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HTC One Plus, Sony Xperia Z2, LG G3: Samsung Galaxy S5’s Fiercest Rivals?

So the Samsung Galaxy S5 is definitely coming soon. February, March, April, whenever, it’s crystal clear people will wait for it if they’ll be asked to, or rampage stores to buy it early if the timing shall command it.

samsung-galaxy-s5-concept

But is the Android high-end landscape faced with another year of striking Samsung monopoly, or is someone going to challenge the crown for once? And who could that someone be? Currently plunging HTC with a Phoenix-like rise-from-the-ashes effort driven by cheesy Iron Man marketing?

Maybe always dark horse Sony, aided by the Western carriers and retailers that have so far thrown more roadblocks in its rise to fame than anything. Or how about Google’s new darling, LG, turning the page to a fresh, happier chapter in the company’s existence, not dominated by lousy software support and manufacturing woes anymore?

HTC-Sony-Samsung-LG

As a fan of good underdog stories, I’ll admit I’m rooting for all these Samsung competitors to at least enliven the arena a little, which they can do with the upcoming One Plus, Xperia Z2 and G3. Let’s see what tricks the triad may have up its sleeve, and, as objectively as possible, what are their odds of truly succeeding:

HTC One Plus (aka One+, aka M8)

Why to fear it

If Samsung ultimately doesn’t go off the beaten path and chooses plastic as the primary build material for the S5 (it could still happen, mind you), the One Plus, like its predecessor, shall rely on “premium” design as the main argument against a monopoly of its rival.

HTC-M8-concept

Not even the most rabid Samsung fans can deny HTC’s designers are some of the best in the business, yet looks aren’t everything. So the “M8” needs to learn from One’s mistakes, ditch the UltraPixel cam (or at least upgrade it), make its way around the world quicker and earlier, and find at least one more department aside from aesthetics to top the S5.

It can be battery life, screen resolution, sound, connectivity, sensors, whatever. But it needs to clearly edge out its opponent somewhere.

How it can be defeated

Traditionally, Samsung can count on HTC for hindering its own chances of success, and I’m afraid 2014 won’t be an exception to the rule. Apparently, the One+ is nearly guaranteed to sport a 1,080p display, UltraPixel snapper and Snapdragon 800 CPU, in which case there should be no contest between it and the Quad HD, OIS and S805/Exynos 6-toting S5.

HTC-M8-concept-2

What it all depends on

In one word, marketing. And no, I don’t mean celebrity endorsements. Downey Jr. is cool and all, but his fee would be better invested in billboards, TV commercials and so on. The more, the bigger, the brighter, the better.

HTC-Robert-Downey-Jr

Sony Xperia Z2

Why to fear it

We’re getting conflicting reports as to what to expect from Z1’s follow-up and when, so it’s hard to tell if it’ll be a genuine menace. Hopefully, Sony doesn’t intend to roll out a mere rehash of its current flagship this spring and leave the full-on sequel for the fall. Oh, how foolish that would be.

sony-xperia-z2

Assuming that’s not the case, the main reason future Sony high-enders might be threatening is the Japanese pay attention to the ensemble first and foremost, rounding up the best tech they can supply us with in all departments, from display to processing speed and cameras. You hear that, HTC with your crappy UltraPixel shooter?

How it can be defeated

Sony’s US carrier relations are gradually warming up, yet it still seems a stretch to expect the Z2 (Z1 Plus?) on the big four: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Also, timing is key, as for instance, the Z1 has barely landed on Magenta last week, roughly four months after its official announcement. So in a nutshell, availability should be the number one concern for the Xperia makers.

Sony_Xperia_Z2_leak

What it all depends on

Guess I already answered that question: availability, timing and whether or not a full-fledged Z1 successor is in the cards for a Q2 intro, at the latest.

LG G3

Why to fear it

LG could easily snatch the “most improved Android OEM” award for 2013, making great waves with the incredibly cheap and solid Nexus 5, dazzling G2 and even the G Pad 8.3, which is on paper possibly the greatest iPad mini contender around.

LG-G3-concept

Unfortunately, they may have used up too many resources on the G2 beaut, so if a G3 is indeed imminent (which is far from certain right now), I wouldn’t expect it to look very different from its ancestor.

But hey, even if it replicates G2’s design to the letter, adding octa-core Odin oomph, an extra gig or two of RAM and moar pixels in the mix, I’d consider it a threat. A big one, since, unlike Sony, LG has no problem in getting major US carriers to subsidize its spearheads.

How it can be defeated

Provided LG plays all its cards right and drops enough dough on advertising, the G3 has everything it takes to make Galaxy S5’s life a living hell. Only as weird as it may sound, it’ll probably not be enough. Samsung’s name, its reputation and track record are so solid and its marketing juggernaut so… juggernauty, it would take a miracle and/or severe strategic mistakes on Samsung’s part to help the G3 prevail.

LG G2

What it all depends on

Let’s try to look at it from a different angle. Can the G3, as stunning as it may be, knock out the S5 in sales and popularity? Nope. Can it come close? Maybe, but for that, LG will require extreme attentiveness to detail, including things indirectly related to the G3 (software support for older devices), a mighty advertising campaign, and the spending of more money they’ll probably make off total sales in 2014.

You know what they say, you have to spend money to earn money and, in order to defeat Samsung, you have to use their game, their tools, their plays. Game on!