The Friday Debate: Galaxy S4 vs HTC One

by: Bogdan PetrovanApril 26, 2013

We are all mobile geeks, here at Android Authority. We love everything with a power button. We like to comment the latest news and endlessly argue over which phone is better. On the Friday Debate, we pick a hot issue and proceed to discuss it. Join us!

This could be the debate of the year in the Android community. Today, we fight over discuss two amazing Android smartphones, the sleek HTC One and the feature-filled Samsung Galaxy S4. These are likely the best Android phones of 2013, and they will both draw huge followings. But which one is better? Is the HTC One, with its premium build, superior to the S4? Do the software and hardware features of the Galaxy S4 make it better than the One?  In this week’s Friday Debate, we look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 vs the HTC One.

Join us in the comments section and vote in our poll.

Gary Sims

I am a big HTC fan, my current phone is from HTC and I have always avoided getting a Samsung as I didn’t really want to become just another Samsung Galaxy owner. The HTC One has style with its aluminum unibody and the S4’s plastic design is looking old. But, having said all that the lack of removable battery and the lack of SD card in my current HTC and in the HTC One means that if I was buying a new phone today it would be the S4. Sorry HTC!

Adam Koueider

Let’s get it out right away. With the Galaxy S4, Samsung is proving itself to be obnoxious and arrogant. No joke, creating a similar design, both with the UI and the physical design, prove Samsung has gone the way of Apple in creating devices that feel familiar and therefore sell because of their heritage rather than their innovation (By the way, Samsung did this with all of its2012 smartphones).Where is the innovation? That ‘drama shot’ Samsung have been crowing about, it was in the GS1 and S2 (it went by the name of ‘action shot’), but they took it out in the S3 and are now promoting it like a new feature. This isn’t a hate on Samsung, my belief is the G.Note 2 is the best phone money can buy. It’s the greatest mobile computing device available right now and I would have bought it except my hands are extremely small (No joke, they’re tiny).

With the HTC One, HTC finally had enough courage to become innovative. BoomSound, BlinkFeed, Ultrapixels, love them or hate them, they are innovation at its finest. Sure I would have loved a MicroSD slot, but hey, you win some you lose some.

The Galaxy S4 has its pros, I for one prefer AMOLED over LCD, but I wouldn’t be able to buy the GS4, because one day I’d bump into someone with a GS3 and he’ll say “Hey, you’ve got an S3 as well” and then I’ll say “No this is the new GS4.” He’ll then ask, “so what can yours do that mine can’t?” and i’ll reply “look, no hands” (while I show off smart scroll).

samsung galaxy s4 vs htc one comparison aa

Joe Hindy

Well now this is going to be the debate of the year isn’t it? There is a lot to consider going into buying either device. The HTC One is more of a premium device that looks slick and performs well. It has some consumer features, like Blinkfeed, HTC Zoe, and Boomsound. However, for all intents and purposes, it’s a premium device for people who want a nice phone that looks nice and performs nicely too.

The Galaxy S4 takes a wholly different approach. It looks nice but it’s really nothing we heaven’t seen with the Galaxy S3 and, to an extent, the Galaxy S2. It has the same hardware layout with the middle button. It is plastic, which is fine, but Samsung definitely focused more on consumer wants. They have the health monitors, the barometer, the Smart Scroll, and stuff like that. They don’t focus so much on the premium look or feel, but focus more on packing the most possible features into the device.

So it boils down to what you, the consumer, wants. The HTC One took the sports car look. Sleek, powerful, looks good under the hood, and it has what you need to enjoy the HTC One and that’s about it. The Galaxy S4 is like a minivan. It’s looks like the minivans that preceded it, but it’s safer with more features and it’s something the whole family will enjoy. The conundrum with the Galaxy S4 isn’t even the build quality, it’s the fact that they packed more bloat into the S4 than any phone before it. Sure it’s useful bloat, but it’s bloat nevertheless.

I went with the HTC One (currently on back order at T-Mobile). I owned the Galaxy S3 and the Note 2 and they were great phones and I’ve no doubt that the Galaxy S4 will be equally impressive. However, I yearn for a phone that isn’t made from the same materials as a Speak’n’Spell. Personally, I don’t need all those software features and do not need those various new hardware sensors. The HTC One looks like the device I’ve been waiting for HTC to build since the HTC EVO 4G. Something different, something fun, and something that isn’t packed with software and hardware that, while awesome, I’ll never actually use.

Brad Ward

It’s a hard choice, really. You can’t deny that the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One are very nice smartphones. They both have their positives and negatives. That said, I’m going to have to choose the HTC One this time around.

While many may not like it, HTC really tried to do something different with the One. Features like BoomSound and Ultrapixels are very different from what you find in your standard smartphone. Innovation at its finest, I say.

Yeah, HTC may have had some serious supply issues, and the lack of a microSD card may have upset some, but the HTC One, despite its production flaws, is a very, very nice smartphone. Heck, I’m not even a fan of Sense and I’d still get it in a heartbeat.

On the other hand, when’s the Note 3 going to be available? :)

samsung galaxy s4 vs htc one standings aa

Robert Triggs

I seem to be one of the odd ones out here, but I prefer the Galaxy S4. But only slightly.

The Galaxy S4 appeals to me for improvements to the little things like Touchwizz, the camera features, and new gallery options. Although not necessarily ground breaking, these things definitely make it a step-up from the fantastic Galaxy S3.

On the other hand I love the HTC One’s style, and it’s avoided going over the top with pointless software like S Health and Group Play, which I would never ever use. They’re both fantastic handsets, it’s really a toss up for which one wins on hardware and software features.

The only way I can separate the two is in the little differences. Why the HTC One comes with a small non-changeable battery and no SD card slot will forever confuse me. I just don’t think that these are features that a premium handset should skip on; especially considering that cheaper smartphones have these options.

However if they were offering the Chinese version of the HTC One in Europe then I’d probably change my mind.

Check out our Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One video review!

Vote in our poll! Note: we use the same poll from the Versus post.

[poll id=”266″]

  • Galaxy S4 for me!!!

    • lil bit

      None for me. I dont need all that bloat, esp not the deep integration TripAdvisor ahah, its just as stupid as Blinkfeed (which would have been acceptable if it was removable).

      Xperia Z gives me boatloads of performance, style, quality, and it has no added artificial colors, flavors or chemicals in the UI, its clean and ready to serve me. This is real Android.

    • lol the ony thing the htc one is good for is stealing away the dumb iphone owners who just have to have a pretty phone. the s4 is definitely the better smarthphone

  • Deon Davis

    I love my HTC One!

  • Greg Cardall

    The HTC One looks amazing, and the front facing speakers are definitely a plus. But I don’t like how they’ve hijacked one of the 5 Home Screens to put their own custom News/RSS widgets on, and you can’t remove it – or add another Home Screen. I left Apple due to Steve Jobs being a Nazi and having total control over my phone.

    The argument of Plastic vs. Aluminum and the whole “premium” feel is, in my opinion, the most pathetic argument out there. If the phone functions without any problems and does what you want it to, why does it matter what the casing is made out of?

    I’d rather have a plastic phone from a manufacturer that’s still offering me removable batteries and SD Expansion slots, while not taking away my home screens for their custom crap, rather than go with a manufacturer that isn’t offering me any of those “premium” options.

    The day Samsung decides to tell me what I can or can’t do with my phones is the day I switch manufacturers (currently a proud owner of the Note 2)…just like I did with the iPhone.

    • get a launcher as simple as that for ur first probblem

      sd card slot not there big issue

      aluminium vs plastic does matter

      • not sure how it matters other then a subjective opinion to what looks/feels better. I’m going to put a case on the s4 either way, and i suggest you put a case on the ONE if you have decided to purchase it as well. aluminum dents/scratches easy

        • that truely depends on person to person abt the feel.. i hav been with the htc sensation for 2 years n i have dropped it so many times but still no dents at all only scretches n the screen wasnt even touched

          • well you have been really lucky so far, but I suggest you don’t continue to test your luck further. the fact tht aluminum is a very soft metal is not subjective opinion. It is a fact. I always felt that plastic polymer phones were more durable in a fall due to plastic inherently having more flex then a metal. the plastic will bend/fold sightly thus dissipating the impact energy while metal might dent but will not pop back to pace. also, if it does not dent it will just absorb the impact energy and pass it directly to it’s internal components or screen.either way I always put a case on my phone.

          • may b the htc sensation’s back cover is so hard it just wont dent.. n it also feels so good.. that time too ppl told the same n also that plastic n metal wat discrimination! but now i know i made the right choice n no.. it wasnt just luck.. the back cover is really really amazing for the htc sensation.. it protects the phone like a bullet proof jacket.. may b this isnt the case with the one but the point is casing does matter

          • mjolnirxz

            theres a difference between aluminum and an aluminum alloy FYI. please there is much distinction between the two and that is too a fact, not an opinion.

          • yes im aware that an aluminum alloy was used in the htc one. I’m also aware that even alloyed aluminum is fairly weak and soft with certain exceptions. they generally use aluminum over other metals because i has a high weight/strength ratio, is cheap, and can be readily machined.i’m not sure what alloy they used for this application but i’ll look up its chemical composition

    • Luke Kallam

      I agree with the pluses of the HTC One, but if you don’t want Blinkfeed, then you do have the option of removing it, I know that if I buy the HTC One, I almost undoubtedly will remove Blinkfeed, it’s not for me. And the premium thing, I also agree, but at the same time, I’ve had an HTC phone before and I have a Samsung phone (first a MyTouch 4G, now a Galaxy Nexus), and I’ve got to say, HTC’s phones just feel more solid, like it wouldn’t snap nearly as easily. The SD card slot is a nice thing to have, but with up to 64GB of storage, you should be fine, at least it’s not 16, you know? I’m conflicted by these two but I have a few months to decide on which one to get.

      • Brenton Steinhilber

        You do not have the option of removing blink feed within sense. It is permanent, but is does not have to be your home screen, but it will always be there in sense. I personally love it, but they should give you an option to remove it.

    • fixxmyhead

      ^THIS x1000000% couldn’t agree more

    • Giancarlo Sagastume

      Actually you can make any screen your home screen

      • David Regalado

        Luke Kallam you must go to the dark side.

  • HTC One for sure !!!

    • quinncy hinton

      I like The One its just premium. I have a Note 2 and I never use the sd slot or removable battery. All the plastic is old and the One is made of that aluminum, looking so sweet. My issue would be updates and developer community. HTC is not as easy to tweak and can be slow with updates. Where Samsung seems to be doing better in these areas. I’m actually going to sit this one out. But if HTC can get updates out in a timely fashion its a no brainer. Duh

  • I like them both but I prefer the Galaxy S4 – it maybe a toy, but that toy has a removable battery. From the reviews I’ve read so far, both phones have bad battery life (like all phones) but I can replace the battery with a bigger battery on the S4. If the One had a removable battery my vote would be different.

    • fadilkarim

      All phones have bad battery life? You my friend must not have had the note 2 yet:D
      Although technically its a phablet.

  • pph

    very shallow and biased review

    • JosephHindy

      This isn’t a review, it’s a debate sir. You can find the reviews under the “reviews” category.

  • Yusuf

    It’s the HTC One for me to be honest. But I don’t really have a choice. In our country, the HTC One doesn’t have LTE.

    • Mike Corbett

      where are you located? It has it is in USA

    • mjolnirxz

      Where are you from? HTC lists LTE on ALL regions
      Europe/ Middle East/ Africa: 800/1800/2600 MHz
      Asia: 1800/2600 MHz
      T-Mobile (US)/ AT&T/ Canada/ Latin America: 700 MHz and AWS band
      Sprint: 1900 MHz

  • I think this whole debate is missing a 3rd factor; the Sony Xperia Z. I have the privilege of trying out the Z and the HTC One. It isn’t just HTC Vs Samsung. The Xperia Z should undoubtedly be included in the debate. It is beautifully built and looks fantastic in glass black. The waterproofing is not a gimmick and the Sony Bravia feature makes watching Netflix and HD video a standout experience. If anything it is more effective in what it does for video than what the HTC One does for music. Boombox is nice for phone speakers but they are still just enhanced phone speakers and Beats software just intensifies the bass and makes the music louder. In fact louder than most ears need really. I’m not saying the HTC One isn’t a stunning phone but just pointing out the Xperia Z is a stunner too. I cannot comment on the S4 as I’ve not seen it yet.

    • Ryan Reed

      Actually, your wrong. In previous HTC phones “Beats” was just a software, but with the HTC One it’s a softwareand a built-in Beats headphone amplifier also. As an audiophile, let me tell you. It absolutely DOES matter what kind of audio processing occurs at the chipset level. If it’s quality, a good headphone amplifier with a good EQ (both the components HTC and Beats incorporated into the phone), then you’re going to get a premium listening experience. The speakerphone is remarkable. I truthfully can say as a tech and audiophile junky, this was a main buying point, and it proved to be a “sound” decision.

      • mjolnirxz

        Actually I was wondering if the S4 has the wolfson dac, do you know by any chance? hard to find official sources to confirm..

  • Androidogynous

    I like the idea and the look of both of them but I’m going to wait till the 64gb HTC One becomes available here and not only in America on T-Mobile.

  • LMAO debate between Htc fans…..

    Totally unnecessary and biased

    • Adam Koueider

      Two people went for the S4 three people went for the HTC One. How is it a debate between HTC fans?

  • Mike Corbett

    htc one is in the lead as it should be!

  • KyleMallory

    Like many have said, “plasticky” shouldn’t be a bad word. I’d replace “plasticky” with durable. Plastic has afforded the world with many great things and served great purposes. So build quality of “best” is irrelevant, but I do like how the HTC One looks and appreciate the design of the Galaxy model since the S3.

    I’ve never heard anyone make a negative on the iPhone during a review because it didn’t have a removable battery or SD card. I know I’ll get flamed for this, (I’m a die-hard Android-Google Guy), but never-the-less phones still compared to the iPhone. People even say the HTC One “looks” like an iPhone. I think all of these phones not having an SD card or removable battery is fine. I never exchanged an SD card once I had it in. It just stayed in the phone like a normal in device storage. I use a Galaxy Nexus now and have never found a need that I “had” to have an SD card. And for removable battery, I’ve opted to external batteries to carry, because they work cross devices, saves me money in the long run.

    So, which one is better, HTC One of Galaxsy S4? It’s tough to say. I’ve always chosen HTC phone over Samsung phones, and I think I would continue this trend. I think they both bring in more bloat than necessary, but some of the features of the HTC One I’d rather use and explore on a daily basis over the Galaxy S4. I still think the S4 is a fine phone, will sell well, but for me HTC One all the way.

  • Love my HTC one! But please fix the home and back button! Otherwise couldn’t be happier!

    • mjolnirxz

      It is fixed in OTA 1.29, pushed to europe already… hopefully US carriers can get their act together

  • I honestly think the Samsung Galaxy S4 is better than the HTC One. However, if you have a Samsung Galaxy S3 I don’t think you should buy any of them. The HTC One is going to lose support from HTC just like all of their other phones that were upgradable (like the HTC Evo). The Samsung Galaxy S4 is just its predecessor with a slightly larger screen, slightly improved TouchWiz, slightly thinner thickness, faster octa-processor (compared to the S3’s quad processor), and a slightly better version of Jellybean… but if there’s one thing I recommend, it is that you should switch to T-Mobile because 5G LTE is arriving there soon. It’s going to be 3 times faster than 4G LTE. See all the details here:

  • Justin Flynn

    Personally for me, specs for almost every phone nowadays are great. It’s neither for me. I want battery life. Give me a phone with even mid range specs but can last 2 days, I’m there!

  • only reason i would prefer the galaxy s4 over the htc one is because the s4’s screen is almost edge to edge and I dont like the black bezel thing the Htc One has. In my eyes it seems like a waste of space. They could have made the HTC One edge to edge vertically and horizontally with on screen buttons and for me it would have been the best phone ever. 5″ btw.. Should’ve been lcd to metal speaker.

  • xoj_21

    htc camera is shit. all hardware s4 outperforms the one.

  • David Regalado

    Galaxy S IV Is what to me is clearly better. Love that the One is out there. Really glad to see such different phones being offered to us Greedy little Tech Lovers

  • Luong Hai

    One advantage of not being able to take your battery off is when you lose your phone and you have tracking software. The person who stole your phone will not be able to shut off the phone and that way the owner will have chances to track the lost device.

  • My only issue is battery life. With both these phones! Can we not get 3000+mAh batteries here? Or even better, some new battery technology that we hear is in development?

  • Balraj

    Htc one for me :-D

  • Roger McPants

    I’m in the market for a new phone, but this video is hysterically biased towards Samsung.

    HTC got the X for the performance category. The difference between 1.7Ghz and 1.9Ghz isn’t noticeable on a desktop PC, let alone a phone. They both have the same GPU and 2GB of RAM, and would offer the same real-world performance…if anything it should be a tie. If they were based on different architecture, I would agree. But they’re based on the SAME exact architecture with the Samsung having a 200MHZ increase in CPU performance. Since mobile games are becoming more GPU intensive, this is hardly worth X’ing the HTC.

    HTC got an X for having a smaller display? Is this a joke? Not everyone wants a 5″ screen, especially if it isn’t noticeably better. I’ve seen the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Note 2 and I honestly can’t see what people find so appealing about the AMOLED screens. I remember seeing a sample image of a field and the grass was neon green. However, I was absolutely floored with the HTC One screen when I saw it on display. I’ll wait until I compare both in person, but it would have to be a MAJOR improvement from the S3 or Note 2 to make me change my mind.

    HTC gets an X for hardware by having the more practical cameras (it has an 88* wide-angle front facing camera!), better sound (front-facing speakers, and higher voltage headphone jack), better microphones for making phone calls/recording videos and from what I’ve heard, a better IR blaster. This is innovation, not waving at your phone like an idiot…seriously, what tool is going to do this in public? It doesn’t even improve the user experience because of how awkwardly slow it registers the air gesture.

    HTC gets an X for the battery. Samsung has a larger battery but also has a larger screen, more power-consuming features, and a higher clocked CPU. Real-world battery performance, from what I’ve seen, is very similar.

    No comparison on call quality, because you know…these are phones and so far every review knocks the Samsung for having medicore call quality.

    • Roger McPants

      And I’m in between on the plastic vs. aluminum debate. From holding the S3 & the HTC One in the store, the HTC just felt like a solid piece of hardware, didn’t attract fingerprints, and looked well made. I played with the S3 & Note 2 and they both just felt like regular phones, nothing special. They did feel a little cheap and the buttons had an ugly feeling to them. Again, they both work serve an audience. Some don’t mind a plastic interior Nissan Sentra, others prefer a more luxurious BMW 5-Series. Some people wear cheap $200 suits, others go for finer cut $1,200 suits. You’ll never end this debate as there will ALWAYS be people who prefer a nicer quality product.

      • mjolnirxz

        I fully agree, thank you

  • Jose Antonio Prado

    I’m currently typing on the HTC one. Its a great phone. The reason I went with it was for the sound. Was tired of my iphone 5 not being loud enough. To my surprise in loudness its almost the same as my iphone 5. The sound quality is better but not much louder. Will be returning it for the GS4. Hopefully I don’t regret it. Have fun with which ever you choose.

  • Tai Nguyen

    vote dont lie. htc one is winning by a landslide.

  • kfineyouw1n

    Samsung thinks they are so bad a** now, they feel they can flood the market with their ugly same design on all phones, so everyone could live and breath it’s brand. Not to mention flood the tv ads with their huge marketing budget…well Samsung, I’m not falling for it and USELESS features if its essentially the same phone as the S3.

  • 32GB is more than enough storage. Cloud storage is everywhere. The 4mp camera looks to be at least on par with the 13mp, which says alot about the tech in HTC’s. There’s these things called external extended-life batteries that plug into a phone and charge them on a desk, in a purse, on the table, etc and both devices still need to be plugged in every night so the battery thing is a non-issue. What’s left? Oh, both have amazing screens, both have great features…that leaves sound and build quality…the far more revolutionary product here is the ONE. dual front speakers paired with a gorgeous screen is THE REASON Android even went with larger screens in the first place, people who wanted to watch videos didn’t like Apple’s dinky lil 3.5″. Also, everyone says they just pick up the ONE to hold it for a while….the S4 is a fantastic device (and I have an S3 that I love), but the device to really cement the fact that Android is pushing boundaries Apple wont ever touch is the ONE. People who complain about no removable battery or storage are really just saying that cuz they think they sound cooler.

  • Adrian

    Got HTC One here had it for 3 days and not overly impressed, was hyped up by the media but not the greatest thing i have ever used like everyone is saying, really starting to hate sense , this phone might be better if the CM guys get a rom on it. But i wont be buying an S4 either, has alot of things i will never use so not really interested, looking a the Optimus G pro here. The One feels like it needs a bigger screen and i find it uncomfortable to hold.

  • JGaLaXY

    It’s official, people are hating on the S4, the hate is real…two words…”AIR GESTURES?!” R u KIDDING ME…if apple did something like that, I wonder how big of a deal it would of been…?

  • peter steffek

    My biggest problem with the one is the fact that its already running an outdated version of android. If its already behind how long is it going to take to get to 4.3/5.0?
    The lack of sd card and removable battery are also very irritating.

  • datadroid

    After using the HTC One, something that seems to be under discussed is the lack of a menu button and a physical button. I use my menu button and my physical home button all the time. The are small but very frequently used features that i think would take a lot of getting used to if i went with the HTC