The HTC One E9+ comes in a box, which emulates the looks of the optional DotView case. Inside, there's the usual set of accessories, including a USB cable, an A/C adapter rated at 5V/1.5A, and a set of high-quality in-ear headphones with a single-button remote and flat cords.
The HTC One E9+ measures 156.5 x 76.5 x 7.5mm, which is big, really big. The only other major 5.5-inch smartphone, which is larger, is the iPhone 6 Plus at 158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1mm. Even the Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML, which isn't exactly saving space, is shorter at 152.5mm. The LG G4 is the undisputed champ in this department at 148.9mm.
The HTC One E9+ weighs 150g, about what you'd expect for its screen diagonal. True, the Samsung Galaxy A7 is tangibly lighter at 141g, but the iPhone 6 Plus and the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML both hover around the 170g mark. That said, the E9+ actually feels light, simply because you expect more heft from such a large device.
The HTC One E9+ is not a low-key handset, that's for sure. Aside from being very tall, its single most striking feature is the enormous lens window on the back, which easily sets it apart from anything else on the market. A large part of it is exclusively for design purposes, as the actual lens resides in the center of the 17mm circle.
The designers wanted to make a statement and weren't overly subtle at it. While it may polarize opinions, it certainly shouts E9+ like nothing else, so bystanders will know you're not handling one of the common HTC models.
The back has a soft matte finish, which on our black model (or Meteor Gray in marketing talk) looks quite formal and "business", if you like. It does pick up prints and smudges, and although it's not as obvious as a glossy finish, it does look greased when you hold it at an angle against the light. It's not particularly easy to clean either, so you might as well accept it'll be like that forever and move on.
Update: As it turned out the HTC One E9+ does have stereo speakers and it was only our unit that had some issue with one of them. The text below has been edited to reflect that.
The front presents a more traditional HTC styling which has become synonymous with stereo BoomSound speakers on either end.
As has become typical of recent HTC phones, the One E9+ comes with onscreen buttons eating away some of the screen estate. It's worth pointing out that the gap between the speaker strips and the glass that covers the display tends to accumulate dirt, which is rather tricky to clean.
Side bezels are decently sized and provide enough room to grip, without adding excessive width. The sides were given the same matte treatment as the back and a slit that runs all around the device may lead you to believe the back cover is removable, which it isn't. There's a shiny chrome-looking outline on the front which serves as a nice accent, but also a boundary of sorts between the phone and the outside world.
The One E9+ features the company's newly adopted control layout with the power button on the right side. The E9+ being taller, the button sits noticeably higher than on the M9, well above the midpoint. Further up is the volume rocker, which is indeed a rocker and not two separate buttons (again, the M9).
On the left side there's a 48mm long flap, but long it needs to be, because it has to cover three separate card slots - two for nanoSIM cards and an extra one for microSD. Its length aside, the flap is nicely slim and doesn't spoil the overall looks. It also fits snuggly and it's unlikely to be opened by chance. If anything, you may have a hard time finding a proper tool to pop it out, as fingernails don't seem to work.
On top there's nothing but a 3.5mm headphone jack - no IR blaster. The bottom is scarcely populated too, with only a microUSB port.
We'll reiterate, the HTC One E9+ is one tall smartphone. It is, in fact, 3mm taller than the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It's narrower though, and that helps its handling.
The buttons on the right are easily accessible with your right thumb or with the left index finger, depending on which hand you're holding it with. The sides and the back with their matte surface provide a secure grip.
It should also be noted that due to the generous bottom bezels the on screen buttons come pretty high and are very easily reached, more so than, say, Samsung's capacitive buttons on its phablets. It's still open for debate though, whether that comes close to being worth the extra footprint.