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The HTC One E9+ is better than the One M9, except when it isn’t

HTC has launched the One E9+, a high-spec smartphone you may consider buying instead of the One M9, or even the Galaxy S6. Except, unless you live in China, you may not get the chance. The One E9+ — previously leaked as the HTC A55 — has quietly been revealed on HTC’s Chinese website, and it’s an odd blend of Desire range style, and ultra high-end technical specifications.

That’s a glossy plastic rear panel you see in the pictures, which is held in place by a diamond-cut metal frame, making the One E9+ a hybrid halfway house between Desire phones like the 816, and the flagship One M9. The front has a massive 5.5-inch LCD screen, displaying an equally huge 2,560 × 1,440 pixel resolution. That’s higher than the 1080p One M9, and equal to the Galaxy S6 and the LG G3.

Related: Cher Wang replaces Peter Chou as CEO at HTC

Power doesn’t come from a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, according to a local article on the phone, but a MediaTek M6795M chip with 3GB of RAM. There are no official specs on the HTC website at the time of writing, so this may change. If it doesn’t, this will be one of the first uses of the new MediaTek octa-core processor, which has compared favorably with the Snapdragon 810 in early benchmark results.

We do know the rear camera — placed very high on the back panel — has 20 megapixels, and the front is a 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera. Stereo BoomSound speakers are fitted to the phone, Dolby has tweaked the audio experience, and Android is installed with HTC’s latest version of Sense.

The One E9+ is probably the first in a series of new HTC phones to be announced over the coming weeks. A standard One E9 will almost certainly join the E9+, potentially with a slightly smaller 1080p resolution screen, while a One M9+ may arrive soon afterwards. The M9+ could wrap the E9+ specs up in a full metal unibody, just like the standard M9, but with a Snapdragon 810 providing the power.

There’s no official word on price or release date for the One E9+ just yet.