With HTC’s One out and about for a few days now in America and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 ready to make its debut in less than a week, it’s time to crunch the numbers and make your final decision.
Is any one of these two giants the right phone for you? Is the Galaxy S4 worth upgrading if you purchased an S3 just a year ago? Is the One the answer to HTC’s prayers and the device to put the company again on the map? And ultimately, which of the two is better?
After scouring the internet and checking out every single review of the two phones, we think we know enough about the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One to pit them against each other and see which one comes out on top. Ready, set, fight!
Design and build quality
Choosing a phone based on looks is usually an issue of personal preferences, as there’s not really a standard and 100% objective way to decide if this device is more elegant and better-looking than that one.
With that in mind, I must admit I’m a complete sucker for HTC One’s design. The aluminum unibody is just dreamy and makes the 4.7-incher look like a $600-worth gadget. Call me shallow or however you will, but I want people to notice me if I cough up that much dough for a phone.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the GS4 is ugly. It’s just it doesn’t breathe elegance and premium looks the way the HTC One does. And while I’m not a fan of non-removable covers on a handheld, I much prefer the metallic backplate of the One to the cheapo plastic of the S4. Again, it’s a matter of personal preferences and taste, but if you ask me the HTC One looks a lot better and cooler than its opponent.
As for build quality, we’re yet to see the Galaxy S4 drop-tested, while for the time being the One impresses in this department too. The thing is not unbreakable or anything, but it’s darn sturdy.
Winner: HTC One
Believe it or not, the screen fight comes down to personal choice as well. Do you prefer a larger panel or one with a higher pixel density? If it’s the former, you want the Galaxy S4, whereas if you’d rather go for the latter the HTC One is your guy.
Whatever your pick might be, keep in mind that both these giants have stunning displays, with excellent viewing angles and bright colors. The S4 sports a Super AMOLED 5-incher with a Full HD res and 441 ppi, while the One boasts a Super LCD3 4.7-inch panel with the same 1,920 x 1,080 pix res, but a slightly higher 469 ppi.
Winner: It’s a tie
Processing speed and cameras
As you might already know, the Galaxy S4 comes in two different versions, while the One… is just the one. The “standard” S4 model packs a 1.9 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, but there’s also a version with an Exynos 5 Octa CPU inside. Unfortunately, the Exynos-powered S4 will only land in a few countries around Europe and Asia in the future.
Meanwhile, the HTC One is the same monster all around the world, with a Snapdragon 600 chipset clocked at 1.7 GHz. An undoubtedly zippy monster, but a tad slower than the Galaxy S4 nevertheless.
True, no one has really had the time to thoroughly test the two phones and see how big a speed gap there is in real-life conditions, but in synthetic benchmarks Samsung’s flagship comes out on top. The Exynos variant simply smokes the One, while the Snapdragon model is a little more “contained”, but still punchier.
In the camera department, it’s a lot harder to declare a winner, even though on paper you’d think the S4 would come out on top relatively easily once again. But the 13 MP snapper on the back of the 5-incher is not a whole lot better than the 4 MP Ultrapixel snapper of the One, as you can see in several reviews across the web, including this GSM Arena comparison.
There’s no doubt the S4 is better when it comes to still photo quality, but the One has the upper hand in video quality and also has the better list of features, headlined by Zoe.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S4 by a whisker
Besides the obvious advantage of running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (vs. 4.1), the Galaxy S4 edges the HTC One in the software battle due to the newest TouchWiz-specific extras added in the mix. True, HTC has come a long way with the Sense UI, which is now sleeker and more elegant than before, but TouchWiz is still better. A little too bloated, but better.
On the GS4, you get a heap of special features, like Smart Stay, Smart Pause, Smart Scroll, S Health, S-Voice and so on and so forth. You’ll probably never use some of these more than once, but I find it hard to believe there won’t be at least one feature to make you fall in love with the 4.7-incher.
And yes, some features are plain and simple “gimmicks”. But they’re cool gimmicks and you will love them.
Winner: Galaxy S4
The Galaxy S4 has the bigger ticker, at 2,600 mAh, but the HTC One is not too far behind, with a 2,300 mAh battery. And given the One is a little smaller, you’d expect the two to be very close in this battle. And they are, but the S4 ultimately wins.
In GSM Arena’s comprehensive three-part battery test, the S4 has the edge in talk time and video playback, while the One wins in web browsing. The huge endurance rating gap however shows that HTC has messed up One’s standby autonomy, which could make a big difference for some users.
Winner: Galaxy S4
Not everything is about the raw speed, the camera’s megapixel count or the cold battery life numbers when it comes to two phenomenal phones like these. There are other things to take into account as well before making the decision to go for one or the other.
The little details can make or break a high-end phone, like the non-removable battery and the lack of microSD support on the One. On the flipside, HTC’s crown jewel is a little cheaper than the S4, both with contracts and outright.
There’s nothing to set the two apart in terms of connectivity, as they come with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and LTE, while the sound quality is excellent on both phones, but overall a little better on the One, courtesy of the Beats Audio enhancements.
Though HTC has clearly stepped things up a notch compared with last year, the One falls short of perfection. The 4.7-incher looks awesome, comes with an excellent quality-price ratio and with a great list of features, but it’s just not enough to break Samsung’s fantastic run.
The Galaxy S4 might not be the biggest upgrade in Samsung’s history and in some ways is only a tad better than the S3, but in the end it beats the One to the punch and is the best overall phone on the market. For now…