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HTC One X9 spruces up average specs with smooth metal design

The feeling of silk is what HTC promises with its latest metal smartphone, the HTC One X9. And although no one is going to mistake the device’s body for fabric, its brushed metal back is soft and glossy, making the 5.5-inch 1080p screen feel manageable in the hand. The One X9 was unveiled last December and hasn't been announced for a US release, but our first up-close look confirms that this should be an admirable device in its price-range: good-looking and capable.

Let’s talk appearances first. HTC is continuing what it calls its "metalmorphic" design philosophy: smooth metal curves and finishes that are supposed to draw "on the natural beauty around us." In the case of the X9, this means we get four colors: Carbon Gray, Opal Silver, Topaz Gold, and Cooper Rose (otherwise know as black, silver, gold, and pink). These look muted rather than striking, but all the better for it. It also looks similar to last year’s iPhone clone, the A9, but with a slightly busier design — there are more flaps on the side for SIM cards and microSDs, the same ridged unlock and power button, and a camera lens that’s flush with the rear of the device, rather than raised as it was on the A9.

HTC One X9 photos

HTC has also refined its speaker design, bringing back the dual front-facing BoomSound speakers, but pushing them out to the very top and bottom edges of the device. This leaves room under the screen for a trio of capacitive buttons, but it also just looks good. Some HTC fans might miss the familiar micro-dot speaker holes the company has used in previous devices, but the change fits the X9’s overall feel.

And while this isn’t a flagship device, its specs won’t disappoint. The X9 is powered by 3GB of RAM and a MediaTek Helio X10 processor. The X10 isn’t top of the line, but you might have expected to find it on some higher-end devices from last year. (HTC used it in the One M9+, for example). There’s 32GB of internal storage expandable up to 2TB with microSD cards, and the same dedicated Sensor Hub that HTC introduced in the M8, to keep the phone’s various sensors ticking over without draining too much power.

The X9 also uses the same 13-megapixel camera that HTC used in the One A9. This can record 4K video, comes with optical image stabilization, a f/2.0 aperture, and 27.9mm focal length. Unfortunately, in our review of the A9 last year, we found it merely good, with okay sharpness and disappointing performance in low light that didn’t compare well with the likes of the LG G4 and Galaxy S6.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear if the X9 will ever hit US markets, but it will be going on sale at the end of this month, starting in North Asia (where the X9’s dual SIM support will be particularly welcome) and EMEA markets. Pricing is still unknown, but should be mid-range.

Correction: HTC hasn't provided any information on pricing for the X9, counter to what was earlier reported.


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