At the end of 2012, two big name Android smartphones seemingly leaked to the surface. One, the HTC M7 finally arrived earlier this week as the HTC One, the company’s 2013 flagship that is set to replace the HTC One X and the HTC One X+. The other, the Samsung Galaxy S4, has yet to arrive, though it appears that it may be touching down soon.
In the latter part of last year, two prominent Android successors surfaced. The HTC One, known then as the HTC M7, emerged as a candidate to replace the HTC One X and the One X+ that arrived on AT&T’s 4G LTE network last year. And after weeks and weeks of rumors, HTC finally took the curtain down around the HTC M7, debuting it as the HTC One, a device that HTC is hoping will be a catalyst for a better year than last.
Last year, HTC and its flagship Android phones took a beating. Not because they were bad devices but because Samsung was such a dominant force as its launches propelled the company to new heights.
In May of 2012, Samsung announced the highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S3, the follow-up to the company’s Galaxy S2 which had smashed sales records in the previous year. At the launch, it became clear that Samsung had created a device that was vastly superior to the Galaxy S2 and a device that truly rivaled Apple’s smartphone, the iPhone.
Backed by an intense and successful marketing campaign, aimed squarely at Apple and the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S3 went on to sell more than 40 million units around the globe, a number that could hit 50 million after everything is said and done. Needless to say, the Galaxy S2 records fell, giving way to a new record-setter and a device that has seemingly taken Samsung to the next level, up on the same pedestal as Apple and iPhone.
And with sales of the Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5 setting the pace in Q4, it’s not surprising that the successor the Galaxy S3, the Galaxy S4, is maybe the most hotly anticipated device of 2013. Unlike the HTC One though, the Samsung Galaxy S4 remains unannounced though, as we’ve heard, that may change in the next few weeks.
Already, we’ve heard quite a bit about the Galaxy S4, enough to make a comparison to the very official HTC One. With that, here is how the HTC One stacks up against the rumored Samsung Galaxy S4 in terms of hardware, software, release date and more.
On February 19th, HTC held a launch event for a product that wound up being the HTC One, as had been rumored for several weeks leading up to the launch event.
At the event, HTC delivered most of the goods. It revealed the hardware, it announced carriers that would be handling the device, and we saw new software unveiled. However, in typical Android manufacturer fashion, we saw the launch event come and go without any specifics in regards to the HTC One release date.
HTC failed to mention any sort of release date and instead, said that it would be out in the future. Fortunately, announcements and rumors have consumers covered.
Clove UK and Vodafone UK have both announced that the device will be out on March 15th in the United Kingdom. We imagine other retailers and carriers will likely fall into that release window as well. U.S. carriers that will have the device on hand at launch have not yet made their plans known though rumors suggest that the HTC One could arrive in the U.S. on March 22nd.
That date is still unconfirmed and the HTC One’s arrival in the United States could wind up taking place on a different date. However, given the Galaxy S4 rumors, HTC doesn’t have much time to waste.
Just a day before the HTC One launch event, on February 18th, two rumors suggesting the same Galaxy S4 launch date emerged. While previous rumors suggested either a March 14th or March 22nd event, mobile-review’s Eldur Murtazin and The Verge both chimed in suggesting that the Galaxy S4 launch date would, in fact, be March 14th.
Both of them have been accurate in the past and given the previous rumors, it looks like we could be in for a Galaxy S4 launch in just a few weeks, and just a day before the supposed release of the HTC One.
A Samsung Galaxy S4 release date still remains firmly in the shadows however. From what we’ve heard, the device is evidently slated for a European release during the month of April with a release in the United States coming in May or June.
Up until the launch of the HTC One, there had been rumors suggesting that its form factor would closely mirror the Droid DNA’s soft plastic design. That wound up not being the case as HTC delivered a device that is completely made of metal.
The HTC One sports a metal design that the company says has no gaps in its construction with the result being a smartphone that keeps virtually the same texture throughout. It’s also said to not impact antenna reception whatsoever. This “ZeroGap” construction allows for polycarbonate materials to form up with the anodized aluminum back using lines running the back of the phone. This adds strength and durability to the overall design.
In the front, HTC has attached two front-facing speakers that it dubs HTC BoomSound and which will deliver high quality stereo sound with dedicated amplifier and Beats Audio. The HTC One also includes an IR port to control TVs.
At its thickest point, the HTC One is 9.3mm thick but at the edges, the HTC One is a mere 4.3mm thick. Despite this, the HTC One is still thicker than the 7.6mm iPhone 5. It’s also heavier, checking in at 143 grams. The iPhone 5 weighs a measly 112 grams.
The Galaxy S4 itself hasn’t leaked out yet and we don’t expect it to until the day that it launches. This is due to heavy security that Samsung has placed around the device, much like it did with the Galaxy S3. So, photos or renders that have leaked out, likely don’t depict the actual Galaxy S4.
So far, rumors suggest a couple of things. One, that the device will take design cues from the Samsung Galaxy S3, a device that was inspired by nature and featured a rounded design. And two, hints from the Galaxy Note 8.0 design, a device that is expected at MWC 2013. The Galaxy Note 8.0 design was thought to have leaked out but it appears that those leaks were not the real deal.
If the Galaxy S4 does wind up looking like the Galaxy S3, it could end up resembling this fan-made Galaxy S4 render that surfaced many weeks ago, depicting a device with a more rectangular shape and a taller design.
Samsung’s Galaxy S3 measured in at 8.6mm with a weight of 133 grams and we expect the Galaxy S4 may be thinner and lighter than that. If true, it could be thinner and lighter than the HTC One.
One of the Android trends of 2013 are 1080p displays which offer full HD resolution. That trend started with the launch of HTC’s Droid DNA in November and has continued with the likes of the Sony Xperia Z and now, the HTC One.
The HTC One comes with a 4.7-inch display, with a 1080P HD resolution. It also packs 468 pixels-per-inch, which when combined with the resolution, translates into gorgeous content including photos, text and video.
Like many other current-generation smartphones, the HTC One display also offers a wide screen 16:9 aspect ratio that is suited well for watching HD movies and television.
Like the HTC One display, the Galaxy S4 display is also said to be fantastic. Rumors and benchmarks suggest that Samsung may be putting a 4.99-inch to 5-inch FHD display on the Samsung Galaxy S4 which would translate to a full HD 1080p display just like the HTC One’s. The pixel-per-inch count still isn’t known, but we expect it to be in the 400+ range.
However, it appears that Samsung might have some magic up its sleeve. The company is reportedly going to offer touch less gestures with the display something that would allow for Galaxy S4 users to manipulate content on the screen without physically touching the display. While it sounds futuristic, the technology is not new.
In fact, devices like the Pantech Vega 4G LTE and the Sony Xperia Sola both feature something similar. This kind of display tech has not appeared on a big name device like the Galaxy S series though and it looks like Samsung may indeed change that with the launch of the Galaxy S4.
Prior to the launch of the HTC One, we had heard that it might feature a rear camera that would blow away the competition. From the looks of things, HTC may have delivered just that.
The HTC One features an Ultrapixel camera which it claims can capture 300% more light than a standard smartphone camera which translates into better looking photos and better low light performance, the latter of which is a big deal in the world of smartphone cameras.
In fact, HTC has said that the larger pixels on the HTC One can capture more light than 8MP cameras like the iPhone 5′s. A camera sample from both the HTC One and iPhone 5, which boasts one of the best smartphone cameras on the market, can be seen in the image below. The photo is claimed to have been taken in low-light.
The HTC One’s camera also uses a Optical Image Stabilization to reduce blur in photos and limit shaky video footage. And unsurprisingly, it can capture 1080p video footage.
It also possesses a front-facing camera which is a wide angle front-facing camera capable of capturing more real estate than a typical front-facing camera. This is something it shares in common with the Droid DNA.
Given the new camera that HTC has put on its HTC One, we imagine that Samsung will be doing its best to compete. Last year, the HTC One X camera was better than the Galaxy S3′s and we imagine that Samsung will attempt to close the gap with the Galaxy S4 camera.
Thus far, all we’ve heard is that the camera will be 13MP. We imagine that there will be more to it than that, possibly a unique sensor or maybe some software tweaks but as of right now, that’s all we know about the Galaxy S4 camera.
Of course, there are specifications beyond the display, design and the camera. Here, we want to break down some of the smaller specifications that are on the HTC One and are rumored to be coming to the Samsung Galaxy S4.
First, a spec breakdown of the HTC One.
- 4.7-inch Full HD Display with 468 PPI
- 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor
- 32GB/64GB models (No microSD Card Slot
- 4 Ultrapixel Rear Facing Camera / Wide Angle 2MP front facing camera
- 2300 mAh Battery (Non-Removable)
- 2GB RAM
- Bluetooth 4.0
The Galaxy S4 specifications still remain a puzzle that isn’t close to being put together but there still are a few pieces out there that we can contrast with the features of the HTC One.
First, the Galaxy S4 is said to have a 2,600 mAh battery, much bigger than the HTC One’s. It’s also possible, given past Galaxy smartphones, that the Galaxy S4 will have a removable back which will allow users to put in their own extended battery for more juice. The HTC One does not have a removable back which means users are stuck with the stock battery.
Second, the HTC One does not have a microSD card slot and instead offers two larger storage options in the 32GB and 64GB range. The Galaxy S4 could come with those options plus microSD card support.
Third, the HTC One comes with a Snapdragon 600 process, a quad-core processor that offers efficient battery life and good performance. It’s also rumored to be the processor inside the Galaxy S4, which if true, would mean 40% better performance than the Galaxy S3. Previous rumors have suggested Exynos processors for the Galaxy S4 including the Exynos 5 Octa, but it’s possible that we may not see it arrive until the Galaxy Note 3 debuts.
And four, the HTC One does not come with built-in wireless charging and due to its non-removable back, there isn’t a way to mount a wireless charging back onto the device. That means that users are stuck with wires. We’ve heard that the Galaxy S4 will come with a wireless charging kit and because Samsung promised one for the Galaxy S3 and never delivered, we expect it to deliver this time around.
As expected, the HTC One runs Android Jelly Bean, though, it runs an older version. Instead of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the HTC One runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. HTC has not yet said when the device will be getting Android 4.2 Jelly Bean or if it will get the software update at all. We imagine that it will at some point down the road.
The device was also rumored to be coming with HTC Sense 5.0, a new version of HTC’s user interface, and a user interface that was indeed announced at the event alongside the hardware.
HTC Sense 5.0 is the latest version of HTC’s well-known Sense software though it’s a departure from the previous versions of the company’s UIs. The skin includes several new features, maybe the most prominent of which is HTC BlinkFeed, a live home screen that aggregates news and social feeds on the home screen.
Also included in HTC Sense 5.0 is HTC Zoe, a live photo gallery that HTC One owners can use to take 20 photos and a 3 second video at the push of a button. It also features Peel remote control software that pairs with the IR port and allow users to control their home theater and television.
Like the HTC One, the Galaxy S4 is likely going to be coming with its own skin, likely Samsung’s Nature UX. It’s unclear though whether the software will be the Nature UX that’s already out or if Samsung will deliver Nature UX 2.0. We imagine that at the very least, there will be some new features, a few of which have been rumored already.
Two features found in a trademark listing have been dubbed “Eye Scroll” and “Eye Pause.” It’s unclear if they will arrive in the Galaxy S4 but we could potentially see the device arrive with Nature UX 2.0. “Eye Scroll” seems to hint at a feature wherein the user can control the screen with eye movement while “Eye Pause” could be a feature that pauses content when a user looks away.
Both seems plausible given some of the past features contained in Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX.
As for Android, the Galaxy S4 is rumored to have Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on board rather than Android 4.1. If true, that could mean that the Galaxy S4 features newer Android features than the HTC One.
At the HTC One launch event, the device was confirmed for four carriers in the United States including three big name ones.
All along, rumors had suggested that the HTC One would head to AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile and that’s exactly what happened earlier this week. The device will indeed be headed to all three with a fourth carrier, Cincinnati Bell, joining them as well.
AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile will be offering the device on their high-speed 4G LTE networks when it launches, something that should not come as much of a surprise.
What is a bit of a surprise is that the HTC One is not going to be available on Verizon at launch though there are whispers of a Droid DNA 2 or maybe even the HTC One itself coming at some point down the road.
We haven’t seen any carriers confirmed for the Samsung Galaxy S4 just yet but we have seen both AT&T and Verizon rumored to be on board with Samsung’s new Galaxy smartphone. A possible AT&T model was sighted in a user string agent while the Verizon Galaxy S4 seemingly appeared in a benchmark.
Last year’s Galaxy S4 arrived for the five largest carriers in the U.S. including U.S. Cellular and Verizon, and it could be that the Galaxy S4 replicates that launch.
Consumers should not expect anything less than LTE data speeds from the Galaxy S4 either.
Along with the release date, HTC failed to mention the price of the HTC One. We’ve seen carriers and retailers in the UK announce pricing but those prices typically don’t match up with the pricing in the United States.
That said, rumors have suggested that the 32GB HTC One model will start at $199.99 across the board while the 64GB model will cost $299.99 on-contract.
None of those prices have been confirmed by AT&T or Sprint and it could be that we don’t know for sure until we move much closer to the release date. T-Mobile on the other hand says that it will be offering it with its Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan with no annual contract. It’s unknown if the carrier will only offer the device at an unsubsidized price or if it will offer it on-contract as well.
If it only offers it without a contract, it could be that buyers will have to pay more up front than they would if buying the phone on-contract.
Pricing for the Galaxy S4 remains uncertain but we expect Samsung to follow a similar pricing model with the Galaxy S4. $199.99 seems like the sweet spot these days and the Galaxy S3 arrived for that amount last year.
So while we still don’t have any rumors, don’t expect the device to arrive for any more or any less that that. If there are multiple Galaxy S4 models, expect them to be more expensive just like the 32GB Galaxy S3 and its $249.99 price tag.