Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One: Smartphone showdown

How does the Samsung Galaxy S4 compare to the HTC One?

Whether you're a smartphone fan or you're simply coming off contract and need a new phone, in Samsung's Galaxy S4 and the HTC One you have two of the best choices on the market. These new Android smartphones are hitting the shelves in Australia very shortly but which one is right for you?

None

Read our preview of the Samsung Galaxy S4
Read our full review of the HTC One

The HTC One has a new camera technology the company calls 'UltraPixel' and comes with a revamped, tile-based home screen called 'BlinkFeed', while the Galaxy S4 retains a similar look and feel to its predecessor but includes a 4.99in full HD display, comes with a 13-megapixel camera and features a number of Samsung-exclusive software features.

Let's find out how these flagship Android smartphones compare.

HTC One

HTC One Android phone (preview)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4 Android phone (preview)

Verdict

?
Operating system
Google Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Google Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
Samsung Galaxy S4
Screen size
4.7in
4.99in
Samsung Galaxy S4
Display resolution
1920x1080
1920x1080
Draw
Display technology
Super LCD 3
Super AMOLED
Draw
Pixel density
469ppi
441ppi
HTC One
Front camera
2.1-megapixels (wide angle)
2 megapixels
HTC One
Rear camera
4-megapixels (UltraPixel), single LED flash
13 megapixels, single LED flash
Unknown
Camera features
Autofocus, tap to focus, face & smile detection, optical image stabilisation, HTC Zoe
Autofocus, tap to focus, face & smile detection detection, image stabilisation, HDR, Dual Shot
Draw
Video recording
1080p HD @ 30fps (with HDR)
1080p HD @ 60fps (with HDR)
Samsung Galaxy S4
Internal memory
32GB/64GB
16GB/32GB/64GB
Draw
Expandable memory
No
Yes, microSD
Samsung Galaxy S4
Thickness
9.3mm
7.9mm
Samsung Galaxy S4
Weight
143g
130g
Samsung Galaxy S4
RAM
2GB
2GB
Draw
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 1.7Ghz Krait (quad-core)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 1.9Ghz Krait (quad-core)
Samsung Galaxy S4
Australian 3G networks
HSDPA 850/900/2100
HSDPA 850/900/2100
Draw
Australian 4G networks
LTE 1800MHz
LTE 1800MHz
Draw
Wi-Fi
802.11a/b/g/n
802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Draw
Bluetooth
4.0 with A2DP
4.0 with A2DP
Draw
HDMI-out
No (Yes via MHL adapter)
No (Yes via MHL adapter)
Draw
Quoted battery life (talk time)
Not quoted
Not quoted
Unknown
Connector
Standard Micro USB
Standard Micro USB
Draw
SIM card
Micro-SIM
Micro-SIM
Draw

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One: Design

You'd be hard pressed telling the difference between the Galaxy S III and the new Galaxy S4 as Samsung has kept a very similar design. The company has been criticised for sticking with a glossy, plastic finish but plastic is more durable than glass and this type of design means the battery is removable. There's also room for a microSD card slot, a feature you won't find on the HTC One.

Further, Samsung has sold tens of millions of Galaxy S III devices, so the design of the S4 is both popular and familiar and already resonates positively with consumers.

The Galaxy S4 retains a similar look and feel to its predecessor, the Galaxy S III.
The Galaxy S4 retains a similar look and feel to its predecessor, the Galaxy S III.

The HTC One is very different. It has a full metal body with what the company calls a "zero gap" construction. This means there's no visible gaps or slits in the case design. The front is completely flat but the back of the device is curved and the edges taper inwards in order to provide better ergonomics. It's one of the best designed smartphones we've ever used.

One of the most distinctive design features of the HTC One is the inclusion of dual-stereo speakers that sit above and below the display. The speakers and audio system, which the company has trademarked the tacky 'BoomSound' name, are the best smartphone speakers we've tested. They even better most tablets on the market.

The fit and finish of the HTC One is among the best we've seen on any smartphone.
The fit and finish of the HTC One is among the best we've seen on any smartphone.

Whichever design you prefer is ultimately a personal preference, so our advice would be to try and see these two devices in the flesh before making your decision.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One: Display

The biggest hardware upgrade on the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the display. It's a 4.99in, Super AMOLED screen with a full HD 1080p resolution of 1920x1080, an increase on the Galaxy S III's 4.8in screen with 720p resolution. The pixel density of 441 ppi is among the highest on the market and the screen will work when used with gloves, a feature we've already seen on Nokia's Lumia 920.

The HTC One on the other hand has a slightly smaller 4.7in, super LCD 3 display with a full HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. The display is optically bonded to the screen in order to minimise the space between layers. The screen has a pixel density of 468ppi, making it the highest on the market. The colour reproduction, brightness and viewing angles on the HTC One are almost unrivaled. It's a display that has to be seen yourself in order to be fully appreciated.

The colour reproduction, brightness and viewing angles on the HTC One are almost unrivaled
The colour reproduction, brightness and viewing angles on the HTC One are almost unrivaled

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One: Software

Both of these smartphones have similar major features. The main aspect you'll need to factor into your purchasing decision is the software overlay that sits on top of Google's Android platform. The Galaxy S4 uses Samsung's TouchWIZ UI, while the HTC One uses the latest version of HTC Sense.

These software overlays may look very different, but they are similar in some ways. Both the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One have a user interface that has skinned almost every part of the standard Android layout. Samsung's software adds a lot of small and possibly useful features, while the HTC One debuts a completely new home screen called "BlinkFeed".

Air Gesture allows users to swipe through photos or scroll without touching the Galaxy S4.
Air Gesture allows users to swipe through photos or scroll without touching the Galaxy S4.

The Galaxy S4 includes features like 'Smart Scroll', which allows users to scroll up and down with eye movement, 'Smart Pause', which will pause video when the user looks away from the screen, and 'Air Gesture' which allows you to swipe through photos or scroll without touching the phone. These are all big selling points for Samsung, so if you think they might be gimmicks and you won't use them often, keep that in mind.

The biggest addition to HTC's Sense UI is a redesigned home screen called 'BlinkFeed'. It looks like a cross between Windows Phone 8 and the Flipboard media aggregation app and pulls in content from a variety of pre-selected sources including your social media accounts. The idea of seeing social networking status updates and feeds every time you unlock your phone isn't appealing to us. Other users may feel differently, so this is very much a personal preference.

From L to R: HTC BlinkFeed, a regular home screen on the One and the app drawer.
From L to R: HTC BlinkFeed, a regular home screen on the One and the app drawer.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One: Camera

The Galaxy S4 has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, an upgrade from the Galaxy S III's 8-megapixel snapper. The most significant camera upgrades are all software related, however. 'Dual Shot' allows users to take a photo with the front and rear cameras simultaneously using selected templates, 'Drama Shot' takes 100 shots in four seconds and 'Cinema Photo' is similar to Nokia's Cinemagram feature picking one part of the photo to move while the others stay still — somewhat like an animated GIF.

There's also "Sound & Shot' which takes a picture and captures up to nine seconds of audio, and 'Story Album' which groups photos together somewhat like a timeline. Finally, an 'Eraser' mode takes a series of pictures, allowing you to remove unwanted people or objects in the background.

'Dual Shot' allows users to take a photo with the front and rear cameras of the Galaxy S4 simultaneously.
'Dual Shot' allows users to take a photo with the front and rear cameras of the Galaxy S4 simultaneously.

HTC is betting on a new camera technology altogether to win over consumers. The One has a 4-megapixel sensor dubbed the 'UltraPixel' camera. The custom image sensor uses enlarged pixels that the company says can absorb up to three times more light than those inside "most leading 13-megapixel phone cameras."

HTC promises that the use of UltraPixels make for an improvement in low-light performance and there's also optical image stabilization (OIS) and an f2.0 aperture, the largest available on a smartphone camera. In addition, the 2.1-megapixel front facing camera uses an ultra-wide angle lens, the same seen on the HTC Windows Phone 8X.

The HTC One's camera uses a 4-megapixel 'UltraPixel' sensor that makes use of enlarged pixels to capture better quality images.
The HTC One's camera uses a 4-megapixel 'UltraPixel' sensor that makes use of enlarged pixels to capture better quality images.

The UltraPixel sensor also allows HTC to introduce a new media called "Zoe". It enables users to capture up to 20 photos and a three second video simultaneously. The feature looks similar to Twitter's Vine videos or the Cinemagraphs used on the Nokia Lumia 920 but you can only share the files through YouTube and Facebook, or on HTC's servers for a limit of 180 days.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One: Internals

Naturally, both of these handsets boast impressive specifications. The Galaxy S4 is powered by a 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor and has 2GB of RAM. The 16GB of internal memory will be expandable by a microSD card slot located behind the rear battery cover, though 32GB and 64GB models will be available in certain markets. A 2600mAh battery is also a significant upgrade from the Galaxy S III's 2100mAh battery.

There will be multiple variants of the Galaxy S4 depending on market but the Australian model will be 4G LTE compatible. It will support the fastest download speeds available, up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps).

The HTC One on the other hand is powered by a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, has either 32GB or 64GB of internal memory and comes with 2GB of RAM. Unfortunately, there is no microSD card slot, which means you can't expand the memory. The One is also a 4G compatible device.

Samsung will officially launch the Galaxy S4 in Australia on Tuesday 23 April, but there's been no confirmation of exactly when it will go on sale. HTC has already confirmed that all major Australian telcos — Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile — will begin selling the One from Tuesday 23 April.

What do you think about the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One? Which smartphone would you buy and why? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Related content

Samsung Galaxy S4 preview
Where can you buy the Samsung Galaxy S4?
Samsung Galaxy S4 coming to all Australian carriers
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. the rest: How does it stack up?
HTC One review
HTC One landing Down Under on 23 April
Hands-on with the HTC One
Where can you buy the HTC One?
Each HTC One takes 220 minutes to manufacture

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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