HTC released a self-proclaimed “hero” device last year in the shape of the HTC One A9. The One A9 offers customers a slightly different experience from the flagship One M9, including generally lesser hardware across the board and by the numbers. The One A9 uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617, which is a mid-range System-on-Chip, backed up by either 2 GB or 3 GB of RAM. There’s 16 GB or 32 GB of onboard storage in two different models (the 16 GB storage model comes with 2 GB of RAM and the 32 GB version benefits from the full 3 GB), a 5.0-inch, 1080p resolution AMOLED display, a 2,150 mAh battery, a 4MP front facing Ultrapixel camera and a rear mounted 13MP camera. HTC have given the One A9 a standard fingerprint sensor, Android 6.0 Marshmallow and a beautiful metal chassis that is just 7.3mm thick.
The rear facing camera is the subject of today’s article. Whilst I’ve described the camera as a 13MP sensor, it has an aperture of f/2.0, optical image stabilization and a dual-LED flash. The One A9 has been measured and benchmarked by photography website DxOMark and they gave it a score of 78. This is the highest scoring HTC handset for some time, outpointing the 2015 flagship device, the One M9, by nine points. In particular, the DxOMark team scored the device well because of a broadly strong performance across the board. The One A9’s camera has a faster aperture of f/2.0, better than the One M9’s f/2.2. It also has optical image stabilization, which is missing from the M9. Despite the One A9 only having 13MP in the sensor, the DxOMark team found that the camera had respectable levels of detail in photographs taken under all lighting conditions. THe DxOMark team’s summary reported that the A9 outperformed the M9 in almost all respects: we already know that the number of megapixels in a particular camera sensor is only one facet of what makes a good quality camera and DxOMark’s assessment also states this. Their summary statement explained that HTC are “back in the game” in terms of camera quality says a lot, but the camera gets an overall verdict of a good upper, mid-range unit, offering a performance similar to the Google Nexus 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5.
In the detail, DxOMark’s observations include that the One A9 could struggle in low light photographs and can give images a slight pink color. There were inconsistencies in the white balance of the camera whereby similar pictures taken at a similar time showed different results. The team noted that in low light, the One A9 would sometimes use very slow shutter speeds (as slow as 1/8 of a second) and the optical image stabilization was not effective enough to cope with such a long exposure time. The team also praised the flash and autofocus functions of the camera. You can see a gallery of DxOMark’s test images below.
Of course, how well a camera performs depends on a combination of software and hardware, and there are some features that could be improved with some software adjustment from HTC. However, as tested, it appears that the One A9 is currently the best HTC device for the photographers wanting to use an Android device out there.