The MWC 2015 was a trending topic on Twitter in the past week, thanks to two major events that would foreshadow the show itself: the HTC One M9 event and the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event. Even though Upleaks was gracious enough to fully leak the HTC One M9, we were still very excited to see if all the videos, photos, renders and specs we’ve seen were actually real. At the same time, alongside others, we were also expecting to see a phablet-version of the HTC One M9 being showcased at the event, the HTC One M9 Plus/Ace/Max or whatever everyone was calling it ahead of today.
The HTC One M9 event was met with a bit less excitement than it would have if all those videos hadn’t been leaked ahead of time, but nonetheless, people were stoked to find out about the new flagship from the Taiwanese company, as various officials assured fans that surprises would be in tow, even though we had seen all the promo videos for the HTC One M9. HTC emphasized, ahead of the show, that there was much more we didn’t know about the HTC One M9 and that would only be revealed once the show started.
The HTC One M9 launch event was scheduled to start at 10 am EST/ 7 am PST, so a few hours ahead of the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event which would bring us the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. There was a lot of commotion ahead of the HTC event and people at the conference were already hyping about the new smartphone. Many were saying that they were sure that the HTC One M9 Max would also be launched at the show, not to mention some new HTC smart watch, HTC fitness tracker or another type of wearable that would mark the entry of the Taiwanese company onto the wearable market.
Once the event kicked off and the promo videos started rolling, a gloomy silence engulfed the audience. Upleaks was probably hiccuping the whole time. To me, it was very disappointing to see that the videos the leakster published were the ones HTC used in their keynote presentation. Not all of them, but most of them were crucial parts of the HTC One M9 launch event. Still, the event managed to pick up and get people excited a bit, although the HTC One M9 was not the highlight of the show.
Let’s see about the HTC One M9 and I’ll tell you about the highlight at the end. First off, the HTC One M9 is pretty similar to its predecessor and the leaked videos from Upleaks were spot on. The handset comes with a full metal unibody that has dual-tone finish, gold on the sides and silver on the rear and front and it actually looks quite nice. The button placement almost at the middle of the sides is optimal, and we can clearly see the same bezels, maybe a bit thinner on the edges. The curved, brushed metal back panel remains the same as with the One M8. We get a 5 inch display with a FHD resolution, like on the One M8.
The camera has been upped a great deal, as the HTC One M9 camera is a 20 MP sensor on the rear, but it doesn’t have optical image stabilization. The front camera is a 4 MP Ultrapixel sensor, so selfies will definitely be great on this one. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 is a given, so we weren’t surprised by that. The handset will be available starting the middle of March, but pricing information hasn’t been detailed. We did find out that the BoomSound speakers now work with Harman Kardon technology, which means even better front-facing speakers. Overall, the HTC One M9 wasn’t that interesting as we knew everything about it before it was launched.
The HTC One M9 battery is a pretty big 2840 mAh one, which coupled with the FHD display and upgraded processor should make for at least 2 days of battery life on mixed use, but we will have to see. The device gets 3 GB RAM and a microSD card slot, alongside 32 GB internal storage.
If you were expecting the larger version of the HTC One M9, the One M9 Max, I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s not coming. At least no yet. Instead, the partnership with Under Armour and what it yielded was shown off: the HTC Grip. The HTC Grip is the company’s newest fitness tracker, which will do everything any other fitness tracker can do, with the added benefit of being compatible with both Android and iOS handsets. It also has a neat feature which allows you to connect to up to 20 friends or trainers, so that you don’t feel alone while you work out. But the HTC Grip wasn’t the highlight of the show for me.
The virtual reality part was the highlight of the show. HTC quickly moved on into introducing their partnership with Valve and showing off the new virtual reality headset, the HTC Vive. Now this was the best thing for me, as I didn’t expect something like this from the Taiwanese company. The partnership with Valve resulted in a virtual reality headset called the HTC Vive, and it’s the most impressive one I’ve seen so far. According to HTC, the consumer version of the VR headset will be available by the end of the year, which is awesome. From what we understand, you don’t need a smartphone to use it, which is absolutely neat. But that’s not what’s amazing about the Valve-HTC gear.
The most impressive thing about the HTC Vive is that it offers 360 degree view, which means that you can actually walk around in virtual reality, without having a virtualizer or anything else helping you along. It’s going to have some joysticks, too, which means you will be able to control things with your hands. It also gets 70 different sensors, which will allow for full body movement tracking, which is absolutely awesome. Even though I felt disappointed by HTC at the beginning, they brought my interest back when they announced the HTC Vive.
Our question is: how much of the leaked HTC One M9 specs were in-line with the real deal? Let’s see. First off, we learned from Upleaks’ leaked videos that the HTC One M9 design would be very similar to its predecessor, which is why many were rather skeptical ahead of the HTC One M9 launch event. As the livestream progressed online and as the event was going forth in Barcelona, Spain, tension was building up among attendees, who were mostly hoping that Upleaks faked those videos. The videos and promo images filled us in about a 6 inch display on the HTC One M9, sporting a FHD resolution, like on the last flagship. We were glad about that part, as lower resolution on a moderately sized display would mean longer battery life, which is rarely a given with smartphones nowadays.
Most of us were absolutely sure that the HTC One M9 would get the Snapdragon 810 CPU, as Qualcomm itself hinted at the fact that new flagships from HTC, LG and Samsung would use their brand new mobile processor, at the end of 2014. We theorized that it would be paired with 3 GB RAM, 20 MP camera, Android 5.0 Lollipop and Sense 7.0 and a massive new battery. HTC had confirmed that upgraded BoomSound speakers were coming to the HTC One M9 on Twitter, so we were definitely curious about that. So how much about that was confirmed? Everything. The HTC One M9 turned out to be everything we expected it to, save for the Harmon/Kardon part of BoomSound.