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Android 6.0 Coming To HTC One A9, Joining Google’s Nexus

HTC will become the first smartphone supplier after Google to launch a phone running the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS when the HTC One A9 hits store shelve in the U.S. in early November.

The first two phones with Marshmallow —  the 5.7-inch Huawei-made Nexus 6P and the 5.2-inch LG-made Nexus 5X — were unveiled in September by Google.

Through its web store, HTC is offering the A9 unlocked at a preorder price of $399 in variants compatible with the AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint networks. An unlocked Verizon-network model will be rolling out shortly after launch and will, via a software update, enable LTE-only use with full voice, data, and messaging with a previously activated SIM, a spokesperson said. “We’ll share more once the software update happens,” the spokesperson said.

HTC will also permit users of the unlocked phones to unlock the bootloader without voiding the warranty, allowing for use of custom ROMs.

The unlocked versions will be available from HTC with a 30-day send-it-back trial period.

For its part, Sprint announced plans to offer the phone with 24-month lease at $20/month through Jan. 7 and a limited-time $40 service credit.

AT&T said it would offer the device soon at an unannounced price.

The phone is HTC’s first with fingerprint sensor, which supports Marshmallow’s Android Pay app. The device also represents a close collaboration with Google to deliver “the best” of Android and HTC’s Sense UI, and to ship with less preinstalled software than previous models, said HTC America president Jason Mackenzie.

He promised that the unlocked phones would get every Android update within 15 days of the updates being pushed out by Google to Its Nexus phones.

The metal-chassis phone will draw on the cosmetics of the flagship M9 but will add its own touches, including hairline-brushed, bead-blasted finish in four exclusive colors, and precision-cut ridges on the power button so users can locate it by touch.

Here’s what else the phone offers:

Hardware: The 0.29-inch-thick phone features 5-inch AMOLED FullHD 441 PPI display, Gorilla Glass 4, 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, an octacore Qualcomm processor running at 4×1.5GHz+4×1.2GHz, and external microSD Card slot accepting 2TB storage. It also comes with 2,150mAh battery; Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0 to accelerate charging rates by 40 percent over standard charges; software upgradability to QuickCharge 3.0; and dual-band Wi-Fi 801.22 a/b/g/n/ac.

With LTE-Advanced carrier, Sprint said its version will aggregate two 2.5GHz channels to deliver peak 100Mbps download speeds in its 2.5GHz markets.

Audio: The device features 192kHz/24-bit audio DAC, ability to decode FLAC and WAV files, and a high-output headphone amp to drive large headphones.  It will also be available with six free months of Google Play Music.

Camera: The main 13-megapixel camera with backside illumination comes with optical image stabilization to enable longer exposures in low light situations, uncompressed RAW file capture, and one-touch RAW auto processing on the handset, making it unnecessary to transfer an image to a computer for editing. It offers 1080p video capture and f/2.0 aperture.

The main camera also features hyper-lapse capture mode to speed up video playback smoothly. Pro mode lets users select manual focus and manual aperture selection.

The front fixed-focus UltraPixel camera uses large- than-standard 1.1-micrometer pixels to capture up to 300 percent more light per pixel for better low-light selfies, the company said.