Interface and functionality

While the One M9's Sense 7.0 interface still is the fancier-looking of the two, Samsung has made incredible progress in terms of the smoothness of its own TouchWiz layout.

While Samsung's Galaxy S devices have always shipped with nothing less than the best available at the time in terms of hardware, we've often found ourselves wishing it did more on the software side. Its proprietary TouchWiz layout has often proved sluggish and less responsive than what some competitors had to offer – a slight that the Samsung faithful only tolerated because of the smorgasbord of extra features the platform gave them access to. With the Galaxy S6, however, the company has finally seen sense, and has carried out a number of software optimizations that make the Galaxy S6's software both easier to understand and faster than ever before.


Indeed, this is the first time that we can call the Android Lollipop-based TouchWiz experience truly smooth and hassle-free. But even though the company has cut down on the weight of its interface, the HTC One M9's refreshed Sense 7.0 UI is just as fast. What's more, and while we can't argue with people's differing tastes, we still find the brushwork of Sense 7.0 more appealing from where we're standing. The One M9, however, simply can't compete in the features department.

Quite right, the One M9's software reminds us a lot of stock Android, as HTC continues sticking to the basics and adds little on top. The interface looks differently, sure, but at its base is Android the way Google intended it. And while the updated, Lollipop-based Sense 7.0 layout brings goodies such as dynamic app folders that automatically switch their contents depending on whether you're working or at home, and can now be thoroughly skinned via the new Themes app (think icons, wallpapers, styling and ornamentation), it still doesn't compare to what Samsung offers.


With the new TouchWiz, Samsung is keeping a lot (but not all!) of the perks that made it unique, and refreshing or even completely re-designing areas that it wasn't completely satisfied with. For example, the S Health app has gone through a revamp and is now minimalist- and modern-looking while retaining the same wide array of functions. Like HTC, Samsung has also added support for third-party themes, and its own Themes app already offers a number of solutions, though none of them really caught our eye – for that, we'll have to wait and hope third-party devs feel incentivized enough to create something beautiful.

The Galaxy S6's stack of features is hardly exhausted yet, for we also have a new, improved fingerprint scanner (still embedded in the physical Home button) that is now of the touch, not swipe, type, finally allowing for a hassle-free unlock. Unlike the One M9, the S6 also offers software features like MultiWindow (run two apps simultaneously), and Private and Car modes (hide sensitive content / dashboard with bigger icons and essential apps only).

Processor and memory

While the Galaxy S6's Exynos chipset proves a great alternative to the Snapdragon 810 in the One M9, it's Samsung's incredibly fast new storage solutions that gives it an edge over its competitor.

For the longest time, Samsung and Qualcomm worked together on the former's flagship lines, though the chip maker didn't always get all the orders – the rest went to Samsung's then fledgling semiconductor division making the Exynos chipsets. With the Galaxy S6, however, Samsung was ready for a monumental shift, and Qualcomm is no longer part of the game. Instead, the S6 relies on a home-grown Exynos 7420.

The 7420 is an octa-core processor, built on a 14nm node, with two clusters made up by four cores arranged in a big.LITTLE configuration and Mali-T760 graphics. We have one group of power-efficient ARM Cortex-A53 CPUs, and another with powerful Cortex-A57 ones. The idea behind the arrangement is simple to understand – the efficient team of cores takes care of most trivial tasks, while the speedy A57 cores kick in when power is required. If maximum performance is what you need, the Exynos 7420 can switch all eight cores on and work them simultaneously.

Turning to the HTC One M9, we're seeing the chipset that Samsung deemed inferior to its own – the 20nm, octa-core Snapdragon 810. Qualcomm's latest available creation is quite similar to Samsung's, for it, too, offers the same four-by-four ARM Cortex-A53/A57 cores under a big.LITTLE config, the difference being the Adreno 430 GPU.

According to benchmarks, the Galaxy S6 has an edge in terms of processing power and memory, but falls behind the One M9 when graphics tests get involved. Indeed, the One M9's Adreno 430 GPU handles heavy loads in those scenarios better, achieving average frame rate values that are significantly higher than those of the Mali-T760. In general, however, using either of the two devices proves buttery smooth.

As for memory, we have 3 gigs of LPDDR4 RAM with both flagships, and a minimum of 32GB of internal storage. Speaking of the last, and we already touched on this, Samsung is utilizing what is without a doubt the fastest internal memory we've seen so far – a mix between eMMC 5.1 and UFS 2.0 – which offers a vastly superior performance than anything we've seen to this date. That said, if you value storage expandability, the S6 will leave you hanging – for the first time ever, a Galaxy S line flagship comes without a microSD card slot, giving the advantage to the One M9, which does.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 58382
HTC One M9 56896
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 2237
HTC One M9 2218
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 5751
HTC One M9 4195
Sunspider Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 354.5
HTC One M9 721.3
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 37
HTC One M9 49
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 16
HTC One M9 24
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 1767
HTC One M9 1413
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 1440
HTC One M9 1209
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 5127
HTC One M9 3738

Internet and connectivity

All your needs will be met regardless of which way you go.

Smooth browsing is what we've been getting with each and every flagship for the past few years, and Samsung's and HTC's new offerings don't fail to deliver just that. Courtesy of their powerful internals, both devices handle even asset-heavy pages with ease and don't struggle when navigating through them. That said, whereas both devices rely on Chrome for your browsing needs, Samsung's Galaxy S6 comes with its own default solution that is an equally great performer.


On the connectivity front, you'll hardly find much to complain about, regardless of whether you go for the Galaxy S6 or the One M9. Both devices offer support for a wide array of LTE bands, 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, DLNA, MHL 3.0 for streaming up to 4K resolution content to a secondary screen, an infrared blaster for control over home electronics, and even Miracast in the case of the S6.

Where the Galaxy S6 pulls ahead is Samsung Pay – the company's new mobile payments solution that works hand-in-hand with the handset's NFC chip. The idea behind it is much alike to that of Apple Pay – the company gets retailers and banks involved (but free of charge), and you reap the benefit of never having to pull out your credit card out of your wallet again (much less physically sign any receipts).

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22 Comments

1. tiara6918

Posts: 2263; Member since: Apr 26, 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: 226; Member since: Feb 22, 2015

No, samsung did a better job with the s6 edge.

13. j_scorp

Posts: 61; Member since: Oct 22, 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....

17. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

That lump on the back.

3. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 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: 2263; Member since: Apr 26, 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: 241; Member since: Oct 01, 2014

+1 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: Jan 29, 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: 137; Member since: Sep 08, 2013

PA, pls re check your geeckbench scores. Your results shows very low scores for 7420

9. MrET1

Posts: 110; Member since: Jan 29, 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: 202; Member since: Apr 01, 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: Apr 01, 2015

Try the Nova launcher. It is much faster and has more customization options than TouchWiz.

10. bello

Posts: 27; Member since: Mar 01, 2015

Guys from PA are you blind the m9 is more stylish than the s6 ?

20. j_scorp

Posts: 61; Member since: Oct 22, 2013

It is more stylish. But who walks around without a case...It's the guts and performance that really matter.

12. caesantos

Posts: 90; Member since: Feb 27, 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: Sep 12, 2013

The M9 is a joke. How can a successor of a flagship be worse at low light photography? Joke.

16. mostafawael.1998

Posts: 241; Member since: Oct 01, 2014

M9 over the M8: 3 GB RAM Overkill camera 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 Battery life Screen Tie between M8 and M9: Design (somehow) Call quality That's it And yet HTC expect better sales Lol!!!

18. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Is this comparison even necessary? The S6 is clearly better than the M9 in every way...

19. Scorpion

Posts: 103; Member since: Apr 28, 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: Mar 15, 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: Apr 18, 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: Nov 18, 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??

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