Sorry HTC, ugly One M9+ doesn't hit the spot

HTC yesterday revealed a new interpretation of its One M9 flagship. Dubbed One M9+, it is slightly bigger, powered by a different processor, offered with a proper fingerprint sensor on the front and fitted with a Duo Camera setup on the back. Oh, and it's also hideous.

There's no sensible way to describe how One M9+ looks. HTC has taken One M9, enlarged it so it fits a marginally bigger display and that fingerprint sensor, and called it a day. The ugly HTC bar above the BoomSound speakers is still there, and so are all the soft navigation buttons. Clearly, the company's designers haven't put much thought into One M9+.

The only logical reasons why HTC has introduced One M9+ are market demand for smartphones with larger displays and to keep up with Samsung. And it hasn't gone far enough to hit the sweet spot on either count.

HTC One M9+

The 5.2-inch display on One M9+ is 0.2-inches larger than the 5-inch panel on One M9. The former is superior with regards to resolution, as its 1,440 by 2,560 resolution easily tops One M9's 1,080 by 1,920 resolution, but does it really make a difference to justify the extra toll on the battery?

Also, considering the small difference between the two smartphones, wouldn't it have made much more sense for HTC to go for an even bigger display with One M9+? It already has One M9 in the 5-inch segment, after all. Meanwhile, it has no fresh competitor in the phablet market.

One M9+ seems to have virtually the same fingerprint sensor as Samsung's Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. But while Samsung went about adding the fingerprint sensor in a clever way, by making it an integral part of the navigation buttons, HTC didn't bother. The fingerprint sensor looks like an afterthought, isolated at the bottom of One M9+ between the two bottom speaker grills. It's like bad photoshopping, only real.

One M9+ could have looked better, but to make that happen HTC would have first had to come up with a new design, one that takes the fingerprint sensor into account from the start, which is something HTC seems unable to do. Even One M9 is not that far different from One M8, that preceded it, after all.

There are some interesting things about One M9+ though. Its BoomSound speakers offer 5.1 channel Dolby Audio surround sound, which should be great in real-life. The Duo Camera setup is comprised of a module for depth-of-field effect and a 20 MP sensor, which makes it a superior setup to One M9 and, likely, One M8 as well. And the fingerprint sensor should work as expected for a change.

Inside, there is a MediaTek Helio X10 processor, which is of a 64-bit design, and not a typical Qualcomm-made chip like most high-end smartphones these days come with. It's an interesting choice, but we're likely not going to see it in markets other than China anytime soon, which I'm sure many HTC fans will be fine with. There's no word on pricing yet, but it's likely to cost similarly to One M9.