The 5-inch Xperia M5 is Sony’s ‘affordable flagship’ and is available at Rs 32,000 on eBay with bill and warranty, while the OnePlus Two is “selling” for Rs 23,000.
The One A9 will have a Super AMOLED display, unlike most of its competitors who come with LCD displays.
However, the phone will have a 5-inch screen, which could turn off some would-be buyers.
In addition, HTC will also launch a new, 5.5-inch, full-HD Desire 800 series phone priced less than Rs 20,000 in the coming days.
With the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, the momentum has definitely shifted to the 5.5-inch form factor from the 5-inch one and HTC was one of the earliest manufacturers to make this transition. However, the One A9 will target those who don’t want to buy the 5.5-inch flagships from the company.
Hit by competition from the likes of Xiaomi and Meizu, many global smartphone brands are launching new mid-range sub-brands and the HTC One A series is part of the same trend. The first to launch such a series was Samsung, which launched the Galaxy A series as a mid range offering, following it up with the E and J series as well.
Sony too has also been focusing heavily on the mid-range market with its C series and M series phones. Two weeks ago, it launched the M5 – a 5-inch, full-HD device priced at Rs 36,000 and now available for around Rs 32,000.
The Xperia M5 is perhaps the first high-end phone designed with price-sensitive, emerging markets such as India in mind. For its price, the M5 offers a 21 MP camera supplemented by a 13 MP shooter in the front and 3 GB of RAM.
The device, powered by MediaTek Helio X10 (MT6795) processor, is definitely offers more than ‘mid range’ specifications and can be considered an affordable flagship. It is also the most value-for-money offering from Sony in the high end market in India.
Though not quite as highly speced as the M5, the HTC One A9 will bring the quality of ‘One’ series to the mid-range. So far, HTC has been serving the mid-range with its ‘Desire’ branded devices, such as the Desire 820 and 826.
However, there are some build-quality differences between the One series devices and Desire devices. The A9, however, will not be the cheapest ‘One’ series device in India. Earlier this month, the Taiwanese company launched the One E9s – a more affordable version of its E9s.
However, the One 9s, despite having an AMOLED display, comes with a display resolution of just 1 million (720p), while rivals, such as the Meizu MX5, Vivo X5Pro and the Gionee Elife S7 offer full-HD (2 MP) AMOLED displays in the same Rs 20,000 range. Both Vivo X5Pro and Gionee S7 are also 5-inch phones.
The One A9 will fix the shortcoming by bumping up the resolution to full-HD (2 million pixels), which will make HTC a player in the Rs 25,000 range again.
In addition, the One A9 also comes with typical higher-end features such as an all-metal body and a fingerprint sensor.
The phone also has a special, big-pixel technology for its front camera that are very low-light friendly. In other words, selfies and low-light shots are likely to look much better on the One A9’s 4 MP front camera compared to rivals’ 8 MP cameras.
The A9, which comes with MicroSD support, is powered by the new Snapdragon 617 chipset. The 617 is the improved version of the octa-core SD 615 processor, and comes with support for ‘World Mode’ (implying that it supports CDMA though it is not clear whether the phone will support the technology or not.)
The chipset also doubles LTE speeds to 300 Mbps. At present, nearly every phone in the market comes up Cat4 LTE, which has a theoretical maximum LTE download speed of 150 Mbps. Of course, networks in India do not have the required spectrum for supporting that kind of speed.
There are, however, a couple of disappointments as well. First, RAM is only 2 GB. Secondly, battery is just 2.15 Ah, which is on the lower side. However, given that it is just a 5-inch phone and is powered by the 617 chipset, the battery should last a day of moderate use.
Another point of doubt is the smaller display size. A 5.5 inch display offers about 21% more area compared to a 5-inch phone. Though people with smaller hands, especially women, prefer 5-inch phones, most others are now gravitating towards the 5.5-6.0 inch form factor.