HTC One M9 vs Moto X: the weigh-in

Can 2015’s HTC heavyweight take down Motorola’s mighty Moto X? We put the two head-to-head to find out.

HTC might be fighting off competition from the Samsung Galaxy S6, but the HTC One M9’s spiritual equal is the Moto X.

Motorola’s build-it-yourself handset brings decent specs for 2014 to the fight, but can it stand up to the HTC One M9’s 2015 stylings? There’s only one way to find out...

Round 1: Design and dimensions

On the face of it, these two black slabs look pretty similar. HTC has taken some inspiration from the past with the front panel much more in line with the original One while the back is pure One M8. That heavily grilled front is starting to look a little dated, but the handset still looks very swipeable despite the slight disconnect between front and back.

The back is where the Moto X comes into its own: the curved rear panel can be replaced with pretty much whatever colour, design and material takes your fancy so if you’ve got an eye for these things, you could beat the HTC One M9 at its own game.

The HTC One M9 comes with a slightly smaller screen than the Moto X - 5-inches to the X’s 5.2 - but that doesn’t mean you save on weight. In fact, the One M9 is heavier despite being slimmer and smaller than the Motorola device. While we’re only talking about a 0.3mm difference in width, the One M9 is heavier by 13g and that’s a not insignificant amount.

Winner: Moto X 

Round 2: Grunt

As you’d expect with a new superphone release, the HTC One M9 is not messing around when it comes to processing power. It’s working a new octacore Snapdragon 810 chip, which should keep things both speedy and power-efficient. Coupled with 3GB of RAM, we’d be surprised to see this thing falter even during a hefty workout.

Compared to that, the Moto X is looking a little tired: its quad-core Snapdragon 801 chip was pretty top line in 2014, but these days its octa-core of gtfo. That plus 2GB of memory are not low-end by any means but the HTC One M9 takes it.

Winner: HTC One M9

Round 3: Storage wars

Ever since the dawn of the smartphone, a war has raged between those devices with expandable storage slots and those without. And here we have one of each: the Moto X comes in three fixed storage sizes (16GB, 32GB and 64GB), while the HTC One M9 comes with 32GB as standard plus a microSD slot so you can add an extra 128GB if you see fit.

We can’t help but prefer the flexibility of adding more storage - we’ve got music and photos and films and 2K videos to save on this thing, you know - so it’s another round to HTC.

Winner: HTC One M9

Round 4: Selfie stricken

Camera-wise, it’s a slam-dunk for the HTC One M9. Not only does the rear camera pack 20.7MP to the Moto X’s 13MP snapper, HTC has given the One M9 a sapphire crystal lens cover, 4K video shooting and an f2.2 aperture. The Moto X has a slightly wider aperture at f2.25 and is also up to task on 4K video. 

Flip the phones over and the HTC is the clear winner. The One M9’s front-facing camera is a 4MP sensor beefed up with HTC’s Ultra Pixel tech, while the Moto X’s 2MP selfie-cam comes with no extras.

Winner: HTC One M9

Round 5: But at what cost?

The HTC One M9 isn’t out yet, but we’re told it’ll set you back a hefty amount when it does make it to shop shelves. We’re talking over £500 if you buy it SIM-free. Compare that to the Moto X which starts at about £420 and just try to stop yourself working out what other treats you’d buy with the savings.

Winner: Moto X

Initial verdict

While the Moto X might inch it on price and style, the HTC One M9 has the chops where it counts: it all but obliterates the Moto X on power and storage. And let’s not underestimate the importance of a superior camera now that our smartphones have replaced compacts for many of us. While the design might not be as easy on the eye, the HTC One M9’s build quality and the primo materials used mean you won’t be disappointed either way. 

However, we’ve had plenty of time to get to grips with the Moto X and an all-too-brief play with the One M9 - perhaps in extended use it’ll annoy us to the point where we’re crying out for a Moto X. Stay tuned to find out in our full HTC One M9 review later this month. 

Winner (for now): HTC One M9