HTC and LG's 2015 flagships showcase very different approaches to smartphone design.
They're both big names in the Android world, but HTC and LG have always taken radically different approaches to their high-end hardware. And with the arrival of the LG G4 to do battle with the HTC One M9, the contrast between the two firms continues to grow.
It's metal versus leather as the G4 squares up to the M9.
This year LG's all about the leather (sure, you can also get the G4 in plastic too, but you really shouldn't). It's a welcome move for the manufacturer, allowing it to take a step beyond the ho-hum plastic of last year's G3. HTC, of course, has focused on metal unibody construction since 2013's M7. The difference between the two is largely down to persona taste, though on the G4 you'll still have a plastic-bodied, plastic-framed phone, which kinda breaks the illusion for us. As for which one feels more premium, that's a tough call as well. The M9's design, especially in the highly reflective silver-plus-gold combo is more ostentatious, but we're also digging the pitch-black leather of the G4.
The G4 is also heftier in all directions than the M9, owing to its 5.5-inch QHD display. On the M9, you'll get a smaller and lower-res 1080p panel. The resolution isn't the biggest difference between these two screens, though. Instead, it's the G4's brightness and vividness that puts it comfortably above HTC's offering. Even in our limited time with the phone, it's clear to us the G4's IPS Quantum Display is more than just hype. The M9's screen isn't bad, but it's just not even in the same league as LG's latest panel.
When it comes to sound, it's a close call, but thanks to HTC's front-facing BoomSound speakers, our first impressions are that the M9 sneaks in a win here.
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Newer model: LG G5
Around the back, LG continues the use of its trademark rear-mounted buttons for power, volume up and volume down; meanwhile HTC has opted for traditional side-mounted keys in an arrangement that can occasionally cause confusion. We've always appreciated LG's unique approach to button placement, though your mileage may vary. Both phones offer the option to wake up using a double-tap of the screen, through KnockOn and Motion Launch respectively.
On the inside, the M9 has the upper hand, at least on paper. HTC's flagship packs Qualcomm's high-end (and also somewhat controversial) octa-core Snapdragon 810, whereas the G4 uses its little brother, the six-core Snapdragon 808. The main difference here is you get two fewer high-power Cortex-A57 cores and a slightly less powerful GPU. The 808 appears to be no slough, though, and the G4s we've used so far have performed flawlessly, with none of the weird lag we've seen from early versions of previous LG phones. HTC, of course, figured out smooth smartphone software a long time ago, and its latest efforts are equally buttery.
As for which looks better and is easier to use? It's going to take more time with both phones to properly judge whether LG's UX 4.0 can top HTC Sense 7.
Removable battery and no Quick Charge, or Quick Charge and no removable battery?
LG can also boast a removable 3,000mAh battery, while HTC's is fixed inside the M9's unibody and clocks in at 2,840mAh. The M9 can also boast Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0 support, which is apparently missing from the G4. Meanwhile neither supports wireless charging out of the box, but the G4 can support Qi charging with an accessory.
When it comes to photography, LG's talking up the G4's 16-megapixel, laser-assisted camera, complete with a new camera app allowing users a new manual mode with advanced controls. HTC's camera app has long featured such a mode, giving you control over ISO and shutter speed, among other things. We'll wait until we've spent some more time with the G4 before saying conclusively how it measures up to the M9's shooter, but given that HTC's camera hasn't exactly impressed us, our expectations are firmly weighted in the G4's favor.
We'll have more to say on the LG G4 and its competitors soon, in the meantime check out the rest of our G4 coverage from today's launch event!