HTC One M9: 20 MP Camera & More

HTC One M9: 20 MP Camera & More

HTC is known for continually trying new things in the smartphone camera game, like dual sensors, trading pixel count for pixel size, and incorporating software to change the focal point after the fact. The new HTC One M9 looks to continue the trend, but this time with a single rear shooter at a whopping 20 MP, and a low-light selfie camera .


  • 20.7 megapixel rear-shooter
  • Back-illuminates sensor (BSI – helps in low light)
  • Wide-angle UltraPixel selfie camera for low-light performance
  • Scratch-resistant synthetic sapphire glass


Apparently abandoning their previous strategy of packing fewer pixels at a larger size (in two different lenses), HTC is joining other smartphone makers in the megapixel arms race. The M9 is set to offer up the same size sensor as the Sony Xperia Z3, and make up for the lack of UltraPixels with internal illumination – BSI. What this truly means for low-light performance is yet to be seen, but it’s a tried-and-true formula that has worked for security cameras and astronomy sensors for years.

On the front, this year’s camera is actually taken from last year’s rear shooter – one of the two 4 MP UltraPixel lenses. This should give selfie-takers a leg up on competing handsets in terms of both detail and lighting.


Gone is the need for a second rear camera to change depth-of-field after the fact – Google managed to replicate the M8’s feature last April – but this year does see some software gimmicks to up the ante.

  • Gallery integration with cloud services (Google Drive, DropBox, Flickr, Facebook)
  • Image Match – pick a friend’s face, and see all the photos you’ve taken of that person.
  • Photo Editor
    • Shapes
    • Elements
    • Prismatic – view the picture through a simulated prism
    • Double Exposure – overlay a second transparent image onto parts of the first.


Still no word on the Camera2 API that allows for full ISO and shutter control in Android 5.0 Lollipop, but these are the early days. Reviewers are getting their hands on all of these devices as we speak, so look forward to many weeks of head-to-head comparisons and camera showdowns. HTC has built a real contender, and it will be interesting to see how the more traditional high-megapixel rear sensor holds up against the competition now that the dual-camera setups of old have set put aside. Samsung’s live event is up next, and we await with baited breath for the ensuing cat-fight of superphones.

About author

Chris Gilliam
Chris Gilliam

Chris Gilliam is a front-end web developer with a background in physics, but his passions lie with open ecosystems, Android, linked data, and the unfettered exchange of ideas. He dreams of a semantic future in which knowledge organically evolves within hives of creativity like the XDA forums, and works, tinkers, and writes to help make that future possible.