Face-off: Samsung Galaxy S4 VS HTC One

Mobile phone super-manufacturers are jostling for your attention, with Samsung and HTC clearly putting more effort into their new flagship releases. But how should you choose between them?

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 May, 2013, 10:54pm

The HTC One is the most sophisticated kit to grace the 2013 mobile landscape. The effort that went into shaping the aluminium chassis is enough to win anyone over. Then there's the symmetry of the micro-drilled holes for the speakers, which double as the ear piece and speakerphone.

Samsung takes a more conservative "if it ain't broke" approach with the Galaxy S4. Apart from its new faux-metal surrounding, its design improvements are less about aesthetics and more about practicality. It crams a larger screen and larger battery into a chassis the same size as the S3, to make the whole package lighter. Genius.


While both phones have super high-definition display panels running at an amazing resolution of 1920x1080, HTC wins the pixels-per-inch race with its 4.7-inch SLCD3 display. At 468 pixels per inch, it's the world's highest.


HTC takes the lead here. Sure, Samsung's Octa-core S4 has Wolfson audio chips - the same ones found in a lot of Apple products - powering its media playback. But HTC takes the software route and uses Dr Dre's Beats Audio, which combined with HTC's new BoomSound pumps out audio that is crisp, rich and balanced at high volumes. You almost forget you're using a mobile phone.


The S4 offers a whopping 13 megapixel camera. This means you can zoom in further with less image degradation and have a bigger margin for error as you can crop photos. HTC dispels the myth megapixels are everything with a 4 megapixel offering. Photos are just as vibrant and low light shots are fantastic.


HTC focuses on doing the essentials well. Blinkfeed brings your social feeds, television guide and other notifications together to a centralised area and presents them in beautiful tiles. Zoe, short for zoetrope, exploits the advanced camera system to capture three-second videos.

You can control a lot on the Samsung without touching it. You can see details of your e-mails and folders by hovering your finger over them, while eye-tracking features mean videos automatically pause as you look away and let your eyes can do the scrolling for you. Software applications aim to make your life easier.



HTC keeps things simple: there is only one version, it's 4G and runs on a fast quadcore processor from Qualcomm called the Snapdragon 600. It's a win-win situation with superior transfer speeds on a fast processor and with a good sized battery - this is a guaranteed 12-hour phone.

Samsung presents consumers with a difficult but interesting choice: slower 3G transfer speeds coupled with Samsung's Exynos 5 processor that focuses on speed and power efficiency, or 4G with the Snapdragon 600 that's been made to run slightly faster than on the HTC.

It is easy to say the 4G version is the better choice because it's 4G and the processor is faster than the HTC. But the Exynos 5 Octa processor crunches numbers faster than the Snapdragon 600. What's more, it's in a 4+4 configuration so it balances the workload between two separate sets of quadcore processors, one optmised for speed and one for power efficiency.


HTC One is more suitable for the younger generation, and is sure to make your friends envious. It is not for photography buffs who want extra image resolution; not built to go on an adaptor-less marathon and not for those who insist on using microSD for capacity expansion. Price: HK$5,698

The Galaxy S4 is built to last all day long and better for professionals. Without a focus on certain features it doesn't do any one thing particularly well. It's not easy on beginners, and won't make anyone envious. Price: HK$5,898

Eric Wong (48hours@scmp.com)