HTC One M9 and Galaxy S5: Worth Upgrading?

Now that the brand new HTC One M9 has been officially launched and will hit carrier shelves in the coming days, potential buyers are probably considering all their options here in 2015. For those looking for an upgrade, we will compare the Galaxy S5 to the HTC One M9.

On March 1, the HTC One M9 smartphone was finally announced, and it has emerged after months of leaks, rumors and speculation. It didn’t come as a surprise thanks to various leaks, but unfortunately it didn’t include many design changes compared to last year. So, if you chose the Galaxy S5 over the HTC One M8 in 2014, you may not want to upgrade to the new One M9. However, below is everything buyers need to know.

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 was one of the best smartphones released last year, and in 2015 it’s an excellent device worth saving for another year, potentially for the Galaxy S7 or a new HTC smartphone. However, below we’ll compare HTC’s latest model to the Galaxy S5, a device already owned by millions of users, and point out a few differences for those potentially looking to upgrade.

On April 10, the HTC One M9 will launch from most of the major carriers in the United States, but the same day is the release date for the new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. That said, it has a lot of competition from the new Galaxy S device, not to mention that it doesn’t offer much over the Galaxy S5 from 2014.

This year HTC didn’t take a big risk and change the design like Samsung did with the Galaxy S6, and instead launched a phone that looks almost identical to last year’s model. However, they’ve improved every aspect of the phone, made it a bit smaller and introduced a new two-tone color option, among other things. Lets start.


The display comes first, as it is an extremely important aspect of both devices and something all buyers look at. As for the HTC One M9, this year it has the same size and resolution as in 2014. That means it’s actually still smaller than the Galaxy S5 and offers the same 1920 x 1080p HD resolution. That is, it should have more pixels per inch and it might look a little better, but either way they’re both pretty neck and neck. That said, the Galaxy S5 had the most award-winning display ever, and you still can’t top it unless you get the Note 4 or Galaxy S6.

-L versus OneM9-S5 software

The Samsung Galaxy S5 features a 5.1-inch 1920 x 1080p HD display, which was awarded as the best in the market last year. These two devices are quite similar in size and both have screens of about 5 inches and the same resolution. This is a bit silly, but keep in mind that Samsung uses S-AMOLED screens, while the HTC One M9 has an SLCD screen.

The HTC One M9 doesn’t look as bright as the Galaxy S5, but at the same time, nobody really needs 100% brightness unless you want to drain the battery really fast.


In 2014, the Samsung Galaxy S5 was rumored to have a major design change compared to previous years, but this did not happen. It was relatively identical to the Galaxy S4, only with a more durable design, a fingerprint scanner and some minor changes. It is made almost entirely of plastic. While some love the HTC One M9’s aluminum, others argue that the lightweight and durable plastic used by Samsung is the best way to go. Everyone has a different preference and this is key for some.

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The HTC One M9 looks almost the same as last year, as we mentioned above, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is one of the most elegant devices around. The brushed aluminum unibody looks and feels great in the hand, and with the One M9 in 2015 it got even more rounded, making it even more comfortable to hold. The large bezels under the screen are unfortunately still around, and the dual front speakers are still as good as ever. If some users have been fed up with the Galaxy S5 over the past year, the new two-tone silver and gold or gunmetal gray and black HTC One M9 may be worth considering.

vs OneM9-S5-3-L

This year the HTC One M9 looks the same, but is actually slightly lighter and has also reduced the size of the device by a few mm. All this while improving every aspect of the device. The bezels and dual speakers make it taller but slightly thinner than the Galaxy S5. It feels like a better device overall, certainly made from higher quality materials, but so is the Galaxy S6. So it’s up to you to decide.


Even though the HTC One M9 looks just like it did in 2014, everything under the hood is completely different. This is an extremely powerful smartphone with top-of-the-line features and an even better camera.

The new M9 is fast, fluid and more powerful than last year’s Galaxy S5, but that’s to be expected. While the specs don’t mean everything, that’s still something many people think about, so here are the raw numbers for those interested.

A few key things you’ll notice are the screen, the camera, and of course the processor. HTC One M9 is powered by the latest octa-core processor with 3GB of RAM, a huge camera, awesome dual front speakers and a bigger battery to finally compete with Samsung, Apple and others. The Snapdragon 810 actually has a powerful 2.3GHz quad core for heavy-duty tasks and a battery-friendly 1.2GHz quad core for smaller tasks like web browsing. They work together for the best possible performance/battery life.

Obviously numbers aren’t everything and both of these devices will perform great, but if you’re debating which one to buy or upgrade, here are the numbers above for those interested in the finer details.


Although we briefly mentioned this above, another issue that many buyers consider when purchasing a smartphone is related to the camera. The HTC One M8 failed with the Duo Camera last year, but it had some neat software gimmicks. The HTC One M9 now has a 20.7-megapixel rear camera, and last year’s 4 Ultrapixel rear camera is now on the front for better selfies and group photos.

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That’s much better than last year, and potentially better than the 16-megapixel camera inside the Galaxy S5. That said, our first impressions are average at best, but should be adequate for most average buyers. Samsung’s S5 had one of the best cameras on the market, but HTC has put a lot of effort on that front, not to mention the 4 Ultrapixel front shooter. Add in HTC Eye software tweaks and they should still be two of the best Android camera phones out there. That said, the Galaxy S6 camera looks pretty good from what we’ve heard.

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Right now the software is a bit messy, not to mention it’s down to personal preference. Some like stock Android like the Nexus 6, others like Samsung’s TouchWiz, and some are big fans of HTC Sense UI. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of HTC Sense but with Android 5.0 Lollipop and Sense 7 on the HTC One M9 things are finally looking a little better. It’s still radically different from stock Android, but they’ve cleaned everything up, improved performance, and added a powerful new HTC Theme tool that lets users change the entire look and feel in seconds. This includes colors, icons, font and more.

Against OneM9-S5-L

The HTC One M9 even lets you take a photo and use it as a background, and the theme engine for that pulls the colors and integrates it into your device’s software. Making the whole device feel personal unlike previous HTC devices. A nice touch, but definitely not for everyone.

Our Galaxy S5 is still on Android 4.4 KitKat as it is the AT&T version. However, most carriers in the US and around the world have already updated it to Android 5.0 Lollipop. There are lots of new features, improved notifications, a better lock screen, and more. All this is already available on the HTC One M9 and now or soon the Galaxy S5.

As HTC One M9 is one year newer, it can get an additional year of support from HTC in terms of software updates after 12-18 months. This could be a reason to upgrade, not to mention everything else mentioned above. Overall, Android 5.0 Lollipop makes both these devices extremely fast and fluid, even though it has a few bugs that Google is trying to fix;

final thoughts

In closing, we’re not really sure what to think here. On the one hand, we don’t see enough improvement in the One M9 that it’s worth ditching the Samsung Galaxy S5, especially if you chose Samsung over HTC last year. It’s also a stunning looking device, boasting neat new software features, a better camera, and the latest version of Android. If the plastic Galaxy S5 is something you no longer want, try the new HTC One M9.

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One thing is clear though, both of these smartphones are going to be great devices for years to come, but one advantage is that it’s only going to be a year newer and the HTC One M9 to get another year of support and updates. Those looking to upgrade from the Galaxy S4 will definitely love the HTC One M9, but those coming from the Galaxy S5 probably won’t find as many buyers as they hoped.

Are you used to the HTC One M9, even though it looks like last year, or are you waiting for the larger HTC One M9 Plus we’ve seen rumors about? All said and done users will probably want to go to a Best Buy or carrier store soon and try the HTC One M9 for themselves before pre-ordering or buying the new phone. Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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