclusion.
- Micro-USB connection. While the old-school connection standard Micro-USB isn’t a bad thing in itself, some may find it disappointing that HTC didn’t follow the trend for the new reversible USB cable standard.
Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
The HTC One X9 is clearly aimed at the premium-but-not-top-end market, with its solid balance of features, premium build quality and price. The camera is solid, the speakers are better than most phones at this price point and there is a certain heft to the device that exudes quality craftsmanship.
Its comparative lack of processing power though means that in some cases, potential users would be better off buying one of last year’s flagship phones, like the Galaxy S6 or the LG G4. Even similarly priced devices like the Huawei Mate 8 offer a bit more in the way of performance, though with a slightly different feature set.
Where can I get it?
The HTC One X9 is available from JB HiFi stores around Australia for $699 outright, or on a range of Vodafone plans.