Two of the most hotly anticipated Android devices are thought to be breaking cover at MWC 2015 –– Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and HTC’s One M9 –– and both are key successor models and flagships for their respective manufacturers. There’s been a tonne of pre-launch info in circulation for both handsets so we thought it might be nice to take a pre-emptive look at how they might compare based on the whisperings from the rumour mill and leaks from the interwebs.
As always, please don’t take this as gospel because it’s going to be based on rumours and leaks, with a bit of speculation and/or logical deduction thrown in to fill the gaps. Lacking a crystal ball, we have no way of knowing for certain what the final products will be like, just an inkling from what information has surfaced already. It’s just a bit of fun!
This is by far the most difficult area to make any kind of solid call because increasingly over the last few years we’ve seen manufacturers adopt the use of dummies and decoys during development in order to throw leaksters and press off the scent. By several accounts that sort of activity seems to be on the rise this year in particular. HTC has specifically been mentioned to be using multiple One M9 decoy devices, so we can’t be sure any of the leaks we’ve seen so far are actually representative of the launch product. On top of that you have things like a tip-off about Samsung saying it has several design prototypes on the table and, until closer to launch (ie: probably somewhere inside the next month) still hasn’t decided which design to go with.
Even so, some things have remained consistent enough in repeated rumour reports and leaks that we can fairly confidently draw something out of them.
On the subject of Samsung’s Galaxy S6, reports have repeatedly claimed we’ll see two versions of the handset launched, with one being a regular edition and the other an “Edge” model featuring a display that curves over the sides (like the Galaxy Note EDGE, but both sides rather than just one). This Edge model will likely be a limited edition device, however.
As for the overall design of each model? Well, as mentioned above, it’s been alleged that Samsung has put off picking a final design until the last minute, but with MWC fast approaching that decision must be getting made pretty soon - in fact it probably has been picked by now - and as it happens we’re now starting to see the latest set of leaks have a consistent look between them.
The main thing to think here is Samsung Galaxy Alpha (which isn’t surprising considering how warmly received that handset’s design was compared to the Galaxy S5) with a super-thin profile, a metal surround, and what appears to be a high quality polycarbonate back panel. The overall shape seems broadly similar to Samsung’s house style, although the screen bezels and end caps look to have been considerably thinned down for a higher screen-to-body ratio. Other reports are by no means concrete, but it’s been suggested the back panel may not be removable (as per Samsung’s new A-Series phones) and that the phone will not feature water or dust proofing tech.
HTC isn’t going to make a similar backwards step because...well, it never adopted waterproofing or removable battery covers on its flagships in the first place. There have been several different designs leaked but most of the more convincing ones not only look quite similar to each other but also to the HTC One M8 too. While aesthetic changes are clearly evident this is not a massive design overhaul in the same vein as Samsung. And indeed, why should it be? The One M8 was one of the best looking devices last year.
Key features appear to include an edge-to-edge display panel, the power button being moved next to the volume rocker (on the side), the removal of that unpopular black band at the bottom between the display and the lower portion, and, most notably of all, a new speaker design. We’ve seen two so far, one which still has punched grilles featuring a denser grid of smaller holes, while the other appears to mirror HTC’s design on the Nexus 9 - small discrete speakers housed in the very edge of the top and bottom panels. Like this:
There’s not actually a lot of information about the Galaxy S6’s display size, although we have seen 5.1in thrown around a bit, crucially though, a lot of sources point to the continued use of Super AMOLED tech with a QHD resolution (2560 x 1440 pixels). Of course the S6 Edge model is something of a wildcard requiring extra pixels for the side panels.
Likewise, rumours surrounding the HTC One M9 suggest a screen size between 5.1in and 5.5in (quite a wide bracket really) and, once again, a QHD resolution and edge-to-edge design seem to be the only consistent features. Historically HTC has used Super LCD panels (SLCD 3 for the M8).
There’s been a lot of talk about Samsung’s relationship with Qualcomm vis-a-vis the Snapdragon 810 chip previously believed to be making its way into the Galaxy S6. In the past Samsung has offered Snapdragon-based flagships to the wider global market, while inside Asia alternative models featuring its own Exynos hardware have shipped instead. That looks to be changing as, following rumours, Qualcomm has more-or-less confirmed that it has parted ways with Samsung, for the Galaxy S6 at least. That means for the first time ever Samsung will be selling one processor model of its flagship in all regions using its latest octa-core Exynos 7420 processor. This is thought to be a 14 nanometre (nm) architecture chip based on ARM’s big.LITTLE hardware. The clockspeed is reportedly 1.5GHz but due to the 14nm 64-bit architecture it runs FAST, benchmarks show it outperforming the Snapdragon 810, while reports vary as to whether it’ll carry 3GB or 4GB of RAM.
Meanwhile, it seems HTC is sticking by Qualcomm with the Snapdragon 810 octa-core chip. Again it’s 1.5GHz, 64-bit and ARM big.LITTLE, but a 20nm architecture and 3GB of RAM.
Both devices have been rumoured with 20MP camera modules packing optical image stabilisation. Samsung is thought to be using one of its own rather impressive ISOCELL sensors with a dual-LED flash, but little is known about the front-facing secondary. HTC also appears to have a dual-LED flash for its rear-facing primary, but seems to be embracing the selfie phenomenon with a whopping 13MP front-facing secondary.