A tale of three flagships

This summer, if you’re looking for a new flagship Android phone, you’re probably deciding between the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Edge or non-Edge), HTC One (M9) and the LG G4. The latter hasn’t been released yet, but numerous users have obtained review units to test out. Meanwhile, the former two have been out in Singapore for a few weeks now.

Now, the million-dollar question is: Which of the three should I opt for?

On paper, each phone has their own strengths. However, what’s on paper doesn’t always translate to something meaningful. The Apple iPhone 6, for example, gets by just fine with “just” 1GB RAM and a dual-core processor.

As such, I scoured around the Internet to get a better idea of how all three phones perform in real-life scenarios, from various aspects. I personally own a Samsung Galaxy S6 myself, so I will fill in my own experiences too.

So, let’s begin…

Design

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Each phone has its own merits.

samsung-galaxy-s6-edge-4The Galaxy S6 was re-designed from the ground up and incorporates ‘premium material’ like aluminium sides and a glass back. It looks pretty good when bare, but due to its increased fragility resulting from its glass back, you’ll probably slip it into a case anyway. Once in a case, it looks similar to all Galaxy phones of yore.

If you’re looking for something unique, the edge version of the S6 will also offer you something you can’t find elsewhere—a curved screen on both sides that gives the impression of an edge-to-edge display.

htc-one-m9Source

The HTC One M9, meanwhile, offers little different from its predecessors. Despite claiming some subtle improvements in design and handling, to the layperson, it looks pretty dated by now, even if it still looks stunning by its own right. For a 5-inch phone, it may seem a little too big, with it being 1.2mm longer and 19g heavier than the Galaxy S6, which has a larger 5.1” screen and physical buttons instead of occupying precious screen real estate.

lg-g4

Objectively, the LG G4 is the ‘cheapest’ of the lot, with a full plastic design, though you can opt for the leather back that costs a lot more. The G4 makes up for it by offering a slightly curved screen, which supposedly improves durability when you drop the phone on its screen. Despite having a much larger 5.5-inch screen, the G4 is only 5mm longer and wider than the Galaxy S6 and weighs about the same as the One M9.

Screen

htc-one-m9-screenThe weakest contender? Source

The HTC One M9 is a little dated in this respect, with ‘only’ a Full HD IPS LCD screen resulting in 441 pixels per inch. The Galaxy S6 ups the ante from the past year with a QHD Super AMOLED screen (577 pixels per inch). The LG G4, meanwhile, has the same QHD resolution, but in what it calls a Quantum IPS LCD screen (538 pixels per inch).

In terms of colour accuracy, the Galaxy S6 tops the chart, according to various tests out there, whereas the G4 trails behind by a little. The HTC One M9, meanwhile, trails behind the pack by a large margin. Despite its colour accuracy, it is important to note that the majority of Galaxy S6 units have this uneven screen tint issue, where one part of the screen appears slightly pink and the other part slightly green on a white background. More information about it can be found here.

Camera

lg-g4-displayThe camera quality of the One M9. Source

On paper, the HTC One M9 seems to triumph over its competitors, with a large, 1/2.3” 20.7MP rear camera. The Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4 comes instead with a 1/2.6”, 16MP rear camera.

In real-life situations, however, the Galaxy S6 and G4 are neck-to-neck in image quality, and both lead the One M9 by a huge margin. This is perhaps due to the larger aperture on the S6 and G4, allowing it to absorb more light. Both phones also come with Optical Image Stabilisation, which gives it a huge advantage in low-light situations. It also means no more shaky shots!

For the front camera, however, I would probably give the edge to the One M9, since it comes with an Ultrapixel camera that’s well-renowned for great shots especially in low-light situations. All three phones have wide-angle front cameras, allowing you to take great selfies and ‘we-fies’ without the need for a selfie stick.

Performance

Performance-wise, the Samsung Galaxy S6 tops the pack, with its in-house octa-core Exynos processor. The One M9, meanwhile, is equipped with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor. While a beast in its own right, the Snapdragon 810 is hampered by its thermal throttling issues. The LG G4 cleverly sidesteps this problem by using a hexa-core (that’s six cores, if you’re wondering) Snapdragon 808 processor. While weaker than the 810 on paper, it is able to deliver performance similar to the 810 in many cases as it is less constrained by heat issues. Reviewers have commented that the performance of the G4 is generally smooth and fluid, thus putting to rest claims that the Snapdragon 808 processor “cannot make it”.

If the above paragraph sounds like Greek to you, just know that all three phones perform great in real-life scenarios and shouldn’t cause you much worry.

Software & Other Features

bgr-htc-one-m9-27HTC One M9 software and apps. Source

All three phones run on Android Lollipop (though the G4 has the latest version for now) and the design language on all three look pretty great. The Galaxy S6 and LG G4 both supports the multi-window feature, allowing you to snap two applications side-by-side. So, you could perhaps watch a video while replying to WhatsApp chats at the same time. Pretty nifty, huh?

The Galaxy S6 does not support memory expansion nor a removable battery. In another step back, there no longer is HDMI MHL support on the phone, which means you can no longer hook up your phone to your television set to watch videos using just a HDMI cable.

The One M9, meanwhile, has a microSD card slot for memory expansion, and HDMI MHL support.

The LG G4 is most flexible of the lot, with both a microSD card slot and memory expansion. Not much is known about HDMI MHL support for now.

Battery Life

battery-lifeSource

So what if your phone has all the bells-and-whistles in it? There’s no point if it needs to be plugged into a charger all the time.

The Galaxy S6 has the smallest battery of the lot (2,550mAh on the regular and 2,600mAh on the edge variant), whereas the One M9 has a larger, 2,800mAh battery. The LG G4 tops them all with a 3,000mAh battery.

Despite the smaller battery size, the Galaxy S6 seems to be a far more efficient phone, as benchmarks show the Galaxy S6 having a similar, or sometimes even better, battery life to the LG G4 (though the G4 has a removable battery). The One M9, meanwhile, has some improving to do.

The Galaxy S6 also supports wireless charging out-of-the-box, which is a really nifty feature. I’ve been using it for a month now, and once you go wireless, you’ll never go wired again. The LG G4 supposedly supports wireless charging as well, but only on selected rear covers. Both the S6 and M9 supports fast charging, though only the S6 comes with a fast charging adapter out of the box. Fast charging enables you to fully charge your phone in just over an hour, a really useful feature when you need some battery life desperately.

Where to Buy?

Hopefully, the above comparisons would have given you a good idea of what to expect from each of these phones and aided you in your purchasing decision.

I purchased my phone with the help of ShopBack, and managed to get it (with local warranty) at a whopping RM542 off its street price. To get such an amazing discount, you need to be a little astute as to which retailer to shop at and which coupon code to use. For me, I was able to get such a huge discount because I purchased it on Lazada, and received 6% in cashback offered by ShopBack. That also meant that despite the hefty sum I paid for a first-dibs on the model, I also received a whopping RM112 in return as a cash rebate into my ShopBack account. Who doesn’t love freebies right, especially when it’s free money?

Sounds complicated? Don’t worry, because ShopBack’s got you covered. When you navigate to a particular retailer, ShopBack lists down almost all coupon codes you can use with a particular retailer so you don’t need to hunt all over the Internet just for the best deals.

Click here to view the Samsung Galaxy S6/ S6 Edge, and other phone models on available for low prices on Lazada.

Other tech retailers on site include AliExpress and eBay if you want to compare prices on a more international scale.

By the way, the LG G4 isn’t officially released yet, so don’t worry if you cannot find it anywhere yet. Patience is a virtue!

If these phones are too expensive for you, stay tuned as we’ll be covering mid-range phones in a later article.


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