HTC “Be Brilliant” event recap

HTC is in a do-or-die situation right now. With the abysmal launch of its then flagship One M9 smartphone, the Taiwanese company is becoming desperate to find an idea that works.

Fast-forward to Tuesday, when the company unveiled their One A9 smartphone. You might be saying, “Well, that looks like an iPhone with the HTC logo slapped on the back of it.” Trust me, you’re not the only one. In fact, The Verge says it best, calling it “a $399 iPhone running Android 6.0.”

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the actual build. The phone comes in gray, silver, a dark burgundy that HTC calls “deep garnet,” and gold, and looks like well, an iPhone. On the front, you’ll see a five-inch 1080p edge-to-edge full HD display protected by Gorilla Glass 4 for scratch resistance and a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device below it. On that metal frame, you’ll see an expandable SD card slot on the side, nano SIM card slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a microUSB port for charging and file transfer.

In terms of cameras, there’s a 13MP rear-facing camera with a sapphire cover lens, autofocus, optical image stabilization with minimized hand shaking and corrects vibrations for a clearer picture, and 1080p video recording, as well as HTC’s own UltraPixel front-facing camera with 1080p video recording for your selfies that captures “300% more light than conventional smartphone cameras.”

With an optional Pro mode, you can save photos in RAW mode for “an unmatched level of detail and post-shot editing flexibility,” or if that last half-sentence just went over your head, the Photo Editor has a one-button enhancement feature for brightening colors and sharpening edges.

In terms of video, the A9 has a Hyperlapse editing tool to speed videos up as much as 12 times for a time-lapse, use capture mode to edit in slow-motion, or use HTC’s Zoe mode for mixing your best photos and videos into a sharable highlight reel.

The company partnered with Dolby for the A9’s audio experience that HTC hopes will “help your music realize its true potential.” HTC is also selling its own Pro Studio earbuds that promise extended bass, ability to reproduce high pitches and an in-ear experience that’s “every bit as profound and moving as being at a live studio recording.”

Inside, you’ll find an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor that delivers (I’m only quoting this because it’s simply epic) “epic LTE wireless speeds through next-generation carrier aggregation technology, more pulse-pounding high-resolution audio, and more storage in the cloud to hold everything your heart desires.”

The HTC One A9 is available with 16/32GB of storage with a microSD slot with support for up to 2TB microSD cards for storing apps, games, photos, music, and videos.

To protect that metal build, HTC is selling its own Dot View II case in black, the aforementioned “deep garnet,” “sea coral,” and turquoise blue. The cover features a retro-esque dot matrix that displays notifications, the weather, and caller ID even when closed, and allows the use of gesture controls to play music, shine a flashlight, and other tools.

The phone’s support for HTC’s Rapid Charger 2.0 allows for “75% faster charging,” according to HTC to maximize battery life throughout the day. This means that 12 hours of HD video is expected on a charge.

Now that the relatively boring stuff’s out of the way, let’s talk about what you’ll see on that five-inch display. As previously mentioned, the phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which features Now on Tap for pulling more info about information whether it’s looking for when Chipotle closes based on a text, or looking for Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood based on a blog post.

Doze automatically turns off power hungry apps (like Facebook) when your phone is idle (think of its overnight charge), while App Standby knows when a background app isn’t being used and shuts it down until it’s needed again.

The HTC One A9 will be available next month on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon.

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