Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 vs HTC One M9 – who’s the boss?

HTC and Samsung both unveiled the latest iterations of their flagship smartphones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 1 March 2015.

During its announcement, Samsung boss JK Shin said the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are the most advanced smartphones in the world.

HTC’s announcement was humble by comparison, with the Taiwanese electronics maker claiming that the M9 is its “most personal, beautiful, and powerful smartphone yet”.

Both companies went on to describe their devices with superlative adjectives and adverbs, but Samsung’s claim of “most advanced” lends itself to being challenged.

Galaxy range – past vs present

Specifications Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Samsung Galaxy S6 Samsung Galaxy S5
Dimensions 142.1 x 70.1 x 7mm 151.3 x 82.4 x 8.3mm 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8mm 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm
Weight 132g 174g 138g 145g
Operating system Android 5.0 Android 4.4 Android 5.0 Android 4.4.2
Display 5.1″ QHD (1440×2560) 5.6″ QHD+ (1440 + 160 x 2560) 5.1″ QHD (1440×2560) 5.1″ 1080p (1080×1920)
Rear camera 16MP 16MP 16MP 16MP
Front camera 5MP 3.7MP 5MP 2.1MP
Storage, internal 32/64/128GB 32/64GB 32/64/128GB 16/32GB
Storage, expandable No microSD No microSD
Processor 2.1GHz + 1.5GHz octa-core Exynos 7420 2.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 2.1GHz + 1.5GHz octa-core Exynos 7420 Exynos 5422 2.1GHz quad Cortex-A15 + 1.5GHz quad Cortex-A7/2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801
Graphics Mali-T760 Adreno 420 Mali-T760 Mali T628 MP6/Adreno 330
Battery 2,550mAh 3,000mAh 2,600mAh 2,800mAh
Ingress protection None None None IP67

Compared to its predecessor, it is clear that a number of trade-offs were made for the “advancement” of the Samsung Galaxy S6.

Firstly, neither the Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge appear to have an ingress protection rating, while the Samsung Galaxy S5 was rated as dust and waterproof – IP67.

Samsung S6 devices also do not have a microSD slot, and have a smaller battery than the Galaxy S5.

Samsung vs Apple vs HTC

A comparison of the Galaxy S6 against other devices in the field – such as the HTC One M9 and iPhone 6 and 6 Plus – also doesn’t indicate a clear winner for the crown of “most advanced”.

Specifications Samsung Galaxy S6 HTC One M9 iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus
Dimensions 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8mm 144.6 x 96.7 x 9.61mm 138.1 x 67 x 6.9mm 158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1mm
Weight 138g 157.5g 129g 172g
Operating system Android 5.0 Android 5.0 iOS 8 iOS 8
Display 5.1″ QHD (1440×2560) 5″ 1080p (1080×1920) 4.7″ Retina HD (750×1334) 5.5″ Retina HD (1080×1920)
Rear camera 16MP 20MP 8MP 8MP
Front camera 5MP 4MP “UltraPixel” 1.2MP 1.2MP
Storage, internal 32/64/128GB 32GB 16/64/128GB 16/64/128GB
Storage, expandable No microSD No No
Processor 2.1GHz + 1.5GHz octa-core Exynos 7420 2.0GHz + 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 810 Apple A8 (1.4GHz Cyclone*) Apple A8 (1.4GHz Cyclone*)
Graphics Mali-T760 Adreno 430 PowervVR GX6650* PowervVR GX6650*
Battery 2,550mAh 2,840mAh 1,810mAh* 2,915mAh*
* Some iPhone specs from tear-downs and other investigations, not official

As the table reveals, the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 trounce the latest iPhones on paper.

One of the Galaxy S6’s features that does stand out is its QHD display. After some hands-on time with the S6, I can say that the higher resolution is definitely noticeable in the device’s camera application.

However, one has to ask whether such a high-resolution screen is worth its increased power demands.

The HTC One M9 stands out as the only device with support for microSD cards, and for having the largest battery for its size.

It should be noted that it is not possible to draw any real conclusions about battery life without conducting a proper review, but given that the HTC One M9 has a lower resolution screen and a processor that is clocked slightly slower than Samsung’s S6, one certainly expects it to have the better battery life.

The Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 devices both have fingerprint sensors – something few other smartphones do. How useful such a feature is, and whether it should count towards being “more advanced” depends on the user, though.

For example, while Samsung and Apple fingerprint scanners are used to authenticate various things, they are also tied into the two payment systems Apple and Samsung are pushing.

Neither Apple Pay nor Samsung Pay are currently relevant in South Africa, and a number of local companies have actually developed QR code-based smartphone payment systems that aren’t limited to specific devices.

In brief: Samsung’s claims of launching the “most advanced smartphones in the world” is a dubious one.

While there is much we can infer from the spec sheets of the new HTC and Samsung devices, the results of in-depth reviews involving battery stress testing and camera comparisons are still outstanding.

There is also one very important feature still to be announced: price.

When these details are revealed, a clearer picture will emerge of who truly has the the most advanced phones in the world.

Jan Vermeulen is a guest of HTC at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 vs HTC One M9 – who’s the boss?