HTC One M9 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
HTC just outed the next heir to its flagship lineup. The One M9 largely keeps the premium metal unibody aura of its predecessor, but upgrades the internals with a faster Snapdragon 810 chipset, and a high-res 20 MP camera.
Will those be enough to warrant the price difference with Samsung's 2014 darling? The Galaxy S5 is still a viable alternative to the M9 with a 1080p screen and a high-res camera of its own, but a less premium build, so let's clash those two, and find out...
The stylish, all-metal HTC One M9 looks all the more impressive when next to the plastic Galaxy S5, and it flaunts stereo speakers, too.
The One M9 has one distinctly visible advantage before the S5 in terms of design, which is its premium two-tone metal unibody, to which the Galaxy S5 can bounce a largely plastic one, with a tacky faux leather back cover. HTC's offering also proves to be more pleasant in terms of overall aesthetics, compared to Samsung's largely generic design language.
Still, the Galaxy S5 turns out to be somewhat more flexible, as it offers a removable battery cover, which lets you swap the battery quickly, plus it sports an IP67 waterproof rating, allowing you to submerge it in up to three feet of water for half an hour. Meanwhile, the One M9 claims IPx3 only, meaning you can just use it in light rain, for instance.
HTC, however, adorned the M9 with two BoomSound stereo speakers at the front, each of them with a dedicated amplifier. Samsung's bet on differentiation are biometrics, such as a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home key, and a heart rate sensor on the back, which work as advertised, though we prefer Apple's or Huawei's touch approaches to fingerprint recognition.
HTC's phone has on-screen navigational keys, but because of the two BoomSound front speakers, and a largely space-wasting strip with the logo there, it ends up with a tad smaller screen-to-body ratio than the S5. Galaxy S5 has a very similar (read: bad) screen-to-body ratio, but it has a largish physical home key at the front to show for it. The One M9 is narrower than the S5, but since it's thicker, too, and rather slippery in your palm, one-handed operation is not easier than on Samsung's phone. When it comes to physical buttons, they are conveniently placed around both phones, and with good tactile feedback.
Looking at the back, we find the 16 MP camera of Samsung's flagship placed smack in the upper middle, and so is the 20 MP snapper of the M9, so your fingers won't get in the way while shooting in landscape mode with both handsets.
Despite the difference in screen technologies, both phones manage to suffer from inaccurate color presentation.
The phones have almost the same screen diagonals – 5” for the One M9, and 5.1” for the S5, and the same 1080 x 1920 pixels resolutions, so both sport excellent 400+ ppi pixel densities. Surprisingly, despite the totally different screen technologies – LCD for the M9, and AMOLED for the Galaxy S5 – the companies managed to pull off inaccurate color representation on both.
While cold, off-base and oversaturated colors were to be expected from Samsung's AMOLED screens, at least until the Note 4, we measured something similar with the M9, too. Its panel returned 8100 Kelvins, which is definitely on the colder side of the spectrum, compared to the 6500K white point reference, and makes the screen appear blusih. The hue presentation is all over the place when it comes to the reds and their derivatives, too, as you can see in the color charts below.
Thankfully, the One M9's screen is fairly bright, at a 508 nits peak, which would help outdoor viewing. The Galaxy S5's screen, however, can also be very luminant in auto brightness mode, and is with low screen reflectance, so the outdoor visibility of the two ranks well. When it comes to the minimum brightness, though, the S5 excels with its meager 2 nits, against the eyeball-busting 10 nits you will get from the M9 when trying to read something at night. The phones also offer a super-sensitive touch layer that can be turned on and off at will, allowing you to operate the screen with gloves when needed.