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HTC One M9 vs HTC 10: Which is best for me?

The world was just introduced to HTC’s 2016 flagship smartphone, the HTC 10, but there’s plenty of pluck still left within its predecessor, the One M9. So which is the better fit for you?

At a glance

  HTC One M9 HTC 10
Screen size 5-inches 5.2-inches
Screen resolution 1920×1080 2560×1440
Weight 157 grams 161 grams
OS Android 6.0 w/ Sense 7 Android 6.0 w/ Sense (2016)
Rear camera 20-megapixels 12-megapixels w/ OIS
Front camera 4-megapixels 5-megapixels w/ OIS
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 Qualcomm Snadpragon 820
Memory 3GB RAM 4GB RAM
Storage 32GB. Expandable up to 2TB

32GB/64GB. Expandable up to 2TB

4G Yes Yes

Design

The design language employed by HTC’s flagship handsets is simple, strong and effective. Both handsets pack all-metal bodies with rounded corners and various surface treatments. In the case of the One M9 you’ll find a brushed metal back and a step along the edge where the front meets the hardware controls along the sides.

With the 10, HTC’s cleaned things quite a bit, removing some of the antenna breaks and creating a more cohesive metal frame around the display assembly. The finish is cleaner and the deep chamfer surrounding its back face stands out, offering improved ergonomics in the hand. HTC’s also managed to keep the dimensions remarkably similar between the M9 and 10, whilst increasing the screen size on the latter by 0.2-inches.

In a couple of ways the 10 reverts back to older HTC design ideas, shifting the front-facing speakers of the M9 to a tweeter hidden behind the earpiece and a downward-facing woofer in behind the speaker grille at the phone’s base. The M9 uses on-screen buttons whilst the 10 moves back to capacitive backlit keys beneath the display and pulls in a fingerprint sensor-laden home button reminiscent of the one found on the newer HTC One A9.

Screen

As we mentioned already, HTC’s been able to squeeze a larger 5.2-inch display onto the 10, without increasing the phone’s footprint by any noticeable means when compared to the One M9. Whilst the M9’s screen is a cracking Full HD panel with plenty of punch, the 10 is the first flagship from the company to sport a Quad HD Super LCD 5 panel.

Although side by side the difference doesn’t appear all that dramatic, it’s brighter, sharper and features a sRGB colour gamut closer to professional standards.

OS

Right now both phones sport Android 6.0 Marshmallow, although over time the 10 will see upgrades further into the future than the M9 will likely be able to.

The company has also added its own Sense user experience on top of Google’s mobile OS; in the case of the M9 that’s Sense 7, whilst the HTC 10’s user experience is a newer revision simply called ‘Sense’.

Both let you customise the look and feel of the respective handsets, but by default the newer version of Sense is lighter, with next to no duplicate apps (between HTC and Google), more stock elements (like the notifications/quick settings drawer) and new functionality with Freestyle layouts, which let you remove the icon grid of conventional Android home screens and in their place allow for free placement of app icons or ‘stickers’ which can be tailored to launch any desired app or function.

Performance

HTC has been a long-running fan of Qualcomm’s top chipsets and indeed the HTC 10 receives a timely upgrade from the M9’s Snapdragon 810 to the latest 820, with an additional 1GB of RAM, bringing the total to 4GB. Storage and expandability are equal between both phones – 32GB internally and the option to expand that via microSD by an additional 2TB.

Neither HTC offers wireless charging, but the HTC 10 utilises the newer QuickCharge 3.0 standard, which promises a day’s use (or 50 per cent) charge from just 30 minutes at a wall plug via its reversible Type-C USB connection. The One M9 meanwhile supports the older QuickCharge 2.0 standard, which translates to 60 per cent charge from just 30 minutes plugged in via its microUSB connection, but that comes as a result of the smaller 2840mAh battery, which in long term tests struggles to last a full day, when the HTC 10 is slated as lasting two.

Cameras

The weakest aspect of the HTC One M9 was its 20-megapixel primary camera. The Toshiba-made sensor produced sub-par photos for a flagship smartphone and lagged behind the competition. With this iteration of flagship, HTC doesn’t want to repeat history and as such, the 12-megapixel sensor on the 10 is supposedly on par with the excellent camera Samsung placed inside the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, matching their DxOMark score of 88.

You can shoot up to 4K video on both phones, but the HTC 10 boasts an improved sensor with larger pixels and optical image stabilisation (OIS). In a market first, even the front-facing camera on the newer handset also boasts OIS and ups the megapixel count from 4 to 5, in what HTC has dubbed an ‘UltraSelfie’ camera.

Verdict

The HTC One M9 was a good, but ultimately flawed handset that went up against far more balanced rivals at launch – the HTC 10 is all about balance, striking the perfect blend of top-notch hardware in a cleaner simpler form than its predecessor. We seldom recommend upgrading from one handset to its direct successor, but for those who’ve lost love for their M9s, the HTC 10 might be the perfect replacement.

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