HTC One M9 vs. One M8: What's New?

Staff Writer
Updated

While the new HTC One M9 may not look that different from its predecessor, it ups the ante with a sharp new camera, a more powerful processor and improved software. But how significant are the changes, and should you upgrade from the old model?

Here are all the differences between the HTC One M9 and the One M8 to help you make an informed decision.

Spec
One M9
One M8
Processor
Octa-core Snapdragon 810 CPU, (4 x 2GHz, 4 x 1.5 GHz), 64-bit
2.3-GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU
RAM
3GB
2GB
Display
5-inch Full HD
5-inch Full HD
Rear Camera
20MP, f/2.2 lens
Duo camera (UltraPixel + depth)
Front Camera
4MP UltraPixel, f/2.0 lens
5MP
Software
Android 5.0 Lollipop with HTC Sense 7
Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC Sense 6
Battery
2,840 mAh
2,600-mAh
Dimensions
5.7 x 2.7 x 0.37 inches, 5.5 ounces
5.8 x 2.8 x 0.71 inches, 5.6 ounces

Major Camera Improvements

Possibly the biggest change to the HTC One is in its camera deployment. The rear camera is now a 20-megapixel beast, a big jump up from the 4-megapixel UltraPixel shooter on the One M8. Instead of the two rear cameras -- one for capturing image data, the other for depth information -- that were present on the M8, the M9 carries just one rear camera. The M9 rear camera's lens is covered with sapphire for scratch resistance and lets you shoot 4K video.

Up front, the M9 carries a 4-MP UltraPixel camera, as opposed to the 5-MP shooter on the M8, and now supports full HD video recording. The UltraPixel camera up front will let in more light than the M8's camera did; better selfies should be the result.

MORE: Best Smartphone Cameras on the Market

Lollipop OS with New Sense 7 UI

Running Android Lollipop 5.0 with HTC's Sense UI (version 7) overlaid, the HTC One M9 offers plenty of personalization features. You can create your own Theme in the Gallery app by first selecting any of your photos to become your home screen background. The phone will detect the main colors in your picture and set that as the color scheme for your status bars and app icons.

If you want something a little more professional, you can also pick a design from the Theme store, which offers a large library of options. The Gallery also offers some nifty photo-editing features to make perfecting your shots easier.

Sense 7 also offers a context-based home-screen widget that serves up suggestions based on your location and time of day. During meal times, for example, your lock screen will automatically bring up Yelp restaurant suggestions, depending on where you are. You can also set locations for your home or office addresses.

Bigger Battery

The One M9 packs a bigger 2,840-mAh battery over the M8's 2,600-mAh one. On our battery test, the One M8 lasted an impressive 9 hours and 52 minutes, and we expect the M9 to deliver at least the same runtime, if not more, thanks to its bigger power pack.

Better BoomSound Speakers

Thankfully, the rumors that HTC was doing away with the front-facing speakers on the One M9 aren't true. Not only are the front BoomSound speakers here to stay, but they got better. HTC partnered with Dolby to offer 5.1 surround sound in the One M9's speakers, and there's also a built-in amp. The new flagship phone also supports 24-bit audio for richer music, which HTC says is better than CD quality.

With BoomSound Connect, you can stream any music or video to compatible home stereo devices by swiping your home screen with three fingers. You can also stream different music to different speakers at the same time.

Small Changes

Other than the significant changes above, the HTC One M9 also sports a powerful new octa-core Snapdragon 810 CPU and 3GB of RAM (up from 2GB on the M8). The One's all-metal, unibody design is now slightly sleeker, and the new handset comes in four new colors: gold, silver, pink and gunmetal gray. The dual-tone design adds a unique flair to the already-beautiful device. HTC kept the same 5-inch, 1920 x 1080p display for the One M9.

Overall, while the One M9 and M8 might not look all that different, the new flagship packs plenty of impressive upgrades. Smartphone photographers will be particularly intrigued by the new cameras, and audiophiles may appreciate the BoomSound improvements.

Staff writer Cherlynn Low needs a new smartphone. Follow her @cherlynnlow. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide on Facebook.