Under the microscope: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One


May 16, 2013

Gizmag delves deeper in comparing the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One

Gizmag delves deeper in comparing the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One

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When you’re shopping for a new smartphone, sometimes there's one clear choice. Other times, there are so many options you don't know where to start. But then there are those times when it comes down to two. You know, a good old fashioned duel. Many smartphone shoppers are going through that now, with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. After spending several weeks with both phones, let’s revisit this comparison – and see if we can help you with the big decision.

Look and feel

If you follow popular opinion, this is no contest. The consensus is that the HTC One is one of the most gorgeous phones ever made, and the Galaxy S4 is too much like its plastic predecessor, the Galaxy S3. Is there anything to this line of thinking?

Well, like many other things, it comes down to your taste. If you equate more expensive materials with “better,” then yes, the One’s aluminum beats the GS4’s plastic hands-down.

But your own decision doesn’t necessarily have to follow that. I personally don’t mind plastic phones. The GS4’s outside does feel cheaper than the One, but it’s also lighter. It also has fun bonuses like a removable battery and a microSD card slot. The One doesn’t have either.

No matter where your preferences lie, though, it’s hard to deny that the One is quite the looker. It often gets compared to the iPhone, but I think the One’s design is in a class by itself. The iPhone 5 also has an aluminum unibody design, but it feels more familiar. It’s like a stretched-out aluminum version of the iPhone 4S (and iPhone 4). The One is both striking and not quite like anything we’ve seen before.

The One’s back might be its most memorable side ... it’s a sloped silver frame with dual horizontal seams near the top and bottom. But the front is just as impressive, with silver bookends sandwiching the screen and black bezel. Those speaker grilles add something too (more on that soon).

If you’re going for thin, the Galaxy S4 wins (it’s 15 percent thinner). If you’re going for light, the GS4 also wins (it’s 10 percent lighter). To me, the Galaxy S4 feels more like 20 percent lighter – because it's a longer and wider phone than the One.

Holding both phones in hand, the One feels both heavier and more compact. That’s not to say it’s a beefy phone (it isn’t, by any stretch) – but you’ll know that it’s made of metal. Again, not heavy. Just more ... solid. And dense.

One thing that may or may not be an issue with you: I’m more casual about using the GS4. What I mean is that I’m almost too aware of the One’s premium build, and worry more about dropping it. I’m more carefree with the GS4 because a) plastic is less likely to get chipped and nicked if I do drop it, and b) if anything happened to its back, I could just get a new battery cover.

I don’t get too hung up on power button placement, but I’d give the nod there to the Galaxy S4. Its power button sits on the phone’s right side, protruding a bit. The One’s power button is on the top left edge, and doesn’t really extend from the phone’s surface at all. It can be a little tricky to find when blindly reaching for it.

Navigation buttons are probably more important. For the One, it’s just two capacitive buttons below the screen: back on the left, and home on the right. An HTC logo (that doesn’t do anything) sits in between. On the GS4, there’s a springy physical home button in the center, with a capacitive back key on the right, and a similar menu key on the left.

I can’t say I preferred one layout over the other. Maybe your familiarity with your current phone will dictate your favorite. But I’ve been regularly switching back and forth between these two phones, and I always adjust to each layout pretty quickly.

Screen comparison

Both screens are outstanding, so I won’t dwell too much on this. Your eyes won’t make out an individual pixel on either 1080p screen.

The GS4’s Super AMOLED screen has more vibrant colors than the One. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Well, if you want realistic colors, go with the One. If you want larger-than-life colors, go with the GS4.

Screen size is another matter. Both displays are spacious, at 4.7” for the One and 5” for the GS4. But those diagonal measurements don't tell the whole story. In terms of screen area (a much more telling measurement), the One gives you 88 percent as much real estate as the GS4. It isn't a huge difference, but I like having that extra space. It’s big enough that I haven’t bothered much with tablets lately.

In fact, screen size joins weight as the two biggest advantages I’d put in the Galaxy S4’s column. The One holds its own in most other categories, so those might be the two main reasons for anyone to choose the GS4 over the One.

But this isn’t the time for jumping to conclusions. We’re just getting started ...

Performance comparison

On paper – including in benchmarks – the Galaxy S4 has the slight edge here. In Geekbench, it scored 3224 to the One’s 2973. In Quadrant Standard, the GS4 tallied 12066, while the One came in at 11774.

But this is a good example of why I don’t like to put too much faith in benchmarks. Despite the GS4’s higher scores, the One feels a bit faster and smoother. I chalk this up to the HTC One’s software having less bloat. Sense 5 is leaner and more focused than Samsung’s TouchWiz, and everything just purrs – without the slightest hesitation.

That’s not to say that the Galaxy S4 feels slow. On the contrary, it’s also a ridiculously fast phone – maybe faster than any mobile device you’ve ever used. It just that when you use both phones back-to-back, the One feels a bit more responsive.

On a technical level, both handsets run the same processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 600). The GS4’s is clocked a bit higher: 1.9GHz to the One’s 1.7GHz (that explains the benchmark results). Of course there’s also that octa-core version of the Galaxy S4 that many countries get. I haven’t yet tested that version.

One area where the GS4’s superior benchmarks could play a role would be if you rooted your phone and flashed a custom ROM. At least in theory, more scaled-down software (like Cyanogenmod, which is built from stock Android) should give the GS4 the nod.

... but most of us will use the phones on their out-of-the-box firmware. And there it is advantage: HTC One.

In the grand scheme of things, the One’s leg-up in performance might not be big enough to base your decision on. But if you were completely torn, sitting on the fence? It might be just enough to push it over the edge.

Software: Sense vs. TouchWiz

Both phones, of course, run Android. You get Google Play, and its thousands upon thousands of apps. The GS4 runs on the newer version of Jelly Bean (Android 4.2). But it was a pretty minor update over the One’s Android 4.1, so there shouldn’t be too much to worry about there.

More important are HTC’s and Samsung’s respective skins that sit on top.

HTC Sense 5 is, as we already mentioned, leaner and simpler than Samsung’s TouchWiz. Sense is professional, sophisticated, understated. It still fits HTC’s old “quietly brilliant” motto. You’ll see lots of off-whites and grays, which provide a nice backdrop to make colors pop.

When you get animations with Sense, they’re more subtle than fancy. Ditto for the default notification sounds. The One’s menus are fewer in number and shorter in length. The essentials are there, but it’s all more concise. Sense 5 is thoughtful precision.

With the GS4, you feel like Samsung threw in as many software features as it could think of ... gimmicky or not. TouchWiz is bright, colorful, playful, and dense. You’ll see more blacks than on the One (no doubt because its AMOLED display lends itself more to deep blacks).

It would be exhausting to detail all of the GS4’s software features, but we’ll hit a few:

There’s S Health, which serves as a pedometer (and overall diet and exercise tracker) that you can easily access from your homescreen. I used it for tracking mileage on walks, but didn’t need a “life companion” for other kinds of health tracking. It’s there for you, though, if you’re into that.

There’s also Air View, which lets you preview a few select ... things by hovering your finger over your screen. I enjoyed it, but it only works in several places. Video scrobbles and Flipboard feeds were the only places I used it. Interesting and novel, but hardly worth basing your decision on.

Then there’s Air Gesture, which lets you control a few other things by waving your hand, Jedi-style, above a motion sensor (which lives on the upper right of the phone’s front face). I had fun swiping to different screens with my hand while moving homescreen icons. You can also answer phone calls with a wave – great for messy cooks.

Like most of the GS4’s features, it’s fun for a few minutes ... but isn’t something most of us will use every day.

Instead of throwing a million novelties against the wall, HTC focused more on one new feature: BlinkFeed. If you want news and social feeds on your homescreen, BlinkFeed delivers. I personally don’t need that, so I pushed it to the background (you can set a different panel as your default homescreen).

BlinkFeed is a well-made feature ... it just isn’t a game-changer for me. It also has a limited palette of feeds. I only found three tech sites that I could add. I’m obviously biased towards Gizmag, but there are also lots of other great sites that BlinkFeed won’t let you add. So much for diversity.

I’m also not sure if I agree with HTC’s decision to use BlinkFeed as one of the centerpieces of the One’s marketing campaign. I mean, it’s basically a more limited version of Flipboard ... on your homescreen. Nice enough, I guess. But we already have Flipboard, right?

One area where HTC’s lean and mean approach backfires is with quick settings ... or the lack thereof. If you want to toggle something like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or brightness on the Galaxy S4, just slide down on the notification shade and tap a button.

On the One, you have to dig into the main settings menu. It doesn't take long to get there for most settings, but it’s nice to have those settings just one swipe away on the GS4.

Camera comparison

What better way to compare cameras than to jump right into some sample shots?

First, outdoor lighting in direct sunlight:

Both look terrific. Sharp, with vivid color.

But if you crop that same shot to zoom in closer, you’ll see finer detail from the Galaxy S4:

A 13-megapixel camera will do that. The One’s camera has other advantages, but pixel count isn’t one of them. The limits of its 4 MP sensor show a little bit when you zoom in extremely close like this.

Now still outdoors, but in the shade:

Again, a good start for both. The doggie statue looks crisp and clear in both shots.

But let’s crop that to get a closeup view:

Interesting. It’s still close, but I’d give the edge here to the One. As you gradually take away light, resolution – the GS4’s biggest advantage – takes on less importance.

Now let’s move into some moderate indoor lighting:

The GS4’s shot looks a bit brighter, but its colors also look too saturated. The One’s colors are more accurate.

Now let’s take a blown-up section of that one:

Without great lighting, both have some noise. I might give the One the edge here, as it has slightly better contrast. The GS4’s shot still looks overly-saturated.

Now let’s turn the lights way down, and take a stab at some dark indoor lighting (with no flash):

The winner here is obvious. The GS4’s shot is pitch black, while the One lets in enough light to show us the subject.

Now the same setting, only with flash:

The GS4’s flash is definitely brighter. The One's doesn’t scream “flash photography” quite as loudly, but it could afford to be a bit lighter.

Overall, I’d say the One is the clear winner for low-lit conditions. It lets in more light and has better contrast under mid-range lighting. And it’s much better under the worst of lighting conditions.

... the Galaxy S4, meanwhile, is sharper in ideal outdoor lighting conditions. Its flash also pumps out a bit more light. But – much like its screen – the GS4 camera’s colors lean more towards hyper-saturation. This became more evident the darker it got.

Camera software

Camera lenses, sensors, and resolution are only half the story. What about camera software?

It should be no surprise that the Galaxy S4 has a ton of camera software features ... some useful, some gimmicky. One of the most valuable is “best photo,” which takes a burst of photos and lets you immediately choose your favorite (the rest are automatically discarded). The One has its own version of this too.

“Best face” is another potentially useful GS4 feature. Take a series of group shots, and it lets you use only the best faces from everyone.

“Beauty face,” meanwhile, applies some kind of real-time surface blur to portrait shots. Basically it softens the appearance of skin, hiding imperfections (because you can’t let the world know you aren't perfect).

“Drama Shot” is good for sporting events or other shots with moving people or objects. It scatters multiple shots of the moving subject over the unchanging background.

There are other standard features like HDR and panoramas. Then it goes to the gimmicky extreme, with novelites like “Sound & Shot” (records a few seconds of audio with your still shots) and “Dual Camera” (layers a front camera shot inside a rear camera pic ... or vice versa).

Oh, and did I mention the GS4’s Instagram-like filter effects? Yes, the photography features – much like the GS4’s software features in general – are exhaustive ... and maybe exhausting. The good news: you can ignore any of them you don’t want. The bad news: well, we'll get to that in a minute.

The One’s camera software is more standard. It lets you do HDR, panoramas, night mode ... more nuts and bolts, and less gimmicky, than the GS4’s camera toolbox.

But much like HTC focused on BlinkFeed as the big Sense feature, it also honed in on one big camera feature: Zoe. HTC describes Zoes best:

    ... a simple click of the shutter button captures up to 20 photos and a 3-second video image, including the last second of images before you tapped the picture button.

BlinkFeed didn’t do much for me, but Zoe did. The short videos can be nice in their own right, but they also make it easy to capture that ideal still shot. After shooting, you can scrobble through the frames and save any (or all) that you like best.

HTC’s image gallery view is also impressive. Your Zoes and still shots come to life in animations, dramatical pans and zooms, and vintage effects. It’s much better than it sounds. It’s a software algorithm creating something that (sort of) resembles a little work of art. And it’s all about your life.

You can also upload your Zoes to HTC Share, an online service that shares your masterpieces – with a presentation that’s similar to the One’s Gallery app. I’m not really into that kind of thing. But if you are, HTC Share gives you yet another way to share your images and videos with friends and family.

I’m not sure which phone “wins” in terms of camera software. If you want more-more-MORE! then it’s all about the Galaxy S4. If you’re happy with Zoes and a great gallery presentation, then go with the One.

Battery life

For the battery test, I continuously streamed Netflix with the brightness turned all the way up. Mobile data and Bluetooth were off, Wi-Fi was on. GPS and location services were on too.

In this high-intensity test, the Galaxy S4 went from fully charged to empty in almost exactly five hours. The One lasted about 4 hours 20 minutes before checking out.

These testing conditions are obviously much more extreme than you'd normally have. When you’re looking at a typical day – you know, not streaming Thor for hours on end – both phones should be in great shape.

My experience of using the One and GS4 in a regular day played out similarly. Both lasted a full day with regular use (web surfing, a few calls, some navigation, streaming music, sleeping in pocket ...). I didn't notice the Galaxy S4 lasting longer, so it's possible all that crazy software sucks up a little extra juice.

If you need unusually long battery life from a phone, the Galaxy S4 has one more advantage. You can remove its battery, and swap it with a spare. No such luck with the One ... though you could buy a battery case or external charger if you got really desperate.

Speaker comparison

We normally wouldn’t bother giving speakers their own section. But one of these phones happens to have the best speakers we’ve ever heard on any mobile device.

That would be the HTC One. Its “BoomSound” speakers are louder and bassier than other phones, including the GS4. They’re front-facing too, which makes so much sense I’m not sure why other manufacturers haven’t done it.

Would you listen to Sgt. Pepper while sitting behind your favorite pair of subwoofers? No? Then why put your smartphone’s speakers on the back?

Not much to say about the GS4’s speakers, other than they’re what you’ve grown to expect from other smartphones. You know, a couple of tiny slots on the back of the phone. They get the job done. But they aren’t in the same class as the One’s excellent BoomSound speakers.


Quite the stink has been made of the Galaxy S4’s cramped storage. See, after all of TouchWiz is accounted for, the 16 GB model gives you about half of that for usable storage.

The good news is that the GS4 has a microSD card. So things like videos and photos can move there to free up some space. But – unless you’re rooted – you can’t install apps on the GS4’s SD card. If you keep lots of huge console-like games on your phone, that 8-9 GB could fill up quickly.

One option is to pay more for the 32 GB or 64 GB Galaxy S4 (assuming they’re available on your carrier). Or you could just buy a different phone.

The base model of the HTC One – which sells for cheaper than the GS4 on many carriers – gives you 32 GB of free space. Its usable storage is around 25 GB. You can also throw down for the 64 GB edition of the One.

Many categories in this comparison are filled with gray areas, where the winner depends on what you’re looking for. Not storage. The HTC One is a better buy in that department. Period.


I think these are the two best smartphones you can buy right now. Not just the two best Android phones, but the two best smartphones. Neither is perfect, but the nice thing is that their strengths and weaknesses are pretty clear.

Want a bigger screen, lighter build, and as much software as you can cram into your phone? Go GS4.

Want a premium design, better low-light photography, and the best damn smartphone speakers you've ever used? Then it's all HTC.

Of course there are about a million other factors, and we can't possibly cover every aspect of these two powerhouse phones. We could write a novel here. But this should set you off on the right foot, and at least give you an idea of the different worlds that each phone will transport you to.

... and if you're leaning towards the GS4, but want to consider another top Android phone, you can always peruse our newest Under the Microscope comparison, pitting the Galaxy S4 vs. the Moto X.

Buy this on Amazon About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

Even though this is the gazillionth review/comparison I've read of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, it was still a good read. For the record, I picked up the HTC One, three weeks ago, and I'm super happy with that decision. It is quite an awesome phone and a head turner in the looks category.

Syon Bond

Great article and well-written, with one exception....

I was the first fully digital professional photographer in the state of Wisconsin, and I can guarantee you those images do NOT show greater detail for the GS4. Check the minute background details...the pebbles, the stucco and such. The One's resolution is much finer and shows greater detail. I'll get the One, NOT the GS4. This article convinced me, particularly because of the images, although my professional opinion is in direct contrast to the author's.


I am not all that technically savvy but the indoor photos I have taken with an older HTC come out all orange in color. Do these have an advantage over one or the other in that environment?


Wow, look at what Steve wrought!

And it depends upon whether or not you have a scientific bent. If you do, there is absolutely no question about the iPhones, loaded with the i41CX+ nothing beats it. Absolutely nothing. And remember that WoZ worked in the Calculator Department at HP when it was invented. He may have contributed besides stealing chips.

Now there is no question Will, that your articles will have forced Apple to come up with slightly larger phones, but none of this humungo phones junk. Older folk will enjoy that more because having to pull out your glasses to read the phone is a bit annoying.

And there will always be people preferring things made out of frozen snot as L. Francis Herreshoff would say.

Some people simply dislike aluminum, stainless, steel, and real glass.

So it is calcs and programming that you are up to there is actually no choice but the 41. And forget that I did some of the skins. I never got paid anything for my contributions to the classic.

Lewis Dickens

I'm not trying to bash the One, it's an awesome device. But I've been unable to re-create the great low-light shots I'm seeing everywhere. It's either in such low light that it struggles to focus, or it turns out grainy if the light is sufficient, or it just labors so hard and moves so slowly it's simply difficult to get a good shot. The other thing that's never mentioned anywhere is that if you have a shot that's too low light where you have to use the flash, the flash will NOT go off to focus, and therefore the phone will never focus and the shot will come out blurry EVERY time.

The overall camera experience on my S4 has been head and shoulders above my experience on the One. I don't care if I have to use flash in a low-light shot of the photo comes out crisp and clear and takes no effort - and that's what the S4 does, every single time. And don't discount the lower megapixels - it wasn't as obvious in the examples in this article, but the graininess that comes with 4mp shows up more than you would think. The One does an excellent job overall, but you can still tell in a lot of scenarios.


yea the one seems to take better photos, but because the sg4 is more rounded sold me.

Dave Hargraves

Granted that the One doesn't have convenient quick settings when it comes out of the box, but a user can get them with AntTek Quick Settings Pro (available from Google Play). Virtually any setting you can think of can be placed on a menu that is available with a single swipe from the top of the screen (you can set how wide the swipe area can be, so it doesn't interfere with swiping to expand the notification bar), very much like the feature in the S4. I think the developer claims something like 75 built-in settings. The free version limits the number of quick settings you can place on the menu, but the Pro version ($1.99 in US) does not have a restriction. The quick settings can also include launching an application, sending an SMS message, phoning a contact, shortcut to Web site (I may not be remembering all the possibilities).

Maurice Crouse

Got the htc one. Great phone. A lot more simplified than the s4. Both awesome phones. ,Ian difference is the camera. The s4 is far superior plain and simple. If you want a high high quality shot, go with the s4. The cam on the htc one is definitely adequate for everyday shots as long as your not concerned about extreme detail that the s4 offers.

Dean Russo

You said, "The GS4’s Super AMOLED screen has more vibrant colors than the One. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Well, if you want realistic colors, go with the One. If you want larger-than-life colors, go with the GS4."

From other reviews i see the S4 has a number of different selectable display color profiles, with the out-of-the-box default being set for extra-gaudy for maximum sales effect. Someone (Anand, Ars Technica?) recommended that you select the Movie profile for a more natural look.

You said, "Would you listen to Sgt. Pepper while sitting behind your favorite pair of subwoofers? No? "

Humans are unable to localize really low frequencies such as are put out by sub-woofers, so you can put them anywhere in the room. :)


Hello, i reckon the galaxy s4 feels much more complete than the HTC One which let's be honest has got a great audio quality but that's unfortunately not enough. Look at the image quality difference, don't forget about those other cool options which the HTC One does'nt offer !

Pic Tom

Lots of interesting comments.. but not much about something I really insist be part of my smartphone... good quality function as a telephone. Whether the software's cool or the camera is great won't matter much if the thing sucks as a telephone. I've been with the Galaxy line since they came out because they do work for me as phones... I suspect that means I'll get the S4.

Thunder Lizard

I bought s4 & my brother bought htc one & i think I hv made a big mistake in buying s4, I should hv gone for the one. I decided to buy s4 bcoz I thought that it has so much excellent features like air gesture, smart pause, smart scroll etc, but after using i found out that none of these features works properly, it sometimes work & sometimes doesn't. More over the price of s4 of 16gb is the same of the 32gb htc one & not only with this out of the 16gb the system eats out 7gb only 9gb gets for use whereas in htc one my brother gets above 25gb. And the biggest drawback of the s4 is that i can't move the apps to sd card. Even though the s4 has a little bit faster processor, it doesn't run as smooth as the one. The camera quality of the s4 is good but sometimes it gives over saturated colors and in low light it gives very poor quality photos whereas the htc one is excellent. Inspite of having only 4mp, the htc one gives excellent image quality. Moreover the htc one cameras joe feature is superb & the boom sound of the dual front speakers is rocking. I can say that if htc has used a 13mp camera insted of 4mp then it would hv been the greatest & best camera phone ever. The battery of s4 drains very quickly, it doesn't even last for a day & compared to that the one lasts for longer duration. More over the s4 lags from time to time, most of the times i hv to remove the battery and put it back and on it. The last thing when i took both the phones in hand, the htc one gives a rich look whereas the s4 looks like an ugliest thing in ur hand just like of an some cheap phones. I m going to replace my s4 ASAP & moving to htc one.

David Nadar

Great article except you forgot to add that the HTC One is not available on Verizon. I read your article and after waiting for the S4 to come out I still went ahead with the idea to get the HTC One. Your review is no different than the 15 others I read. No mention of any carriers. Am I missing something?

Shaun Harper

Thanks to Will for the good review. I worked with both phones before buying and I am now quite happy that I chose HTC One! HTC had a bad delay for starting the sales on first of May in Malaysia but I finally found it on 13 May. After 5 days of steady working with this I only don't like the heat it produced on heavy 3D games but apart from it, if you believe me or not I had to say this is the best gadget I have ever seen and worked with. Quite fast, no lag or delay, brilliant photos for both indoor and outdoor (and more amazingly at night), Awesome speaker quality when you listen to a music or watch a movie, noise free telephone talks, very slick design and much more storage space than you needed. Even now after transferring all my photos and re-installing all previously purchased Android apps I still have 25 GB of free storage! Thank you HTC!

Mehran Taheri

Kudos for a realistic description of the micro SDcard on the S4. What it can do (store photos/music/data) versus what it can't do (store and run apps) is quite clear now--not many reviewers really get the distinction. If you add a micro SDcard you still only have a 16 gb phone app-wise.

John Driggers

Got ONE, and compared w/ friends S4.

For a moron like me who loves taking photos, sharing info over facebook, watching files while on subway, watching TV shows, I love HTC ONE.

The phot I took with ONE is a bit better in detail, not just the main object, but background as well. Facebook part is all the same for ONE and S4, but One allows you to get feedback much faster with its blinkfeed feature.

Not to mention how easy it is to seach thru TV programs with HTC ONE, pick what you want, and just use one simple touch on the ONE to redirect you eyes to the programe you want. Just that simple.

Jay Yen

No mention of call quality. It's a phone, remember? I swore off of HTC after buying the Incredible. It picked up all of the background noise. Now HTC looks attractive again due to the build and the speaker issue-I can't believe it's taken the industry this long to fix it. But I really need a phone that doesn't pick up every bit of background noise, and supposedly HTC has addressed this issue also, but I need to know because I don't want to get burned again.

Charlie Delta

Nice read, but was never a fan of HTC phones; though this one does seem to have a nice build.

Vojt Ted Barys

What happens if the HTC One breaks or freezes, do you lose everything on your memory card because you can't remove it? Do you have to save everything in the cloud to prevent that? Or what?


Nice comparison. I own the OneX and am happy with it. BUT, Sense 5 really dissapoints me. Many are raving how elegant it is but to me they went too far and made it visually boring and more difficult to navigate. BlinkFeed is the only thing that looks cool and I'm not a big social media, news junkie anyway. By difficult i mean Menu Driven. Why would they remove the buttons and bury everything in menus? The dialer, Calendar, camera.. yes, you can swipe to get there but give me the buttons. They finally added camera buttons in Sense 4.1, now there gone. Pluss they took away some home screen pannals and force you to use one for Blink Feed. Oh yea, where is the "Recent Apps" button??? WTF! I will say one very practical feature they added was a toggle on the dialer to bring up a key pad. this is a lot easier to look up a contact instead of using the dialer keys.

Nuts and Bolts: One wins - Looks, and the speakers are really cool. S4 wins - better camera (if im going to shoot in low light I'll use a flash thanks you) although, I do like the wider angle the One gives. S4 wins - removable battery, expandable memory. You can load apps the SDcard by using an app like Move2SD. The 64gig One will cost an extra $100.00. For that you can get the 32gig S4 AND a 64gig SD card! S4 wins - fun features. One has Zoe, but its not engough...

As much as my heart wants to pull for the One, my head will buy the S4.


I've had HTC since the Hero were out. Last week I managed to loose my One X and after much reading I decided on Samsung S4 mainly on technical merit. It's now been in my posession for 2 days and I wish I had my HTC back. Mainly due to the lack of usable widgets. On HTC I could click on the clock/weather widget and the clock app came up with quick access to alarms, timer and stopwatch. Not so on Samsung. The clock widget has no shortcut to the clock settings and the clock/weather widget only starts a weather app. The widget I had on HTC with a 1x4 vertical list of configurable list of contacts was very usable. On Samsung there is only a 1x1 contact widget. You have to add one for each of your contacts that you might like to have quick access to. No configuration which could give you a list of family or friends or what have you. I regret buying the Samsung now :-[


HTC one settings:

Pull down notification menu then push button on the far right.

Eazy Peazy.

Chase Masters

I've been looking at these two phones for the last week, read and watched probably twenty reviews, and this article, by far is the most unbiased. Just wanted to say thanks.


I would've thought the "first pro digital photographer in Wisconsin" (or whatever) would've noticed that there is in fact, much more detail in the GS4 photo, but it may appear to be less before contract and brightness are adjusted. No serious photo is "done" after the snap, but the GS4 has captured the data to tweak and mold that photo into art, while the One's 4MP photo may appear more detailed initially only because it lacks the pixel density to create subtleties in contrast. You THINK you see "more detail" only because it doesn't have as much. It goes straight from the dark crevices to the bright highlights without all of the shades in between. I guarantee you if you run both of those images through a filter or two and you'll see the obvious superiority of a camera sensor that's capturing more than three times the amount of image data as the other. And let's not forget about low pixel count artifacts that are noticeable even here, while the GS4 photo could still be blown up 20 times this size and be crisp and noise-free where the One's would look like abstract modern art after another 2x. But being the pro digital photographer you claim to be, I suppose you already know this.

I guess Pietro has never heard of the Play Store, where hundreds of clock/weather/just-about-anything widgets can be found. Must be terrible only ever using apps/widgets that were pre installed in the phone when you bought it.

Bryan Linden

Great very unbiased review. I've been switching back and forth for a month, tonight I'm giving the one another shot. I decided this after 50 photos taken of my children in the kiddy pool in the yard. Despite plenty of sunlight, many of the light colors are washed to near white. And when I zoom in just a couple times on the photos, I can see terrible ghosting type stuff along the edges of objects. When I was researching my first DSLR purchase last year I read a lot of "the quality of the sensor can make up for a lot of megapixel inferiority " type statements and the like, and I think I may be experiencing that here. Not to mention no matter what I do, the s4 shutter seems to delay in comparison. Guess I'll waffle on back and see. Thanks again for a thorough comparison.

Bob Bossart

Thank you for this review. I already picked up a Htc one today and just love looking at it and playing with it. I had a galaxy s3 before and feel that the s4 is not such a major upgrade and IT looks the same as the s3, very minor differences in appearances. Out of reading a lot of other reviews, this is by far the most accurate and unbiased review I have read. In the other reviews, it seemed like they were being paid by the company to promote their phones or they were just MAJOR FANBOYS of the company's phones. Samsungs apps are too gimmicky for me. I didnt use any of those features on the galaxy s3, had no need and they dont work as well as they make it seem. Htc's useful widgets, beautiful sense UI, weather forecast, build quality, speakers, and its LCD screen which is the best in my opinion made the choice a lot easier. I thought the camera was going to suck but now see that I made the better choice as I usually take pictures at night and they come out so bright and clear, I can see the object in the photo so clearly. Pictures in regular light are pretty good as well, maybe not as good as the s4 because of megapixel count but still decent enough to upload to facebook, just dont crop the picture too much. Overall, Im very content with my purchase, Htc is stepping into the big leagues with its new device. I covered the whole phone with the inivisible stickers you put on it, now no longer worried about scratches, dont like the plasticky feeling the stickers give but it sure gives it a better grip in my hands.

Abdul Basit

How do you compare them temperature wise?

Hexi Rie

Thanks for the write up. I think you get it 100% correct. I am up for a phone right now, but I just do not see one that will be better than what I have. I would really like to upgrade. There just aren't any upgrades out there. I have a Razr Maxx that I bought retail about one and a half year ago. My Droid X [Milestone X actually] was giving me trouble after about four years. I would go back to it before I would shell out the money and be stuck with something being sold right now. I really hatto be so negative but I also like to call 'em as I see 'em. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to why most phone makers do not 1.Have memory expansion and 2.Have almost completely stopped putting removeable batteries in them? I can replace a battery when it dies. That's really not a huge deal but the memory card thing is just a deal breaker. When I had unlimited data I could stream all my music, watch TV or videos in a waiting room, and it didn't matter. With a cap on my data I like to install those resident and then I am not having to worry about the cap. I mean it's just makes sense to hook to a computer here and have it waiting on the phone. With some phones only having 8g of extra space in the phone there's just not enough room. I can take off and put on every time I leave home but it would just be so much more simple to have a 32 or 64g card and have all of my 14g of music and a few other things there. I like to bluetooth to my car and sometimes I drive 8-10 hours a weekend so I like to have a good selection. My granddaughter [almost 5] watches videos and plays games and basically it gets used continuously some weekends. I would have to have a 12g plan if I didn't pre-load things. The batteries are another thing. WHY, when they are capable of running 3-4 times longer, would they put a battery in a phone that won't stream video more than a few hours. I can't understand it for the life of me. My maxx will run longer and store more than ANY flagship phone out there that hasn't got an extended life battery. IF we get extended batteries the the protective covers do not fir. I know some of these engineers are much smarter than that! I bought the wife an S4 the other day. They are nice, I guess, if you like all the fun things you can do with them but that's not my thing. The HTC phone in the article has a battery that wouldn't make it 1/2 the ride on a typical weekend and with several apps would have no storage left to install music and other things needed. I just have to be missing something. Not too many years ago most all phones had a memory expansion. Not today. The batteries have always been a problem. It's like leasing a car. You have the car but you can't drive it because the mileage cap is usually low and you will end up going over and paying out the nose.I want a phone I can just use without worrying about my data cap getting passed and not have to be careful that I might use all the memory with Spongebob cartoons. . Not too much to ask?

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