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HTC One A9s dons a familiar metallic design and cheaper tag

Anything to help the company boost sales.
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Last year we were left impressed with HTC's premium mid-range One A9 smartphone: It was a good-looking phone with great build quality and great battery life, plus it was one of the first to ship with Android Marshmallow. It was apparently so "well received" that HTC decided to release a follow-up model. The new and supposedly more affordable One A9s features a near-identical metallic design plus the same fingerprint sensor on the front, with the main aesthetic changes being the earpiece is now shorter, the proximity sensor is in the middle and the front HTC logo is gone. Eagle-eyed folks will notice that the old 5-inch 1080p AMOLED display is now just a 720p Super LCD, so it better be a noticeable price drop.

The cost-cutting doesn't stop there. The 13-megapixel main camera here has gone from f/2.0 to a slower f/2.2 (it's likely no longer using the same nice Sony sensor) and lacks optical stabilization, but still comes with RAW support; whereas the old UltraPixel front camera is now just an ordinary 5-megapixel imager. The old Snapdragon 617 has been replaced with MediaTek's octa-core Helio P10 (8x Cortex-A53), but it's hard to tell whether this is an upgrade or a downgrade just yet. At least we know that we'll still be getting Cat 6 LTE and NFC here, just no 802.11ac WiFi.

Depending on where you're buying the A9s, you may get either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage plus 2GB or 3GB of RAM, and you can expand storage space via microSD (up to 2TB). The built-in battery has been gently bumped up to 2,300mAh but there's no fast charging feature this time, so here's hoping the A9s has at least inherited the same impressive battery life optimization from its predecessor. What we do wish HTC had changed was the USB port: We're already entering the last quarter of 2016 and HTC is still using micro-USB instead of USB-C; but then again, we're not exactly short in micro-USB accessories, and it's probably the least of HTC's target audience's worries in this price segment.

Speaking of, we're still left in the dark in terms of actual price points: We're only told that the A9s "will be very competitively priced at the mid-tier," which doesn't mean much given HTC's track record. If priced right, the A9s' fancy metallic design may still be compelling enough to help drive sales before the year ends.

Update: HTC just informed us that the One A9s "will be priced in the range of €299" or about $335 off-contract.

We're live all week from Berlin, Germany, for IFA 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.

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