Camera

HTC's supposed savior, the 20-megapixel camera of the One M9, is no match for what the Galaxy S6 has in store.

Samsung's Galaxy S line has always been synonymous with great camera quality, and the company wasn't about to drop the ball with the Galaxy S6. Instead of focusing on the software side of performance, Samsung has taken a two-pronged approach by making sure to deliver some exciting hardware updates, too. To that end, the Galaxy S6's 1/2.6”, 16-megapixel rear camera comes with a wider-than-before f/1.9 aperture lens and an optical stabilization gizmo attached to it. The selfie snapper, too, has received a commendable update, and now offers 5-megapixels of resolution and an equally wide, f/1.9 aperture lens.

We have reasons for excitement when it comes to the HTC One M9, too, for the company has finally made the decision to ditch the 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera of old, which has been relegated to selfie service. At the back, we're now looking at a 1/2.4”, 20-megapixel sensor with relatively narrower, f/2.2 lens and a dual LED flash.

Software wise, we've got to say that we're witnessing a small miracle – HTC's, not Samsung's, camera app is the more feature-filled. We've got a ton of shooting modes, including panorama, night, HDR, and bokeh, not to mention numerous photo-editing goodies built right in. With the Galaxy S6, we've got a re-designed, lighter camera interface that is easier on the eyes and snappier in its performance. The number of shooting modes has been brought down, too, but we still have the likes of panorama, HDR, Selective Focus, Virtual Shot, and a new Pro mode that gives you access to manual controls such as ISO, white balance, exposure correction, and focus. Another seemingly simple, but quite effective, feature – exactly the type we love – also can't be glossed over. More specifically, the Galaxy S6's physical home button can now be pressed twice in order to almost instantaneously enter the camera, regardless of what you're doing at the time.



So let's talk image quality. Starting with daytime snaps taken outdoors, as with most high-end smartphone cameras, there's little to complain about. Both the One M9 and the Galaxy S6 produce very decent photos, and neither can be said to visibly outdo the other. They differ though. For example, the One M9 takes slightly brighter photos in general, much of that owed to a more aggressive ISO tweaking. On the other hand, the Galaxy S6 produces a bit more compelling-looking images, with warmer tones.



Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 2.2
2.4
No data
No data
HTC One M9 3.75
No data
No data
No data

The One M9 gets no reprieve in terms of video, either, for its footage proves softer, less detailed, and a whole lot shakier than the Galaxy S6's. That last part is obviously the work of the optical stabilization gizmo on board Samsung's flagship, as it does a splendid job compensating for trembles and shake in your hands.

In conclusion, we'd be remiss if we didn't make one thing perfectly clear: if camera performance is your number one priority, the Galaxy S6 is the clear choice between these two new flagships.


Multimedia

If you stellar audio is what you seek, the One M9 is the no-brainer choice here.

On the multimedia front, we have a few interesting developments. For starters, much like with the rest of the interface, Samsung has toned down the over-the-top rhetoric, and is now treating us to far cleaner visuals when it comes to essentials such as the Music player and the Gallery. In comparison, HTC's solution feels markedly premium, and we have to admit that we tend to like the brushwork better. Interestingly enough, this is another area in which Samsung's implementation proves slightly less feature-rich than HTC's – something we wouldn't dream of just two years ago.

Going back to music, if you happen to enjoy using your device as a portable speaker, then you'll enjoy what the One M9 has to offer more. Sure, we measured a slightly higher volume coming out of the S6's loudspeaker (73.7 dB vs 72.8 dB), but the differences are small enough to be nigh impossible for us to really tell. More importantly, the stereo front-facing blasters of the One M9 produce richer and more immersive tones, whereas the bottom-placed grill of the S6 lets out more subdued and thin sounds.


If you, instead, mostly use your smartphone with a pair headphones (as most people do), then it's even more clear-cut for you – the One M9 offers the astounding 1.022 Volts of power, while the Galaxy S6 proves a distant second, with just 0.54 Volts going through its 3.5mm jack.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 0.54
HTC One M9 1.022
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 73.7
HTC One M9 72.8


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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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