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LG G4 vs HTC One M9 comparison: which can compete with the Galaxy S6?

Update: More performance tests

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.

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We decide the winner between these two flagship phones. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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The HTC One M9 design beats the plastic-backed LG G4, but the leather-backed G4 won us over with its originality. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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A red leather-backed LG G4 - irresistible. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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The bend of the LG G4 is clear in this image - as is the clumsy protruding camera sensor on the HTC One M9. / © ANDROIDPIT

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).

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The LG G4 display dominates the HTC One M9 - which should've made more effort to improve in the HTC One M8 display. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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The HTC One M9 beats the LG G4 in terms of raw performance, but in reality the difference is minimal. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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The HTC One M9 (left) comfortably beat the LG G4 (right) in running high-end gaming graphics. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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LG G4 - proving that microSD is alive and well in smartphones. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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The HTC One M9 interface is super-tweakable thanks to Themes. It also includes handy apps like Blinkfeed (left) and Peel Smart Remote (right). / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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The LG G4 also has a remote-control app, and includes the useful Smart Notice screen among other utlity-oriented apps. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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Neither phone packs a great battery under its pretty cover. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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One of the two BoomSound stereo speakers on the HTC One M9. HTC wins this one hands-down. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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Both great phones, but only one of them could win it (well, it could've been a draw, but where's the fun in that?). / © ANDROIDPIT

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.


Write new comment:
  • I am neutral. I understand the strengths on both phones. I love LG's design. I also love its camera and screen. HTC is indeed better in audio, power and battery life.

  • transfer data between any two smartphones from iPhone and android

  • Plastic vs metal is a shallow distinction. There are advantages (but quite minor) to each. Many, or at least most, people are going to add a cover to either, so which is rather meaningless. Focus on things that matter, not things that don't

  • just me 11 months ago Link to comment

    I like a million other people have less than good hearing so I could care less about the speakers ... I what to know about the HAC (hearing aid compatibility). But you NEVER show the HAC.

  • "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..."

    I fail to see the fantastic pricing point of the LG. The LG commands a $50 USD premium for a $0.05 USD piece of leather glued to the back of a plastic case - Make it alligator or ostrich and the $50 USD MIGHT be understandable. The LG is primarily plastic in construction while the HTC is metal. Along with the better processor for the same price-point, sounds like HTC should be the winner here (from a satisfied LG G2 user and dissatisfied HTC Rezound user)...

  • I think the camera comparison could have been done better. Different kinds of photos where taken on each camera, making it impossible to do a comparison. It would have been better if you used the two cameras, and took the exact same photo with them, and showed them side by side. It seems like with smartphones today, all of the flagship phones are excellent, and you are really splitting hairs. Especially in the speed tests. The numbers are great, but they can also be tweaked to give you a result that looks faster, but isn't necessarily true.

  • While i'm not saying this is a bad comparison, i think some categories should be worth more than some others. For example, I personally care about Display, Software, and Camera much more than lets say... speakers. I feel like in the end, the scores were quite close, but the G4 was better on the fundamentals, where the M9 won most of the niche categories.

  • I'm the owner of a HTC one m7 and I'm glad to say my next phone will probably be the LG G4 because the one m9 is just a disappointment to what I expected and I want a good camera since I had this one for a while and it turns pink #thankshtc

    • I love HTC's sense 7 but I can't put up with having the m9 when the LG G4 is clearly better it many ways and the G4's battery is better since its removable and you get a second battery with it therefore 7-4

  • "up to 2GB of it" --- WOW! I have no idea how I could fill up a whole 2GB.

  • 10
    Mak S May 28, 2015 Link to comment

    Andriodpit. This is pure BS you switch the phones in the title from I Phone to the S6. Then you re post the article like it is a new one. This is extreme laziness on your writers part. You do it all the time if it was an update it would have the same title.

    • Meh, Android Pit recycles articles all the time. Maybe they just don't pay enough for people to write new ones.

      • 1
        Mak S May 30, 2015 Link to comment

        Probably so. I am out of here. Most of their articles are on Yahoo before they post it anyway. See Ya

  • (up to 2GB of it, if you can afford it!), is it 200 GB or 2 gb, 2 gb cards are out of fashion

  • 10
    Mak S May 13, 2015 Link to comment

    I don't agree with the battery score. You don't even mention that the LG G4 has a removable battery. With the removable battery LG is the winner of that section. Which would be a 7/4 score card for the LG.

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