Just as many were speculating and expecting, HTC launched a new flagship device that looks strikingly similar to last year's model. The design, short of a new singe lens camera on the back weighing in at 20MP, has remained largely unchanged in contrast to the HTC One M8 which was announced last year at MWC and later launched in the Spring. Even right down to the bezels, the unibody metal design with a subtle curve across the back, and the dual front facing stereo Boom Sound speakers that look virtually unchanged. Almost every outer aesthetic element appears to be of the same design albeit with very light alterations. Not necessarily the same components, but a similar design style.
Many people may associate this with HTC lacking innovation and an imagination to come up with something new. And, you might be forgiven for thinking that, as plenty of people have been slamming Samsung for years for this exact reason, when in truth HTC's design has been ever so slightly more similar to the previous model. This isn't really a terrible thing, especially if consumers were fond of the design on previous models. HTC's head of design explains though that there is some reasoning that went into coming to a final decision on designing the HTC One M9 closely off of the looks of the HTC One M8.
In an interview with HTC's design lead Claude Zellweger, The Verge was able to gain some insight as to why HTC has decided to stick with a similar design with only subtle retouches that barely alter the look and style. It breaks down to HTC wanting to build what Zellweger refers to as a lineage, giving people the ability to immediately identify the device from a distance, and say" that's an HTC," but then also have slight, subtle changes or improvements that are noticeable once the consumer sees the product up close. They consider the HTC One line as an icon in the market, and they don't want to let go of that. Essentially what they started out with was taking a look back at past devices and seeing where things were great, and looking for the areas that needed improvement.
What they come up with was according to Zellweger a design that is the best of the HTC One M7 and the HTC One M8. It may not be visually noticeable, but HTC has also upped the machining time on their main unibody from the original 150 minutes on the One M7 to 300 minutes on the One M9. Little things like this have allowed HTC to focus and really smooth out the body style to a level of refinement that keeps what people loved about the design initially while still improving upon it. HTC explains that this is in part due to the dual anodization of the metal. Overall, HTC's results while not differentiating to much from their two past flagships, have evolved over time into HTC's best ever design so far according to Zellweger.