Apple was the clear winner of 2014's battle of the smartphones in many buyers' minds, and the iPhone 6 was listed by several reviewers, including us here at V3, as the firm's finest handset to date.
By comparison, Samsung had a run of bad luck with the 2014 Galaxy S5, which failed to meet its sales projections. Equally, HTC's One M8, while critically praised, enjoyed only moderately good sales.
One year on, however, Samsung and HTC have returned to the smartphone battle ground, and once again attempted to dethrone Apple as ruler of the top-end market with their respective Galaxy S6 and One M9 smartphones.
Design and build
The iPhone 6 features a single-piece metal chassis with curved sides and a flat back, and was praised for its design when it was released in 2014.
Clearly aware of the popularity of the iPhone 6's design, Samsung has borrowed heavily from Apple in creating the Galaxy S6. Mixing elements of Apple's and Sony's designs, the Galaxy S6 has Gorilla Glass back and front faces and a metal frame that is almost identical in design to the iPhone 6's.
By comparison, the HTC One M9 has a close to identical design to its predecessor, the One M8, and features a rounded metal back that wraps round to the Gorilla Glass front, and 'Boom Sound' speakers. The only major design difference is that the One M9's sides are a different colour to its back and have a stepped front face.
HTC claims that the One M9's design combines the best elements of the One M7 and One M8, but we felt that it was actually a step backwards.
The stepped front aims to make it easier to get a solid grip on the handset. However, comparing it with the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6, we found that the hard edge made the One M9 the least comfortable to hold.
This wasn't aided by the One M9's fatter 145x70x9.6mm measurements and 157g weight, which make it noticeably larger and heavier than the 143x71x6.8mm, 138g Galaxy S6 and 138x67x6.9mm, 129g iPhone 6.
The One M9 is also the least feature packed of the three and, unlike the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6, doesn't feature a built-in fingerprint scanner.
Picking between the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 is more difficult. Overall, thanks to the use of metal, the design of the Galaxy S6 is a major step forward for Samsung and a definite improvement on past Galaxy handsets, which had flimsy-feeling polycarbonate frames.
The pebble shape of the Galaxy S6 also means it's every bit as comfortable to hold as the iPhone 6, which is one of the most ergonomically pleasing handsets we've experienced.
However, the fact that the S6 borrowed so heavily from Apple is difficult to ignore and means that, for originality alone, the round goes to the iPhone 6.
Winner: The iPhone 6
Next: Display and operating system