The time has come for one of the biggest smartphone showdowns of the year in our LG G4 vs HTC One M9 comparison. These are the 2015 flagships for their respective manufacturers, and it's safe to say that the winner of this will be competing the Galaxy S6 for the prestigious crown of 'best Android phone of 2015'. Read on to see who'll be the winner.
LG G4 vs HTC One M9: design and build quality
It's refreshing to have a smartphone comparison in which the two phones in question clearly had completely contrasting design philosophies (unlike, say, the separated-at-birth look of the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6). This is more to LG's credit than it is to HTC's. While HTC was certainly a pioneer in making all-metal phones, other manufacturers have now followed suit, and the undoubtedly beautiful One M9 is not as original a phone as its predecessors.
LG has for some time been trying to establish a unique design for its phones, culminating in the crazy, crimson banana-phone that was the LG G Flex 2. LG has toned things down a bit with the G4, giving it the slightest of curves so that its screen doesn't touch surfaces when you place it face down (the curve also makes the screen more shatter-proof, according to LG). The SIM and microSD slots are hidden under the removable cover, while the power and volume buttons are comfortably located on the back of the phone under the camera. This unique design touch means there are no unsightly slots and buttons all the way around the sides of the phone.
Then there is the bold leather back cover on the LG G4. Over time - as the leather wears down - we'll find out whether this design choice was inspirational or disastrous, but it certainly makes the phone stand out from its glassy and metallic rivals. The plastic-backed version isn't quite as spectacular.
The HTC One M9 is a beautiful phone - which is a given considering how similar it is to its lauded predecessor. It has an aluminum unibody design, with a brushed metal finish on the back and sides of the phone. This makes it a bit grippier than the One M8. The front part of the phone is slotted into the back, which gives the One M9 a slightly more angular look than the One M8, though this design choice also makes it look a bit less 'unibody' than the One M8 too.
The designs of the LG G4 and HTC One M9 are from completely different sides of the smartphone spectrum, and both are fantastic in their own ways. The LG G4 is more bold and original, while the One M9 has changed little, with HTC claiming it doesn't need to fix something that ain't broke. With the design quality of both phones being so high, it comes down to personal taste, but this writer values a bit of audacity and originality over generic excellence, so the leather-bound LG G4 wins this one.
1-0 to the LG G4.
LG G4 vs HTC One M9: display
The LG G3 display was well ahead of its time, as it squeezed a 2560 x 1440 (QHD) resolution into 5.5 inches of screen space. This - combined with the fact that 4K screens don't seem necessary on smartphones at the moment - meant that the LG G4 had an uphill task to top its predecessor. However, the LG G4 successfully did so, retaining the QHD resolution on a 5.5-inch display, while making it brighter and its colors more natural by using the DCI color standard (to 98 percent accuracy).
HTC could've learned a few things from LG in this respect, because the One M9 retains the same 5.1-inch 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) display as the One M8. While it's (borderline) reasonable for a flagship to not opt for a QHD resolution due to battery concerns, HTC didn't make improvements to the screen in any other areas, which means that it lags behind the flagship competition.
LG G4 wins again, making it 2-0 to the Korean giant.
HTC One M9 vs LG G4: processor and performance
The Snapdragon 810 (HTC One M9) vs Snapdragon 808 (LG G4) debate is in full flow - eight cores or six cores, power or power-efficiency? Another key battleground in terms of performance is QHD resolution vs Full HD. Carrying out smartphone tasks - particularly playing games - in QHD resolution is more strenuous on the processor, even if everything does look prettier.
We recently ran a comparison between the Snapdragon 810 and 808 chipsets, using the HTC One M9 and LG G4 as our test subjects. We compared the devices' multi-tasking, frame-rates during gaming, while monitoring their temperatures - keeping a particular eye on whether the Snapdragon 810 suffered from the reported overheating and battery problems
We found that both in benchmarking and real-world multitasking, the HTC One M9 beats the LG G4, while producing only around 4C more heat when put under strain (a recent update appears to have fixed the 810 overheating problem). The One M9 got about 5000 more AnTuTu points, and was capable of keeping two demanding apps (the games Modern Combat 3 and Asphalt 8) running in the background simultaneously while we browsed the internet with ten tabs open. The LG G4 only managed to keep one such game open at a time.
In terms of game performance, the LG G4 sacrifices some frame-rate in favor of a high, crispy resolution. Carrying out tests in GFXBench however, the most intensive test - Manhattan ES 3.1, which uses the phones' native resolutions - stuttered horribly on the LG G4's Adreno 418 GPU at 5.8 fps (frames per second). The Adreno 430 aboard the HTC One M9, meanwhile, played at a perfectly watchable 18.1 fps, making it the winner for super high-end gaming.
The graphics scores were much closer when GFXBench ran 1080p tests on the LG G4 and HTC One M9, but the vast majority of games will automatically bump their resolutions to whatever the native resolution of the phone is. The LG G4 still runs high-end games like Asphalt 8 very well, but it may struggle as more demanding games get released due to its QHD screen. If you're a hardcore Android gamer, then the One M9 may be better suited.
The HTC One M9 silences Snapdragon 810 naysayers, and claws the score back to 2-1.
HTC One M9 vs LG G4: storage
Both the HTC One M9 and LG G4 have 32GB on onboard storage, meaning that they both rely more on expandable microSD storage (up to 2GB of it, if you can afford it!) than internal memory. With the outcry against Samsung's decision not to include expandable memory in the Galaxy S6, it's clear that people crave control over their phone storage capacity, so both the LG G4 and HTC One M9 are winners here.
Draw. 3-2 to LG G4.
HTC One M9 vs LG G4: cameras
Oh, dear old HTC. With their UltraPixel experiment failing on the HTC One M8, the Taiwanese phone giant opted for a 20.7MP camera on the One M9, but it still doesn't quite match up to the competition. It's an improvement, sure, but photos have a tendency to look washed out and lacking in detail compared to rivals, such as the LG G4. The 4MP UltraPixel front camera, on the other hand, does a decent job, but even in the selfie age, the front camera just isn't as significant as the rear one.
The 16MP LG G4 camera is right up there competing with the Galaxy S6 for the throne of smartphone snappers. It has a f/1.8 aperture, OIS 2.0, and a 'color spectrum sensor' instead of a second LED flash, meaning that photos shot using a flash look balanced and natural. Couple this with a wide-aperture 8MP front camera and beautiful QHD screen to admire your photos on, and the LG G4 is a clear winner.
LG brings the score up to a comfortable 4-2.
HTC One M9 vs LG G4: software
Both phones run Android Lollipop, and both HTC's Sense 7 UI and LG's UX 4.0 UI make sparing but good use of key Lollipop features like Smart Locking, dynamic notifications and the Recent Apps menu.
HTC's Sense UI has long been admired for its sleekness and minimal elegance, while LG has only recently started turning heads with its interface. With the G4, LG has pulled things back however, and right now there's little to separate the two fine UIs.
Both phones feature IR blasters and handy apps for controlling your infrared devices. Smart Notice on the LG G4 is a handy bonus, showing you apps that may be slowing down your phone, the weather forecast for the day, and phone tasks you may want to carry out. The 'Smart cleaning' feature also removes the need for ad-filled third-party apps for cleaning your phone.
The HTC One M9 is super-sparing with its inclusion of extra apps outside the usual Google bunch, which will please people wanting a truly fresh start with the phone. Blinkfeed is a decent aggregator of your selected news and social feeds, but the star of HTC apps is Themes, which offers a fantastic level of customization for your device.
The software bonuses are pretty different between these two. LG wins for utility while HTC wins for personalization. Overall, that makes it a draw.
5-3 for the LG G4.
HTC One M9 vs LG G4: battery life
The HTC One M9 battery has 2,840mAh, while the LG G4 one has 3,000mAh. HTC's reasoning for the relatively small battery was that the Snapdragon 810 is a super-power-efficient chipset, and also that not using a QHD resolution meant there was no need for one. LG, on the other hand, was happy to add a few mm of thickness to the LG G4 so that it had a bigger battery, and therefore more battery life.
Both phones include Quick Charge, but that doesn't make up for the fact that battery life in both isn't quite as long as we'd have hoped for. We managed to squeeze a day's use out of the HTC One M9, while the LG G4 screen seemed to take its toll on the device, giving us just under a day's use.
A reluctant point goes to HTC here, but both LG and HTC need to try harder next time! 5-4.
HTC One M9 vs LG G4: price
The official HTC One M9 price is 649 USD in the US and 580 GBP in the UK, while the leather-bound LG G4 is 699 USD/525 GBP (the plastic-backed version is 649 USD/500 GBP). These are fantastic prices from LG, which can be partly attributed to the Snapdragon 808 chipset and lack of metal in the design. Best of all, the LG G4 doesn't run or feel like a cheaper phone, and proves that flagship quality doesn't have to come at a huge price - merely a big one.
With one subheading to spare, the LG G4 secures the points victory at 6-4. Nothing but pride for the HTC to play for now.
HTC One M9 vs LG G4: audio
Thanks to its BoomSound stereo front-facing speakers, the HTC One M9 is the acoustic king of Android devices. High notes are crispy, and bass is nice and crunchy. With the HTC One M9, you finally don't need to put your phone in a pint glass if you want to listen to music in the park on a warm summer's day. It also has aptX Bluetooth audio support, which improves wireless headphone sound quality with compatible headphones.
The LG G4 has a single speaker grille on the back of the phone, which does a perfectly decent job of delivering loud, clear sound. Of course, it's neither as loud or crispy as the exceptional One M9 speakers, so the race to win this category isn't even close. A neat trick though is the option to connect a pair of wired and wireless headphones simultaneously - letting two people listen to the same music at once through two separate pairs of headphones.
The HTC One M9 pulls a pride point back to make the score 6-5 to the LG G4. It's
HTC One M9 vs LG G4: final verdict
The LG G4 may have won the competition, but it was so close that it'd be difficult for us to outright tell you to go out and buy it immediately. What we would say is that the G4 feels like a bigger upgrade on its predecessor than the HTC One M9, so if you've been an HTC owner until now and want to have a phone that feels like more than an incremental upgrade, then you may be disappointed with the One M9.
These are two fantastic phones, but the LG G4 is that bit more ambitious and succeeds in its ambitions. We commend it for its originality and stunning screen and camera, and happily crown it the winner of our HTC One M9 vs LG G4 showdown. A round of applause please for the HTC One M9 as well though, which remains one of the best phones in the world today.
Do you agree with the verdict? Let us know.