Samsung and HTC have been in brutal battle over the past two years, and 2015 brings along two new entries in the flagship market: the HTC One M9 and the Samsung Galaxy S6. These two are examples of the best these giants can make. And while this isn’t an official dogfight, it’s a teaser and first look at these two head to head. This is the comparison between Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and the HTC One M9 and it all starts now.
Let’s start by looking at the differences — or lack thereof — in design and build quality. The HTC One M9 is basically a carryover design from the previous model. It features an almost all-aluminum unibody construction, but now in a dual tone finish. For example, our review unit is a gold and silver model, which I have to say looks rather great in person. The major design aspects, like the signature BoomSound speaker location, are all the same. The only major difference between the M8 and M9 is found on the sides, where HTC brought back the flat edge sides. The M9 is also a bit thicker than the One M8.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 shares only its screen size with the Galaxy S5. The S6 is constructed out of aluminum and Gorilla Glass 4 on both front and back, and while it does retain the Galaxy S look, it’s a very soft and hand-friendly package. The S6 even has the slight curves and aluminum frame itself, but it reminds me of the Xperia Z3 a little too much. Overall, the Galaxy S6 is now on the same class as the HTC One in both build quality and design.
Now which one feels better on the hand? Right now, I have to say the Galaxy S6 due its nicely-rounded aluminum sides. The One M9 feels great too, but it’s really familiar, unlike the completely different Galaxy S6.
The displays on these two are class-leading. Samsung is the only one that stepped up their game in this generation of flagships, but I still feel that both of these are really great displays. On the Galaxy S6 there's a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560x1440 — that’s 577ppi — and it looks just as good as the Galaxy Note 4's display.
The HTC One M9 retains the same display size as the M8 at 5 inches as well as the 1920x1080 resolution. And that’s not such a bad thing, because it can improve battery life than higher-resolution screens. And to be honest, I can barely tell the difference between these two resolutions. But the One M9 display just seems exactly the same as the One M8 display — it’s not brighter or any different in any way. And for some reason, I expected it to look just a little bit better than the last generation One M8.
Now onto the hardware and specs. These two, for the first time ever, have taken completely different approaches to making their smartphones powerful. HTC opted to use the octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor, while Samsung elected to trust their own engineers and make an octa-core Exynos chip. The RAM on these two are exactly the same, at 3GB.
Another important piece of hardware are their cameras. Samsung have not been struggling in this area, but HTC have definitely been having a hard time over the past two generations of their product.
Let’s start with the Galaxy S6. On the rear, we’re looking at a 16-megapixel camera with Optical Image Stabilization, flash, and the ability to record 4K video. Pretty standard stuff for a smartphone from Samsung. On the HTC One M9, we have a hugely-upgraded 20-megapixel camera that does not have OIS, but it does have a standard flash. New for 2015 for the HTC One line is 4K UHD video recording. However, if you’ve seen my camera review of the HTC One M9, I’m not a fan of this new camera.
The last piece of hardware I’m talking about is the battery size. The HTC One M9 is packed with a non-removable 2840mAh battery, which is an increase of 240 mAh over the last year’s One M8. The Galaxy S6 has a 2550 mAh battery, which for the first time ever in the Galaxy S line, is non-removable. It’s also quite a bit smaller than the Galaxy S5, which had a 2800mAh battery.
The last piece of this comparison is the software. The HTC One M9 is running Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with Sense 7, which is more of an iteration with Sense 6 rather than a new completely skin. It adds features and widgets like the Sense Home, which displays your most used apps depending on where you are and what time of day it is. But that's a feature that I quickly turned off on the M9. In my opinion, the biggest change with Sense 7 is the customization of the themes. You can either download themes from HTC or create your own, and this will change all of your color schemes and even the applications icons. It’s a pretty neat idea that lets people make their phone the way they want it to.
The Galaxy S6 is also running Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, but with TouchWiz on top. This is, by far, the most lightened version of TouchWiz I’ve used, and it feels that way as well. Overall, it appears to be more in line with Lollipop with small bits of Material Design here and there. You can see TouchWiz in its DNA, though. It still has things like Flipboard to the left of home screen, but you can disable that. And you still have to dig through menus to get into other menus. But Samsung is definitely heading in the right direction with this new version of TouchWiz. Hopefully in one or two iterations, we’ll be at a point where we’ll like it very much.
Now people are going to want to know which phone I would pick right now. I can’t offer a solid answer until I put these two in a proper dogfight, but right now, it has to be the Samsung Galaxy S6. That could be completely from the lust over redesign and how nice it feels in the hand, but we’ll have to see how well the Galaxy S6 holds up in future videos.
I’d love to hear what you guys think about both of these devices. Let me know which phone you would go for right now in the comments section below.