I Loved the HTC One, But the Romance Is Over

Over the past two years, I've championed the HTC One M7 and M8 to friends, family and pretty much anyone who'd listen. It may not have had the best camera or the highest-resolution screen, but aside from the Sony Xperia Z3, its combination of a sharp display, solid battery life and powerful front-facing speakers gave HTC flagships the best overall user experience of any smartphone on the market. But on Monday, I walked into my local wireless carrier and ordered a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.

To date, my HTC One M7 has been the best smartphone I've ever owned. Even when the gorgeous M8, LG G3, GS5 and iPhone 6 came out, I never felt like they were worth the money and hassle to upgrade from my trusty One M7. Even today, with dings, scratches and a fading Beats logo, my One M7 still looks good and, in my opinion, better than the fat, clunky One M9.

I have every reason to support HTC. Half of my family lives in Taiwan. I lived there for a year and a half while learning Chinese. My first introduction to Android was an HTC Tattoo running Android 1.6 Donut. But the One M9 doesn't live up to the standard of previous HTC phones.

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I know that, with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, I'm trading Sense for TouchWiz, and giving up a potential microSD card slot and those glorious front-facing speakers for a new set of sensibilities. But I don't see any other choice.

It's not just me. My colleagues at Tom's Guide, as well as writers for almost every tech site — ranging from our sister site AnandTech to The Verge — have been unimpressed with HTC's latest offering. Mediocre battery life, a spotty camera and a skin-deep paint job that flakes off with little more than a sidelong glare make for a phone that's hard to love, even for the most die-hard supporter.

Oftentimes, tech journalists and reviewers get criticized for not putting their money where their mouths are, but this time, I'm voting with my own hard-earned dollars — $915, in fact — for a 64GB S6 Edge. Here's why.

Yeah, there are the chart-topping scores of its CPU, and a luscious AMOLED screen with true blacks and vivid colors, but the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is also beautiful. Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson has been known to say that, when evaluating a car, aside from speed and power, the thing he looks for the most is an "X factor."

With the S6 Edge, that's exactly what I get. Its dual curved screen, superb camera and overall attention to detail leave me with a smartphone that's not just well designed but something more — a feeling of progress and looking forward. (Its less-curvy sibling is pretty great, too.) Go buy an HTC One M9 if you like, but it's no longer the phone I'll recommend. The One M9 is a disappointment — a step back, instead of a leap into the future.

Sam Rutherford is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide. Follow him @SamRutherford on Twitter, and Tom’s Guide on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Sam is a Senior Writer at Engadget and previously worked at Gizmodo as a Senior Reporter. Before that, he worked at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer and Senior Product Review Analyst, overseeing benchmarks and testing for countless product reviews. He was also an archery instructor and a penguin trainer too (really).