It used to be that the top discussion between us at Pocketnow was if we felt that the phone we had just reviewed was both stable and fast. Regardless if it was a flagship, we always asked our lucky peer if the display was good, if it felt good in the hand, and if it ever lagged. 2013 has changed everything, and I’ll give you a clear example of why.
In 2012 I chose the HTC One X. I had owned 12 HTC devices before it, and I would gladly admit that I was a fan of the company’s attention to detail in both hardware and software. I was one of the lucky few in Barcelona sitting in front of Peter Chou and I was really sold on that phone. Yes, even though I knew there was going to be a Galaxy S III just a month after the One X was launched, I decided to trust what I knew and paid for the phone out of my money since we only got one review unit that went to Brandon. I had never owned a Samsung phone after the old BlackJack II or Galaxy Nexus anyway, so how bad could it be, right? I still regret that decision.
The One X was a beautiful phone I still drool over today when I see it in the drawer, but I became furious at its Tegra 3 processor. It lagged for the most basic tasks, and to make matters worse, I really despised that even though I had purchased many games like for example N.O.V.A 3 on the Google Play store, the Tegra 3 didn’t support most of them unless I bought them again from the Tegra Zone. The camera was also not as great as Chou sold it to be, so all in all, the One X was the beautiful failure that HTC’s sales results reflected. I seriously lost faith in HTC after that.
Then came Samsung. We had already noticed how well the company had optimized Android with the Galaxy S II, and the S III was no exception. Sammy figured out how to offer a great Android smartphone without compromise. I still don’t like the design or the build quality of the phone, but the fact that it actually behaved as a smartphone should, and that it delivered on a great camera and other added features, and that even made me go for the Galaxy Note II after also getting a Galaxy S III.
Lot’s called some of us fanboys for being so confident at Samsung and their Galaxy S 4 a couple of months ago, but as it turns out, our preference had everything to do with experience and not with brand devotion. Sadly we were wrong. HTC has changed the game dramatically in 2013, and these are some of the reasons why I’ve changed my mind about my next smartphone purchase:
The HTC One is Revolutionary and the Galaxy S 4 Evolutionary
We discuss this a lot in our podcast: When was the last time that a smartphone ever blew you away? After reviewing and testing so many phones every year, it’s really hard for any of us to be impressed. It’s funny, but from last year and before it, things were so bad that we had to settle for being impressed by a device that could simply deliver on its promise. Most of us ended up with iPhones, not because they were better, but because what they did, they did well.
HTC has really changed the game. They’ve once again pushed the limit of build quality to make the One a product of desire. They’ve finally figured out how to make HTC Sense work without making you wait for basic things like dialing a phone call, and even though the camera isn’t extraordinary, it isn’t bad, just different. Yes, we mocked the name “Boom Sound” when we hear about it, and now it’s an object of praise around the Pocketnow labs. Overall, HTC has delivered on their promise.
Sadly the Galaxy S 4 is just a Galaxy S III with more gimmicks. The Galaxy S III is no slouch, so we can’t call the Galaxy S 4 a faster phone by far. The camera is just marginally better, and at times we even debate if anything has really changed in optics. Sadly the truth about this phone is that if you own a Galaxy S III or a Galaxy Note II like I do, you’re better off keeping these and waiting for the Galaxy Note III or Galaxy S 5.
Trust me, you won’t be using Air Gestures after the first week, ever.
I’d rather deal with the compromise
One of the biggest reasons why I always preferred a Galaxy phone is because I always felt I received more for my money. I got expandable storage, a replaceable battery, and I just had the piece of mind that I could tailor my device to my needs and demands as they grew.
Sadly my problem with the Galaxy S 4 is that I’m bored of TouchWiz. In the past I preferred it because it was much more reliable than HTC Sense, but now that Sense has slimmed down, I see no reason to put up with it for another year. HTC has evolved Sense more than any other company has in the last couple of years. I really don’t care about water droplets or dripping sounds all around, I want something elegant that works, and HTC has improved Sense to be that solution.
I will admit that I’ll miss the ability to swap my memory card or replace the battery after a long day away from the house, but if I narrowed down the amount of times I’ve actually felt a need to do either, I’d rather enjoy a other aspects of the phone that are more important.
The bottom line
Needs vary, and beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. I’ve got friends that consider the Galaxy S 4 the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen, even if they already own a Galaxy S III. Others, like me, don’t agree and this is the real beauty of being an Android user: I can chose to use a Sony phone today, a Samsung phone in the next 6 months and an HTC phone in 2014, and all my apps and Google Play services will work on all of them.
For those of you that disagreed with my reluctance to adopt an HTC One over a Galaxy S 4, fine, you can now enjoy the pleasure of hearing me tell you that you were right. For $600+, or for a 2-year contract, I want a device that can keep me on the edge of my seat, and so far, that’s the HTC One.
What’s your pic for Spring 2013? Leave us a comment and tell us why you’ve chosen the device.