Flagship Battles – Samsung S6 Edge Vs HTC One M9

If you’re in the market for a flagship Android phone that isn’t the size of a pocket notebook, your choices are pretty well laid out; HTC has their One M9, Samsung their S6 and LG the G4. Now, there are a few others out there but these seem to be the most popular.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get a G4 in time for the review so I will be pitching the HTC One M9 to the Samsung S6 Edge.

Samsung S6 Edge VS HTC One M9

It has been an incredible few weeks with both devices, and I got to admit they are two completely different little devices targeted towards the same audience.. this will be interesting!

Quick Specifications

Samsung S6 Edge

Samsung S6 Edge Front
Form Factor: Solid metal case with corning gorilla glass 4 on the back & a dual edge super AMOLED on the front
Physics: 142.1 x 70.1 x 7 mm weighing 132 grams
Display: A quad HD 2560×1440 resolution on a 5.1″ display
Engine: Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57 with 3gb of ram
Operating system: Android 5.0 lollipop with Touchwiz ui
Memory: Available in 32, 64 & 128 gb versions with no expansion options
Cameras: 16mp rear camera with 4k video recording at 30fps and a 5mp front facing camera
Battery: 2600mah capacity with 26 hour talk time
Features: Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, HR Sensor, Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, NFC, 4G LTE, Wifi Direct & more

HTC One M9

HTC One M9 Front
Form Factor: Metal unibody design
Physics: 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm weighing 157 grams – No removable covers
Display: A HD 1920 x 1080 resolution on a 5.0″ display
Engine: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810, octa core 64-bit, 4 x 2.0GHz + 4 x 1.5GHz
Operating system: Android 5.0 lollipop with HTC sense 7
Memory: Comes standard with 32 gb internal storage and a micro-sd slot upgradable to 2 tb and 3 gb of ram
Cameras: 20mp with sapphire cover lens, auto-focus, BSI sensor, f/2.2, 27.8mm lens, 4K video recording and a HTC UltraPixel™, BSI sensor, f/2.0, 26.8mm lens, 1080p video recording front facing camera
Battery: 2400mah capacity with 25.4 hour talk time
Features: HTC BoomSound™ with Dolby Audio™, NFC, Bluetooth® 4.1, Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Compass sensor, Gyro sensor, Magnetic sensor, and Sensor Hub

What’s in the box?

Nothing nicer than opening a phone’s box to see what it comes with. The only issue with that is, the amount of surprises is always very limited.

Samsung S6 Edge

Samsung S6 Edge Box

The Samsung is standard as always with a recycled paper box which includes the device, wall charger, micro-usb cable, Samsung’s new earphones, sim ejector tool and of course, a series of manuals. The earphones are a new departure, alarmingly one of the few things that seem to mimic Apple, and they did not seem to work well for me. They would fit, but would never stay in.

Additionally, Samsung sent me their new wireless charging pad, which comes with a rubberized ring to keep your phone firm in place.

HTC One M9

20150711_233819

The HTC is also standard as always, which is a flat cardboard box with a dotted design and rounded edges representing the front facing speakers. On the very top sits the device itself, and below that is an array of accessories.

The M9 comes with a standard fast charging wall charger, micro-usb cable, sim & memory card ejector tool, beautiful HTC in-ear headphones (In cool black and red colors) and a dot-view full-body cover with a clear back (Which allows notifications, quick dial, etc with the cover closed).

Design, Body & Display

Before we get into how the devices work, lets talk a bit about how the devices look and feel!

Samsung S6 Edge

Samsung S6 Edge in HandThe S6 Edge feels incredible but not without flaw. I had the S6 Edge for nearly 3 weeks and without a doubt it was built better than my Note 4. The only issue I had was with holding the device physically; the sides barely have an edge because the display is curved, which makes the device awkward in some positions. You must be wondering what are these positions? Try holding the device with one hand to type, or to view the screen above your head while in bed.

Looks are subjective and while few people continue with the “It looks just like every other Samsung” line, I think they have improved their designed greatly. The materials used, not only make the device feel better but also look a lot classier than ever before, especially the corning gorilla glass 4 back. While we are talking about looks, the S6 comes in beautiful colors and have little tint color changes, for example the gold color can shine in silver and sometimes brown as well, which makes the devices all the more attractive.

The display is truly special, while there are few features related to the edge which we will discuss later in the review, the overall look is stunning. The screen is incredibly bright, the colors jump out of the display and with the new TouchWiz UI, all the icons look and feel 3D as though they are floating. I could claim this to be one of the best displays on a mobile device at the moment.

HTC One M9

HTC One M9 DesignIt does not get more solid than this! The metal unibody makes the M9 feel like the sturdiest device you can get without a single creak or “give” in the device’s structure when in one’s pocket. Just like the S6, there are some flaws; the M9 does not have any physical buttons on the display which takes a little space on the screen pushing the keyboard higher up than on the S6. When typing with one hand, the top row of text is a stretch.

To make this clearer, on the S6, from the bottom you have the home button with two on-screen buttons on either side of it, and then the screen where the keyboard will be displayed from the bottom. On the One M9 you have the front facing speaker, the HTC logo and then the back/home/multitask button and then the keyboard starts.

The device is beautiful but is almost identical to the M8, which has brought a lot of concern because M8 users do not see enough change to upgrade. At the other end of the discussion, the device looked very good to begin with, perhaps a year was not a big enough gap to completely re-design the device. To the expert though, there are quite a few subtle changes; the finish of the device has improved with the rear getting a unique brushed look and feel, which is said to be more scratch resistant, gone are the dual cameras (which weren’t a huge success to begin with) and the device does come with a series of very interesting colors. This review unit was their special silver and gold which I have to admit looks very good.

Samsung S6 Edge and HTC One M9 Display

The display is a full HD display which is very nice, clear, and crisp but doesn’t seem like anything has improved from the HTC One M8. on a mobile device like the HTC One, you’d hardly ever look at the screen and think you need anything better, definitely not with 441ppi! Admittedly, the brightness is not as strong as on the Samsung S6 Edge

Durability

I wanted to write a section of its own to describe my experience with both these devices because these are very strongly built devices, but people may get carried away with reality.

Samsung S6 Edge

I had the device for roughly 3 weeks and the device is super sturdy and solid. My concern is the fact that the screen is curved, which would increase its risk of damage when dropped. Screen protectors (unsure about the possibility of those with a curved display) can only protect so much. I had the unfortunate opportunity to drop the S6 and as with any metal device, it got a tiny dent. The screen seems strong, but I did manage a few micro scratches without exposing it to keys or coins.

HTC One M9

Having the device for roughly 2 months, allowed me to experience the device in many scenarios, bangs and drops. To summarize the durability; It is a metal device that is very prone to being dented, but unlike the Samsung S6 Edge, the metal seems softer and easier to dent. Fortunately, they did include a flip cover in the box but if you like to keep your device nude like me, it will suffer from dents with time.

Specialties

These devices would not be flagships without having a few tricks up their sleeve.

Samsung S6 Edge

The Edge
As the name suggests, lets talk about the edge. Samsung started experimenting devices with an edge for a while now and the S6 comes with two, on either side of the screen. This provides the user with a few interesting features:

Samsung S6 Edge Contacts

The main feature is an improved favorite contact tool. Simply swipe the screen from a certain point and a short list of color-coded friends will appear, each with an individual color.

Screenshot_2015-05-26-21-20-16

Once those contacts call or message they would be highlighted on the right of the screen and with a simple swipe, the user can respond or view the notification. When the screen is locked, a simple swipe along the edge will reveal a few feeds which can be downloaded from the store.

Samsung S6 Edge On Call

Finally, the party piece of the edge: If you lay the phone on the screen, the edge will glow in the color of your pre-set contact so you know who is calling you without lifting the phone.

The real question here is whether the Edge is worth getting over the standard S6, and my response would be: “Do you need to have the latest and coolest device or a device with the best features?” If it is the latest and coolest, by all means get the Edge and be the coolest of your friends but if you want all the best features only, then the S6 can do everything the Edge can, minus the edge and price tag, which to me, isn’t the greatest loss at the moment.

Wireless Charging
The S6 Edge has built in Wireless Charging, taking life a step further towards wireless connectivity. Charging times are a bit slower than the included fast-charging wall charger but is certainly not slow.

Samsung S6 Edge Wireless Charging

HTC One M9

HTC BoomSound™ with Dolby Audio™
As name suggests, the HTC One M9 has a superior front facing speaker system. We are often looking at the screen for content and it only makes sense that the audio is targeted at us not away from us as with other devices. HTC has done an incredible job with this, and the audio is very clear, crisp and the Dolby Audio does give it more 3D effect rather than noise reaching you from the front. It isn’t the loudest speaker on a phone, but definitely one of the clearest, with a brilliant design.

HTC One M9 Speaker

HTC Dot View™
A device this beautiful deserves some protection, and thankfully HTC thought of that and included it in the box.

HTC One M9 Dot View

There are a few essential cool features that the HTC Dot view has:

1) A cool and funky time & temperature display, which comes in fixed themes, downloadable themes and themes that you can draw yourself in this 8-bit look, which is super cool. Notifications also appear on this screen where a swipe up opens it.
2) A list of the last three calls and a simple swipe up calls them back
3) Apps, where there are a few integrated apps to use the dot view with, including a little game

Overall, it provides decent protection all around the device with a clear plastic for the back, and rubberized front and sizes for maximum grip and functionality. The little apps and notifications in 8-bit gives the HTC One M9 the little fun factor it seems to lack.

The Cameras

Samsung S6 Edge
Definitely Samsung has got the Camera aspect of their phones locked down. They seem to have the most amazing results, even though sometimes its software touched.

The camera is launched in less than second by double-pressing the home button and has an array of super cool features like: f/1.9 aperture making the camera able to take in more light for brighter pictures, HDR on selfie mode, panorama, slow motion, fast motion, virtual shot & more!

Here are some random untouched samples:

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20150525_131349 20150525_141331 20150525_133705

The experience on the Samsung S6 Edge is fairly straight forward, easy to use and very quick. Definitely makes you want to take more photos on every occasion!

HTC One M9
One thing HTC has done right this time, was stop trying to push their ultrapixel. It simply was not good, and it is sitting in a much better place right now, the front facing camera. The quality has improved greatly from the One M8 but unfortunately, in most cases cannot keep up with the Samsung S6 even though it has a 4mp advantage over the edgy device.

The camera has a typical HTC look, feel and loads up quite quickly. One of the most nicest things on HTC devices for me, is the speed at which it clicks a photo, which continues here on the One M9. There is a series of interesting features on the native app such as panorama, split capture, raw camera, and the ability to add more features.

I do believe that the interface could be improved even further as sometimes features are activated by swiping, while others need to be tapped.

Here are some random untouched samples:

IMAG0007 IMAG0024 IMAG0025

IMAG0001 IMAG0002 IMAG0003

The HTC One M9’s camera definitely does not disappoint, but also has a lot of room for improvement.

Battery Life and Performance

Both devices perform very well, but at times the HTC One M9 seem to have a slight stutter. Keeping in mind that both devices are run from new with very little junk, performance is supposed to be high.

Over extensive use of the devices for the few weeks, the S6 seems to be a better performer over all as the system remained smooth, multitasking was snappy and overall never had a hiccup. The One though, although pretty smooth and snappy too, had a few times where it would lag. I am pretty sure this goes back to the HTC Sense, not the hardware.

Both devices kept up with the most demanding situations without any real issues.

Battery life of the Samsung S6 Edge was pretty good! Although roughly 200mah less than on the S5, it managed to get roughly 8 hours on average of use which includes a lot of social media, a bit of youtube, calls, browsing and apps

Battery life of the HTC One M9 was slightly better at around 9 hours of very similar use of apps

Review and Impression

Here I want to jot down all the thoughts I have had about each device to help with the decision when choosing between these two.

Samsung S6 Edge
Probably one of the best devices on the market today. It comes with tons of features built in, the software has been improved and optimized and visually the device is now sexier and classier than ever. The hardware is brilliant with a great design, solid build, full of wireless connectivity, and comes in a thin and light package. There are some limitations on the device though, the edge isn’t as practical as you’d imagine and neither is the price bump justified, the device no longer has removable back cover which means no expandable storage, and gone are the water resistant abilities.

Personally, if it was up to me, I’d drop the Edge and stick with the standard S6 as it provides all the features on the edge, comes with a cheaper price tag which allows you to opt for more storage.

HTC One M9
HTC went lazy on this one I believe. They took their brilliant HTC One M8 and updated it with a few features and released it as the M9. I don’t think it has enough to justify a move from the M8 while the S6 has enough to justify a S5 move for some people. The device has decent built in features and the software has been improved slightly. On the user experience level, not a lot has changed visually either, which would lead to people not seeing any change. The hardware is just as good as before, with a few added updates with the materials and colors.

Personally, they have done a great job so far but HTC needs to take a good look at its competitors and sometimes, having a great device isn’t enough.

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