This HTC One M9 review compares how well the new HTC One smartphone handles in the hands of an iPhone user. If you are thinking about switching from the iPhone to the HTC One M9, this will walk you through important details that buyers need to know.
After spending a month using the Verizon HTC One M9 alongside the iPhone 6 and to a lesser extent the iPhone 6 Plus there are several features that stand out, but ultimately there is not enough to convince me to put down the iPhone 6 and make the HTC One M9 my primary smartphone.
Read our in-depth HTC One M9 review for a closer look at each area and feature that the HTC One M9 delivers to users. In this shorter, focused guide potential buyers can get a closer look at how these two smartphones compare and which one is worth buying.
I am using a Verizon HTC One M9 review unit for this comparison with Verizon pre-installed apps, access to XLTE speeds and Android Lollipop software with a HTC Sense overlay that changes the look and adds special features.
The HTC One M9 looks and feels very much like the HTC One M8 from last year. In some ways this is good. HTC kept the front-facing BoomSound speakers that the iPhone doesn’t even tough when it comes to sound quality and volume. The single downward facing iPhone 6 speaker is quiet compared to what the HTC One M9 delivers, and the new HTC One quickly became my go to device for listening to Spotify without headphones.
Even with two front facing speakers the new HTC One is not that much taller or wider than the iPhone 6. The HTC One M9 is thicker, but the curved back makes this less of an issue. It is easier to hold on to the One M9 than the iPhone, but the set back edge that defines the HTC One M9 design does not look as appealing as the iPhone 6’s curved edges.
The iPhone 6 and the HTC One M9 are both made of metal and glass with antenna breaks on the back and no space for a replaceable battery. HTC managed to combine a gold and silver color throughout the metal, which changes based on the light and movement.
HTC offers the One M9 with 32GB of storage standard and Apple still sticks with a 16GB iPhone 6 at the same price. The biggest difference is that the HTC One M9 includes a Micro SD card slot that makes it easy to add a lot of extra storage without spending $100 to $200 on a higher capacity phone up front. My 64GB iPhone 6 is $100 more than the base price of the HTC One M9.
The HTC One M9 screen looks good with a 5-inch, 1080P display. This is bigger than the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 display and offers a higher resolution, but the difference is not as noticeable as what I see when comparing the LG G4 and the iPhone 6 displays.
HTC’s display is bright enough to use outdoors and large enough for watching a short TV show on Netflix, but so is the slightly smaller iPhone 6 display. The iPhone 6 display also delivers whiter whites, while the HTC One M9 display’s white areas include a bluish hue. If I had to pick one display to look at for the next two years the iPhone 6 is the clear winner.
Apple’s physical home button is easy to find without looking and it includes a fingerprint reader that unlocks the phone for fast user. Combined with the easy access to Siri, a voice assistant, with a long press and the iPhone buttons are more user-friendly.
The HTC One M9 includes on-screen buttons for home, back and recent apps. Physical volume and power buttons on the right side don’t stick out very much and there is not enough space on between the power and volume down button for my liking.
I like that it is easy to turn the HTC One M9 off with a double tap on the blank screen, but without a fingerprint reader there are many times where I still need to enter a password. Smart Lock on Android 5.0 helps ease the pain of unlocking the HTC One M9 in trusted areas or when connected to a Bluetooth device, but I definitely miss a fingerprint reader for the ease of logging into apps like a password manager.
One area that HTC focused on upgrading is the camera, but the new 20MP camera on the rear of the HTC One M9 does not come close to the quality that the iPhone 6 delivers with an 8MP sensor. In the best of conditions the HTC One M9 camera takes good photos, but it fails to capture detailed texture well and the low light performance is not up to par with the competition. The iPhone 6 also delivers more consistent results and a more reliable camera app. The One M9 includes a decent front-facing 4 Ultrapixel camera that takes good selfies and delivers good quality for video calls.
On the software side the HTC One M9 includes a theme manager that lets users change the look and sound profile for the device using built-in themes or even from photos that you take. Themes look great and custom themes work very well. I wish Apple included this level of control and customization without the need to jailbreak the iPhone 6. Unfortunately the themes cannot make up for HTC Sense skin that sits on top of Android Lollipop and feels clunky and dated compared to iOS 8 on the iPhone 6.
Apple also scores a win on call quality on the same Verizon network. This doesn’t even include FaceTime Audio calls that a standard phone call cannot compare to. For more, check out 15 reasons the iPhone is better than Android.
The HTC One M9 battery life is very good, lasting a full day of moderate to heavy use without a problem. The iPhone 6 battery life comes close, but on days with heavy calling the iPhone 6 battery will drop out sooner than the HTC One M9.
At the end of the day the HTC One M9 is not on the same level as the iPhone. The poor camera performance on the HTC One M9 and HTC Sense software aren’t where they need to be in 2015. Even with excellent speakers, expandable storage and themes the iPhone 6 is a better overall smartphone.