I have always thought that the 1990s tectonic battle between Microsoft’s internet explorer and NCC’s Netscape Navigator was the crash of the giants. In the first half of 2013, we witnessed HTC and Samsung launch their most ingenious smartphones ever – the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Each handset is its own best. The circumstances under which these companies released their devices could be described as the exact opposite. HTC was struggling to stay afloat in a market that seemed to have no more favors for the company, while Samsung was putting to use one more of their salvo of marketing strategies. These two handsets have culminated to a situation where buyers actually have to make a BIG choice. And while some consumers will choose based on software features, hardware design, camera power or any other such criteria; it is not possible in the real world to get a good sense of these features before you actually buy one. If you are stuck, unable to clearly choose the device that’ll be best suited for your very specific needs and requirements, here is a most comprehensive and objective comparison between the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4.
1) Handset Design (Look and Feel)
Smartphone fan boys have time and again described the HTC One as the most appealing phone ever made. Well, the HTC One features a sleek, attractive and appealing aluminum casing. In addition to giving this phone the classic look, the casing artwork and material makes it just look expensive. This android smartphone has a most memorable backside – a sloped silver frame with horizontal seams near the bottom and top. The phone doesn’t cease to impress on its front side, which looks just awesome with silver bookends sandwiching the screen and black bezel. Without going to the details on sound quality, the speaker grilles also add something to the entire look. Often times, people compare the One to an iPhone…But…well, I’d say that it looks much better than the iPhone. Held in the hand, the HTC One feels heavy and compact…Well, did I just say heavy? What I actually meant is ‘solid’, and perhaps dense. The One’s power button is located on the top left edge, and doesn’t really prolong from the phone’s surface at all – can be a little absent when blindly reaching for it.
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4 looks pretty much like its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S3. The casing is plastic, making the phone feel a little cheaper than the One, but also lighter. The S4 design also accommodates a microSD slot and a removable battery (which you won’t find in the One). When it comes to thinness, the Galaxy S4 is quite the phone, around 15% thinner than the One. This smartphone is also wider and longer when compared to the One. If you happen to drop the S4, it’s plastic casing is less likely to get nicked, and you could just get a new battery cover to replace the backside. The power button is placed better – on the phone’s right side, protruding a little bit thus more blindly reachable.
If you are going for looks and an expensive feel, the One ultimately wins it. However, if you prefer a lighter, thinner phone, you might prefer the S4 here.
Samsung Galaxy S4
One of the most striking things about the Samsung S4 smartphone is the 5” Super AMOLED display – featuring a sharp 1920x1080p resolution and a pixel density of 441 Pixels Per Inch.
The screen has more vibrant colors (larger than life colors). The screen will also be a little dimmer and more reflective than with other phones.
HTC One LCD display rolls a diagonal calibration of 4.7”, which is quite smaller than the Galaxy S4. Well, to be more specific and simple, I’d say that the One’s display is about 11% less than the S4 display size. HTC One boasts a good 1920×1080 HD resolution, but with a higher pixel per inch density than the Galaxy S4 (468ppi). The One’s screen is more bright and beautiful, with accurate, realistic colors. Not to forget, the text also looks pretty much crunchy.
While the S4’s display size is larger, the One offers greater pixel per inch density. The Galaxy S4 offers more pleasing colors, but the One offers better absolute brightness and less distracting reflectiveness. Either phone has its screen advantages and weaknesses. Although bigger screens generally facilitate a better user experience I’d say there is no clear winner here; it’s all up to what you prefer.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Durability Test:
HTC One durability Test:
4) Onboard Storage
HTC One with a beautiful aluminum closed unibody, and a sleek design, the HTC One leaves no room for a microSD card slot. To solve the gap left up in this, the HTC One scraps the 16GB model and comes available two models – a 32 GB and a 64 GB of internal memory handset.
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4 comes available in 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB configurations. If you are going to be needing some more storage space, the S4 allows for this as it has a microSD slot that can support upto 64GB of additional storage space. So you could just chip in your photos, video and audio files here. Most carriers will sell the 16GB model. It’s actually quite hard to find the 64GB one.
If you are the kind of users who keep swapping SD cards between devices, or need to copy some huge files from your PC to the phone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will allow for these provisions. However, if you can do just fine with a fixed 32GB (or rather 64GB) of storage space, the HTC One does just perfect.
5) Battery Life
In HTC One you get a 2,300 mAH battery. Well, this is slightly lower-capacity than what you get with the S4, but not significantly so. However, important to note is that if the battery gets messed up on this phone, you’ve got to take the whole phone for repair, or at least exchange it for a flesh handset.
Samsung Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy comes with a slightly higher-capacity battery, at 2600mAh. The battery is removable and thus can be replaced if at all it gets damaged. If you also feel the need to put in a spare battery any time the current one discharges out there, the S4 will do just well for you.
On the battery front, the Samsung Galaxy S4 obviously takes the win, offering more flexibility.
6) OS Version
Samsung Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4 runs Google’s latest android mobile operating system (Android Jellybean, 4.2.2). Nevertheless, Samsung does have its own heavy TouchWiz interface, so you don’t end up getting the plain pure Jelly Bean experience.
HTC One uses a slightly older version of android Jellybean (version 4.1.2). However, the phone will support the enhanced Google Now search function. HTC also features its latest Sense 5.0 user interface over the android OS, so you also don’t get stock android. Recently HTC One got 4.2.2 update in several countries.
While the difference between the two versions of Jelly Bean isn’t major, the later version features a number of cool bug fixes and UI improvements. I wouldn’t say that there is much of a major difference as far as OS version is the subject of comparison.
7) UI and User Friendliness
Samsung Galaxy 4
The TouchWiz interface is definitely the results of immense hard work by Samsung. This interface gives you an array of pretty new camera and video modes that allow you to play with your pictures and gestures. With the Group Play sharing feature, owners in a group can simultaneously play the same content, including music and games without the need for Wi-Fi or data connections. The screen is navigable even when wearing gloves. The Samsung smartphone comes preloaded with a host of applications, including S health (which promises to help you get fit) and S-Voice Drive (takes in voice commands and adjusts the system in few important ways for drivers). If you are looking to mess up with people’s TVs, there’s even an app that turns your smartphone into a TV remote.
Here is the video about S health app review.
Although TouchWiz is a continent away from android, I acknowledge the fact that Samsung has tried to add value everywhere they could. Well, you can even scroll the phone with your eyes, or gesture to the next page of the Kindle book you are reading. Although the TouchWiz interface isn’t bad, it could make you feel overwhelmed and lost a sea of settings options and applications.
Although the company made considerable changes to its Sense UI and Android Jelly Bean in general, they took a rather more conservative approach than Samsung did with the S4. The icons for app shortcuts and text fonts appear clean, futuristic and sleek. With the BlinkFeed feature (the primary, default home screen), HTC One departs considerably from stock android. Blinkfeed concentrates both social media updates and news into a nearly flipboard-like presentation in an attempt to furnish you with bit-size information chunks. While a good deal of users appear to like this feature, you have no option to permanently remove it if you don’t like it (you can only deemphasize it).
Here is the video about Blink feed from HTC.
When we look at the features and additions, it is clear that Samsung Galaxy S4 wins it. But the point is, average users are not really finding most of these apps so useful.
8) Camera Capabilities
Considerable number of smartphone users will see the camera to be an important factor before they actually decide to buy a particular handset. On its website, the HTC Company claims that the One has UltraPixels (‘an advanced imaging technology that offers a great leap in the quality of point-and-shoot photos’). You can pack a sequence of actions into an image, and create video highlights from photos and movies shot each day. The HTC One uses a special *4MP sensor, as opposed to the sharper resolutions used in the S4 and other competing handsets. HTC says that this works better by allowing a bigger sensor size, larger pixels and more so increased light sensitivity. The Zoe Imaging system that comes with this phone is pretty much interesting, and can sometimes be addictive to play with.
Samsung Galaxy S4
From a snapshot, I’d say that the S4 camera is more satisfying and delivers more than the HTC One. Samsung tends to stick with their more traditional trend of a 13MP sensor, although overflowing with effects, settings and features. Well, with the S4 camera, you can even combine a number of action sequences into a single image, record videos in slow or fast motion and use images from either of the cameras in a photograph (front or back cameras). From a look at photos taken by the S4, the handset camera capabilities are pretty much impressive. When recording movies, you also get continuous autofocus with the Samsung Smartphone.
Samsung offers a whole range of effects and features for the camera, but I am not sure how many smartphone consumers meddle with the camera settings before they actually take their snaps. Overall, however, the Samsung Galaxy S4 significantly outperforms the HTC One as far as image performance is a factor to consider. If you are looking to take non-specialized, casual images, the One could still do for you.
HTC placed dual stereo speakers (Boom Sound) on the front of their handset. And the happy thing is that these speakers are quite good. Well, to be more specific, the sound is actually impressive. However, if you love your silence, you’ll find this phone quite loud. You should make a point to actually test how loud the volume still is even after you lower it when you’re at the workplace.
Samsung Galaxy S4
The S4 has a little bump by the speaker to muffle the sound if it’s sitting on a desk. Although the sound isn’t as good as what you get with the One, it isn’t quite an issue either. The notifications on the S4 are subtle, light – which is just un-noisily good.
When it comes to audio, HTC One wins. But if you live a more formal life where a loud atmosphere is anything but the norm, you might feel a little overpowered – in which case the Samsung Galaxy S4’s subtle sounds will do just perfect.
10) Processing and Performance
Both devices feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad core processor (1.9GHz for S4, and 1.7GHz for the One), and an Adreno 320 graphics processor. On paper, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a slight edge as far as performance is an issue of consideration. In reality, however, the One feels a little bit faster and smoother. This could be attributed to the fact that its software has less bloat. This is not to say that the S4 is a slow phone. It’s just to say that when you use the S4 in your right hand and the HTC One in your left hand – the HTC One will feel a bit more responsive.
Considering the features, both Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One has LTE and HSPA+. But the below video claims that Samsung Galaxy S4 has more download speed and HTC One has more upload speed.
12) Build material
Now one of the unique things about HTC One is aluminium body. It feels rigid, compact and solid. There are many people who choose HTC One just because of the reason it has a metallic body. Many hate plastic body used in Samsung Galaxy S4.
Samsung Galaxy S4 is lighter than HTC One, hence S4 is the obvious winner.
14) Google Play Edition
Find the quick comparison video of Google play edition in Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One below:
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One: Conclusion
Both the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 are awesome phones. More still, they are in the same price range, although the HTC One is slightly cheaper. Essentially, the HTC One and the S4 are at the pinnacle of improvements in smartphone technology, and will obviously set trends for devices to be launched in the future. While the HTC One wins in terms of hardware design, clean software interface and audio quality, the Samsung Galaxy S4 reigns in terms of camera quality, more software features, and display size. WELL, sounds like a dead end to me, but it isn’t. We all have preferences, and based on what features you prefer – you can make the outright decision between the two handsets, based on your notion of the ultimate smartphone experience. For users who love to play around with their camera and share things with their friends and family, I’d say go for the Galaxy S4. If on the other hand you just need a classy phone for a clean but simplified smartphone experience, the HTC One makes it.
Pictures Credit: Gizmag