Samsung and HTC both announced new flagships in early March, each with its own set of special features. But which smartphone should you choose? For some, the answer may come down to brand loyalty. But if you’re not a Samsung or HTC fanboy or fangirl, then you might need some more swaying.
Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones include major upgrades from the Galaxy S5. They feature sleeker designs and a range of new hardware, software and services -- but all these upgrades stuffed into one package could mean consumers will have to pay more at the checkout counter.
Meanwhile, the HTC One (M9) is only an incremental upgrade from the previous HTC One (M8). It includes a design similar to the M8 and fairly unremarkable hardware in comparison to many other Android smartphones. However, its software upgrades are quite interesting. HTC likely opted for a less spec-intensive device in order to keep prices for the HTC One (M9) low.
Take a look at some of the best features on both smartphones to help you decide whether you'll be Team Samsung or Team HTC in 2015.
Galaxy S6: Fresh New Design
If you want a device that looks like few others on the market, opt for the Galaxy S6, or better yet the Galaxy S6 Edge, which has a completely unique design. Samsung has upgraded its new smartphones to feature metal and glass, whereas previous models have been made of polycarbonate plastic. Additionally, Samsung claims the Gorilla Glass 4 on its devices is more shatter-proof than those using Gorilla Glass 3, and that the metal on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge is 50 percent stronger than the metal on other smartphones.
The design on the HTC One (M9) is much like HTC’s two previous flagships, with an all-metal unibody. The main difference between the HTC One (M9) and the HTC One (M8) or the HTC One (M7) is that the (M9) features a dual-tone color scheme; the device is one color with a hairline finish on its back and another color with a mirror finish on the front and sides.
HTC One M9: Better, More Customizable Themes
If you want to create a unique user environment on your smartphone, opt for the HTC One (M9). The flagship includes a theme feature, which allows users to create a custom look and feel by snapping a photo. HTC’s Sense 7 user interface will then generate a full theme with the image as wallpaper, a custom color palette based on the photo and unique app icons that match the photo and color scheme.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 also includes themes -- but they are all stock themes created by Samsung. Users cannot create their own.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Wireless Charging/Faster Charging
If you want a smartphone that charges quickly and has wireless charging options, opt for the Galaxy S6. The Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge both include built-in wireless-charging technology, meaning there is no need for extra accessories, such as special cases. The technology in the Galaxy S6 smartphones are compatible with the two top wireless-charging standards -- those of the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) -- so users can charge their devices wherever a charging pad is available, such as cafes, restaurants and offices.
Additionally, Samsung claims that its fast-charging technology allows the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge to gain four hours of battery life in just 10 minutes.
While the HTC One (M9) doesn’t include built-in wireless charging, the smartphone does have a turbo-charge feature, which promises to add eight hours of battery life from a 30-minute charge.
HTC One M9: Cheaper
If you want a 2015 flagship but don’t want to deal with a price increase, opt for the HTC One (M9), which will sell for roughly the same amount as the HTC One (M8). Reports indicate the approximate retail value of the HTC One (M9) is $599, while the retail value of the Samsung Galaxy S6 is $699. Actual retail prices may vary depending on the carrier, retailer and country.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Samsung Pay
If you’ve been jealous that iPhone users have Apple Pay for quick and secure purchases with their smartphones, opt for the Galaxy S6. Samsung is introducing its own mobile payment system, called Samsung Pay, on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The technology in Samsung Pay works in conjunction with the magnetic-stripe card readers already at checkout counters, making it compatible at more retail locations than Apple Pay, which uses near-field communication technology and requires special NFC readers.
The HTC One (M9) doesn’t have its own dedicated mobile payment system, but some carriers, such as T-Mobile, have struck a deal with Google to include Google Wallet NFC-based mobile payment system as a feature preinstalled onto smartphones before purchase.
HTC One M9: Will Release Sooner
If you’re just anxious for a new phone, opt for the HTC One (M9), which will release in mid-March. The Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge hit stores on April 10.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Better Viewing
If you want a smartphone with a great display, opt for the Galaxy S6. Experts such as Display Mate are calling the 5.1-inch Quad HD (2560x1440 resolution) display on the Galaxy S6 the best on the market. With the Galaxy S6, Samsung is correcting the mistake it made in not upgrading the display in the 2014 Galaxy S5, which was heavily criticized for having the same type of screen as the Galaxy S4. The lapse cost Samsung a considerable number of sales in 2014.
Now, HTC could face the same fate, as the HTC One (M9) features a 5-inch Full HD (1920x1080 resolution) display, just like the HTC One (M8).
HTC One M9: Home Widget
If you’re looking for a smartphone with software features that may actually be useful, opt for the HTC One (M9). The Sense 7 UI features a “home widget,” which recognizes a user’s location and changes the apps on the home screen in accordance with that location, meaning different apps will appear for home and work. The Galaxy S6 doesn’t include any such feature; however, Samsung has updated its TouchWiz user interface to have a cleaner look and less bloatware than previous versions.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Camera
For a smartphone with a formidable camera, opt for the Samsung Galaxy S6. Samsung took an Apple-like approach in upgrading the camera on its new flagship. While the megapixel count remains the same as on the Galaxy S5, Samsung has implemented f/1.9 lenses instead of its usual f/2.2 lenses, which let in more light for better shots in dark conditions. Additionally, the camera features Real-time HDR and low-light shot features also enhance picture taking. If Samsung is to be believed, its HDR features could yield better low-light photos than the iPhone 6.
The HTC One (M9) sees a major jump in megapixels, from a 4 UltraPixel rear camera to a 20-megapixel rear camera. HTC has long advertised its “UltraPixel” cameras as having larger pixels to capture better details than the average front-facing camera, but HTC smartphones have never been known for extraordinary camera quality. However, HTC claims the HTC One (M9) camera captures images at near-SLR quality.
HTC One (M9): Micro SD Expansion
If you’re looking to add more internal storage to your smartphone without adding a considerable amount to how much you pay for it, opt for the HTC One (M9). Despite featuring a nonremovable back, the smartphone includes a Micro SD slot, which allows users to expand their internal storage up to 128GB.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 does not include such a feature. In fact, Samsung gave the Galaxy S6 a design with a nonremovable back and no Micro SD expansion option, when previous Galaxy S models featured removable backs and Micro SD options. This has been a major criticism of the Samsung Galaxy S6. Samsung has introduced a model of the Galaxy S6, which includes 128GB of internal storage out of the box, but that version is expected to be much more expensive than the base model with 32GB of internal storage.
So those are the facts about the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, and the HTC One (M9). Now it's up to you to decide.