The two big smartphone announcements at Mobile World Congress were the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9, both new flagships for the two companies.

Even though it is an uphill swing for both companies, currently facing a drop in sales throughout 2014, both devices look to be contenders for the best smartphone of the year, but which one is better?

Design

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HTC has always had a profound vision when it comes to mobile design, continuing to iterate the metallic unibody ever since the launch of the One M7 two years ago. Samsung, on the other hand, has lacked the quality assurance to compete with Apple and HTC on design.

This all changes for Samsung in 2015, with the launch of a dual-glass Galaxy S6 with metal frame. It is a breath of fresh air from Samsung’s continued faux-leather and faux-metal design.

Even with all of the changes to the design on the Galaxy S6, the premium unibody on the HTC One M9 will always be a favorite for Android fans. The One M9 is less likely to crack since it is metal instead of glass, and looks absolutely gorgeous with a new two-tone palette for the back and front of the device.

Internals

The One M9 features a full HD (1920 x 1080) display, a bit lower than the Quad HD (2560 x 1440) display on the Galaxy S6. The AMOLED display does offer darker blacks on the Galaxy S6, but lacks the color accuracy that the One M9’s LCD display offers.

Internally, HTC has fitted the octa-core Snapdragon 810 to the One M9, one part clocked at 1.5GHz and the other at 2GHz. This is similar to Samsung’s octa-core Exynos processor, clocked around the same speed, but with a new 14-nanometer architecture.

The Exynos processor is smaller than the Snapdragon 810, and does not consume as much power. The final results may be minimal, but it is highly likely that the Exynos will win out in a raw power battle.

Both smartphones offer 3GB of RAM and quad-core graphics chips. The One M9 surpasses the Galaxy S6 when it comes to battery size, HTC fitting a 2840mAh battery to the Galaxy S6’s 2550mAh, but Samsung argues its new wireless charging is why it can afford a smaller battery.

Camera

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HTC has finally decided to retire its Ultra Pixel sensor, following poor customer interest. Its replacement will be a 20-megapixel sensor, featuring a dual-LED flash.

Samsung has not changed much on its own camera, keeping the 16MP shooter from last year. It has added optical image stabilisation and f/1.9 lens, offering quicker focus and less blur on photos.

Megapixels are really not a big factor in the discussion of the best camera, considering Apple continues to knock it out of the ball-park with an 8MP iSight camera, and the Nokia Lumia 1020 did not make huge dents in the mobile camera market even with 41MP.

Instead, consistency and color accuracy should be looked into, and in both places Samsung beats the HTC by quite a large margin. Even though the One M9 is capable of a great photo, Samsung has a better opportunity of capturing good photos over an 100 picture period.

Software

Both providers offer Android Lollipop at launch, but both also reskin the OS. HTC launched Sense 7 on the One M9, while Samsung announced a new version of TouchWiz.

TouchWiz used to be the burden of Android for many mobile users, but Samsung has heavily redacted most of its ugly animations and bloatware. The Galaxy S6 comes running three Samsung apps: S Voice, S Health and Samsung Pay, alongside three Microsoft apps and Google’s services.

Sense 7 is a continuation on HTC’s software ideas, launching a new location based app launcher on the latest update. While in the past we would have easily went with Sense, the TouchWiz redesign does wonders for performance and offers a clean aesthetic.

Verdict

Both smartphones offer an incredible experience, but when it comes down to the best choice Samsung’s Galaxy S6 wins the battle in our opinion, offering better performance, higher display resolution, a fresh software redesign and consistent camera.