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HTC One M9 vs iPhone 6 - which is best?

Katharine Byrne
2 Apr 2015
HTC One M9 vs iPhone 6 header
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We put HTC's brand-new One M9 up against the iPhone 6 to see which one you should buy

HTC's brand-new One M9 is finally here, replacing the now slightly aged One M8 as the company's flagship all-metal smartphone. However, with so many great smartphones already on the market, how does the One M9 stack up against the competition? In this article, we've put it head to head with Apple's iPhone 6. We'll be taking a detailed look at what's different, what's better and, most importantly, helping you decide which one you should buy. 

Design

Dimensions: The One M9 is more or less the same size as its predecessor, measuring 144x70x9.6mm and weighing 157g. It's relatively chunky compared to other flagship smartphones, but we actually prefer the extra girth, as it not only makes it feel like a solid, sturdy piece of technology, but its curved back also makes it extremely comfortable to hold. 

The iPhone 6, on the other hand, is both smaller and lighter, measuring 138x67x6.9mm and weighing 129g. This is thanks to its completely flat back, making it easier to slip into a bag or a pocket. In terms of overall surface area, though, there's not much in it, as the 6mm difference in height and 3mm difference in width are fairly negligible once you've got both smartphones in your hand. 

HTC One M9 vs iPhone 6 build quality

Materials: HTC was one of the first phone manufacturers to go with an all-metal unibody chassis, and the One M9 is no different. Only this time, it has mirrored sides, so the back is a different colour from the frame. It's still made from a single piece of metal, though, and the dual colour effect really does add that extra touch of class to the handset. The One M9 is available in silver and mirrored gold sides, gold with mirrored gold sides, and a darker gunmetal grey with mirrored grey sides. 

The iPhone 6 is also made of metal, but uses anodised aluminium and is available in space grey, gold and silver. It may not have dual colours like the One M9, but it's still an impeccably stylish piece of kit.

HTC One M9 vs iPhone 6 rear

Display

Screen size: The One M9 has a large 5in display, giving you more room to type and swipe compared to the 4.7in display on the iPhone 6. However, as we mentioned above, the actual physical footprint of each handset is almost identical, making the One M9 is just as easy to use and hold as the iPhone 6. 

Apple's Reachability feature makes it slightly easier to interact with the top of the screen when using the phone one-handed, but we only had to stretch a little way to reach the top of the One M9. Either way, this shouldn't be too much of a problem if you've got large hands. 

HTC One M9 vs iPhone 6 front

Screen resolution: While several other flagship handsets are beginning to move on to 2,560x1,440 displays, the One M9 has kept the same 1,920x1,080 resolution as the One M8, giving it an identical pixel density of 440 pixels-per-inch (PPI). The iPhone 6, on the other hand, only has a resolution of 1,334x750, giving it a lower pixel density of just 326PPI. Apple claims this still counts as a 'Retina' display (the point at which you can no longer see individual pixels), but when we compared both handsets side by side, text was noticeably sharper on the One M9 than it was one the iPhone 6.

Screen technology: The One M9 uses HTC's Super LCD 3 display technology. Unlike normal LCD, Super LCD 3 doesn't have an air gap between the glass and the display element, which is meant to make the screen feel closer to the glass and improve outdoor visibility. It's also meant to use less energy than its air-gap relatives. 

However, we weren't hugely impressed with the One M9's overall screen quality as our colour calibrator showed it was displaying just 87.1% of the sRGB colour gamut. This is very poor for a flagship phone, as we'd normally expect to see at least 90% coverage across the board, no matter how much the phone costs. Brightness was good at 478.50cd/m2, as was the phone's contrast levels, which measured 1,356:1, but black levels were fairly mediocre, measuring 0.35cd/m2

The iPhone 6, on the other hand, uses a more accurate IPS panel, which displays 95.1% of the sRGB colour gamut. This is much more in line with what we'd expect to see from a top-end smartphone screen, and the difference between each one was obvious when we placed them side by side. While the iPhone 6 was perhaps a bit warm in places, whites were much cleaner and images were generally richer and more vibrant than those on the One M9. 

The iPhone 6 is also brighter than the One M9, measuring 542.88cd/m2, so it will be easier to see outside in bright sunshine. Contrast was also good, measuring 1,456:1, but black levels were similarly mediocre, measuring 0.37cd/m2. This means that text won't look any deeper when reading web pages, and both phones will show equal amounts of detail when looking at images. 

Performance

Processor: The One M9 uses Qualcomm's latest 64-bit octa-core 2GHz Snapdragon 810 chip and 3GB of RAM. This SoC actually has one high-power quad-core processor for running tough tasks, and a low-power quad-core processor for saving battery life when full power isn't required. The Snapdragon 810 is currently one of the fastest Qualcomm chipsets around, and it produced a score of 782ms in Chrome in our JavaScript SunSpider tests. This hasn't moved on a lot from last year's Snapdragon 801 chip, but it still provides all the speed and power you'd expect from a top-end handset.

The iPhone 6 uses one of Apple's new dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A8 chips but only has 1GB of RAM. This is even faster in SunSpider, as it scored a lightning fast 365.8ms in its Safari browser. There's not a lot in it in day-to-day use, though, as both phones felt equally snappy and responsive when scrolling through web pages and their respective operating systems were equally lag-free. 

HTC One M9 vs iPhone 6 sides

Battery: The One M9 has a large 2,840mAh battery but only managed 9h 13m in our continuous video playback test when we set the screen brightness to 170cd/m2. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, has a smaller 1,840mAh battery but lasted a much more impressive 12h 48m under the same conditions. You'll still need to charge both at the end of the day, but the iPhone 6 is by far the more reliable handset if you're working from dawn 'til dusk. 

Storage: The One M9 is only available with 32GB of onboard storage, but this can be expanded via microSD card up to 128GB. The iPhone 6 doesn't have a microSD card slot, so you'll have to make a decision about whether you want a 16GB, 64GB or 128GB version before you buy one. This makes the One M9 a lot more flexible than the iPhone 6 - and a lot cheaper, too, as it means you won't have to pay more for the handset upfront.

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