Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One (video)

by: Mike AndriciApril 24, 2013

samsung galaxy s4 vs htc one post aa

The clash of the titans! The hottest smartphones of the moment, and probably the two best Android smartphones ever made, meet today in what’s possibly the most exciting Versus article of 2013. But before we dive in, let’s properly introduce our two combatants.

A quick look around the tech blogosphere tells us that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the Android smartphone that gathered the most hype on its announcement date. Obviously, a very good sign for the South Korean manufacturer, as the predecessor of the S4, the Galaxy S3, is the best-selling Android smartphone of all time.

With Samsung’s marketing muscle behind it and a huge base of loyal fans, the Galaxy S4 shapes up to be a hit. If you’re looking for a full review of the Galaxy S4, Joshua Vergara has got you covered with his extensive analysis. The bottom line is that Samsung improved on the Galaxy S3 in all areas with this new iteration, while also adding some very interesting software features.

In the other corner, Taiwanese manufacturer HTC has a lot of hope in the commercial success of the HTC One, regarded as the last chance for a turnaround for the ailing company.

Unlike Samsung, HTC decided to think outside the box with the One, equipping it with several unique features. For a full review of the HTC One, make sure to check out Kristofer Wouk’s article.

But what are the main advantages of the HTC One when pitted against the Samsung Galaxy S4? Where is the Galaxy S4 shinning when compared to the One? Join us for a full comparison. For a hands-on video of the Samsung Galaxy S4 versus the HTC One, jump to the bottom of this article.

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The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 5-inch Super AMOLED panel that runs at full HD (1920 by 1080 pixels) resolution, with a 441 ppi pixel density. Contrast rates and brightness are both excellent with the Samsung Galaxy S4, although the inaccurate color reproduction remains the main flaw of the Super AMOLED panels. Some learn to live with and love the ultra vivid colors that such a panel produces, while others swear by the more true-to-nature colors of LCD screens.

It’s also worth noting that, although Samsung used a PenTile subpixel arrangement matrix on the Samsung Galaxy S4, you cannot notice any pixelation with the naked eye.

samsung galaxy s4 vs htc one s4 viewing angle aa

The HTC One uses a 4.7-inch Super LCD3 display, one that also works at full HD resolution, but this time at a density of 469 ppi, thanks to the slightly smaller screen. The great contrast and brightness levels are matched by the accurate color reproduction to provide an amazing viewing experience.

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Verdict: If you want a more compact display with accurate colors, go for the HTC One. If you prefer deep blacks and richer colors, go for the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Design and build quality

Design-wise, the Galaxy S4 is mostly similar to its predecessor, with its rounded corners and the same button layout (a hardware home button flanked by two capacitive buttons). The only major differences are the introduction of a chromed frame surrounding the sides and the new mesh finish that replaces the old glaze finish.

samsung galaxy s4 vs htc one s4 back in hand aa

The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a polycarbonate (plastic) removable back cover, meaning that it doesn’t feel as premium as other high-end Android smartphones, like the One, the Xperia Z, or the Nexus 4. On the upside, the Galaxy S4 is the most compact 5-inch Android smartphone out there, measuring 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm (5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 in) and weighs just 130 g (4.59 oz).

samsung galaxy s4 vs htc one s4 back cover aa

The HTC One features an aluminum unibody with slightly rounded corners, and bezels that are larger than the average, and definitely larger than those of the Samsung Galaxy S4. The power button rests at the top, while the usual three navigational buttons have been replaced with just two capacitive buttons: one for home and one for back.

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One (ahem) feature that’s unique to the HTC One (thus far, at least) is BoomSound, a pair of stereo speakers placed on the sides of the screen when in landscape mode (the “normal” mode for gaming and watching video). Thanks to BoomSound, the One produces significantly more decibels than any other Android smartphone that we recently tested.

Given that the HTC One has a smaller display, you would expect it to be a smaller smartphone than the Galaxy S4, but that’s not the case here. The HTC One measures 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm (5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 in) and weighs 143 g (5.04 oz).

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Verdict: The HTC One has better build quality, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a superior screen-to-body ratio.

Internal hardware


The HTC One comes with a Snapdragon 600 SoC, that pairs a 1.7 GHz quad-core Krait processor with an Adreno 320 GPU, alongside 2GB of RAM. According to all benchmark tests, the Snapdragon 600 is a blazing fast platform. However, if raw processing power is what you’re looking for, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the way to go.

The North American version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC as well, but this time the quad-core Krait 300 processor is clocked at 1.9 GHz. As a result, the North American version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is slightly faster than the HTC One.

With the international version of the Galaxy S4, things change a bit in favor of Samsung, as the Exynos 5 Octa SoC (Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7, PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU) seems to be the fastest chip that’s currently available on the market.

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The HTC One comes with two internal storage options: 32 GB or 64 GB, but lacks the option to expand that storage via a microSD card, so you better think about how much space you actually need before making a purchase.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is available with 16 GB / 32 GB / 64 GB of internal storage space, and can accept microSD cards of up to 64 GB in size.


The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 13MP primary camera that does a great job if there’s enough light to work with. The HTC One’s 4MP Ultrapixel camera does a very good job at taking photos in low-light conditions, and a decent job in properly lit mediums. Both cameras should suffice for your basic point-and-shoot needs.

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In the battery department, the Samsung Galaxy S4 clearly outperforms the HTC One: a 2600 mAh removable battery on the Galaxy S4 versus a 2300 mAh fixed battery on the One.

Verdict: The Galaxy S4 comes with a microSD card slot and a larger removable battery, while also being slightly faster than the HTC One.

Android and software features

The Samsung Galaxy S4 runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, with a new version of Samsung’s TouchWiz UI overlaid on top.

The design of TouchWiz is often criticized, but in all fairness Samsung did manage to add a lot of extra functionality to Android. Besides the Smart Functions that were introduced on the Galaxy S3, the Galaxy S4 gains several new software functions, such as Air Gesture, Air View, S Health, Smart Scroll, Smart Pause and Knox Security. The Samsung camera app also comes with a few interesting features such as Eraser or Drama Mode.

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The HTC One runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, with a new version of Sense on top. The design is refined and subtle, but if you’re looking for extra functionality, the only exciting feature is BlinkFeed, a Flipboard-like stream of news and social updates that resides on your home screen.

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Verdict: If you’re looking for many tweaks and features that improve the Android experience, you’ll love the Samsung Galaxy S4. If you’re looking for a fresh design, take the HTC One for a spin.

Hands-on video


There’s so much to love about these two smartphones that picking a clear winner is impossible without being subjective. One way to decide who wins the HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S4 battle is to ask yourself this:

Do you want a compact 5-inch smartphone with the fastest internal hardware around, a microSD card slot, and a removable battery? Go for the Samsung Galaxy S4!

Are color accuracy, great design and a premium build more important for you? Go for the HTC One!

What do you guys think? Which one is better and why: the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One?

[poll id=”266″]

Joshua Vergara contributed to this review.

  • MasterMuffin

    This poll is totally going to give the result on which one’s better :D S4 for the win!

  • amine ELouakil

    There are two points that bothers me with this review:

    the first one is regarding the screen, you say that the One has a better color contrast, accuracy higher PPI, brightness….while the only thing going for the S4 screen in the comparaison are blacks and Yet you coudn’t make the judgement that the HTC One has a better screen. (something you did the Internal hardware part, the other way around which is true of course since the S4 has the option of an SD, removable battery and so on)
    Also you didn’t mention the hicups, the S4 suffers from (which I’m sure they’ll be fixed in future updates but for now they are)

    The other point is PRICE, which I think is an important factor, the One is cheapers than the S4 in most carriers or about the same price when compararing a 16gb S4 vs a 32Gb One that also is something important.

    But anyways both great devices, I opted for the One as for me it’s the better option and I pay premium for a phone to have a product that feels so

  • Truely HTC one is better a device over S4 IT got refreshed look new design premium body as for the hardware consideration both have almost have hardware while i can say the hardware of htc is better than s4 because htc has focus from every little detailed like front stereo speakers for better audio listening new tech camera for me it is the smartphone of the year.

  • ikeedx

    101 votes for One 80 for S4..

    • fixxmyhead

      that means nothing its just a stupid poll. let the sales do the talking. the s4 will outsell the one

      • Karthik Vishwamitra

        That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be better. Look at the iPhone. It’s not better than anything, but it still sells millions. I think both phones are great, but I like the One more because of the BlinkFeed (which reminds me of Windows phone) and the camera (both software and hardware).

        • fixxmyhead

          but in this case it is. 4.2.2 out of the box,sd slot , removeable battery, better software , bigger screen, etc,. what kind of flagship is it when your other rival at least throws in the latest version?

  • You can hardly call this a proper review if you’re saying things like “In the battery department, the Samsung Galaxy S4 clearly outperforms the HTC One: a 2600 mAh removable battery on the Galaxy S4 versus a 2300 mAh fixed battery on the One.”. It sounds like you’re just basing things on the specs rather than real world use. There’s a massive difference in power consumption between an LCD and an AMOLED screen, plus different processors, speakers, etc will all make a difference. The only way to test them both is by using each for a day in similar conditions.

    • whoknowswhereor

      I tink it’s pretty clear the GS4 is better than the One. I happen to think it looks better too. Gs4 just offers so much more. I mean if you like aluminmum I guess the One might work for you but oh the stuff you’re missing. Great review, thanks.

      GS4 Airtouch vs HTC n’one
      GS4 Thermometer vs HTC n’one
      GS4 Pedometer vs HTC n’one
      GS4 Humidity Sensor vs HTC n’one
      GS4 SD CARD Support vs HTC n’one
      GS4 removbatts vs HTC n’one

      This is just the tip of the iceberg. So many practical features in Touchwiz.

      THE NEW HTC n”ONE!!!

      • JamesTiberiusKirk

        I’ve been looking at both. It comes down to what you care about. You really can’t make a bad choice. You obviously care about the features above, I personally don’t. I also don’t like touchwiz, nor Sense, so I’ll probably go with a custom rom instead.

        So, for me, the HTC is a phone that makes more sense, because it’s got much better speakers, better color reproduction, is much better built and has better low-light performance, which I find very important.

        It just feels elegant, and after having had done a fair bit of research, I’ve decided I will go with the One.

        An alternative to your quip is:
        All together, for me, the HTC is the one.

        That said, enjoy your S4, it’s a great phone.

  • Turtleslikepie

    What about Htc One’s Zoe function, or the fact that it can also take videos in slow motion, delete people and objects in the background, and that it also has a drama shot feature? I feel that this review did not give the One the justice it deserves.

    • le_lutin

      I am not disagreeing with your overall point, but I do believe that the S4 also has the delete people functionality as well as the drama shot feature.

      • Turtleslikepie

        I agree that the S4 does have those features as well. It is the fact that the author failed to write about a majority of the One’s defining features that I feel this article is geared towards convincing people to get the S4. But in fact, the One delivers just as much if not more.

  • jef

    O cmon people just because htc one does have an aluminum/premium feel to it doesnt make it a better phone. I personally dont need a good speaker in a phone. If i want big sound their are alot of wireless speaker out there. Plus if ull use htc as a speaker itll drain its battery alot. S4 for me. And the updates for galaxy line improved alot

  • Easy choice really. I felt that ALOT of the features on the S4 are taken from other smartphones (Most from the HTC One really)

    • jef

      Lol what feature of htc?

      • Lets see.. Drama Shot (Part of HTC Zoe), Story Album (HTC’s Gallery), IR Blaster/TV Features (HTC Watch, and IR blaster in power button)
        Then there’s other apps that have been stolen and pretty much rebranded as Samsung’s own apps. (S Translate – Google Translate, etc)

        • le_lutin

          I’m not totally disagreeing with your overall point, but drama shot was on galaxy s2 way back a couple of years ago. Here’s an example:

        • KS

          Why would you not want multiple features from other smartphones in one single smartphone? Do YOU as a consumer really want manufacturers to split features into different phones?

          With each sale of the Galaxy phones, there are multiple companies that get royalties and leech off of the success the Galaxy line is getting.

          As a consumer, I’m actually glad Samsung is piecing different software features together. Just another way for technology to evolve.

  • jef

    And seriously aluminum phone are prone to dents scratch etc. U don’t have a choice to change your case. I have a s3 and the freedom to change your battery cover once it gets scratch is really useful. Plus the removable battery does saves you a lot of money. Once your battery is broken you can easily buy a new one and replace it conveniently unlike those of the phone that does not have removable battery youll have to go their shops and pay alot of money just for them to replace it.

  • zed

    After Galaxy Note 2 all my future phones will be coming from the Galaxy line. Kudos to Samsung for developing such an amazing software. That’s how all smartphones should be like.

    • le_lutin

      I am currently using a note 2 and absolutely love the screen size. I don’t think I could move to a smaller screen now. That said, I think the galaxy series of phones are quite ugly and don’t feel like premium devices. Really hoping someone like htc will make something with big screen, but which also feels premium.

  • Josh Hedgepeth

    I really don’t understand how HTC ONE didn’t win the display and the design. The sizes are extremely close, so much so, thati really don’t think a tiny bit bigger really makes up for the fact that htc ones better and brighter screen.
    The design is probably one of its biggest assets; that is a blatant win to htc.

  • Pagey

    I love how people are quick to knock the One’s battery. Wait until there are decent hands on tests on everyday use with the S4. That higher clock speed on the processor will affect the battery life. Those fancy gestures and eye movement scrolling, those will be using your front camera all the time you’re on the internet. More gadgets (gimmicks) use more battery drain.

    • fixxmyhead

      well thats why they make it removeable. just pop in another one right away. cant do the same with the one

      • Would rather have a decent battery than to have to buy a second or a third.

        • fixxmyhead

          based on your other comments its really obvious your’re an htc fanboy. i was just going by facts as i own a nexus 4 but almost anybody else would take a removeable battery over “decent battery” that right there is just being a big time fanboy and trying to justify not having a removeable battery. even fake batteries are really cheap as ive used them before with no problems so please dont get into the ” i only trust OEM ones”

          • I also have a N4. So not really, I’d rather a batter that lasts all day than having to buy extras to get me through.

          • KS

            Why settle on a battery that lasts all day when it can last 2-3 days? That is what makes removable battery feature great. You can pop in a 5,000 mAH battery and literally forget recharging. Options are almost always better for consumers.

          • Marvin Crompton

            Well until the day comes when phones come with batteries that can last all day with heavy usage, having the option of removeable batteries is very attractive and practical.

  • vvvv

    If Sony had a better screen it would be the best of them

  • Echedey

    Go outside with hard sun and you will see witch one have to win the screen point. And ppi, of course. HTC One has the best screen on Android, no discuss is possible. Bigger is not necessary better man. ;-)

    • marlon

      Of course bigger is better. Bigger tits, bigger d*ck everything big is good lol

  • Anthony Mascolo

    I would love it if the GS4 was available in a pure Nexus version and no Touch Wiz

  • magda

    I really like the plastic build of s4 i don’t use a case so the plastic plate prevents it for being to slippery. I have a black iphone which is build with aluminum. And i hate it because it is so prone to scratch and my iphone has so many scratch already and theres nothing i can do about it. Money wasted to aluminum phones darn

  • arriane

    I don’t think ill be using blinkfield it looks lame. I wont be listening to music with my speakers il be listening with my earphones.
    Speakers-who listen to music with their
    Phone speakers. 80% uses headset or a wireless speakers.

    Removable battery-who doesnt need
    One. For emergency cases

    The htc one is so overrated just because it has an aluminum gimick just like apple everyone is brainwashd that it is the better phone.i bet the people who preorderd the one will be dissapointed. I find the ui boring etc.
    Htc copied apples design

    • Pagey

      I preordered one. I love it. Not disappointed at all. And the battery does all day. For most users the battery will be more than adequate. If the non removable battery was such an issue why is the iPhone still selling so well?

      • joahana

        Because they brainwashd you that they have the best phone. Cmon htc and iphones lack of innovation will really brig them down. Dpnt try to defend them pls its so clear that samsung has leveld it up big time..

        • Pagey

          I also spent 3 years selling mobiles, my belief in htc comes from the fact that less HTC phones came back with problems than any other manufacturer. Of course, all manufacturers have problems but HTC’sreliability is awesome.

  • BDog

    Both of these phones are great. I think Galaxy 4 offers a little more in software than HTC One. HTC One has better build qulity, but lacks the things that i look for in a phone like added microSD cards, and removable battery. The phone i’m using is the Note II and like it allot . I only thing the Note II is missing is a 1080p display. Looking Forward to the Note III has to offer!!!

  • really surprised to c htc one wining the pole by almost 150 votes now with so many samsung fanboys out there.. if not for the sd card slot i think htc one is btr than s4 mainly coz it looks n feels way btr which in the long run will b the most important apart frmom the battery

  • htcrap

    great review !
    S4 a clear winner.
    htcrap a clear looser.
    S4 will out sell the htcrap, we shall see who sells more.

    • le_lutin

      Everyone knows which will sell more, but that has nothing to do with which is the better phone.

  • janina

    Htc one looks like an iphone same gimmicky design.. its not all about design without innovation like samsung has to offer they will sure be dead. Remember motorolla razor phone it really looks good but lacks innovation thats why motorola company is now dead lol. And to tell you only samsung has an air view screen. iphone and htc what now ?they only offers aluminum etc lol

  • enrique

    i dont care, its juts that the S4 is ugly as hell! bye bye samsung, my s2 is exactly the same look at s2, and for whats inside, 90% of the people dont give a F.

  • ssr66902

    With regard to build and design quality:

    “Verdict: The HTC One has better build quality, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a superior screen-to-body ratio.”

    Let me first say that these are both excellent devices, but when you have to find an esoteric reason to give the nod to the S4 despite the fact that in terms of size they are nearly identical and not withstanding the fact that everybody and their mother has said that the HTC One has the best screen of any device to date your fanboism is clearly evident.

    Samsung has become the new Apple. Through clever mind manipulation (ie., baffling us with bullshit) they have given us a device that is literally nothing more than an S3 refresh, called it a revolution and convinced the masses that they can’t live without it. Unbelievable!

  • Does anyone know what ever happened to the xperia Z?

  • dave
  • Ivan Budiutama

    S4: SD card slot + removable battery
    One: great material build + awesome display

    The rest is pretty much gimmick or people may find 3rd app to replace. even S4’s additional sensors (pedometer, etc) or One’s Blinkfeed just to name few. I don’t think anyone will regret getting one *coough* phone or the other. They are great and pretty much the best phone this year might offer. The main thing about Android is the ecosystem, while you might find Apple’s App store offered more quality gaming experience, but Android is also getting better.

    As for most subjective side of me, I don’t really mind 720p (I barely notice the differences, yes the 1080p is sharper obviously and I don’t to be reminded of that) as long as I can have a use on the the phone, a heavy use mind you, and can go all day on full charge, the dream phone is to go 2-3 days on full charge. The battery technology is one thing mostly important for me. While both phones doesn’t offer significant new technology on battery, S4 wins hands down simply because you can have spare. Yes, Razr Maxx probably my favorite phone right now.

  • Marvin Crompton

    What would people think of the HTC one if it wasn’t made out of aluminum? Would it still see all this hype?

  • bob

    Funny with all the Samsung “Fanboys” out there and The HTC One is crushing in the poll votes… Stop being babies you fanboys… It’s okay if the GS4 is just as good or a little bit behind the HTC one.. Believe it or not… You will live.

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  • Androidoffice

    I don’t see the point in buying a “premium” feeling device like HTC One and iphone when as soon as its bought its put in a plastic cover….so much for all the effort into making it feel good

  • im just glad that they do not compare with POS iphone anymore with galaxy or HTC.
    iphone is far behind from them.

  • Yan Liu

    the guy must be fucking korean

  • Shin

    Though I own the xperia z, I ought to day the HTC is just more premium top end phone compared to s4. Its like owning a car, they all function the same but some are more luxury looking and practical at the same time