When Google announced the so called Samsung Galaxy S4 “Google Edition” at Google I/O, many people were quite surprised. HTC decided to bring its own variant of the One to the party, leading us to believe that the time when OEMs give us the choice between their skin and stock Android is coming soon.

So which phone should you buy on June 26th? Stick around as we analyze the two smartphones in question so that you can make the right decision.

Remember this is a comparison for the Nexus experience versions of these smartphones, so if you’re looking for the review of the original Galaxy S4 click here, and if you’re looking for the review of the original HTC One click here.

Stock Android really does mean stock Android

First off we need to explain a few things. Neither the Galaxy S4 or the HTC One will come with the features that are in TouchWiz and Sense. So that means no Air View, Smart Scroll, Drama Shot or any of the other features that come standard in TouchWiz.

galaxy s4 vs optimus g pro aa s4 air view

There won’t be any floating touch input on the Galaxy S4 Google Edition

The HTC One won’t be able to take Zoes, or use Blink Feed, or any of the other features that are a part of Sense, except for Beats Audio. The audio technology will be found inside the HTC One with Nexus user experience, but there won’t be a toggle to turn it on and off.

That means that both the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One will be running pure, unaltered stock Android, so hardware is the only real difference between the two.

Much of the same under the hood

Both the HTC One and the Galaxy S4 have the same Snapdragon 600 processor, and while the S4 is clocked at a slightly higher speed, it won’t make much of a difference when it comes to real life usage.

Real life usage should be buttery smooth on both devices.

The GPUs are also the same, the Adreno 320 GPU provides great performance for both smartphones, meaning you’ll be able to play high-end games for years to come. 2GB of RAM is provided on both the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, so again no differences here either.

Displays – AMOLED VS LCD

The display is one of the most important parts of a smartphone since all of your interaction with the device comes through the display. Rest assured, both these smartphones come with glorious Full HD displays that are best in class.

The HTC One comes with a Full HD Super LCD3 display, which renders some of the most accurate colors on the market. Thanks to its slightly smaller 4.7-inch screen, it also has the highest pixel density of any smartphone, at 469 PPI.

samsung galaxy s4 vs htc one comparison aa

The Galaxy S4 uses the ever familiar Super AMOLED technology, giving it the searing blacks and vibrant colors that it has become known for. The Galaxy S4’s larger 5-inch display means that although it has the same Full HD resolution as the HTC One, it has a slightly lower pixel density of 441 PPI.

Now this minute difference in pixel densities isn’t going to prove to be a real difference, so if you like accurate colors go with the HTC One, but if you prefer the vibrancy of an AMOLED go with the Galaxy S4.

Cameras – UltraPixels we meet again

From our extensive comparison of the HTC One’s much vaunted UltraPixel camera against the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 13 megapixel shooter, we found that the Galaxy S4 bested the HTC One on many fronts, however, without the software optimizations from Samsung and HTC, the camera capabilities and qualities of the two could change.

Galaxy S4 -- studio shot, auto ISO. Click to enlarge.

Galaxy S4 — studio shot, auto ISO. Click to enlarge.

HTC One -- studio shot, auto ISO. Click to enlarge.

HTC One — studio shot, auto ISO. Click to enlarge.

If you want to check out our full comparison of the two cameras, click here.

Other features

The HTC One with Nexus user experience might have lost some of its software features, but what it hasn’t lost is its incredible build quality which sets it apart from other Android manufacturers. The dual front facing speakers are sure to provide the best audio experience from a smartphone and it has all the standard features of a high end smartphone like NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and 4G LTE capability.

The Galaxy S4 with Nexus user experience loses all of its “smart” feature, but depending on where you stand on that you might take this as good news. The Galaxy S4 can’t compete with the HTC One on the build quality front, but that does open up room for some fan favourites like a microSD card and a removable battery, it also has all the standard features of the HTC One.

Removable battery and a MicroSD slot remain on the Galaxy S4.

Removable battery and a MicroSD slot remain on the Galaxy S4 with Nexus user experience

Both phones aren’t winning any awards for best battery life, but they should be able to get you through a whole day. However, the Galaxy S4 does have a removable battery if you need the insurance of a second battery.


Always high up on the deciding factors list, the price of the smartphones is comparable. Both the devices are nowhere near the Nexus 4 in terms of price, the HTC One comes in at $599 and the Galaxy S4 at $649. That saving of $50 might seem small, but that’s the price of the 32GB variant of the HTC One, and while the Galaxy S4 comes with 16GB inbuilt, the microSD card slot can boost storage up as well.

Wrap Up

With the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One both providing a Nexus user experience, the choice becomes less about software and more about hardware. So if you prefer the build and dual speakers of the HTC One, then that is the phone you should pick, but if a removable battery and an expandable MicroSD card slot appeal to you, then the Galaxy S4 is the obvious choice.

The Nexus 4 is still a solid choice.

Of course you shouldn’t forget about the Nexus 4, still a solid choice for a much lower price. So if stock Android is your main objective and timely updates are what you’re after, but bleeding edge specifications aren’t a necessity, perhaps you can save some cash and grab the Nexus 4.

If you’re still tossing up between the HTC One and the Galaxy S4, head to your local carrier and put both of them in your hands and decide that way, because everything else will be exactly the same.

So what will it be, HTC One, Nexus 4 or Samsung Galaxy S4? Let us know in the poll and continue the debate in the comments below.

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