Clicky

Can the HTC M7 Compete with the Galaxy S4?

By  |  19 Comments

As rumor would have it, HTC and Samsung are once again appear to be set on an Android collision course of epic proportions. This year the battle will likely be between the HTC M7 (now though to be called the HTC One) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 battling for supremacy, instead of the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S3 going to battle.

Read: 5 Best Samsung Galaxy S4 Rumors.

Given last year’s resounding victory for the Galaxy S3, here, we look at whether or not the HTC M7 can compete with the Galaxy S4 and what it might take to do so.

Verizon-Samsung-Galaxy-S-III-review-620x465-575x4311

The Galaxy S3 was the dominant Android smartphone of 2012. The Galaxy S4 is hoping to beat its records and the HTC M7 at the same time.

Last year was not a very good year for HTC and unfortunately, the company already has a grim outlook on the new year as its sales figures are predicted to slide despite optimism from the company’s CEO Peter Chou. Despite its misfortunes though, the company has managed to put out some very good Android smartphones.

The HTC One X, the company’s flagship from last year, was arguably the best HTC phone ever made combining a stellar camera with a gorgeous LCD-2 display, all held together by a gorgeous aluminum design. The HTC One X was certainly one of the better Android phones of the year but as sales and revenue showed, the device wasn’t as big of a hit as the Samsung Galaxy S3.

While the Galaxy S3 arrived several months after the HTC One X, the phone went on to smash sales records and has sold over 40 million units around the world. HTC hasn’t disclosed specific numbers for the HTC One X, but they are likely much lower than that. The Galaxy S3′s success has pushed Samsung into the upper echelon not only in terms of sales but in terms of visibility as well. And due to great marketing and a great phone to boot, the Galaxy S series now sits on the same pedestal as the iPhone, a device that had thwarted Android challengers in the years past.

It’s these developments have made sure that all eyes are on HTC and Samsung’s products in 2013, the first of which should be the HTC M7 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Already, both phones have leaked out to the surface, showing their prospective might to the world. But with the Galaxy S3 propelling the Galaxy S series to new heights, can HTC’s new flagship, expect to compete with the Galaxy S4?

Let’s take a look.

The Good

Hardware

While the Galaxy S3 may have blown the HTC One X away in sales last year, the main reason wasn’t a difference in hardware. In fact, the HTC One X holds its own against the Galaxy S3 offering a better camera, a 4.7-inch screen that is arguably better than the Galaxy S3′s and a gorgeous design crafted out of aluminum.

That said, we expect the HTC M7 to compete on the same level as the Galaxy S3, from a hardware standpoint, once again. Already, we’ve heard that both phones will feature similarly sized displays with 1080p resolution and high pixel-per-inch markets. We’ve heard that both will have quad-core processors.

HTC_M7_and_One_X

The HTC M7 rear housing next to the One X. Expect the HTC M7 to sport fantastic hardware, on par with the Galaxy S4′s.

HTC is rumored to be putting a fantastic 4.3 Ultrapixel camera on the HTC M7, Samsung a 13MP camera on its Galaxy S4. Both are expected to offer improved battery life from their predecessors.

So, from a hardware standpoint, while there might be some smaller advantages like a microSD card slot or removable battery on the Galaxy S4, the HTC M7 will likely be on par with the Galaxy S4.

Carrier Options

One of the reasons that the HTC One X may have had problems competing last year, at least in the United States, was because for whatever reason, HTC decided to only release the HTC One X on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. On the other hand, the Galaxy S3 launched on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon.

This not only put the One X at a disadvantage in terms of sales but it also limited customers to AT&T. And if there’s one thing that consumers love when it comes to smartphones, it’s having a choice about where to run their phone.

Fortunately, all signs point to a change this year. The HTC M7 is rumored to be heading to the 4G LTE networks of AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile with a launch on Verizon coming later.

This should help it match up much better with the Galaxy S4.

The In-Between

gs4-383x575

A mock up of the Galaxy S4, rumored to be coming in March.

Out of Sight, But Definitely In Mind

So far, rumors suggest that the HTC M7 will be launching on February 19th, well ahead of the Galaxy S4′s rumored launch date which is thought to either be March 22nd or March 15th. If true, it will likely mean that the HTC M7 is on shelves in March, well ahead of the Galaxy S4 which isn’t thought to be touching down until April and in the the U.S., until May or June.

Indeed, this gives the HTC M7 a bit of an advantage. Consumers who don’t wish to wait are going to be giving the HTC M7 a long hard look, especially if it is available on multiple carriers. It also helps that many Verizon iPhone 4 owners and HTC ThunderBolt owners in the U.S. and Galaxy S2 owners abroad will be coming off contract in a few weeks time.

So yes, that is a nice advantage for HTC. However, just because the Galaxy S4 will be out of sight, doesn’t mean that it will be out of mind, and there temptation to wait and see what Samsung might have to offer will be strong as well.

Given the success of the Galaxy S3 – the sales, the marketing campaign, etc – interest in the Galaxy S4 has risen. And while it’s not certain, I believe many people  will be willing to wait a month to see what Samsung has to offer. And at this point, it has delivered with each successive Galaxy series so there is no reason to doubt that it won’t.

Software Differences

Just about every non-Nexus smartphone comes with a non-plain version of Android. What that means is that a manufacturer places their own user interface over the top of Android. Some companies keep it to a minimum while we’ve also seen companies like Amazon make it so Android isn’t even recognizable as the device’s operating system.

HTC and Samsung fall somewhere in between. HTC Sense, HTC’s UI, is both loved and hated by consumers. In recent releases, HTC has been slimming down the presence of its UI in an effort to boost performance as well as usefulness and HTC Sense 4+ was arguably the best UI that HTC has ever released.

With the HTC M7, HTC will likely release its Sense 5.0 UI which looks to be an extremely toned down version of the software, almost resembling Microsoft’s tiles from Windows Phone 8.

And while HTC has been toning down its software, Samsung has been beefing its TouchWiz UI up, so much so, that the company doesn’t seem to feel the need to promote the Galaxy as powered by Android.

The arrival of the Galaxy S3 saw the arrival of TouchWiz Nature UX, a piece of software from Samsung that is laid over the top of Android. And since then, the company has continued to add to its UI. For instance, the Galaxy S3 just received a Premium Suite update with Android 4.1.2 that brought the extremely useful Multi-Window View from the Galaxy Note 2 to Galaxy S3 users.

There is no word yet on what the Samsung Galaxy S4 will run, though it’s possible that Samsung will build even further on TouchWiz, potentially with Nature UX 2.0.

My fear is that the HTC M7 will feature software that might feature some useful additions but might be too much in the middle for some users. What I mean is that it may be toned down but it won’t appeal to those who want vanilla Android, it might be too much of a departure from Sense 4+ to appeal to those that liked it, and it may not offer the unique, big-time features of a UI like Nature UX which would appeal to the average consumer.

With options like the Nexus 4 out there, manufacturer UIs need to appeal to be a large group of consumers in order for the device to be successful. And it’s not clear if HTC Sense 5.0 will do that.

And The Ugly

Advertising

In addition to the lack of carriers, one of the biggest disadvantages that the HTC One X had against the Galaxy S3 was its advertising. The One Series ads where nowhere close to as good as Samsung Galaxy S3 advertisements which including a mix of feature-heavy ads and those infamous ones that poked fun at Apple.

Those ads did wonders for the Galaxy S3 in the United States as they helped establish the Galaxy S3 as a leading smartphone in the eyes of average consumers. The ads for the HTC One X were just, well, to put it simply, not as good. They didn’t resonate with critics and they didn’t do anything for consumers.

HTC has admitted as much and says that it has been working on its advertising for the new year, which likely means new advertising for the HTC M7. At this point though, it’s hard to bet on them doing a better job than Samsung does with the Galaxy S4. Samsung has a formula that works and it showcased that during its ad at the Super Bowl.

It’s possible that HTC will turn things around here, but given the past, I’m not hopeful.

Bruised Reputation

HTC ThunderBolt Update Rolls Out, Wait for Android 4.0 Continues

HTC didn’t ensure that HTC ThunderBolt owners would keep buying HTC phones.

And finally, the last thing that HTC has working against it is a bruised reputation when it comes to software updates. Samsung has shown that its committed, like Motorola, to not only communicating with customers and delivering fast updates.

It has also updated its older phones like the Galaxy S2in a timely manner, something that should help to keep customers in the fold. We expect more of the same with the Galaxy S4.

HTC has a bit of a different story. Many of its older phones, HTC Rezound included, remain on Android 4.0 ICS rather than Jelly Bean. Its current smartphone, the HTC One X, still is without Android 4.1, months after it arrived for other users, even those in Canada.

And lest we forget the delays of both the HTC ThunderBolt and Droid Incredible 2 Android 4.0 software updates that dragged on for five months without any sort of a reasonable explanation.

In a few words, it’s absolutely terrible customer service and no way to keep loyal customers around and I think HTC will be cleaning up those messes for many months, potentially years, to come.

Final Thoughts

So now that I’ve laid it all out there on the table, do I think the HTC M7 can compete with the Samsung Galaxy S4? At this point, while the HTC M7 or HTC One looks to be a solid Android smartphone, I think Samsung is way too far ahead of it in terms of marketing, in terms of brand recognition, in terms of longevity for its phones.

As Apple has shown with the iPhone, it takes a lot more than just a nice looking smartphone to compete. You need fantastic advertising. You need unique software features. You need to treat your customers well.

HTC might turn things around this year but I just think given the past, and given the amount of steam that the Galaxy S4 has rolling into its launch, its untouchable and while the HTC M7 may do better than the HTC One X did, it won’t be able to compete with the might of Samsung.

19 Comments

  1. Jeff Topol

    02/08/2013 at 5:44 pm

    I’ve had both the Thunderbolt and the Rezound. I will never buy another HTC Phone again. There Customer Service is bad. Their updates never arrive. NEVER NEVER again.

    • mahsoommoosa42

      02/09/2013 at 8:01 pm

      actually, that is verizon’s problem. #CarrierPolitics

  2. owain

    02/08/2013 at 7:05 pm

    We must not forget that Samsung also fully neglected its customers who purchased it’s so called flagship tablet 7.7. There are thousands of them out there screaming for an updasts to jellybean. Just Google it….

    HTC are capable of making an amazing phones, look at the legendary HD2 that still won’t die.

    • sean murphy

      02/09/2013 at 4:02 am

      That was then, this is now. Simple fact, HTC are washed out has beens dying to stay relevant where even Nokia are catching up with them. Samsung is updating most to all of its modeks, HTC is failing to update even 3 of its phones from last year.

      • Terry

        02/09/2013 at 1:29 pm

        How is HTC not upgrading it’s models? One X+. Now M7. Droid DNA. If you mean software updates, my One X was updated to Jelly Bean at the same time S3 updates came out.

  3. Mak Smith

    02/08/2013 at 7:20 pm

    Try not having Verizon. This isn’t all on HTC. Every HTC phone that Sprint has had has always had a major software update… Hero, EVO 4G, EVO Design, EVO Shift, EVO 3D, and the EVO 4G LTE…

    As a matter of fact the EVO 4G LTE got a very timely update and is one of the first US HTC “One Series” phones to see Jellybean.

    Verizon is notoriously bad for getting updates for their phones. Even the Verizon Galaxy Nexus just got 4.1 not too long ago while the Sprint Galaxy Nexus got 4.2 a week ago. And that’s a phone that gets updates directly from Google to Verizon. There’s no OEM tampering or stalling.

    So don’t be so quick to judge the OEM all the time.

  4. reggie

    02/08/2013 at 7:21 pm

    I had the evo 4g lte. Now have the note 2. I like the note 2. But samsung have the crappiest displays. The screen on the evo 4g lte is great. The note 2 has better features than the evo 4g lte. Its htc for me. My note 2 is outta here when this new htc comes out. I might add the build quality between htc and samsung isn’t even close.

  5. Kelvin P

    02/08/2013 at 8:20 pm

    idk how Samsung are doing there phones now. but I had the first Samsung galaxy phone and the Samsung galaxy nexus 4g LTE and they both broke down on me like 5 times I felt like a was going to the sprint store every other fricking month. FORGET HOW FAST THE UPDATES COMES OR WHO SELLS MORE, all you want is a good phone that doesn’t break down on you. I’ve had the the htc evo 4g LTE for 4 months now and this phone haven’t giving me no problem I love HTC and I Wouldn’t go back to Samsung no matter what. Samsung should stay doing tv thats the only thing they good at. ooooooh and don’t make me start on how bad there cable box are, every one that has one knows what I’m talking about.

    • Freda Louise

      02/09/2013 at 3:58 am

      Yet they still outsell HTC by a huge margin, htc fanboys are jumping ship. Delusional fanatics will sooner or later abandon the sinking ship that is HTC. This aint 2010 no more bub, give or take the next two years will most likely be HTC’s last. It also seems that 50 million plus people would disagree with you about their phones being rubbish, but that is your irrelevant opinion and that doesnt change the fact that this once great giant in the android ecosystem is dying. I use a both Nokia and Apple so im pretty much viewing this from a neutral stance, but i pretty much dont see HTC being a threat anymore with such awful software support and a total disregard to customers who made a purchase on thier top end phones from 2011/12. 2014, if htc is still around, dont even count on the M7 getting any software support whatsoever. They’re dying, simple as.

  6. Marko

    02/09/2013 at 2:10 am

    It is a bit to early to bother with such reviews. Instead have a look here http://samsung-galaxy-s4-news.blogspot.com/ for the latest S4 news. Cheers!

  7. Daleos

    02/09/2013 at 5:08 am

    One of the reasons I didn’t get an iPhone was because everyone had one. Won’t get an S4 for the same reason.

    Trouble is, I’m running out of options for a phone with a removable battery (or at least one with a battery that could last a couple of days).

  8. mohd akbar

    02/09/2013 at 5:49 am

    Galaxy S4 is a better then HTC, It has great look and with a excellent features, And comfortable to use…!

    • Terry

      02/09/2013 at 1:33 pm

      I don’t think you’ll find much support for what you are saying from anyone who is familiar with both. Samsung won on marketing. That’s it. It’s cheap, plastic feeling. HTC feels like velvet, nicely contoured to the hand, has a classy appearance, and hands down better screen. HTC is so underrated. I’m hoping they don’t lose out because they could do a much better marketing job.

    • Jerome

      02/16/2013 at 11:24 am

      And you know this how??

  9. Drew

    02/09/2013 at 8:40 am

    With HTC learning that a slimmed-down Sense is desirable, I have high hopes for the M7. I really think that the adversity that HTC has faced in the last few years will compel them to come up with something really brilliant, and I’ve loved trying out their phones’ cameras. They’ve learned to simplify their branding/naming, haven’t they? ;)

    Regarding updates, I thought my Galaxy Nexus (on Verizon) would magically remedy all woes…nope, still waiting. We’ll see how the M7 vs. S4 competition goes, but I’m more interested in HTC’s offerings right now. Great article.

  10. casualsuede

    02/09/2013 at 12:55 pm

    So what if Samsung does? GM outsells BMW, so does that mean BMW builds a bad car? I always laugh when fanboy’s bring out sales information, as if it means something to anyone outside the industry, or a stock investor. The truth is that Samsung is squishing EVERYONE because it has been widely reported that they spend 6X more in Advertising than any other companies, save Apple. They are buying their customers with a good product (no one is saying that Samsung is making a bad product, save some Sheeple), but I would be hard pressed to say that they have a very loyal fanbase.

  11. mahsoommoosa42

    02/09/2013 at 8:03 pm

    HTC is almost dead but, has not progressed to a stage like Nokia or Blackberry. There is still a lot of potential. HTC can easily rise up once they figure out performance and battery life.

  12. manu

    02/10/2013 at 6:14 am

    the poor sale of htc is because of absence of marketing people are simply not awareof htc devices while samsung spend a large part of their revenue for advertisement and product promotion

  13. completetab

    02/26/2013 at 4:41 am

    Using samsung S3 and HTC one x can say that HTC experience is better always… and this flagship device is really going to give us more better experience. The price is just as like any other good smartphone.. all not Nexus … http://www.completetab.com/htc-m7

Leave a Reply