What does the Samsung Galaxy S4 have to deliver to outshine the HTC One?

February 21, 2013
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Galaxy S4

The HTC One was launched a few days  ago, and the response has been mixed at best. There are a lot of good things about the flagship device, such as a high-end build quality, upgraded hardware, and at least some features of Sense 5. Comparisons have shown the HTC One come out on top, sometimes barely, but keep in mind that these comparisons are to last year’s devices (In case you missed it, here are the comparisons between the HTC One and the HTC One X+, HTC Droid DNA, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2).

While we’re waiting on a hands-on comparison with the Sony Xperia Z, a lot of people’s reactions to the HTC One involved a line HTC executives must have been dreading: “Let’s see what the Samsung Galaxy S4 has to offer!” The HTC One may be the best Android smartphone in the world right now, but is unfortunately not the “one” some may have been hoping for.

Today, we’re going to take a look at what the Samsung Galaxy S4 has to do to outshine the HTC One. On the flip side, this may also work as a reference to what I don’t like about HTC’s latest flagship. Let’s get started!

Form Factor

Yes, the HTC One is beautifully designed (although the similarities to the iPhone 5 and Blackberry Z10 are obvious) and is the world’s first smartphone with a full aluminium body. That being said, there are a lot of points in which the Samsung Galaxy S4 could come out ahead.

First, it’s quite surprising to see how much bigger the HTC One is compared to the One X, considering they both feature a display of equal size. The HTC One doesn’t feature an edge-to-edge display, which is definitely disappointing, and the top and bottom silver bands could certainly have been narrower. With 1080p displays becoming the standard for high-end smartphones this year, it’s about time the display becomes the star, and (at least) I could do without the extra real estate. Even with such large displays, and bigger batteries the need of the hour, a compact and sleek form factor is still the number one requirement for most consumers, and Samsung can easily jump ahead of the HTC One in this regard.

That being send, the build quality of the HTC One is out of this world, and Samsung may have to move on from it’s plastic build material to compete successfully.

I would talk about how the addition of capacitive buttons on the HTC One is a disadvantage, but since Samsung will probably include its signature physical home button on the Galaxy S4, this is redundant. A Galaxy S4 without any physical buttons on the front would definitely be my first choice though!

Expandable Storage

MicroSD

This one is kind of obvious, but still needs to be mentioned. Even with consumers voicing their need for expandable storage support, HTC has been incredibly stubborn in this regard, choosing to (yet again) leave out a microSD expansion slot for the HTC One. The smartphone does ship with 32GB and 64GB storage options and there are a host of cloud storage services available to you, but expandable storage is still a must for a lot of users.

Samsung has always included microSD expansion for all its devices, and there’s no reason to believe this won’t be the case for the Samsung Galaxy S4. For a lot of consumers, this factor alone makes the Samsung flagship a clear winner.

Camera

ultrapixel-htc-one

A lot has been written and said about HTC’s new ultrapixel camera technology, mostly good, sometimes bad, and once, ugly. While HTC has been trying it’s best to send the message across that it isn’t about a camera’s megapixels count (4 for the HTC One in case you were wondering) but about the quality of the image taken. Unfortunately, you can explain what an UltraPixel camera is to as many people as you’d like, but there will always be that segment of the consumer base that says “I get it, but how megapixels does it have?,” as ignorant as that may sound.

All Samsung really has to do at this point is say that the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 13MP camera, compared to the 4MP (but it’s UltraPixels now!) of the HTC One, and you have a clear winner in your hands.

Hardware

Samsung-Galaxy-S4-benchmark

The hardware side of things is where it gets interesting. The HTC One sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, which currently blows the competition away. Unfortunately, we know next to nothing about what SoC will be powering the Samsung Galaxy S4, with rumors suggesting the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa, or even a Qualcomm chipset as well, probably the same Snapdragon 600 processor, considering the rumored March release of the Galaxy S4.

Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what benchmark tests have in store for us, with those results swaying customers towards either of the smartphones.

Another aspect Samsung can jump ahead of HTC is battery. The HTC One features a 2,300mAh battery, which is larger than what was found in earlier devices, but will likely be put through its paces with the Full HD display, and more powerful processor. In a day and age when getting a full day of work out of your smartphone is getting harder and harder, Samsung can leave its competition behind if it can somehow squeeze more out of the battery.

Software

android-key-lime-pie

HTC revamped its Sense UI, trying to simplify things with Sense 5. Instead, the company may have just gone over-board with the addition of features like BlinkFeed. With Android users preferring the simplistic UI of the stock Android OS, it would be great if Samsung went towards that direction with the latest iteration of the TouchWiz UI. Granted, TouchWiz is as “vibrant” as it gets, so this is probably just wishful thinking on my part, but would certainly convince a lot more users to buy the Galaxy S4, instead of waiting for the next Nexus smartphone.

More than the user interface itself, OEMs need to concentrate more on OS updates, which both HTC and Samsung have had a difficult  time doing. Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie may be announced at this year’s Google I/O in May, and a lot will depend on whether Samsung can beat HTC to the punch, and rollout the latest Android update for its flagship Galaxy S4 promptly.

Conclusion

In an overcrowded Android smartphone arena, I understand the need to be different, to stand out. Unfortunately, HTC has picked the wrong areas to do so, first with the lack of a microSD slot (which almost everybody wants), and second with the overhaul of the already-difficult-to-understand smartphone camera technology.

With the mixed reactions the HTC One has received, Samsung has already won half the battle, and may instead choose to look at the Sony Xperia Z as more of a competition. As mentioned above, there are a few things Samsung could do, to guarantee that the company continues its dominance in the Android space that it has enjoyed for the past two years.

What are your thoughts? Is there anything you think the Samsung Galaxy S4 should feature, to beat out the HTC One? Will you be picking up the HTC flagship, or are you going to wait to see what Samsung has to offer? Let us know in the comments section below.

Note: All images of the Samsung Galaxy S4 are artist renditions

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