Samsung Galaxy S6 vs HTC One M9 full review

Samsung and HTC both unveiled their new flagship smartphones for 2015 on the same day at MWC, but which is best? Also see Best smartphones and Best Android phones.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs HTC One M9 review: UK release date and UK price

Now both on sale across the UK, the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 are similarly priced. The HTC is your cheaper option at £579 while Samsung has priced its contender at £599. You might also be interested in the Galaxy S6 Edge which is a pricey £760.

There's only £20 in it and, on the whole, contract prices are similar so read on to find out how these phones compare in a number of other areas. Also see: best new phones you should be most excited about in 2015.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs HTC One M9

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs HTC One M9 review: Design and build

The HTC One M9 looks very similar to its predecessor, but now has a scratch-resistant coating, machine-drilled buttons and a sapphire glass lens on the rear of the camera. The power button has moved to the side which makes it easier to use, and HTC has employed a new two-tone design with the back and sides getting contrasting adonisation.

The Galaxy S6 shows much more of a departure from the norm for Samsung, with the company finally tackling plastic build quality concerns. This phone actually looks a bit like the iPhone 6. While last year's Samsung Galaxy S5 had a dimpled plastic rear cover, the S6's mirror-finish back is made with Gorilla Glass 4, just like the display. It's a slight shame the camera sticks out a fair way.

Like the HTC the S6 now has a unibody design with a metal frame, which will upset some long-term Samsung fans as there is no longer a removable battery or support for microSD. (HTC's battery is non-removable too, but it has managed to squeeze in a microSD slot.)

It's also worth noting that Samsung has dropped the waterproofing found on the Galaxy S5 so the two are equal on that measure since it's never been something HTC has offered.

The Samsung is much thinner than the HTC, measuring 6.8mm against its 9.7mm. It's also lighter, just 138g in the face of the One M9's 157g. And these figures are a big deal in this comparison with the Galaxy S6 just feeling a lot easier to manage and modern with its slender and lightweight frame.

The flat back isn't quite as comfortable compared to the curved rear of the One M9 and the glass rear does means it slides off things all too easily but it wins in this area overall.

HTC One M9 design

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs HTC One M9 review: Hardware and performance


Neither phone has seen a size increase in the display department, with the HTC offering a 5in panel and the Samsung 5.1in. However, while HTC has stuck with its full-HD Super LCD 3 screen, Samsung has switched its full-HD Super AMOLED panel for a Quad-HD version, apparently 20 percent brighter than that found on the S5 and with much higher resolution. So, while the HTC has a super-high pixel density of 441ppi, the Samsung has a staggering 577ppi.

While the Super AMOLED panel can be a little punchy for some eyes, we're all for Quad HD and Samsung's phone has the better display here.

Processor and memory

HTC uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 64-bit octa-core processor inside the One M9, with four A57 cores clocked at 2GHz and four A53 at 1.5GHz. Samsung has opted for its own Exynos processor, another 64-bit octa-core chip, with four A57 cores clocked at 2.1GHz and four A53 at 1.5GHz. Both phones have 3GB of RAM.

As you can see in the table below, the Galaxy S6 wins in raw processing speed and web browsing while the HTC provides higher framerates in graphics tests. This is mainly due to the lower resolution of the screen though and we've not had any problems with the Galaxy S6 in this area.

Although there is some separation in the benchmark figures, we've found both phones to offer silky smooth performance. It's what you should expect from top-end smartphones and you should look at other areas to choose between these two.


Geekbench 3

GFXBench T-Rex

GFXBench Manhattan


HTC One M9


50 fps

24 fps

867 ms

Samsung Galaxy S6


30 fps

14 fps

462 ms

Samsung Galaxy S6 screen


Both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 come with 32GB of storage, and the Samsung is also available in 64- and 128GB models. Sadly, the Samsung Galaxy S6 has lost its microSD support; the HTC One M9 supports microSD up to 128GB, meaning it has 32GB more total storage potential than the Galaxy S6.

It's a win for HTC here and might be deciding factor for some users depending on how you use your phone.


HTC has moved its One M8's 4Mp UltraPixel camera to the front and placed at the rear a 20Mp camera. Although this means it's lost its dual-camera setup at the back, this one uses a dynamic exposure algorithm that produces a similar effect. There's still a dual-LED flash and you can use a new manual mode to controll settings such as white balance, ISO, shutter speed and even focus.

At 20Mp its higher in megapixels than Samsung's 16Mp camera, but this has been tweaked since the S5 with smart optical image stabilisation, an IR sensor that can automatically adjust white balance, a f1.9 wide-angle lens, and the fact it is always on in the background allowing you to pick it up and begin shooting in 0.7 seconds by double tapping the home button. At the front of the S6 is a 5Mp camera with real-time HDR. Both HTC and Samsung support 4K video recording.

Without launching into a complete breakdown of each camera (we're working on a camera test of all 2015 flagship phones so look out for that soon), the Samsung Galaxy S6 is the winner here thanks to its all-round performance and the M9's lack of OIS.

HTC One M9 camera

Other hardware

Beyond core specs, the Galaxy S6 comes with dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, A-GPS and an IR blaster. The fingerprint scanner and heart-rate monitor are also still present, with the former working via touch rather than swipe. Samsung has also unveiled its Samsung Pay mobile payments service, which will be coming to the UK later this year.

HTC offers high-end wireless connectivity to match the Samsung Galaxy S6, but no fingerprint scanner, heart-rate monitor or mobile payments tech (although NFC is supported). One thing the HTC does have is support for high res audio (up to 24-bit).

Battery life

The HTC has the higher-capacity battery in this comparison, at 2840mAh against the Samsung's 2550mAh. As mentioned before, neither is removable.

Despite the smaller battery we've found the Galaxy S6 better in this area. Both phones should last the average user a couple of days but Samsung offers wireless charging as standard as well as a quick charging.

You can check out our battery benchmarks from Geekbench 3 below.




HTC One M9

 4 hours 0 minutes


Samsung Galaxy S6

6 hours 53 minutes


Samsung Galaxy S6 software

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs HTC One M9 review: Software

The HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 both come with Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is the latest version introduced with the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9. Although they will run the same operating system, the experience is quite different since Samsung adds its TouchWiz user interface and HTC adds Sense 7.0.

Samsung has toned down its heavily criticised TouchWiz in the S6, and you now get Office apps pre-installed.We like the simpler and more minimalist look and the Flipboard aggregator is found to the left of the main homescreen. Samsung has embraces the Material Design of Lollipop and the split screen mode for running two apps at once is handy.

With Sense 7.0 you'll find the familiar Blinkfeed aggregator and Motion Launch Gestures for doing things like turning the screen on with a double tap, plus a new Themes app and some other extras. We like the amount of customisation on offer and the Sense Home which will display the apps you use the most when at home, work or on the go.

You can read more in-depth about the HTC and Samsung user interfaces in our individual reviews for each phone. It's not really an area where we can call out a winner as both have pros and cons plus it's down to personal taste. Try them out before buying if you can.


HTC One M9: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop with Sense 7.0
  • 5in Full HD screen (1080x1920)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 64-bit, octa-core
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 32 GB storage, microSD card slot (up to 128 GB), 100 GB Dropbox cloud storage
  • 20 Mp rear camera
  • 4 Mp UltraPixel front camera
  • dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX
  • Infrared transmitter
  • GPS
  • non-removable 2840 mAh battery
  • 70x145x9.7 mm
  • 158 g

Samsung Galaxy S6: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Exynos 7420 octa-core (1.5GHz A-53 & 2.1GHz A-57) processor
  • 32GB/64GB/128GB storage (no microSD support)
  • Mali-T760 GPU
  • 5.1in (1440x2560, 577ppi) Super AMOLED screen
  • 16Mp rear camera with LED flash, smart OIS, real-time HDR and IR Detect white balance
  • up to 4K video recording @ 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 4G Cat 6 LTE
  • SIMtype: nano-SIM
  • dual-SIM as standard: no
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • NFC
  • heart-rate sensor
  • fingerprint scanner
  • 2550mAh non-removable battery with Qi and PMA wireless charging
  • 143.4x70.5x6.8mm
  • 138g
  • 1-year warranty
  • test scores: Geekbench 3.0: 4438 (MC), 1347 (SC)
  • SunSpider: 1048ms
  • GFXBench: 30fps (T-Rex), 14fps (Manhattan 3.0), 6fps (Manhattan 3.1)