HTC A9s Quick Review

HTC is officially coming back to the Philippines. We already reviewed the U Ultra which will be their top offering for now while we’re still waiting for the U11 to land officially. In this review, let’s take a look at the One A9s — a mid-range smartphone with an iPhone-esque back.

Design and Construction

The HTC One A9s is not exactly on par with the U-series smartphones that will also arrive in the country. Its design is more generic but not ugly either. It’s small which can be attributed to the 5-inch Super LCD bordered by relatively thick bezels. Found above it are the earpiece and the 5MP front camera. Mounted above it is an unspecified version of Corning Gorilla Glass.

Down below are the fixed home/fingerprint scanner, and two lit capacitive keys for back and recent apps.

Found on the right are the volume rocker and power/lock keys, while on the left is the flap that covers the nano SIM tray and microSD card slot. Its design is pretty outdated though as device makers have already opted to use a hybrid SIM tray with a pin ejector mechanism. Not to mention that the tray and flap are cumbersome to pull out unless you have long nails.

Found at the bottom are the loudspeaker, microUSB port, main microphone, and the headset jack.

Flip it on its back and you will see the 13MP main shooter, LED flash, secondary microphone, and a pair of antenna bands. From this angle, the One A9s reminds us of the iPhone 6s.

On the hands, the One A9s is easy to hold due to its small size. The sides and corners are curved for that ergonomic feel. The frame, though, is made of plastic but sports a metal back for a premium feel.

Display and Multimedia

The phone’s 5-inch display is a Super LCD capacitive panel we commonly see on HTC handset. This one though sports a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels that’s enough to produce a sharp 294ppi. Overall display quality is good with punchy colors and good contrast. It’s also just sharp enough for its display size.

Even though HTC has been known for its BoomSound speakers, it’s not present on the One A9s. But, the mono loudspeaker situated at the bottom of the handset produces loud and clear audio for casual listening.

OS, Apps, and UI

The One A9s runs Android Marshmallow out of the box with HTC Sense on top. It’s clean, mature, and smooth. We’re kinda fond of the choice of font, a small detail that’s consistent throughout the UI. The system is not far from stock but HTC still managed to keep the feel of their own theme.

As always, we get a bunch of useful Google apps. HTC has opted to use Google’s own apps for its default, such as Photos and Play Music. Also, pre-installed are Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram to kickstart your social media apps.

Out of the 32GB storage, about 23GB is available to the end user. The microSD card is always open for storage expansion if you need more space.


As for its cameras, the handset has basic shooters on board. It’s got a 13-megapixel rear sensor with autofocus and LED flash, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The camera launcher is simple and straightforward with a ‘Pro’ mode available and ‘Zoe camera’ for adding effects.

The rear shooter captures bright and sharp images. With a good amount of light, the stills look natural and not over processed. The shutter speed is pretty slow for fast moving objects when in auto, so try to play around with the manual mode if you have time to set up. The front camera, on the other hand, will suffice for casual selfies but it’s got a narrow FOV. Shutter speed is also a problem when taking selfies. Most of the time, we get blurred yet bright images despite shooting at less than a second.

Video recording maxes out at 1080p. Like with the images, the output looks natural with plenty of details. Check out this sample:

Performance and Benchmarks

The phone is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 clocked at 1.8GHz with the Mali-T860MP2 GPU. Memory is handled by 3GB of RAM. It doesn’t have the latest mid-range chipset from MediaTek, the Helio P20, since the phone was announced back in September 2016.

With a year old processor, the handset is still able to deliver. General phone performance is good with no sign of lag or hiccups. It does slow down when inside intensive apps but nothing more than a split second lag. Gaming is also in check as long you keep things in medium to high graphics.

  • AnTuTu Benchmark v6.2.7 –53297
  • Geekbench 4 – 754 (Single), 2938 (Multi)
  • PCMark – 3407 (Work 2.0), 4643 (Work 1.0), 2636 (Storage)
  • 3DMark – 425 (Sling Shot Extreme)

Call Quality and Connectivity

Telephony on the One A9s is great. The earpiece is loud and clear during phone calls plus the noise-cancelling microphones capture our voices well even in noisy environments.

While HTC is about to re-enter the Philippine market, the unit they have seems to be more suited for Western countries due to the lack a secondary SIM card slot and no hybrid setup either. At least though, the phone has a number of LTE bands that’ll work in the country including Band 28 700MHz.

Battery Life

Sealed inside the aluminum unibody is a 2300mAh Li-ion cell. It’s pretty small considering the overall dimensions of the phone.

With the PCMark battery test (Work 1.0), it lasted for 9 hours and 14 mins, which is surprisingly not bad for its capacity. The phone could last for a full day before asking for juice.


The HTC One A9s is the mid-range offering from the company. It doesn’t have the extra features of its higher cousins but it has all the necessities to for a quality everyday phone.

The main feat we like here is the solid build of the phone although its design is not original. We do hope HTC could consider releasing dual SIM variants for our market. No local pricing as of writing, so our final judgment is still reserved.

HTC One A9s specs:
5-inch Super LCD @ 1280 x 720 pixels, 294ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass
MediaTek Helio P10 octa-core CPU
32GB storage
Expandable via microSD, up to 2TB
13MP f/2.2 rear autofocus camera with LED flash
5MP front-facing camera
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.2
Fingerprint scanner
Android 6.0 Marshmallow w/ HTC Sense
2300mAh battery
146.49 x 71.5. x 7.99 mm
149.8 g

What we liked about it:

  • Solid build
  • Quality display
  • Good telephony

What we didn’t:

  • No Dual SIM support
  • No Nougat update (yet)
  • Thick bezels

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This article was contributed by Daniel Morial, a film school graduate and technology enthusiast. He's the geeky encyclopedia and salesman among his friends for anything tech.

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