By Rich W Woods
Both announced at Mobile World Congress on the same day in Barcelona, the HTC One M9 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 are undoubtedly the two most coveted Android phones in the world.
This is the first comparison that I’ve done with the HTC One M9, a device that I’m very excited about. It’s a massive upgrade from the HTC One M8. It uses a powerful Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 GB of RAM, they replaced the underpowered rear camera with a 20 MP sensor, and they moved the ultrapixel camera to the front, which is a stroke of genius. Many refer to the HTC One M9 as a minor, incremental update, but that’s only because there wasn’t a physical redesign, showing just how much appearances matter, even to the enthusiasts.
On the other hand, this will be one of the last comparisons with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, as the full review is coming soon. The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge has left me extremely impressed, as I’ve never come across a Samsung phone that I even liked before; however, Samsung spent the last year listening to feedback and they responded to it.
HTC One M9 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Specs
|HTC One M9||Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge|
|Processor||Snapdragon 810, 1.5 GHz Quad Core, 2 GHz Quad Core||Exynos 7420, 1.5 GHz Quad Core, 2.1 GHz Quad Core|
|Display||5″, 1080p, 441 ppi, LCD||5.1″, 1440p, 577 ppi, AMOLED|
|Body||144.6×69.7×9.6 mm, 157 g||142.1×70.1×7 mm, 132 g|
|Camera||20 MP, 5376×3752, 4 MP Front||16 MP, 5312×2988, 5 MP Front|
|Video||4K UHD – 30 fps, Front 1080p – 30 fps||4K UHD – 30 fps, 1080p – 60 fps, Front 1440p – 30 fps|
|Focal Length||27.8 mm||28 mm|
|Storage||32 GB, Expandable to 128 GB||32/64/128 GB|
|RAM||3 GB||3 GB|
|Battery||2840 mAh||2600 mAh|
HTC One M9 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Body and Display
Let’s start with display. While the display on the HTC One M9 is absolutely beautiful, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge probably has the best display on the market. I always point out that it is not due to the super high resolution, but due to Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays with incredible color accuracy.
Now let’s look at the body. HTC has been universally praised for the design of the One; however, I can’t help but think that it hurts them that they used this design for the third year in a row. It’s still a beautiful phone, but many people that I’ve spoken to about it simply aren’t excited about the phone because they think it’s a minor upgrade.
On the other hand, you have a fresh, new, and beautiful design from Samsung. Samsung has always sold the most phones and those of us in the know always thought to ourselves, “Well, Samsung sells the most but that’s just because they spend so much on marketing. Those of us that know better know there are better phones out there, like HTC”. Now that Samsung is actually putting out a decent product, it could be an issue for HTC.
HTC One M9 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Rear Camera
I heard a lot about the cameras of each of these phones between the time they came out and the times I got the review units. The two things I heard were that the Samsung Galaxy S6 has an amazing camera and the HTC One M9 does not.
Personally, I’m not one to listen to those. I know I’m going to get my hands on them eventually and I choose to make my judgment then. I know that others make their judgment by walking into their local Best Buy, playing with the phone, and making their decision. The problem with that is when you take a photo with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and view it on the Samsung Galaxy S6, the photo looks amazing because the display is amazing. I realized this when I reviewed the Galaxy Note 4. You tend to get a completely different result when you actually look at the photos side by side on the same display.
For the most part, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge has lived up to expectations. I wouldn’t say better than anything else out there, but it’s pretty great. The comparison with the iPhone 6 was questionable.
The HTC One M9’s Camera app does have one key feature that the Galaxy S6 Edge lacks, which is the ability to take RAW photos. If you don’t know, a RAW photo is basically the digital equivalent of a negative. You need to process the image yourself in third party software, such as Adobe Light Room, before actually using it. This is a huge boon to anyone that knows how to process their own photos.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge has an important video recording feature that the HTC One M9 does not have, which is 1080p video at 60 fps. I should point out, however, that every time I tried to use the feature, the phone overheated within 20 minutes of recording.
Please note that in order to enlarge the images, simply click or tap on them. To view the full size images, there is a link in the carousel.
|HTC One M9||Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge|
I think the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is the clear winner here; however, it’s really not saying that the HTC One M9 is a bad camera because those shots looked fantastic. Then, you’d scroll to the next picture and see the one taken with the Galaxy S6 Edge and see how much better it looks. I’ll look forward to seeing how the HTC One M9 measures up to some other devices out there, such as the iPhone 6, OnePlus One, Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, and LG G Flex 2.
We can go into more detail, if it’s not obvious. The low light performance of the Galaxy S6 blows away the HTC One M9. In the daytime photos, the colors are just more balanced. I don’t need to go into more detail, do I? It’s pretty obvious.
HTC One M9 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Front Camera
Just like I heard what I did about the rear camera, I heard the exact opposite about the front camera. I had heard that the Samsung Galaxy S6 now has the best rear camera on the market, but I had also heard that the HTC One M9 now has the best front camera on the market.
I’ve always said that the OnePlus One has the best front camera on the market; however, the idea is not far fetched for the HTC One M9 has the best front camera on the market now. Taking that ultrapixel from the rear of the HTC One M8 and sticking it on the front of the HTC One M9 was nothing short of practical genius.
The idea behind the ultrapixel camera was that it would be lower resolution, resulting in larger pixels, resulting in better low light performance. The images would also be oversaturated because, well, people like that.
So here’s what we get from those photos. One thing is clear, that the Samsung Galaxy S6 has a super wide lens, which is going to be fantastic for group selfies. They even have a wide angle feature that even allows those group selfies to become even groupier. The selfie stick is not needed with the Galaxy S6.
Now, when you discount the field of view and concentrate on just the quality of the image, the HTC One M9 clearly wins. That last photo says it all. That ultrapixel is simply better when it comes to tricky lighting situations.
HTC One M9 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Benchmarks
I know I say this in just about every comparison, but I’m not a fan of benchmarks. They rarely show any reflection of real world usage. Unfortunately, they are the best tool that we have of writing the performance of a device on a piece of paper, or on a screen for that matter.
The first will be a battery test, ran on Geekbench 3. Surprisingly, they both had higher scores with the dim screen toggled off.
|HTC One M9||Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge|
As you can see, the battery benchmarks for the Galaxy S6 Edge outperform the HTC One M9. I do want to point out that I find the battery life on the HTC One M9 to be fantastic, but that’s benchmarks for you.
You can also see that the Galaxy S6 outperforms the HTC One M9 in Geekbench 3 and AnTuTu as well. Then again, this happened when I compared the Galaxy S6 Edge to the iPhone 6, until I ran the graphics benchmarks.
You can see that the HTC One M9 outperforms the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge in GFXBench 3.1. This is not surprising. This is the disadvantage that comes from a QHD display such as the one that the Galaxy S6 has. There is no advantage to QHD. It’s impossible to tell the difference on such a small screen. Most of these companies only use these QHD displays so they can say they did. That’s why I’ve always respected HTC. They’ve never jacked up specs just for the sake of jacking them up.
Ultimately, these are both fantastic phones; however, I think Samsung has a real winner here. Of course, if you’re into playing games on your phone, you’re probably better off with an HTC One M9. Needless to say, I think anyone would be very happy with either.