Samsung Galaxy S6 vs HTC One M9
We're starting out 2015 with a bang. The time for deliberation is over, and both Samsung and HTC are about to pounce on the market, hoping to slash as big a share as possible. But if your current daily driver is starting to feel a bit dated, and ready for an upgrade, it'll be up to you to pick between the two teams, and that's hardly ever a trivial task with high-end devices.
With the Galaxy S6, Samsung is impressing upon the public that it is both capable and willing to change if its fan base (and stock holders) requires it to. To that end, the Galaxy S6 comes in an unmistakably premium unibody that fuses glass and metal together. Better yet, Samsung has finally addressed complaints relating to its heavy TouchWiz overlay, with a number of optimizations having been carried out. All of this is rounded off with some truly bleeding edge hardware having found its way under the screen.
On the face of it, HTC's efforts fade in comparison, as despite its One M9 still commanding a respectable lead in terms of craftsmanship and overall design, the company has focused most of its attention on one single area: the rear camera. Indeed, gone is the under-performing UltraPixel camera, and we're now looking at a more impressive, 20-megapixel unit that the company hopes will position its flagship better than ever before.
So which one is the better buy? Let's dig in and find out.
Sexier-than-ever-before the Galaxy S6 may be, but the One M9 remains the more stylish pick of the two.
With every new Galaxy S release, Samsung has historically built upon the base by refining what's already there and adding some extra on top. With the Galaxy S6, however, the electronics giant has focused far more on the latter than on the former. To that end, instead of the plasticky shell of the Galaxy S5, Samsung has adopted a metal frame that hugs the device all over and nestles within two sheets of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 – one placed in front of the display, and the other to protect the rear. Samsung didn't stop there, instead opting to carve several 'nano layers' into the shell. The result is a front and back that reflect light in different hues depending on your viewing angle. As it comes down to taste, this can be viewed as either ostentatious and tacky or unique and attractive. Regardless of which group you fall in, it's quite likely that you will not appreciate the ease with which the rear smudges – just a few minutes with the phone leaves the back a complete mess.
However, for all of Samsung's admirable efforts, and despite the undeniably sexier-than-ever-before appearances of the Galaxy S6, the One M9 still remains the more stylish pick of the two in our eyes. What could spell trouble for HTC's new flagship in the eyes of others, however, is the lack of visible changes. Indeed, despite its enjoyable looks, the One M9 remains a very similar device to its predecessor, the One M8, which, in turn, felt a lot like the One M7 before it. We certainly understand that the One line's design can be seen as timeless, but we nevertheless can't shake the feeling that we're looking at only a slightly redesigned device compared to last year's offering.
In terms of physical footprint and ergonomics, we've got a slight advantage for the Galaxy S6 on the first count, and a lead for the One M9 on the second. That is, while the S6 touts a slightly larger display, its dimensions of 5.65 x 2.78 x 0.27 inches still read a tad better than the M9's 5.69 x 2.74 x 0.38 inches, and specifically in terms of thinness. But a slim profile doesn't equal better handling, and that remains strictly an HTC domain. Indeed, the heftier depth to the M9 and the rounded rear shell make for a more ergonomic grip.
In 'Basic' screen mode, the Galaxy S6's panel proves far superior to the one of the One M9.
The Galaxy S6 and One M9 both stick to the same display sizes introduced by their predecessors, but the two still differ vastly. With its new flagship, HTC is again making use of an S-LCD3 panel with a 5-inch diagonal and 1080 x 1920 resolution – good for 441 pixels per inch. In Samsung's camp, we're looking at a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display, but unlike the one embedded within the S6's predecessor, we now have the whopping 1440 x 2560 pixels, or an even greater pitch of 577 ppi. Regardless, do keep in mind that due to the small physical size of these screens, that supposed advantage in pixel density is almost entirely limited to bragging rights on paper.
Speaking of what's on paper and what's going on in reality, let's talk about color calibration. With the Samsung Galaxy S6 set in the non-default Basic display mode, we're looking at a spot-on color temperature of 6550K (6500K being the desired optimal value), while the One M9 offers the unsatisfactory 8100K. In real terms, this means that the One M9's display is cold (or bluish) and that's especially visible with whites and various shades of gray. In comparison, Samsung's device offers realistic whites that are... well, white!
Were we to draw the line right here, the One M9 would only suffer a small defeat, instead of being steamrolled as it is in reality. Indeed, the Galaxy S6's display also proves far better in terms of color accuracy, with essentially every shade hitting its desired target at every intensity level, while the M9 falters significantly in comparison – reds are not quite red enough, yellows exhibit a greenish hue, and magenta leans heavily on blue. Further still, the S6 has an advantage in terms of maximum brightness – 563 nits vs the still excellent 508 nits for the One M9. It's only when talking gamma that the One M9 gets some relief – we measured 2.21, which is spot-on, while the S6 returned a slightly worse 2.11.
Display measurements and quality
|Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better||Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better||Contrast Higher is better||Color temperature (Kelvins)||Gamma||Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better||Delta E grayscale Lower is better|
|Samsung Galaxy S6||563
|HTC One M9||508
The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.
|Maximum brightness Lower is better||Minimum brightness Lower is better||Contrast Lower is better||Color temperature Lower is better||Gamma Lower is better||Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better||Delta E grayscale Lower is better|
|Samsung Galaxy S6||56.1%
|HTC One M9||78.7%
The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
1. tiara6918 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)
Even as a die hard htc fan, I must admit samsung did a way better job than htc with the s6. This is the phone that makes me want to come back to samsung
11. JesseJames (Posts: 103; Member since: 22 Feb 2015)
No, samsung did a better job with the s6 edge.
13. j_scorp (Posts: 61; Member since: 22 Oct 2013)
I sadly agree too. I have the HTC M8 and I will be trading it in for the Samsung S6 Edge. I really wanted to stay with HTC, but the choice is really clear. Let's see how I can get by without my MicroSD....
2. tarek1980 (Posts: 278; Member since: 07 Jan 2014)
for me the metal in the M9 is better than the glass in S6
M9 with the great Sense 7 is the better smartphone to go with.
Sorry Samsung Galaxy S6 really is one step back
3. Zack_2014 (Posts: 365; Member since: 25 Mar 2014)
HTC M9 is unappealing to me. I don't know why but TouchWiz seems to be the most beautiful looking interface compared to all other manufacturers.
LGs UI is way too cartoony, HTC is old school and has a really boring interface, Sony looks nice and futuristic but cluttery.
4. tiara6918 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)
I tested out an s6 edge yesterday, it was very smooth and fast. It doesn't remind me of the sluggishness of touchwiz in previous versions. Touchwiz on the s6/s6 edge looks the best, I agree with you.
5. mostafawael.1998 (Posts: 240; Member since: 01 Oct 2014)
New touch wiz is a beauty to hold, and since it is heavily streamlined now, then it will be prime time to go back to touch wiz
What I want to ask, is the power of 0.54 volts in the headphone good enough for loud bass, electro and trance stuff? It is similar to iPhone 5 I guess, so may be an iPhone-5 user can tell me ?
I also plug in the phone to my subwoofer often, so it is better to be loud enough.
And btw, as for audio quality,according to GSMA, S6 is on par with the M9, specially when headphones are plugged in. I hated Sammy once I got the S3 and once I used the S5, but now I am literally impressed with what Sammy has done this year!!!
Maybe the biggest concern is the 'removable battery' feature, but not a big deal.
6. MrET1 (Posts: 110; Member since: 29 Jan 2015)
I think the M9 shows 0 innovation. The design and screen are the same specs for 3 years, the M7 and M8's screens are even better looking. Instead of making a higher resolution(8-12MP) Ultrapixel camera they went with a cheap non-OIS 20.7Mp. And the SoC is just a cheap 'high end' option that can't even run at the speeds it's marketed with. I really don't see a reason for anyone to 'upgrade' from M7 or M8 to the M9.
7. rockers123 (Posts: 132; Member since: 08 Sep 2013)
PA, pls re check your geeckbench scores. Your results shows very low scores for 7420
9. MrET1 (Posts: 110; Member since: 29 Jan 2015)
True, every other review I've seen lists ~1500/~5000. PA is obviously showing a best case result for the M9 vs a worst case result for the S6
8. JoshN (Posts: 129; Member since: 01 Apr 2015)
I currently sport a samsung galaxy S4 and absolutlu love it except that touchwiz is quite slow, laggy, and hogs my RAM im hoping that when sammy upgrade S4 to lollipop it takes away the lag i currently face
15. PinkSquabbit (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 Apr 2015)
Try the Nova launcher. It is much faster and has more customization options than TouchWiz.
10. bello (Posts: 27; Member since: 01 Mar 2015)
Guys from PA are you blind the m9 is more stylish than the s6 ?
20. j_scorp (Posts: 61; Member since: 22 Oct 2013)
It is more stylish. But who walks around without a case...It's the guts and performance that really matter.
12. caesantos (Posts: 86; Member since: 27 Feb 2014)
It's been a while that my 2 year old S4 has been upgraded to Lollipop. And it's running better than ever.
14. AppleJuice (Posts: 145; Member since: 12 Sep 2013)
The M9 is a joke. How can a successor of a flagship be worse at low light photography? Joke.
16. mostafawael.1998 (Posts: 240; Member since: 01 Oct 2014)
M9 over the M8:
3 GB RAM
Ultra pixel selfie
M8 over the M9:
Better SoC (at least it ain't throttle like crazy S810)
Cooler smartphone and better thermal handling
Boom sound are louder with much more punchy bass
Excellent low light photography
Tie between M8 and M9:
And yet HTC expect better sales
18. fzacek (Posts: 2486; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)
Is this comparison even necessary? The S6 is clearly better than the M9 in every way...
19. Scorpion (Posts: 103; Member since: 28 Apr 2012)
Gonna disagree with all of you guys. I have a Galaxy S4 and I did play with the S6 and the Edge at the store, still think about going HTC with the M9, It's just better as whole. Samsung has great screen and camera but that's it. Design? Cathes up, but the front panel of the Galaxy series hasen't changed since the S3! The back and sides did.
The M9 has great sound, good camera + ultrapixel on the front, great build, and great UI. A good handset is a balanced handset. The S6 feels great in the hand, the Edge really feels like from another dimension, but use your head not just your feelings. Happy shopping...
21. theflu88 (Posts: 13; Member since: 15 Mar 2015)
The front panel hasn't changed much from the S3??? You should rethink that statement based on these points:
- 720p (HD) resolution increased to 1440p (UHD) resolution
- Screen size went from 4.8" to 5.1"
- Pixel arrangement has changed from pentile to "diamond" pentile
- Colors are a lot more accurate (almost a spot on accuracy in Basic mode)
- Energy efficiency has increased
- No fingerprint sensor to actually having one, then to having one that works well
- Gorilla glass to Gorilla glass 4
- The button arrangement has changed (they got rid of the redundant menu button)
- The color accents have changed (the panel on the S6 literally changes color from a dark blue to a black depending on how light hits it, where as the panel on the S3 was just a blue color)
- Front facing camera resolution from 2 MP to 5 MP
While on HTC's M9, here's what's changed on the front panel from the M7 (which came out a year after the S3):
- Ultrapixel as the front facing camera from a regular 2 MP
- The HTC logo is not a button (however its still on the panel, making the phone a lot larger than it should be)
- Super LCD 2 to Super LCD 3
- 4.7 inch to 5 inch
- THATS IT
So, based on this evidence, the S6 is a HUMONGOUS improvement over the S3, S4, S5, HTC M7, M8, and M9
HTC lacks innovation, Samsung is at least trying to innovate with the S6 Edge
Do you even know anything about smartphones at all?
22. christyhicks (Posts: 1; Member since: 18 Apr 2015)
Well, I'm just a cell heavy user, and I received my new HTC M9 yesterday. I bought my first "bag phone" in 1988, back in the days when you could actually choose your own phone number... advancing through the brick, the "beam me up Scottie".....tethering for internet service before most knew we could, pretty much I've used all shapes and sizes. I listen to debate after debate over which phone is best...people arguing over minute details and miniscule differences that really hardly EVER affect the average user. After going through TWO Samsung cracked screens in a few weeks, I insisted my provider exchange the second one with an HTC. Three years later, after almost daily drops and at least two or three water dunks, it's still going strong. I can't TELL you how many times my HTC M7 has landed facedown on tile, concrete, etc. . . and every time I think, "oh gosh, it's cracked for sure"...and once again, no crack! I am a HEAVY user, and my battery is getting weak, so after three years, I'm due for a new phone. I can buy any phone I want, my husband even suggested I buy an Iphone and smartwatch....but in the end, I ordered a new M9. I've watched my sons, also heavy users, use Samsung after Samsung with cracked screens, misc hardware issues and I wonder just how great those "better specs" really are when your screen, speaker, camera, etc are not working! I need a phone I can use all day, every day!
23. mqmorasch (Posts: 12; Member since: 18 Nov 2013)
A great point about durability, PLUS the HTC Uh oh protection!!! I have an M9 and had to use the uh oh protection.... Easy as can be, no questions or hurdles, just replaced with a NEW(not refurbished) phone with NO deductible!!
That being said, I'm debating on the second device (work) of what to do. It is the whale known as the Nexus 6, and it I am tempted to venture to Sammy, but am she'll shocked from previous nightmares of touch wiz lag and cheap components. Also, do I want better sound or occasional pic??