HTC has a problem with the new One A9. Not with the phone itself, nor its release in the U.S., but with the over-priced and under-specced device it’s about to launch in the UK. For a company faced with slowing sales, it’s a unfortunate situation.
The One A9 is an excellent phone, with a beautiful design and strong specifications, the latest version of Android, and a very reasonable $400 unlocked price tag in North America. We said “it’s the phone HTC should have launched in March when the Galaxy S6 debuted,” in our hands-on review, indicating how impressed we are, and the importance it plays in HTC’s future.
In the UK, HTC has given the One A9 a £430 price tag, which is somewhere around $665, the same price as the iPhone 6S, the Galaxy S6, and about £60 more than an LG G4. This is only the recommended price by HTC, and some retailers are pricing it even higher. Carphone Warehouse has a SIM-free One A9 advertised for £470, which is $730. The O2 network will offer the phone with a contract, but hasn’t released prices yet. It’s likely to be similar to the aforementioned range-topping devices though. Put simply, the HTC One A9 is much too expensive in the UK.
If the price doesn’t put potential buyers off, then the specification probably will, because O2 and Carphone Warehouse are only offering the 16GB model. Aside from the basic amount of internal memory (which can at least be boosted with a MicroSD card), this is the lesser model with 2GB of RAM. The U.S. version has 32GB and 3GB of RAM. When phones like the OnePlus 2 exist, choosing the One A9 will be a decision few will make.
It’s a similar story in Europe, where the price of the One A9 is also considerably higher than in the U.S., and while it’s not an unusual situation — the UK and Europe’s tax system changes the price of many phones — it may have priced the One A9 out of contention. The One A9 will end up costing essentially the same as the better equipped One M9, a phone HTC’s not selling in high enough numbers already. Outside of the U.S., the One A9 doesn’t look likely to change HTC’s fortunes.