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Spec Battle: HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S5

Both the new HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5 boast some of the best hardware specs in the business, but which handset really packs the most clout?
By
March 25, 2014
HTC One M8 vs Galaxy S5

Both the new HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5 boast some of the best hardware specs in the business, but which handset really packs the most clout? Here’s our component by component breakdown of what’s inside the newly announced flagship handsets from HTC and Samsung.

Display

Display SizeResolutionPixels per InchDisplay Type
HTC One (M8)
Display Size
5.0 inches
Resolution
1920x1080 Full HD
Pixels per Inch
441
Display Type
Super LCD3
Samsung Galaxy S5
Display Size
5.1 inches
Resolution
1920x1080 Full HD
Pixels per Inch
432
Display Type
Super AMOLED

Just like most manufacturers, HTC has been steadily increasing the display size of its flagship handsets. Samsung bumped up the screen by 0.1 of an inch from the GS4 to GS5, but HTC has gone a little further with a 0.3 inch increase from the last generation HTC One (M7). Whilst the Galaxy S5 has a 5.1 inch display, the HTC One (M8) is 5.0 inches in size.

Neither Samsung nor HTC were the first major smartphone manufacturers to push on up to QHD screen resolutions, that crown goes to the Oppo Find 7, which means that both smartphones are still packing the same Full HD (1920×1080) resolution as last generation’s handsets. However, the slight increase in display size also has an inversely proportional negative effect on the display’s pixel density.

htc one m8 launch aa (10 of 27)

As Samsung has the slightly larger display in its flagship, the GS5’s PPI comes in at 432, whilst the 5 inch, 1080p HTC One (M8) retains a slightly better PPI around 441. Going by the numbers, HTC edges the GS5 out slightly, but in the real world you’re not going to notice a difference between the two displays, as far as resolution goes anyhow.

In keeping with the last generation, both Samsung and HTC have stuck with familiar display materials. Samsung is still using its own AMOLED display in the Galaxy S5, while HTC sticks with LCD. The differences here are likely to be personal preference more than anything, with each display offering slightly different viewing angles, color vibrancy levels, and effects on battery life. We’ll take a more in-depth look at the new HTC One’s display come review time.

CPU and GPU

SoCCPU Clock SpeedCore CountCPU CoresGPU
HTC One (M8)
SoC
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
CPU Clock Speed
2.3GHz (2.5GHz Asia and China)
Core Count
4
CPU Cores
Qualcomm Krait 400
GPU
Adreno 330
Samsung Galaxy S5
SoC
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
CPU Clock Speed
2.5GHz
Core Count
4
CPU Cores
Qualcomm Krait 400
GPU
Adreno 300

One of the more intriguing components in the Galaxy S5 was the revised Snapdragon 801 CPU, which comes with a slightly tweaked 2.5GHz CPU clock speed. The Oppo Find 7 also appears to use the same MSM8974AC chip (although this can’t be confirmed yet), which is now making up the very high-end of the market, and the HTC One (M8) appears to also be using the highest clocked Qualcomm chip currently available. However, the processor is to be clocked at a slightly slower 2.3 GHz in most of the world, with only Asia and China receiving the 2.5GHz version.

As these chips are based on exactly the same architecture as the other Snapdragon 800 SoCs, you’re looking at a familiar quad-core Krait 400 based CPU. Clock for clock, the various Snapdragon 800 models are indistinguishable, but the extra clock speed boosts lend a little extra performance in more demanding scenarios. Between the new HTC One and the upcoming Galaxy S5, there’s a clock speed difference of just 200MHz in some regions, 2.5GHz for the GS5 and 2.3GHz for the HTC One, which is going to unnoticeable in real-world applications.

HTC One M8 CPU speed comparison

At this time it’s unclear whether there’s any difference between the GPU clock speeds in the HTC One (M8). We can’t be sure exactly which SoC model the handset is using at this point, therefore the Adreno 330 GPU could be clocked at the Galaxy S5’s speed of 578MHz, or perhaps it will be a tad slower like the Xperia Z2’s 550Mhz. Either way, the M8’s Adreno 330 GPU is improved by at least 22% when compared with the older Snapdragon 800 chips, which have a GPU speed of around 450MHz. The memory clocks (933Mhz) and dual LPDDR3 interface is the same on both the handsets.

On paper then, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a smidgen faster in most regions, but in real-world scenarios it’s going to be impossible to tell the difference. Other factors, such as OS and manufacturer software requirements are going to have a bigger impact on performance between the two devices.

Camera

Rear Camera PixelsCamera TechnologyVideo RecordingFront Camera
HTC One (M8)
Rear Camera Pixels
4 million
Camera Technology
Ultrapixel
Video Recording
1080p 30fps, slow-mo 720p
Front Camera
5 Megapixel
Samsung Galaxy S5
Rear Camera Pixels
16 million
Camera Technology
ISOCELL
Video Recording
4K 30fps, 1080p 60fps, slow-mo 720p
Front Camera
2 Megapixel

One of the big talking points with the Samsung Galaxy S5 was the company’s new ISOCELL image sensor technology and an even higher pixel density, for more crisp looking images. Rather than pursuing an ever higher pixel count, HTC is sticking to its guns with its proprietary Ultra technology.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will be shipping with the company’s new 16 Megapixel ISOCELL camera, whilst the HTC One (M8) will arrive with the same 4 UltraPixel main camera found in the older M7. However, the M8 will feature a new duo-camera configuration and also comes with a dual LED flash.

In terms of numbers then, the Galaxy S5 has the higher pixel count in its image sensor. But not all pixels are created equal, and HTC’s larger (“ultra”) pixel design should, on paper, give it an edge in low light environments, with reduced issues involving noise, and the potential for more vivid colors. On the other hand, a higher pixel count is essential if you’re going to be using a digital zoom, and Samsung’s handset will clearly be a better choice in that regard. As we saw with the previous HTC One (M7 edition), HTC’s Ultrapixel technology does a good job of making up for the lack of pixel density.

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The two tech companies have also been focusing on new camera features, as well as just sensor technology. Samsung implemented a new depth of field effect, named Selective Focus, to give photographers the options to add a little more depth to their pictures, and HTC’s duo-camera design on the HTC One will allow for multi-focus image capture as well.

The differences in how these two technologies work is quite important. Samsung’s design takes multiple pictures at varying focal points, and then uses software to mix the images into a single picture. HTC, on the other hand, uses a more lifelike simulation of depth by capturing an image from two differently positioned sources, just like your eyes do, which might lend itself to a more convincing effect. Both of the devices also feature image stabilization, and the usual array of ISO options.

Moving on, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 leads the when it comes to video capture. The HTC One (M8)’s 4 million pixel sensor simply isn’t dense enough to capture 4K footage. 4K video comprises of 3840 × 2160 pixels, which requires a sensor with at least 8,294,400 pixels (8.3 megapixels). However, the HTC One (M8) can capture FullHD (1080p) video and, just like the Galaxy S5, can also shoot slow motion HD video.

Samsung Galaxy S5 camera settings

The HTC One (M8) definitely has the upper hand when it comes to the front facing camera, HTC has included a 5 Megapixel 88 degree wide angled snapper, which puts the Galaxy S5’s 2 Megapixel front facing camera to shame.

We’ll be taking a closer look at HTC’s new duo-camera technology shortly, as well as a closer look at the camera’s software features.

Other specs

RAMInternal Memory OptionsSD Card Slot?Battery
HTC One (M8)
RAM
2GB
Internal Memory Options
16/32GB
SD Card Slot?
Yes
Battery
2600mAh
Samsung Galaxy S5
RAM
2GB
Internal Memory Options
16/32GB
SD Card Slot?
Yes
Battery
2800mAh

The two new flagship smartphones share quite a few other hardware attributes as well. Both the HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5 pack in 2GB of RAM, and will ship with the choice of 16GB or 32GB internal storage options. Each of the handsets also has a MicroSD card slot if you require additional storage space.

In terms of battery life, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip is a relatively frugal piece of a kit, but the Galaxy S5 squeezes in an extra 7.1% worth of charge into its battery. The GS5 features a 2800mAh battery, whilst the M8 has a slightly smaller 2600mAh battery.

So what about unique features?  On Samsung’s side there’s the choice of a fingerprint scanner security and water resistance, so the Galaxy S5 would be the better option if you’re after these features. HTC, on the other hand, has its own BoomSound dual front facing speaker setup for the audio enthusiasts, and the duo-camera configuration might be really useful for creative photographers out there.

Size and weight

  • HTC One M8 – 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm, 160 grams
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 – 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm, 145 grams

Both handsets are on the larger side of the smartphone scale, but there’s only a few millimetres between the two of them. The Galaxy S5 is the slightly smaller of the two handsets, despite the larger display size, and it’s over 1mm thinner than the HTC One M8. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is also the lighter of the two, weighing in at just 145g, whilst the HTC One M8 has grown to a heftier 160g.

Software

So far there’s only been minute differences between the two handsets, the difference in camera technology is the only major factor that sets them apart in terms of hardware. Although the newest version of Samsung’s Touchwiz and HTC’s Sense are both based on Android 4.4, there are some immediately noticeable differences between the two.

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samsung galaxy s5 aa my magazine

Sense 6.0 retains the vast majority of features from older HTC One (M7), and Blinkfeed is still the central feature of the UI experience. Blinkfeed has received some slight tweaks, such as integration with FitBit fitness tracking and Foursquare peer recommendations. HTC’s software package also offers up its own Gallery app and TV infrared sensor control. Additionally, the company added in some new “Motion Launch” gesture controls, such as double tap to wake, swipe right to wake and go straight to Blinkfeed, or swipe left to wake and head straight for the widgets.

Samsung’s Touchwiz also retains a similar feel to the older Galaxy S4, but there have been a couple of tweaks to the look of the UI. Samsung hasn’t included any new tap to wake features, but instead offers up a wide range of software, such as its own S Health for fitness tracking, or Knox Security to protect your important data. Samsung also has its own Air Gesture features, and has added in its own news and social media aggregation service, My Magazine, into the new Galaxy S5.

Final thoughts

As has become the norm with flagship Android smartphones, there’s very little to differentiate the two in terms of display capabilities or hardware performance. Instead, the two devices can only be told apart by their choice of camera technologies, proprietary software, and of course their aesthetic designs.

On paper at least, the two devices should perform almost identically, but there are a few features that are exclusive to each smartphone, which will probably end up being be the deciding factor for you. Which features are most important to you when deciding between the two, and which smartphone would you pick? Which handset do you prefer?

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