The HTC One M9 goes on sale tonight in the US. We’d love to tell you all about it, but it is currently under embargo and Dom will have an amazing video review when the embargo is eventually over. Sure, lots of publications got to review the almost identical international version, and to sum up those reviews, it isn’t a huge upgrade from the M8. Think tweaked look, more megapixels in the camera, and a slightly toned down Sense overlay.

The device that goes on sale tonight is the GSM version, which is similar to the one that will be sold on AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. It won’t be subsidized by the carriers and will cost $650.

If we were allowed to tell you about it, we’d probably tell you that the heat issues you’ve seen are unfounded. From pictures (above), you can tell it looks very nice in both the popular Gunmetal and Gold/Silver models. It feels less slippery in the hand and is very subtly smaller and lighter than its M8 predecessor (or so we’ve heard).

In general I do recommend buying a phone outright and getting yourself on an inexpensive pre-paid plan. If your carrier starts messing with you, you can easily go to another carrier either with number portability or, Google Voice/Hangouts (my choice).

Even with that in mind, though, should you buy this phone at full price? 

I’m personally on the fence here. On one hand, I think HTC still offers one of the best — if not the best — hardware handsets out there. That said, Samsung is catching up, and newcomers with less overlay in their Android software (cough One Plus) are making much better offers for the price. Even Moto X/Nexus 6 offerings from last year, combining very nice hardware with almost untouched Android (including the quick updates that go along with each), seem like arguably better alternatives.

For tonight’s launch, it comes down to a few things, and if you make it through the gauntlet below, by all means hit that buy button.

1. You have $650 to buy a phone. If not, obviously wait until the subsidized models go on sale at the very least.

2. You have to like Sense. Yes, it is still there with all of its cool stuff and all of its disadvantages. I’ve heard that contrary to previous warnings, HTC WILL offer a Google Play-esque untouched Android version, probably for the same $650 price at some point in the future. I’d guess 2-3 months from now just like last year.

3. If 5-inches is your display size of choice and metal is your grip, definitely have at this one. It nails both. A lot of folks like the bigger, nearly 6-inch displays, however, and there are no shortages of rumors about a M9+ or something similar in the pipeline for the future.

Like I said before, if we were allowed to, we’d probably tell you this is a great phone. But the same head-scratching thought process that doesn’t allow us to tell you about the phone yet also went into the software so keep that in mind tonight when orders open for the unsubsidized HTC One M9 in the United States.

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