HTC has always been known for their beautiful designs and build quality, but when it comes to the flagship race, their high-end offerings have been found lacking in key areas, particularly the camera, that makes it fall short against it competition. Unfortunately, HTC has had a rough go over the last few years, but the company is hoping for a reversal of fortunes with their 2016 flagship smartphone.

HTC may have dropped the “One” moniker with their latest device, but this may actually be the one for you. How much of an improvement is the current HTC flagship when compared to its predecessor? We find out, as we take an in-depth look at the HTC 10 vs HTC One M9!

Design

htc10 vs htc one m9 3of10

HTC has made a few tweaks to the design language with the 10, but these small changes go a long way in differentiating the current flagship from its predecessors. Both smartphones do feature a full metal unibody construction, and are made from the same high-grade aluminium materials. However, the HTC 10 doesn’t comes with the brushed metal finish that is seen with the One M9, giving the former a much cleaner and sleeker look. The HTC 10 also comes with chamfered edges all around the back, which has been a bit of a polarizing design element, but the silhouette look that it allows for is actually pretty great.

The biggest changes are seen up front though. The top and bottom sections of the One M9 come with the same metallic finish as the back, which really emphasizes the black border that is found around the display. With the 10, the top and bottom sections are now black, and helps the display blend into all the sides. The bezels on both phones are about the same thickness, but feels a lot less prominent with the HTC 10 because of this.

htc10 vs htc one m9 7of10

Another big change is the removal of the dual front-facing speakers with the HTC 10, and while a front-facing speaker is still found above the display, the one below has been removed, in favor of a fingerprint scanner, which is embedded into a capacitive home button. That being said, the HTC 10 does have a second speaker at the bottom and this comes with a subwoofer built in. Finally, the black bar with the HTC logo that is found with the One M9 is no longer there with the 10, which is definitely a big plus.

Both smartphones comes with the buttons on right side, with the power button placed below the volume rocker. However, while the power button with the One M9 did come with a textured pattern, this is far more prominent with the 10, making it far easier to find with your finger. The buttons of the One M9 also sit a little more flush with the body of the phone, but that isn’t the case with the 10, allowing for better tactile feedback.

htc10 vs htc one m9 9of10

The HTC 10 is slightly taller and wider than the One M9, which is understandable, given that the former features a display that is larger by 0.2-inches. The 10 is also slightly thinner, but heavier than the One M9, but the overall feel in the hand with both smartphones is about the same. The metal build does make both smartphones a touch slippery, and is more pronounced with the 10 because of its smooth finish on the back, and can take some getting used to. Both the HTC 10 and the One M9 are beautifully-designed smartphones, but the cleaner look up front and on the back give the 10 the advantage when it comes to design.

Display

htc10 vs htc one m9 2of10

The HTC 10 comes with a 5.2-inch Super LCD 5 display with a Quad HD resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 565 ppi, while the One M9 features a 5-inch Super LCD 3 screen, with a lower Full HD resolution, and resulting pixel density of 441 ppi. HTC finally made the jump the Quad HD with the 10, but 1080p is more than enough when it comes to the 5-inch screen of the One M9, and in fact, you won’t notice a significant difference in sharpness when comparing the two displays side by side.

What is notable however is the vast improvement in quality. The display of the One M9 features much cooler color temperatures, and almost has a greenish hue, which looks very unappealing. The display of the HTC 10 is far warmer, and does get much closer to true whites. Colors are very vibrant with the 10, with a saturation that almost matches what is found with the good AMOLED displays out there. The HTC 10 offers a viewing experience that is far more enjoyable when compared to the rather dull screen of the One M9, and it certainly isn’t difficult to pick a winner here.

Performance

htc10 vs htc one m9 4of10

As is always the case when comparing a current generation device with its predecessor, performance gets a significant boost, with the HTC 10 featuring the latest and greatest currently available. Under the hood is a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, clocked at 2.15 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB RAM, while the One M9 features an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, clocked at 2 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 430 GPU and 3 GB of RAM.

Not surprisingly, the performance with the HTC 10 is far better than what is seen with the One M9. Installing and opening apps takes much longer with the latter, and games take longer to load as well. With the One M9 coming with an older version of the Snapdragon 810, the device also tends to get uncomfortably warm when under heavy use, which further cripples the performance. The HTC 10 scores much higher in benchmark tests, but while that sometimes doesn’t translate to real world performance, the difference is easily seen here when comparing the two.

Hardware

htc10 vs htc one m9 1of10

In hardware, HTC actually removes a few features in order to accommodate the different design language of the HTC 10, but does also add some useful ones in their place. For starters, the IR blaster that is found with the One M9 up top is longer available with the 10. The IR blaster lets you control your television, cable boxes, sound systems, and other electronics, but with this not being as widely used, its removal makes sense when it comes to the latest flagship.

A more important feature that has been removed is the dual-front facing speakers that are seen with the One M9. This was one of the features that made the One M9 stand out from the crowd, and allowed for one of the best smartphone audio experiences around. The sound quality is simply fantastic, with crisp and clear audio, and the front-facing speakers created a very balanced sound.

htc10 vs htc one m9 8of10

On the other hand, the HTC 10 comes with a single front-facing speaker above the display, that is coupled with a woofer found at the bottom of the phone, that helps with the lows and mids. You do get nice sounding audio here, but it doesn’t match up to the quality of the One M9. However, where the 10 does take the lead in terms of audio is when using headphones, with the 10 featuring a Hi-Fi audio DAC, a headphone AMP, and Dolby enhancements, to allow for a great listening experience.

Of course, the reason for the removal of the dual front-facing speakers with the HTC 10 is to make way for the fingerprint scanner up front, that is embedded into the capacitive home button. The scanner is one of the best around, and is impressively fast and accurate. With a capacitive home button comes capacitive back and recent apps keys as well, allowing for more display real estate, when compared to the One M9 and its on-screen navigation keys.

HTC 10 vs HTC One M9 (6)

While this isn’t a hardware feature, it is worth making a note of how loud the vibration motor of the HTC 10 is. It is one of the loudest we’ve seen, and if the phone is placed on a table, you will likely hear the vibration over the actual sound of the notification alert. The vibration motor of the One M9 is also very strong, but not nearly as loud.

The HTC 10 comes with a larger 3,000 mAh battery, compared to the 2,840 mAh unit of the One M9, but with the display of the former getting a bump in resolution, the battery life available with both is quite similar. Both smartphones comfortably allow for a full day of use, with around 4 hours of screen on-time, which is pretty good. Both smartphones also come with fast charging capabilities, but the HTC 10 charges faster, courtesy of a USB Type C (USB 3.0) port and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 support.

Camera

htc10 vs htc one m9 6of10

The HTC One M9 comes with a 20 MP rear camera, with a f/2.2 aperture and no optical image stabilization, while the 10 features a 12 MP primary camera, with a f/1.8 aperture and OIS. One of the most disappointing aspects of the One M9 was its camera performance, and while the MP count has been reduced, the camera sensor comes with larger pixel sizes, allowing for much better low-light photography.

When it comes to image quality, the HTC 10 is far superior to the One M9. Looking at outdoor shots, photos taken with the 10 feature more color and higher contrast, and even appear sharper and with more detail, despite the reduction in megapixels. The One M9 camera is far more prone to overexposing a shot, and there always seems to be a haze over the photo. The HTC 10 does overexpose in some areas though, but when compared to the One M9, the former does a much better job with handling brighter areas. HDR also works better with the 10, even if the image sometimes appears to be a bit unnatural.

There is also a significant improvement when it comes to taking photos in low-light conditions. The One M9 utilizes a slower shutter speed in these situations, and coupled with the lack of OIS, you often get blurry shots, even with the steadiest of hands. There is a lot of loss in detail, a lot more grain, and the color reproduction suffers as well. HDR usually helps when taking photos in low-light, but it has the opposite effect with the One M9. It takes a lot longer to stitch the photos together, so you will end up with a blurry image every time, and the image will be way too bright.

HTC One M9 camera samples

HTC 10 camera samples

Interestingly enough, the front-facing 4 MP “Ultrapixel” camera of the One M9 is a lot better than the 5 MP unit of the HTC 10. You get a lot more detail with the One M9, and it exposes the shot better. The advantage the selfie camera of the HTC 10 has is with regards to video, with the front-facing camera also coming with OIS, allowing for very steady videos, which is perfect for vlogging. With video, the rear camera of the 10 also does a much better job, thanks to the availability of OIS, and the videos shot with the One M9 also seem to be too dark.

Software

htc10 vs htc one m9 10of10

Both smartphones are running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with the HTC Sense UI on top. However, the difference between the two version of the Sense are significant, with the latest version available with the 10 far more streamlined. The aesthetics largely remain the same, but HTC now retains a lot of Google’s Material Design elements, such as in the notification drop down, the Settings menu, as well as in the Recent Apps screen.

htc10 vs htc one m9 5of10

HTC has streamlined the software experience even further by removing duplicate apps. So now, you get Google Photos, Google Calendar, and Google Messenger, instead of HTC Gallery, and the HTC versions of the other two apps. It used to be redundant and a little confusing for users before, and it’s great to see HTC make this change. There were also a lot of other pre-installed games and apps that cluttered the One M9, but have been removed with the HTC 10.

HTC 10 screenshots

In terms of features, things remain mostly the same. You get lock screen shortcuts, a robust Themes store that lets you completely change the look and feel of the interface, and BlinkFeed, which a news and social media aggregrator. Of all the left screen experiences out there, BlinkFeed remains one of the best, and is a nice way to have all the information you may need in one page. There is also a great HTC widget that houses all your most used apps, with the list changing depending on your location.

HTC One M9 screenshots

HTC Sense has been one of the better skins of Android since the One M7, and while the jump from the One M9 to the 10 isn’t a major overhaul, the key changes and improvements that have been made make a huge difference.

Specs comparison

 HTC 10HTC One M9
Display5.2-inch Super LCD5 display
Quad HD resolution, 565 ppi
5-inch Super LCD3 display
Full HD resolution, 441 ppi
Processor2.15 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Adreno 530 GPU
2 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
Adreno 430 GPU
RAM4 GB3 GB
Storage32/64 GB
expandable via microSD up to 200 GB
32 GB
expandable via microSD up to 200 GB
Camera12 MP rear camera, f/1.8 aperture, 1.55µm pixel size, OIS, laser autofocus
5 MP front-facing camera, f/1.8 aperture, OIS
20 MP rear camera, f/2.2 aperture
4 MP "Ultrapixel" front-facing camera
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.2
GPS + GLONASS
NFC
USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0 connector
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
GPS + GLONASS
NFC
IR Blaster
microUSB 2.0
Battery3,000 mAh
non removable
2,840 mAh
SoftwareAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
HTC Sense UI
Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
HTC Sense UI
Dimensions145.9 x 71.9 x 9 mm
161 grams
144.6 x 69.7 x 9.6 mm
157 grams

Gallery

Final thoughts

htc10 vs htc one m9 2of10

So there you have it for this closer look at the HTC 10 vs One M9! When it comes to these two HTC flagships, the 10 features notable improvements over its predecessor. While the One M9 does offer the better audio experience when using external speakers, the HTC 10 has it beat it pretty much every other aspect.

The display is more vibrant, with brighter colors, and of course, a higher resolution. The design is much sleeker, and the software experience has been streamlined even further. The fingerprint scanner is a nice addition and works remarkably well, and HTC finally got things right on the camera side of things. Unless dual-front facing speakers are an absolute must have, the HTC 10 is definitely the better the choice between the two, and even then, the new speaker arrangement on the HTC 10 provides excellent audio.

Which is your pick out of these two and is the HTC 10 enough of an upgrade? Vote in the poll and let us know your views in the comments below!