Both the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S 4 are now as official and available as they can possibly be. We can all agree to the fact that these two were the most anticipated Android phones (also enjoying unseen levels of buzz and excitement). They’re their respective OEMs flagship phones for 2013 and each of the two devices stands out, bringing innovative features to the table which the other one is missing.
As far as the HTC One is concerned, it can be the make-it-or-break-it phone for HTC, a company that has seen a declining trend in the recent past. They’ve placed their biggest bet on the One and delivered a phone which looks gorgeous and is a pleasure to use. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 on the other hand continues the design policy and trend from last year, however, with specs that are hard to beat, at least on paper.
Aside from reviewing both of these phones we also compared them directly against each other in our effort to try and make you reach a decision, between the two, easier. But how about the Pocketnow team, taken not as a whole, but individually? What do the Editors think is the phone to get? Which one is the best among the two? Read their thoughts below!
Samsung and HTC are clearly the teams to beat in the Android space. This is significant because 6 months ago, HTC is barely an also-ran. HTC knew they were in trouble and they responded in a big way with a remarkable device in every way, except the way that matters most to most people – the camera. Instead of really piling on and making a great great device, they went gimmicky and suffered for it in most reviews.
Having said that, Samsung rested on their laurels. They’re riding high on arguably one of the most successful product lines in the mobile history and failed to innovate anything significant. What you’re left with is a relatively boring yet high end device that can’t help but sell well, and an exciting-but flawed device duking it out for marketshare. While I believe Samesung (intentional misspelling) will win out in the end, HTC brought forth one hell of a phone.
While I haven’t had the chance to use the HTC One, I did get to use the Samsung Galaxy S 4 a couple times. The first time was during the launch event in New York City. The device I got to use was very slow and completely unresponsive at times. None of the features I had seen demo’d were working out of the box. I’m sure I would have to actually learn how to use them and in which particular instances these new gimicky things would function, but I didn’t have time for that. I’m not sure anybody has time for that.
Design-wise it felt like there was no innovation and it still felt like a cheap plastic phone even though the price is much higher than others that are much sturdier. I do like that the Galaxy S 4 has a removable battery and expandable memory, but the software issues are a real turn off. I’m sure I could root the device and install a better ROM, but I’ve been doing that to smartphones since 2003 and I’m a bit sick of it. I’d rather have something that works well with minimal effort.
The HTC One looks genuinely innovative, new, and exciting and from what I hear it’s quick responsive and stable. Phones are somewhat of a fashion accessory these days and the HTC One really takes that into account with its gorgeous metal body and modern industrial design. If the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One were the only two phones available on Earth, I would definitely go with the HTC One.
For me the choice is not at all difficult! Those who have followed my thoughts — on social media, as well as on the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast and Pocketnow Live show — surely remember that even before we knew the official details of the Samsung Galaxy S 4, I said several times what it needs to be in order to consider it.
“The Samsung Galaxy S 4 has to collectively bring two things to the table in order for me to consider it: a better camera than the HTC One and a new design”, those were my exact words, and I stick to them. While the camera is (arguably) better in some aspects than the one on the HTC One, Samsung didn’t bother to make any major changes to its design. This is not necessarily a bad thing on the general but it is a deal breaker for me as I’ve had enough of seeing the same aspect on every Samsung phone since the Galaxy S III (Note II, and everything in-between).
HTC One for me!
There’s no question: the HTC One is better. It’s truly different, from the fantastic volume of the speakers, to the wide-angle front-facing camera, to the way it fits in your hand without feeling too light or too heavy. Even the software is a delight to use, offering consistently top-notch performance no matter what. And HTC did a great job with Sense 5. The software is so useful and good-looking that I prefer it over stock Android (gasp!). The Galaxy S 4 is more of the same, which is fine, but personally, I want something different and better. I tell it to everyone: the HTC One is the best smartphone I’ve ever used, and I’ve used them all.
The Galaxy S 4 is a wonderful device. I doubt many will “regret” buying it. That said, it’s just another in long line of Galaxies. It makes incremental improvements, but isn’t anything “different”. The HTC One, on the other hand, represents a rebirth of HTC into the already crowded Android market. Their product is different, but still top-tier.
At the end of the day, both devices are wonderful. I’d be happy with either, but I love HTC. I like what they’re trying to do here, and I want to support them. We need HTC. Android needs HTC. If we lose them, we’re all doomed to a sea of Galaxies that are only differentiated by the size of their screens.
Which of these devices will work best for you depends on where your priorities lie. Obviously, if you’re part of the old guard, the smartphone owners for whom expandability and customizability is paramount, you’re going to go with the Galaxy S 4. It’s got a bigger, removable battery, and a MicroSD slot for storage expansion up to an additional 64GB over the onboard memory. Regardless of how you feel about anything else on the phone, that’s a lot of power there, and it demands respect. There’s also Samsung’s ridiculously involved suite of “S features,” which deserve a mention just in terms of sheer quantity, irrespective of how well they actually work.
On the other side of the fence are the aesthetic folks. Guys like me, who value a device with a premium look and feel, a smartphone obviously crafted with appearance in mind. For my part, I don’t care about a memory card; if I have enough onboard storage, I prefer to avoid the added complication of yet another removable component. And thanks to my reliance on cloud-based media offerings, I don’t really need that much storage anyway. The lack of a removable battery is annoying, sure, but almost a decade of carrying smartphones has already trained me to carry a portable power pack. So for the mild inconvenience of toting one of those, I get to carry a device that, in my view, offers the best combination of premium hardware and beautiful, responsive software. And that’s not even taking BoomSound into account. In the end, the HTC One suits my needs and wants better.
Chief News Editor
This is a tough one. There’s a lot to like with both the HTC One and the Galaxy S 4. The HTC One is the big winner when it comes to design; I like the materials better, I like the phone’s arching back, and it just looks like the more serious, high-end handset. Stereo speakers are a big deal for me, as I watch a lot of TV on my phone.
From the start, I’m less inclined to side with the Galaxy S 4. I think it’s preposterous that Samsung is unwilling or unable to release its flagship with a unified hardware architecture. The vast majority of the phone’s software “features” come off as gimmicks. That said, it’s got microSD support and a removable battery, which both continue to be very important factors in my phone-buying decisions – far more so than any software package.
In the end, it’s less about what the GS4 does, than what the One doesn’t. If I had to choose based on what I want today, I’d absolutely go with the HTC One. If I’m thinking more long-term, about a phone I’ll still be using a year from now, the GS4 might be the better choice.
Choosing between the two flagships from what many consider the best two Android handset manufacturers on the plant is no easy task. At least it hasn’t been in years past. Prior to their release, my friends and I had many debates over the Galaxy S III and One X last year. And the very same debate, albeit about the newer models, has carried over into this year.
This time around, I’ve had no trouble picking the next device I want as my personal daily driver. Hands down, it’s the One. I had two complaints with the One X: camera and limited storage. And HTC has answered to these problems, for the most part, with the One. I’m a sucker for beautiful, unibody design – which the Galaxy S 4 severely lacks – and Super LCD displays. For me, all the utilitarian features of the S4 are either gimmicky or useless in regards to my use habits. I explained in an editorial that microSD card support doesn’t matter to me; spare batteries are great, unless you constantly switch devices; and I also explained that none of Samsung’s software features have a place in my life. Instead of throwing every single idea at a wall and loading its flagship with a 1.5GB system image, HTC went back to the basics. Sorry, Samsung, HTC gets my vote this year.
The Pocketnow Reader
What about you? What do you think of these two dream-phones? Which one is better in your opinion, and, more interestingly, why? If you contract would end today (or you’d be on the lookout for a new phone to get as soon as possible), would you go for the HTC One or the Samsung Galaxy S 4?
Let us know in the comments below!