HTC One M9 vs HTC One M8: first look

Comparing the old against the new is always an interesting one, but when there’s a lot riding for HTC, many folks are expecting big things with its latest flagship smartphone. As we look back and think about last year, the HTC One M8, as a whole, seemed like a radically different smartphone from the M7 before it. From its even more pronounced industrial design, to the welcoming of its Duo camera system, the One M8 by in large was a totally newer, more formidable smartphone.

In its journey, the HTC One M8 didn’t have the performance, nor the capacity, to outpace its esteemed rivals. Now, after a year later, we have the HTC One M9 in the flesh – the latest flagship that seems to address the concerns with last year’s model. From its new 20-megapixel rear camera, to an updated HTC Sense 7.0 experience, it’s no doubt doing what it can to put itself on the right path to success. But really, how much different, and better, is it than its predecessor?


Seriously, putting the two side-by-side to one another, it’s really tough to tell apart the difference between them. At the core of it all, the design of the HTC One M9 addresses the slippery issue that seemed problematic with the M8, but the sharper edges of it presents a totally new one. It’s definitely grippier in the hand, thanks in part to the difference in the metal body’s finish, but the “dual finish” design of the M9 creates this gap along its sides – giving the phone a sharper, unpleasant feel in our opinion.

Another minor issue addressed by the M9 is the placement of the power button, which is now positioned more appropriately on the right side of the phone – instead of the M8’s top edge positioning. However, it’s intriguing to see that the M9 is slightly thicker than the M8, attributed more than likely to the larger 2900 mAh battery inside, but its weight is less than its predecessor. Overall, though, they’re quite similar with their iconic designs. Going with a “dual finish” design, however, the HTC One benefits out of the gate by being available in three colors.


HTC didn’t really see any benefit in increasing the resolution of the M9’s display, so it’s essentially the same from before – a 5.0-inch 1080 x 1920 display. Depending on your stance, this decision can be regarded as either a good or bad thing. With the former, it doesn’t increase the overall size of the phone. Additionally, 1080p is still an effective resolution that delivers sharp details that make miniscule text visible to the eye. On the flip side, however, it lags behind the quad-HD packing resolutions that some existing flagships offer. Beyond that, the two displays seem to offer the same qualities – like their decent viewing angles and good outdoor visibility.


The evolution of HTC’s Sense UI is quite evident again with these two smartphones, as the newer HTC One M9 is naturally greeted to new features. Now, we wouldn’t say that Sense 7.0 is a radically different experience from Sense 6.0, since they both flaunt modern designs, but there are enough changes, both in the visual and features departments, to undoubtedly give Sense 7.0 on the M9 some brownie points.

Visually, the two interfaces have that modern touch to them, but HTC’s changes with Sense 7.0 are more subtle – like how the time in the HTC weather/clock widget is now italicized. However, what’s most apparent is Sense 7.0’s ability to offer customizable themes, a new dynamically changing smart launcher, and contextual suggestions in the lock screen. Even with all the new features, Sense 7.0 doesn’t feel like it’s overcomplicated, which is something we really appreciate because too many redundant features can sometimes alienate people.

Processor and Memory

When it comes to raw speed, there’s just a smidgen more snappiness with the HTC One M9. That’s not surprising at all, since it’s powered by the latest thing from Qualcomm’s camp – an 8-core 64-bit based Snapdragon 810 chip coupled with 3GB of RAM and the Adreno 430 GPU. In contrast, the M8 is running the older quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC with 2GB of RAM and the Adreno 330 GPU. Essentially, the tighter response of the M9 is expected, thanks of course to the newer hardware that’s under the hood.

No change has been made to the default storage amount with the HTC One M9, seeing that it still sits at 32GB. We’re not terribly sad that the amount is unchanged, especially when 32GB is still plentiful and that a microSD card slot is there to supplement things.

AnTuTu Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 31075
HTC One M9 56896
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 1171
HTC One M9 2218
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 3657
HTC One M9 4195
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 28.3
HTC One M9 49
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 11
HTC One M9 24
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 2613
HTC One M9 3738
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 888
HTC One M9 1209


HTC talked a lot of good points with its 4-megapixel “UltraPixel” camera in the One M8 last year, but as we’ve seen in countless camera comparisons, it lags way behind the higher count cameras of its rivals. Well, HTC doesn’t disappoint this year, since they’ve kind of address the concern by outfitting the M9 with a respectable 20-megapixel rear camera – while the front one makes the jump to an “UltraPixel” camera.

In our short time taking snapshots with the HTC One M9, it seems to follow through on what disappointed us most about the M8’s UltraPixel camera – the amount of detail captured by the camera. However, there’s still a concern surrounding the quality of its low lighting performance. Of course, we can’t make any final judgments at the moment because we’ve been checking out only a pre-production version of the M9, but we’re hopeful that things can be fine-tuned by the time the final retail product is launched.

Beyond “upgrading” the camera of the M9, HTC has also delivered a ton of cool photo effects that put to shame the ones that are available with Sense 6.0. It’s almost unbelievable how many they’ve been able to put into Sense 7.0, but many of them have that artistic touch.


Much like cars, smartphones follow a similar approach with each new model. In some years, the difference between the old and new are quite drastic – while in others, not so much. In this case, we’re inclined to say that it favors the latter model.

In the design department, there’s not a whole lot separating the two – they both still exude that solid industrial design that HTC is known for. And yes, the HTC One M9 addresses some of the issues we had with the M8, but in the process makes a new one. Needless to say, it’s a tough call on saying whether or not the new model is worthy enough to entice buyers over its predecessor, but it’s going to largely fall on how the phone performs as we get the chance to review it.

Related phones

One (M8)
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 4 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2300 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2600 mAh(20h 3G talk time)
One M9
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 20 MP / 4 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Octa-core, 2000 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2840 mAh(21.7h 3G talk time)



1. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

HTC definitely got lazy with designing the phone. Everything is exactly the.. same. Only difference is the shape of the camera lens. Good phone nonetheless.

3. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

I actually agree with you on this. They also introduced surround sound, which is nice. But it isn't worth the upgrade from the M8. Plus no mention of a windows version. Not many people care about it, but for me no windows=no buy

6. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Tell that to Apple, Samsung and Sony too while you're at it.

7. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I'll go ahead and send Sony and Apple a letter. Samsung changed their ways with the S6/Edge so I won't include them.

9. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

Besides the different material Samsung look the same.

10. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

S6 looks different from the S5. Sorry.

14. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

The materials are different but overall look is the same. When you look at it look like a Samsung phone.

16. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

Not the same. Samsung looks like a Samsung because of company's design language. But S6 looks quite a lot different than S5. M9 doesn't. It's uglier M8, with square camera, protruding camera and sticking out front (it looks like it's falling apart). It doesn't look premium, like a jewel - it looks old. "Oh, you have M8, how does it work after a year?" - I don't think you want that with your $650 phone...

21. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

Fanboy much? The front of the S6 look the same as the S5 and S4 and S3. If you want to take about protruding camera the S6 take the cake there.

24. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Besides the overrated edge screen, what changes did Samsung brought on the design?

25. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

Metal frames with different shape, glass back. They never wanted to ditch the whole design language.

8. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015


2. hellbread

Posts: 309; Member since: Nov 21, 2014

What happened with that plus version? Not presented today?

4. maherk

Posts: 6933; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Seriously HTC??

5. tobely2000

Posts: 5; Member since: Apr 24, 2013

which one m8 and m9 lol

11. threeline

Posts: 316; Member since: Sep 11, 2011

Same ole stuff again, huh HTC? No waterptoof either atleast for an added feature. The S6, Z4, G4 and iP6s is gonna blow this out the water.

15. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

So if the S6 is not water proof would we hear you complaining?

18. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

But it's new inside and out. M9 looks like M8.

22. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

Funny the S6 is thinner S5 with glass. The back look different but the front is the same

12. JMartin22

Posts: 2372; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

Is their 1080p display really going to be based on the same Super LCD 3 panel technology that's been used for 3 consecutive years? Which would mean no improvements in color reproduction, viewing angles, visibility or energy efficiency since 2012. This phone is a technological flop in that case.

19. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

Even the same technology is getting improved over the years.

13. ChowMein

Posts: 76; Member since: Jan 01, 2015

wow, at least when there's a new iphone you can tell which ones which. M8 and M9 looks the same!

17. kerginaldo17 unregistered

s6 is waterproof?Anyone?

20. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014


23. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

I am not a fan of suck T C as much as the next guy but the Apple double standard is high here. Apple can get away with a 2 year design cycle while if an Android manufacturer makes changes but not drastic ones annually, they get lambasted by the media....damn Apple

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