On one side lies the most powerful and on the other, the most beautiful.
This is a match of epic proportions between the two most powerful Android phones from the two manufacturers who kick-started Android almost five years ago. The two ferocious beasts threaten to shred other manufacturers’ flagships to pieces, if they don’t tear each other apart first.
Which will emerge victorious? The established Android royalty, the Galaxy S line up which has supplanted the failed HTC Desire dynasty and relegated Sony’s Xperia line up to nobleman status or the newly-proclaimed parvenus, er, Android claimants, the HTC One line up?
Part 1: Design
The two contestants are as far apart as they can get in the design area. On one side lies the Galaxy S4 with the much loved Super AMOLED screen and the, well, less loved hyperglazed plastic casing. The other side holds the smaller IPS display of the HTC One, not to mention the aluminium unibody that oozes with gadget sexiness unparalleled except perhaps by Apple’s iPhones.
In fairness to the Galaxy S4, it looks better than its Galaxy S3 predecessor. It is also a bit smaller despite the larger screen, a feat of Samsung engineering which unfortunately also borrowed design cues from the Galaxy S3. The result is a 2013 flagship that differs very little from the 2012 flagship.
The Nature-inspired Galaxy S3 might have had lofty intentions but the absence of high-class materials for a flagship phone is inexcusable. While Sony fitted their Xperia Z with tempered glass and HTC carved solid aluminium blocks for their One, Samsung, it seems, can only glaze, er, hyperglaze plastic for its flagship.
Also, the back panel of the Galaxy S4 is a fingerprint magnet, and the thinness actually worked against it. The phone feels fragile and at times, even brittle. The keys found on the Galaxy S4, though, are easy to press while the capacitive keys at the bottom of the screen vibrate with each key press. The removable battery and the microSD card slot are also welcome and logical additions. The ten million people now owning this phone might nod in agreement.
The HTC One, on the other hand, is a looker. It is a culmination of the whole slew of HTC Androids beginning with the eccentric T-Mobile G1 up to the hapless HTC Butterfly. It is very much an HTC phone from the contours to the screen to the accents. HTC is banking a lot on the success of this phone and indeed, it has sold as many as 3 million units since its launch in March 2013.
The screen on the HTC One is smaller but strangely, the Galaxy S4 is much easier to hold and operate with one hand because of the manageable width and height. Also, at the bottom, there are two buttons, one for home and one for back. In between those two buttons is a rather large HTC logo. I think that it would have been much better for HTC to have put the Menu button in place of the HTC logo. Also the HTC’s power key at the top feels flimsy.
The biggest dent in HTC’s gleaming armor, though, is not the less-than-stellar IPS screen or the fact that it’s smaller. The lack of a removable battery and a microSD card are the greatest limitations that the HTC One has compared to the Galaxy S4. To add insult to injury, the battery life of the Galaxy S4 is much higher both in mAH and in real life usage than the HTC One’s battery. Also, the Galaxy S4 comes with 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of storage with a microSD card slot. The HTC One on the other hand, is stuck with 32 GB or 64 GB.
Despite the limitations of the HTC One and the smaller screen, it still looks more high-class and more expensive than the Galaxy S4.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Internals. Excited now to see the hardware of the two most powerful Android devices clash?
Archie Mariano is a raving techie with a severe gadget addiction. He writes anything about technology especially his one true love: smartphones. A recycling activist and a tech blogger for eCycleBest.com, he graduated with a Journalism degree from a state university where he cracked the whip on poor writers as editor of their campus paper. He is currently crazy for electronics recycling and at the same time, hates people who don’t recycle properly with a vengeance.