By Rich W Woods
The HTC One M8 and the OnePlus One were two of the hottest phones of 2014. The OnePlus One became popular for numerous reasons. There was the notorious invite system that made consumers actually work for the device, creating a form of brand loyalty among users. The stock ROM was CyanogenMod, something that drew in Android fanatics. Oh, and did I mention that it has the flagshipiest of flagship specs and for half the price of competitors?
Of course, we’ve compared the OnePlus One with the HTC One M8 before. That’s not big news. The HTC One M8 has now been refreshed. Now it’s time to see how the OnePlus One holds up to the HTC One M9.
The HTC One M9 has been overhauled in every way, with the exception of a physical redesign. The 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 801 has been replaced by a powerful 64 bit Snapdragon 810, the 2 GB of RAM has been replaced by 3 GB, and the ultrapixel camera on the rear has been moved to the front and replaced by a 20 MP rear camera.
HTC One M9 vs OnePlus One: Specs
|HTC One M9||OnePlus One|
|Processor||Snapdragon 810, 1.5 GHz Quad Core, 2 GHz Quad Core||2.5 GHz Quad Core Snapdragon 801|
|GPU||Adreno 430||Adreno 330|
|Display||5″, 1080p, 441 ppi, IPS LCD||5.5″, 1080p, 401 ppi, IPS LCD|
|Body||144.6×69.7×9.6 mm, 157 g||152.9×75.9×8.9 mm, 162 g|
|Camera||20 MP, 5376×3752, 4 MP Front||13 MP, 4128×3096, 5 MP Front|
|Video||4K – 30 fps, Front 1080p – 30 fps||4K DCI – 24 fps, 4K UHD – 30 fps, Front 720p – 30 fps|
|Storage||32 GB, Expandable to 128 GB||16/64 GB|
|RAM||3 GB||3 GB|
|Battery||2840 mAh||3100 mAh|
WARNING: RANT COMING
Please, please do not read through this comparison, and if the HTC One M9 turns out to win, say “Yea but for the price…” I see this all too much. The OnePlus One is a flagship and should be treated as such. If you’re going to say it’s just better because it’s a cheaper we may as well call it a mid-range. In that case, I should be comparing it to other phones in its price range, but guess what happens when I do that. I get treated like I just blasphemed Jesus Christ.
Sorry. It’s a bit of a peeve of mine.
HTC One M9 vs OnePlus One: Body and Display
The bodies of the HTC One M9 and the OnePlus One are both very different, yet both very beautiful. HTC is known for the aluminum body with the front speakers, which are fantastic. Unfortunately, they used the same design for the third year in a row, causing consumers to feel like it’s just a minor upgrade from the HTC One M8.
The OnePlus One has a beautiful design as well. Coming in silk white and sandstone black, the bamboo StyleSwap cover is available as well, which really just makes it look great. As far as design goes, it’s a tie. What matters there is user preferences.
Display is a matter of user preference as well. While the HTC One M9 has a higher pixel density, they are both high enough resolution that no one is going to be able to tell the difference. If you prefer a larger display, the OnePlus One is for you. If you prefer an average size phone, the HTC One M8 is a better display for you.
HTC One M9 vs OnePlus One: Rear Camera
The reason that I do these comparisons is because it is my path to writing a full review. With each comparison, I learn a little more about the device that I am reviewing. The only comparison that I’ve done thus far with the HTC One M9 is with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. All I found out about the camera there is that the Galaxy S6 has the better camera. I still don’t know how it measures up to other phones because the Galaxy S6 was just that good.
The HTC One M9 has the higher resolution camera here at 20 MP, although resolution just doesn’t matter. Some would say “A higher resolution doesn’t necessarily mean a better picture”. I would go a step further and say that if a higher resolution camera takes a better picture, it’s a coincidence.
The HTC One M9 has a larger sensor but the OnePlus One has a larger aperture, both of which should improve low light performance, so we’ll see about that.
Then again, when it comes to smart phone cameras, software and firmware are far more important than hardware. One important feature is that both devices support taking RAW photos in the stock Camera app. You can think of RAW as the digital equivalent of a negative. It needs to be processed in third party software such as Adobe Light Room. If you know how to use it, it’s a priceless tool.
The OnePlus One has a lot more manual features than the HTC One M9 Camera app. It allows the user to control things like brightness and ISO and all of that. Of course, HTC users could sideload CameraNextMod, a popular choice for OnePlus One users.
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|HTC One M9||OnePlus One|
There are a couple things apparent here. One is that the OnePlus One has a much larger field of view, meaning that it takes a picture of a greater area from the same distance as the HTC One M9.
That being said, I think the HTC One M9 takes this one. The photos taken with the HTC One M9 are a little warmer, perhaps a bit too warm, but it’s always those orange flowers that’s the downfall of the OnePlus One.
Low light performance was also better in the HTC One M9 and the flash on the OnePlus One, well, it’s the flash on the OnePlus One. Nothing new there.
HTC One M9 vs OnePlus One: Front Camera
I have long said that the OnePlus One has the best front camera on the market. Lately, I’ve been told that the HTC One M9 is just the device to change that.
It makes sense too. The ultrapixel camera was great on the HTC One M8, but it just didn’t work well for many situations that users might find themselves in. If you need to crop or zoom at all, quality deteriorates very quickly. Selfies don’t need to be cropped as much, so putting it on the front is a stroke of brilliance.
The 5 MP front camera on the HTC One M8 was terrible; however, the 5 MP front camera on the OnePlus One is remarkable. Let’s cut the bullshit and look at some samples.
I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the OnePlus One still has the best front camera on the market.
HTC One M9 vs OnePlus One: Benchmarks
I realize that I say this every time I use benchmarks, but I’m not a fan of benchmarks. They so rarely reflect real world usage of a device. Unfortunately, they are the best tool that we have for putting the performance of a device on paper, or on a computer screen for that matter.
The first test is a battery test done in Geekbench 3. The first with the dim screen toggled on and the second with the dim screen toggled off.
As we can see, for some reason, the HTC One M9 actually performs better with the dim screen toggled off and the OnePlus One does a hell of a lot better with the dim screen on. This is why I hate benchmarks.
The next two are Geekbench 3 and AnTuTu benchmarks. I think we can expect the HTC One M9 to win those. After all, none of this is surprising. The OnePlus One has a larger battery and a lower powered processor.
As expected, the HTC One M9 takes it, although not by much. I’m looking forward to comparing the LG G Flex 2 to the OnePlus One, which also uses the Snapdragon 810 processor and 3 GB of RAM; however, benchmarks are showing that it scores very low. I just got it, so I don’t want to spoil it much before I know more.
Now, the final test is a graphics benchmark that I did with GFXBench 3.1. This is something that I found important when I was doing comparisons with the Samsung Galaxy S6. The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a powerful Samsung Exynos processor and probably the best battery I’ve ever seen in a phone; however, the QHD display caused it to underperform the iPhone 6 and the HTC One M9 in graphics benchmarks. Because of this, I realized that graphics benchmarks are important, even when it’s clear that one phone outperforms another in regular benchmarks.
I ran the graphics tests on the OnePlus One twice in an effort to get rid of some of the network errors. Some went away on the second try, but still, it’s clear that the HTC One M9 wins.
So, there you have it. The HTC One M9 seems to outperform the OnePlus One in just about every way, which, I should say, is very impressive for the OnePlus One, given the margins here and the fact that the OnePlus One is quickly approaching its first birthday.