Read First: The HTC One M9 Review Part 1

A good amount of time ago, we posted part one of our HTC One M9 review, which gave a good idea of some critical aspects of the One M9’s performance and design. Unfortunately, due to HTC’s last minute software changes there was a need to redo some of our testing as the changes were quite significant for some key aspects of the user experience, which were effectively any situation where the SoC was in a thermally throttled situation and overall camera performance. I’ve finally finished redoing our testing of the One M9, so we can finish the review and get the full picture of the One M9’s performance. Normally, we’d start by discussing the design of the phone, but much of the review has already been finished with part one. Instead, we’ll start with sustained battery life tests.

Battery Life Continued

As previously detailed, our sustained battery life tests either strongly stress the CPU or GPU. For our GPU tests, we use GFXBench 3.0’s sustained GPU test, which runs the T-Rex benchmark on the display at its native resolution for an infinite rundown test. We didn’t have the modified test to present for a comparison between the two software builds, but we can get a pretty good sense for the changes that have occurred for final shipping software.

GFXBench 3.0 Battery Life

GFXBench 3.0 Performance Degradation

As one can see, the One M9 delivered somewhat impressive sustained performance with the pre-release build, but this resulted in almost dangerous skin temperatures and poor battery life on the order of 1.73 hours. The new update produced acceptable skin temperatures, but frame rate drops rather dramatically as skin temperature rises. The end performance actually ends up being quite similar to the One M8, but performance during the test is much higher than what we saw on the One M8.

BaseMark OS II Battery Life

BaseMark OS II Battery Score

In the Basemark OS II test, we can see that the One M9 seems to perform poorly. One might be able to argue that the A57s provide more performance, but simple logging shows that past the first 20 minutes the A57 cluster is either shut down or throttled to the minimum clock state, although the A53 cluster manages to stay at 1.56 GHz for the duration of the test. For reference, the One M8 manages to keep the active CPUs at around 1.5 GHz throughout the test.

PCMark - Work Battery Life

While Basemark OS II and GFXBench function as power virus tests, I wanted to get a good idea of performance somewhere between these rather extreme tests and the mostly display-bound web browsing test. To do this, I tested a few devices against PCMark’s work battery life benchmark, which shows that the One M9 seems to perform comparably when compared against the One M8. There is a noticeable difference in performance, but the gap isn’t all that big when compared to the M8. More interestingly is that the battery temperature sensor (which isn't necessarily on the battery) gets noticeably higher than the M8, on the order of 5-10C higher.

It’s a bit frightening to see that the gap in performance that we saw with the web browsing test remain. The effects of panel-self refresh would be greatly reduced in these short-running tests, so the differences here are mostly due to the SoC. The level of throttling I’ve seen here is pretty much unprecedented, which doesn’t help with the issue. Overall, the performance of Snapdragon 810 here is bad enough that I would genuinely consider Snapdragon 805 to be an improvement. I can’t help but wonder if this was inevitable though, as leaked roadmaps in the past suggested that Snapdragon 810 would’ve been a very different SoC.

Camera Architecture and UX
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  • Connoisseur - Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - link

    There seems to be a significant difference in size between the Z3 Speakers and the HTC ones. Having never heard a Z3, I'm assuming the HTC ones have more volume to them. I'm not saying it was the right call but squeezing a decent sized speaker in the front would necessitate a larger bezel above to fit the display circuitry. The Z3 speaker looks tiny and seems to take minimal space in comparison. Maybe that's just Sony throwing around it's hardware prowess but the extra bezel, although ugly, makes sense in the HTC case. It's not like they just stuck it there to display their logo.
  • Laxaa - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    The black bar is fine, but my biggest issue is the logo on the front. It just looks out of place.
  • kspirit - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    No, the stereo speakers on this thing make good quality sound because they actually need the hollow space in there to reverberate the sound waves. Otherwise they would shove the screen drivers in there. It's a tradeoff. Deal with it.
  • Dorek - Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - link

    Even if the black bar can't be eliminated, it couldn't be that difficult to just make it capacitive buttons instead of a stupid HTC logo.
  • Refuge - Thursday, April 9, 2015 - link

    I love the bezel on the bottom It gives me a place to put my thumb without triggering anything on the phone. Giving me a solid grip when passing it around or quickly picking it up on the way out the door.

    My girlfriends G3 while really nice, frustrates me to no end because she has no hard capacitive buttons, and barely any bezel, I'm constantly poking things on the bottom of her screen when passing the phone around.
  • MikeMurphy - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

    Am I the only one not concerned with increased performance? Phone these days are plenty powerful. Sell me on a jumbo battery, or health tracking features.
  • jabber - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

    Yeah to be honest I'd be sold on a phone that's another 3-4 mm thicker, so we could have a two day+ battery life and a better lens/sensor system in the phone.

    I really don't have an issue with a 200g phone.
  • Refuge - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

    I might reccomend looking at the LG Vista, it is a mid range so very affordable.

    The screen is gorgeous, and the batter life is extremely impressive. My son has one, and he plays games on it constantly, that battery holds up really well too!
  • Drumsticks - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

    Thanks for the review. It's a shame to see just how poor the One M9 is. Hopefully the S6 review comes out this week! Will y'all be reviewing the G4 when it comes out?
  • sprockkets - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

    Weird, I thought the Sensation was better in a lot of respects vs. the GS2 phone. Screen comes to mind. Only issue with the Sensation was it was only on Tmobile, and the thunderbolt was a poor phone. Evo was OK I suppose.

    That comparison was 4 years ago, minor nit there.

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