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Which handset do you prefer: Samsung Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8?

For this week's Friday Debate we ask which handset do you prefer: the HTC One M8 or the Samsung Galaxy S5?
April 11, 2014
samsung galaxy s5 vs htc one m8 aa (9 of 19)

Two of the hottest phones in the Android world have become widely available this week, the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. We covered both handsets in-depth over the last month or so, and we’ve heard very contrasting opinions about the two devices as well.

While both handsets have solid specs and several improvements over their predecessors, they also have some very real differences when it comes to their UI and design language. This Friday Debate, let’s talk about Galaxy S5 vs One M8. Although the GS5 and HTC One M8 each have their positive qualities, which handset do you prefer and why?

Join us in the comments and answer our poll!

Robert Triggs

Can I get away with saying neither? No, alright then I choose the Galaxy S5, simply because it’s a bigger jump from the S4 than the M8 is to the M7.

In terms of processing power, the subtle differences between CPU and GPU speeds aren’t worth comparing in terms of real world uses, and there’s not much to choose between the handsets sizes or Android functionality.

Where the Galaxy S5 wins out for me is in practical improvements to its hardware. The new 16 megapixel ISOCELL image sensor provides a good leap in image quality over the old S4, and produces some of the best looking pictures you can capture on a smartphone. IP57 certification is also a nice touch, helping to keep your expensive device safe from accidental spillages and the effects of a dusty desk like mine. Whilst I don’t care for the fingerprint or heart rate monitors myself, Samsung has shown some foresight with the inclusion of little features like 4K video recording, multi-window apps, and a removable battery.

HTC has done little to add anything substantial to the One M8 since the M7. You can argue that LCD is more realistic looking than AMOLED or that metal produces a nicer look and feel than plastic, but if you care about that stuff why not just buy the original HTC One for a fraction of the price?

I’m not convinced that HTC made the right choice by keeping the same 4 Ultrapixel camera and opting for a duo configuration. Ultrapixels didn’t wow us when they first appeared, and everyone else has continued to improve their designs over the last year whilst HTC remains stagnant. Even as an audio man, Boomsound isn’t a handset seller for me and increased volume isn’t a big enough change to tempt me this time around either, I’d rather buy a decent pair of headphones. Boomsound is about as useful as a heart rate monitor to me, I just don’t listen to content over my smartphone speakers often enough to care about it. HTC still has good software, tap to wake is a nice minor addition, but is it enough to buy a new handset for? Not in my opinion.

I guess my position can be summed up by thinking about what the two companies have been doing over the past year. Hardware wise, Samsung’s been working hard in the lab creating its new ISOCELL, fingerprint tech, and IP57 features. HTC has tweaked Boomsound and its camera, and that’s about it.

Joe Hindy

This is really a tough call because both phones have their merits. Much like last year with the HTC One M7 and the Samsung Galaxy S4, the winner really depends on what kind of a user you are.

In terms of sheer functionality, the Galaxy S5 wins. It can do more things and has more integrated features than the HTC One M8. The camera is better, the heart rated monitor is…well…there, and the stuff baked into the OS can be useful for some people. If I had to give a blanket recommendation, I’d say the Galaxy S5 simply because it has more features than the M8 and the more features a device has, the more likely it has the features that a specific user wants.

That said, the HTC One M8 has its perks as well. The better speakers, the sleeker, more premium phone design, and lack of unnecessary extras (no physical home button, no heart rate monitor) make it a much more streamlined device for people who want something more minimal. Granted, HTC Sense isn’t stock Android (it doesn’t get anymore minimal than stock Android) but Sense does a good job of keeping it short and sweet while relying on third party applications to provide features.

Personally, I’m in the camp of the HTC One M8. I think that the third party app scene has improved and evolved to an extend where OEMs don’t need to bake so many features into the OS anymore and while I’ll never lobby for OEM skins to be removed entirely, I will conceded that Samsung puts a lot of stuff in their phones and not everyone needs all of it.

If you don’t know what you want in your device or you want a whole bunch of features for the sake of having a whole bunch of features, I’d recommend the Galaxy S5.

If you want something more minimal and streamlined while relying on third party apps and accessories for more functionality, I’d recommend the HTC One M8.

If you put both in front of me right now and told me I could have one for free, I’d pick up the M8.

Jonathan Feist

I must echo many of the same sentiments as Robert and Joseph. We have in front of us two very impressive devices. Both pack a powerful punch and are fine examples of the best that these manufacturers have to offer.

With these equally effective devices available, it is no easy choice between the two. As such, if these were the only two phones in the world, I would choose the Samsung Galaxy S5 over the HTC One (M8). This decision would be based almost exclusively on the camera and the IP57 certification.

As Robert mentioned, these phones are really only incremental upgrades from their predecessors. I see this as a good thing, the HTC One and the Galaxy S4 were relatively solid devices, what better to build upon. Despite their improvements, I still find the new phones lacking in the ‘wow’ department. Perhaps, at least for the Galaxy S5, it is psychological. The fingerprint scanner, although a powerful tool and impressive upgrade, only serves to remind me of the evils of the world, where’s the fun in that?

I suspect that, in time, our general opinions of these devices will change. Right now, we are expecting such greatness that we are possibly feeling a little let down. I think we will eventually recognize that they are not the dream machines that we put posters of on our walls, but they are certainly very well equipped devices that prove excellent daily drivers.

Luckily, I do not think you could really go wrong in choosing either of these devices. They both pack powerful specs and feature sets that will keep us entertained and productive. They both offer cameras that will adequately preserve our memories in digital form. Both have large, bright and colorful screens to enjoy our media, and, strangely enough, these phones both still place excellent phone calls, for those that still do that sort of thing.

Darcy LaCouvee

Having interacted with both devices extensively, I have to really hand it to HTC for creating a device that truly represents arguably the most premium build quality of any Android device ever made. It’s astonishing how good it feels in the hand, and how it looks. It’s unquestionably a conversation starter. Actual ownership of said device though, is a different story. Metal is incredibly unforgiving when met with the hard realities of concrete, or any hard material. That being said, so is plastic, too. I think most device owners wrap their favorite, techno-be-all-contain-all-do-all in a case at this point, though I could be wrong. I’ve just paid the piper a few too many times at this point.

In terms of the technology, Samsung wins hands down. The ISOCELL camera in the S5 is best in class, there’s no question. The granular improvements made to the processor are appreciated, but not groundbreaking. Qualcomm appears to be holding out for the next generation of flagships. Samsung has tried to deliver a very good phone to all of us, and they’ve certainly succeeded in that respect, but I know a lot of nerds out there are still dealing with post flagship phone let-down syndrome. We’re all so damn spoiled.

The IP certification, ensuring that the device can take on more water and more dust than previous generations is a very welcome addition, and I wish every manufacturer would make it part of what they are doing.

That being said, who isn’t sick of plastic? Our device safoys a lot about us, and for the many that cant stand the tyranny of iOS, there’s no other choice than Android. Consumers have long clamoured for more devices with high build quality, in sizes a touch larger than the iPhone. Sony delivered with the Xperia Z1 compact. Motorola delivered with the Moto X, and the other large manufacturers seem keen to want to lower the specs of their mini offerings because they know they appeal to the least spec savvy among us. I digress.

There will never be a perfect phone. There will always be tradeoffs. Both HTC and Samsung are to be commended here for what they have been able to achieve. In particular, I think HTC should be singled out for actually being able to have a simultaneous coordinated global launch, wherein they actually have enough devices made available, and that they have enough supplies in the supply line; something they’ve never been able to achieve.

Samsung is Samsung. They are a machine that keeps on churning, regardless. Their technological prowess and multi-billion dollar strong R&D is laser focused on delivering best in class optics, display, battery life, and their tier one relationship with ARM, Qualcomm and Google increasingly will ensure that they likely have some of the best integration of hardware to software in the industry.

And speaking of the topic of Samsung making a metal device when I met with one of their VP’s last week, they said they would love to, just that it’s remarkably difficult to produce the millions and millions of frames necessary to satisfy consumer demand in a timely fashion. If HTC can do it, why can’t they? HTC is the little engine that could, and if they could just implement a better optic solution, than I would be very much holding a One M8 right now. Anyway, my humble thoughts.

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