Last week Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S4, and while there weren't many surprises, the S4 is still packed to the brim with the latest and greatest goodies that Google and Samsung have to offer. It's a serious Android flagship phone, no doubt, but did Samsung do enough to upstage HTC once again this year? Here we’re pitting the Galaxy S4 LTE against the HTC One to see just how these two powerhouses stack up.
There's a lot to like about both phones – in fact, they're remarkably similar if you go strictly by the specs. They both pack powerful quad-core processors and sharp 1080p displays, but there are a few notable differences here. The S4 has a larger screen at 5in, compared with the One's 4.7in screen, which equates to a tighter pixel density for the latter.
Samsung also opted to continue its tradition of using Super AMOLED, which is praised for its incredibly high contrast, but knocked for its inaccurate colour reproduction and PenTile subpixel arrangement that causes some text to appear stippled. HTC went with its equally heroic Super LCD technology, which doesn't match AMOLED's contrast, but offers superior colour reproduction. With such high resolutions on both, don't expect to see too much difference in terms of clarity and sharpness.
HTC uses a quad-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset, while the S4 LTE uses a 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600. Both processors will likely breeze through any task you throw at them (note that the 3G-only version of the S4 is expected to feature the 8-core Exynos 5 Octa).
The biggest and most immediate difference you'll notice between these two phones is build quality. Samsung opted for the same all-plastic build used in older Galaxy S models, which has been criticised as being cheap and somewhat flimsy. HTC takes the advantage here with its stunning aluminium unibody construction, but it does come with a few disadvantages. Samsung retained the microSD card slot and removable battery that made the S3 such a hit with Android enthusiasts, while HTC offers neither of these options.
Android handset manufacturers are increasingly looking to distinguish themselves from the pack with software features and customisations. Samsung has TouchWiz and HTC has Sense, and while neither is particularly popular with Android purists, they do offer a few compelling features. Samsung offers features like hover-over email previews and dual camera capture, while HTC unveiled its BlinkFeed content aggregator. Both handsets offer universal remote control capability, with their own accompanying apps to help you navigate around your TV channels.
Last but not least are the cameras. Samsung decided to escalate the megapixel race once again, packing a 13-megapixel camera into the S4. But as you should know by now, megapixels aren't everything, and that's exactly what HTC is banking on with its new “ultrapixel” gambit. It's technically only a 4-megapixel camera, but those pixels are considerably larger, which means better low light performance. In other words, the One is addressing an issue which has long plagued the humble smartphone camera.
Before we can make a definitive call, we’ll have to wait until we get both of these beasts in for full reviews. However, it's clear that both are worthy of their flagship handset designations. So which camp do you fall into: Samsung or HTC? Let us know in the comments below, and also see the full spec table details below.
While you’re here, be sure to check out how the Galaxy S4 stacks up against the Apple iPhone 5, and also its predecessor, the Galaxy S3. You might also want to take a look at our hands on with the Galaxy S4.
Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE
1,920 x 1,080 pixels
1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Processor and battery
Claimed 3G talk time
Storage and memory
16GB /32GB / 64GB
32GB / 64GB
1080 @ 30fps
1080p @ 30fps
802.11 a / b / g / n / ac
802.11 a / b / g / n
Integrated wireless charging
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm
137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean