It’s weird, we expected both HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4’s sequels to knock our socks off, enthrall and amaze with major upgrades like Quad HD display resolutions, bonkers 4 GB RAM modules, OIS cameras and significantly boosted Snapdragon 805 processors, but at the end of the day the One (M8) and Galaxy S5… just didn’t.
In a sense, you can say the two evolved at essentially the same pace, proving once again the mobile market as a whole is oversaturated and in dire need of an upgrade cycle relaxation.
There’s really no point in everyone bringing to light two, let alone three new so-called flagship devices each year, as long as the S5 is literally and figuratively a lightweight Note 3, and the M8 barely edges out the 12-month-old M7.
However, if you choose to disregard the fact they’re genuinely not a big deal, or simply the timing is right for a change (as in, you still rock an OG Galaxy S3 or something), here’s how the HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5 match up in a direct, winner-takes-all specs battle:
Design and build quality comparison
Look, I appreciate HTC and Samsung’s desire to keep things fresh, but a change of tune is not always good. And sometimes, it’s completely unnecessary. Take the Ones. Was the first-gen a beaut? You bet. Was there still room for better? Always.
Did HTC do that? We can argue and bicker all day, yet in the end we’ll reach the same conclusion: the M8 is a bigger “Metalhead” than its predecessor, but it’s not as beautiful. It’s likely more durable, but somehow also cheaper-looking.
The Galaxy S5? For the record, I have no beef with plastic per se. It’s just that Samsung may want to try something different one of these days. As in, truly different, not add stripped patterns to a glossy, chintzy rear cover and call it aesthetical innovation.
Back to our duel, the M8 clearly wins in robustness and elegance, but loses the numbers race, as it’s chunkier, thicker, taller and heavier. Slightly narrower as well, though it’s too little too late.
Verdict: It’s a tie
HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – display face-off
Unlike in the design section, neither HTC, nor Samsung took any sort of gamble with their screens. They walked the beaten path, with a 5-inch Super LCD3 unit and 5.1-inch Super AMOLED respectively. Both carrying Full HD, aka 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution. And virtually identical ppis: 441 and 432.
Does this mean the resolution war is over? Not so fast. It probably just means Quad HD was too risky and superfluous… at the moment. As for which of the two Full HD panels at hand is better, the answer is none. They’re really equally as gorgeous. Ask around, everyone will tell you the same.
Verdict: Another tie
Processing speed, RAM and cameras
“Play it safe” seems to have been the motto of the entire manufacturing process behind the S5 and M8, from display resolution to RAM, cameras, software and battery. Processors? Guess Snapdragon 801 was a safe bet as well, though it was also the smart, sensible choice all along.
Check that, there was almost no choice. Sure, the S5 packs the 2.5 GHz clock monster as standard, whereas the M8 only offers the beast in Asia, “settling” for a 2.3 GHz model everywhere else. But congratulations, if you can tell the difference between a phone with a 2.5 GHz S801 inside and one powered by a 2.3 GHz, you’re delusional.
RAM? Let’s not even go there. The fact of the matter is our two contenders are deadlocked from that standpoint, with 2 gigs each, which is all you need at the moment for smooth multitasking.
The camera clash is a rather complex and delicate affair, albeit when it comes right down to it, it’s simple. Care more about photos taken with rear-facing snappers on phones than selfies? Pick the S5. In love with your own reflection and duckface? It’s the M8 for you.
Want all the numbers? Here they are – 16 MP primary camera with autofocus, LED flash, Dual Shot, HDR and 4K video recording and modest 2 MP secondary unit on the GS5, dual rear cameras with 4 UltraPixel and 2 MP sensors, as well as 5 MP front shooter with HDR for the One (M8).
Winner: Galaxy S5 by a whisker
Software and battery
Here’s where things get truly interesting. And complicated. Despite running the same Android version (4.4 KitKat) underneath all the tweaks and skins, the S5 and M8 are anything but two peas in a pod software-wise.
Now, TouchWiz and Sense used to be universally hated until not long ago, shifting their fortunes of late with neat little add-ons and functions like Air gestures, S Health, S-Voice, BlinkFeed and Zoe. They still need work here and there, but they’re definitely on the rise.
Which one’s better, you ask? It depends. Samsung’s TouchWiz is a wee bit more intrusive, yet also smoother and packed with the most unique, useful special features. Sense 6 is in many ways a more cohesive experience, it’s subtler, plus right now, the M8 is the only one of these two handhelds to be offered in an optional Google Play edition, with “pure” KitKat on board.
Battery? Oh, I wouldn’t be caught dead calling that bout yet. On paper, the S5 has the upper hand, with the slightly larger juicer (2,800 vs 2,600 mAh), and the “ultra power saving” mode. But have you seen M8’s early astounding battery test results? Mind equals blown.
Verdict: Another tie
Audio, sensors, storage and others
The “others” part of our comparison, once trivial and unimportant, may well tip the balance in this particular case, both because the overall duel is so evenly matched and on account of “other” features becoming key selling points.
Let’s see, HTC has BoomSound and not much else, while Samsung retaliates with water and dust protection, fingerprint recognition technology and a built-in heart rate monitor. The storage options are essentially the same across the board (16, 32 GB built-in, up to 128 external), pricing is tied, and so is connectivity, with Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 everywhere.
Soooo, it comes down to whether you reckon fingerprint and heart rate sensors are gimmicks or not. And if you’d rather listen to bitching music on your smartphone, or be able to take it for a swim. It’s a toughie, eh?