Samsung Galaxy S6 edge vs HTC One M9: in-depth specs comparison
The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and HTC One M9 are hot-shot devices that have seriously impressive looks, top-shelf components, and high price tags - the defining qualities of flagship smartphones. These two in particular have gotten lots of attention at this year's MWC, so let's have an initial look at how they compare against one another in the specs and software departments.
The One M9 follows HTC's well established all-metal design line, and it does so in a safe, reliable way. At first sight, it's a bit difficult to tell the M9 and its predecessor apart, but at some point you will surely notice that the M9 looks more like it took the best elements of the HTC One (M7) and One (M8) for itself. With ancestors like these, there's no way the M9 could possibly turn up ugly. Of course, design innovation didn't walk past uninvited. The smartphone has a new metal trim, and a new, slightly grippier finish. Measuring (144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61mm) and weighing in at (157g), it's hardly the slimmest phone out there, but to those of you that prefer their gadgets with a bit of a healthy heft to them, it's surely a godsend.
For many years Samsung relied on plastic for its phones, but the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge is a revolutionary design leap! Gone is the plastic chassis of previous flagships, replaced instead by a body that’s constructed from premium materials and covered in Gorilla Glass 4. The end result is one gorgeous looking smartphone! Not only is it remarkably attractive, but it’s compact, lightweight, and offers one a comfortable feel in the hand. Still, those curved sides of the display - its hallmark - are there mostly for show – not so much for function. But they do help it feel even more comfortable than the standard Galaxy S6. Measuring 5.59 x 2.76 x 0.28 inches (142.1 x 70.1 x 7 mm) at a weight of 4.66 oz (132 g), it's actually not much bigger than the One M9, and it's thinner and lighter at that. That's a graceful smartphone, Samsung! And, of course, the S6 edge has a fingerprint reader and heart rate sensor, which enable additional functionality over the One M9.
Shunning resolution and pixel density extremes, the HTC One M9 flaunts a perfectly good 5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch. The resolution is more than effective, with details across the board remaining sharp. We will have to put it through our display test procedures to get an accurate assessment of its properties, but for the most part, things look great on it! HTC is pretty good at tuning those displays for natural, if slightly cold colors, in addition to getting them all nice and bright. From what we've seen, the viewing angles are decent as well, and outdoor visibility is acceptable. Overall, we're left with positive impressions from the M9's display!
HTC may argue that the 1080p resolution is more than sufficient for a modern smartphone, but Samsung pushes for the bleeding edge with the Galaxy S6 edge's 5.1-inch quad-HD 1440 x 2560 Super AMOLED display. With a pixel density of 576 pixels per inch, it's practically the sharpest curved smartphone display ever. And as to its other qualities - such as brightness levels and color reproduction - we'll have to let our display test show us whether they are a match for the Galaxy Note 4's brilliant, state-of-the-art screen. Samsung claims that the S6 and S6 edge's panels have peak brightness of 600nits, which should be great for outdoors viewing.
The HTC One M9 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop topped off with the HTC Sense 7 interface. The visual changes on the surface are subtle – like how the weather-clock widget from HTC now sports a clean, italicized font. For the most part, it's the same modern design language we’ve seen in previous incarnations are present here. In typical Sense fashion, usual staples like HTC BlinkFeed, Zoe, and various Motion Launch gestures are all present once again. The lock screen’s new enhanced functionality is more apparent, seeing that contextual suggestions are delivered. For example, restaurant suggestions are dished up in the homescreen. HTC also added a new widget - Smart Launcher. It is comprised out of apps that dynamically change depending on which of them you commonly use. But the best part about Sense 7 is the unprecedented level of personalization that’s available. Sense is already stylish and elegant, definitely one of the more likeable customized Android experiences out there. But HTC has gone deeper to give users extensive control in how it looks. Specifically, we can select various themes to spiffy the standard look of Sense, and we’re able to modify the color scheme of the UI, the way the icons look, or even rearrange the standard set of Android menu buttons.
For the Galaxy S6 edge, Samsung claims it designed the best TouchWiz experience yet! That’s a little bit tough to say after spending just a short time with the phone, but we can certainly agree that it’s vying for a cleaner looking interface – one that also goes back to a simpler set of software features. Samsung also added several new animations and a cleaner font for its various widgets, which help to further soften the tone of the user interface. Running on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop, we’re a bit sad to find multiple user support has been removed from the experience. Samsung claims that it’s not a feature that most smartphone users would use, as it’s mostly relevant to tablets instead. Still, Sammy’s classic TouchWiz features are present – like multi-window to give us a true multi-tasking experience.
Processor and memory
Continuing its partnership with US chipmaker Qualcomm, HTC enlisted its latest creation - the mighty octa-core Snapdragon 810 - for the duty of powering its 2015 flagship. It gave it a roomy 3GB of RAM, and by resisting the urge to stick a power-hungry 1440p display, HTC practically made the M9 a playground for Qualcomm's fiery chip-beast! Just moving around the interface and doing some basic stuff, there’s that constant presence of swiftness and tight response with its operation. In addition, the M9 has 32 gigabytes of expandable internal storage.
When the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge launches as an international model, it’ll be powered under the hood by a brand new 14nm 64-bit based Samsung Exynos octacore chip – coupled with 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM. To tell you the truth, we find it more fluid than previous Galaxy devices, but it’s really tough to say if the consistent performance will be retained the more apps and usage the phone receives in the long term.
In coming up with the new design, Samsung had to make some compromises. One of them is found in the reality that there’s no longer expandable storage with the smartphone via microSD card slot. But prospective owners will have their choice on storage options, which include 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities.
The HTC One M9's whopping 20MP dual-tone flash camera succeeds the HTC One (M8)'s underwhelming 4MP UltraPixel cam, which has been relocated on the front to play second fiddle as the selfie cam. The M9's imaging sensor is made by Toshiba, and it differentiates with square-shaped pixels that are bigger than good ol' rectangular ones and thus have better light-soaking abilities. Now where have we heard that before... oh, well! So far, our experience with the One M9's camera has been promising, but not devoid of problems - particularly in the low light department. While outdoor shots are filled with plenty of sharp visuals and details, low lighting shots are riddled with heavy noise, softer tones, and color fringing. Hopefully, HTC will work out the software that's in charge for that part, although if the imaging sensor is not up to standard, solid code won't help all that much. Good thing the UltraPixel cam on the front can still take a decent, if low-resolution night shot!
Samsung’s high-end smartphones are remarkably equipped for taking photos and videos – so you won’t be disappointed by what the new camera gear in the Galaxy S6 edge is capable of producing. Slapped onto the back is a 16-megapixel camera, which features an f/1.9 lens, optical image stabilization, and an IR Detect White Balance to neutralize shots for a more neutral exposure. So far, images from it seem quite promising! The photos are detailed and quite noise-free, even under non-optimal lighting. Around the front, selfie enthusiasts will be delighted to know that there’s a wide-angle 5-megapixel camera.
The HTC One M9 ships with a 2840mAh non-replaceable battery unit, and we are rather optimistic towards its eventual battery test result. A combination of large capacity battery, 1080p display, and modern, power-efficient processor can only lead to an impressive score! Alas, the One M9 seems to be skipping on the fast charging goodness for now, and it doesn't have wireless-charging built in.
The Galaxy S6 edge sports a smaller 2,600 mAh juicebox, which seems a little less assuring than, say, a 3000mAh unit. But The S6 edge still has Samsung's Ultra Power Saving mode to help users power through low battery usage? In addition, the S6 edge's battery could be charged in 10 minutes to provide four hours of use. We can't wait to try this for ourselves and put the S6 edge through our battery test!
The HTC One M9 begins sales in late March, while the Galaxy S6 edge will start selling in April. Both devices are premium-tier, expensive propositions, and are unique enough to make choosing between them very easy (if you prefer one's look and features over the other), or very hard (if you like both too much, which is quite understandable!). Don't worry - you have plenty of time to think about it.