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).

  • Marius Cirsta
    Well to be quite honest I thought this was another article about how someone ditches something ( HTC smartphone this time ) to get one of the "magical" Apple products :)
  • warezme
    I have a black M7 and it has been a great phone. Still if not the best, one of the best looking displays out there. The display went down hill starting with the M8. It is just the right size and those front speakers make a difference. I will keep on eye on the remaining "flagship phones" to decide whether one of those meets my expectations or if I just hold on to a trusty old phone for another year. But I'm not getting an M9 and I'm not crazy about the galaxy 6 either.
  • house70
    Don't tell me...the second article this week trying to convert readers to Apple? No thanks.
    Nope, keep reading it. It's about the downhill HTC trajectory (such a shame after the stellar turnaround with the M7) and switching to SGS 6 Edge.
    I can't really blame you (and other readers, myself included) for thinking it was another Apple commercial for a minute (considering the title). Been quite a few of these lately.
  • rutherfordsc
    15644482 said:
    Don't tell me...the second article this week trying to convert readers to Apple? No thanks.

    I bought a SAMSUNG Galaxy S6 Edge. Come on, at least read the article.
  • DocBones
    I would hold off and see what Sony has coming up. I went from the HTC M8 to Z3 and very happy with that change. The water resistance feature is great - once you have phone that you don't have to pamper - its really a change in how you use it.
  • ammaross
    I was all ready to buy an HTC M9 until I saw the performance, heat, and camera reviews. The camera was the nail in the coffin, as I needed a high MP camera that could at least tie or beat an iPhone (not a terribly high bar, except that 8MP gives them an edge for low-light).

    The G6 was already dead to me due to dropping the microSD card (yes, I frequently shoot 1GB 1080p60 video with it when my camcorder isn't handy) and I store a LOT of pictures on it. A non-unlimited data plan makes local storage a MUST.

    I'm holding out hope for the LG G4, since it's supposed (rumored) to have a microSD slot and a new camera (16MP with F/1.8). The 1440p screen is a nice toss-in, but the Snapdragon 810 could make it a tough (but acceptable) sell. At this point, phones may be circling the drain until Samsung releases the Note 5 or another "alpha" phone that keeps the microSD card slot.

    Yes, there's always an iPhone (if you ignore the microSD slot issue), but if we were considering an iPhone, my problem would be solved since I'd have no options anyway. :P
  • Warsaw
    Might want to update and check your sources. Looks like the camera just got a fix from HTC via software upgrade
  • saiprasad30
    @Sam, If you think HTC M9 is not a good upgrade from M8. Samsung's even worse.
    S5 to an S6 I do not feel there is any need to change. Touchwiz is worse than Sense.
    May be next year a similar article with going to another Brand.. Sony..

    Been a Galaxy user for the last 4 years.
  • nniillaa
    Dont know how you can do it personally. I currently have an Xperia Z which I know was famous for bad battery but its the first phone I've had that had a fixed battery. I've hated it and its made my life hell constantly looking for plugs.
    I've been eagerly awaiting the S6 so I could finally have a phone that gave me what I wanted and the S5 looked like my ideal phone. The S6 took away the features I loved most though to give me something 'pretty' - I'm going to have to go for the Note it appears which is sad having to buy a phone that is already 7 months old :(
  • zodiacfml
    No. It is just Samsung have been more aggressive to compete with Apple and leaving other Android makers behind. I hope Samsung makes the Nexus again.