Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z: The Final Word

With a plethora of big phones on the racks in 2013, you must be wondering about which one is the best. The strengths and weaknesses of the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z are discussed below:

Design:

As far as the design is concerned, there is a wide disparity among these three models. While the Samsung Galaxy S4 possesses a construction similar to its predecessor, has a polycarbonate look, is light weighted and has a 5-inch screen pushing much closer to the edge of the handset, it does lose out on the overall feel to the Sony Xperia Z—which is definitely worth its worth in cash. Regardless of its plastic casing and design the Xperia is value for money due to its waterproof and dustproof features.

The HTC One is the masterpiece amongst the three. Its full aluminum shell makes it durable as well as attractive.

Features:

All three of the devices on test here have a lot of attempted innovation on board, although some are more impressive than others. Let’s start with the Sony Xperia Z, a phone that promises a lot from the revamped brand. The Smart Connect and the Xperia Link allow you to use the phone’s internet connection to other devices. That’s a familiar feature, but you can remotely set it to function from another device, without having to dig it out of the pocket on a commute.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is probably the most feature-rich of the three, with a whole heap of ‘innovation’ on board. Be it scrolling with your eyes, waving your hand over the phone to move through photos or internet pages or just keeping track of your peepers to maintain screen brightness, there’s a lot going on here.

If Samsung was looking for an approach to ape, we’d heartily recommend the HTC way of doing things. The One has loads of filler features: be it the UltraPixel camera that can take low light pictures, the BoomSound microphones that prevent distortion when recording at high volume, or the simple user interface, there’s a lot here to love.

Ease of use:

The Sony Xperia Z and the HTC One both share a common operating system in the shape of Android 4.1 whereas, the Galaxy S4’s runs on Android 4.2. If we look at this category Samsung Galaxy S4 is in third place. That’s not to criticize it too much, as it’s an excellent OS and one that really rewards the user the more you dig into it.

The HTC One is more accessible, from the reduction in apps on the grid to the more helpful tutorial screens that litter the phone when you turn it on. The blend of simplicity and power here is what makes the HTC One a better choice.

 

Value for money:

When it comes to value for money, there is a slight disparity between the three, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes at the wrong end of it. It’s available for £580 SIM free, where the other two can be nabbed for £530 and £490 respectively. But there’s no doubt that the Galaxy S4 offers less value for money than the other two, simply because it has arguably the lowest design values and the highest price. It’s got some decent internals, but there’s a worry that the South Korean brand is getting a little too much like Apple in its high-end price strategy.

Performance:

In terms of performance, there’s very little to choose between the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4. The latter nudges it in the Antutu Android test, but its honours even in the browser benchmarking tests, showing that there’s not much to choose here if you’re going to raw power.

Camera:

The camera on all three phones is excellent – but there’s a big difference between the three. Well, not so much the Sony or the Samsung option, as both are rocking a 13MP sensor, but when it comes to the HTC One, you’ll have to make do with a 4MP option.

The Samsung camera is the most powerful of the three, as while it packs the same resolution as the Xperia Z, it manages to come up trumps when trying to frame the perfect shot. Only feature we like in the HTC One are that it lets you capture Zoes, which are 3.6-second clips instead of a photo. These not only automatically make highlight reels of your night out or holiday, but also let you do really cool things like sequence shot and object removal much more easily than with the Samsung Galaxy S4.

CPU / RAM:

All three phones are pretty similar here: the One, Z and S4 all pack 2GB of RAM to help power things along, but as you can see from the benchmarking graphs, Sony is struggling to keep up with the other two.

HTC made the decision to move to Qualcomm Krait, and despite being slower than the Galaxy S4 (coming in at 1.7GHz clock speed) manages to match it blow for blow in the benchmarking tests. It also performs nigh-on flawlessly even in the heavy lifting.

Screen:

This is such an important part of the smartphone experience, and all three offer something different in display terms, although Full HD resolution has been packed into each handset.

The HTC One has the brightest screen, but the Galaxy S4 has a much more balanced tone with the Super AMOLED (which has been set to the most neutral color mode) when viewed normally. The Sony Xperia Z has the best clarity, but that comes at a price as it’s also the noisiest.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a Super AMOLED Full HD screen, which is a whole new type of technology. This allows an almost infinite contrast ratio, as the black parts of the screen are true black and not slightly grey while masking the backlight needed to light up the screen.

Battery:

It’s very difficult to talk about how strong a phone’s battery is, as so many people use it for different things. Any phone is going to crumble in hours if you do a lot of video streaming, and using the camera loads (with all the processing going on) will similarly chuck the juice out the battery door.

The HTC One and the Xperia Z both did the best at the video playback test, with both of these only losing 19% when playing back a 90-minute video whereas, the Galaxy S4 only dropped another 2%, with 79% juice left at the end, so it’s not a big problem at all.

The HTC One seems to be the winner considering the Taiwanese brand for making something so usable and well designed. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a powerhouse, and one that we like to use day to day a lot, but it’s definitely all evolution without much in the way of revolution in smartphone terms. The Sony Xperia Z feels like a great step forward for the electronics giant with full of great ideas, but needs some design and interface work before it can be considered a true great.

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