HTC One vs. Nexus 4

Earlier this week, HTC unveiled the device that it hopes will compete with the likes of the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 for supremacy in the smartphone world. Of course, those aren’t the only two big names that the HTC One, formerly known as the HTC M7, will have to deal with. In addition to the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4, the HTC One will also be up against Google’s yearly Nexus smartphone, the LG-made Nexus 4, which is back in stock after a long absence.

Read: HTC One vs. Samsung Galaxy S4 (Rumored).

In late October, Google finally announced the oft-leaked LG Nexus 4, a device that it used to replace the outgoing Samsung Galaxy Nexus, a device that saw its fair share of ups and downs throughout the course of 2012.

The LG Nexus 4 has been on sale since November.

The LG Nexus 4 has been on sale since November.

The Nexus 4 represented the first LG Nexus smartphone, following in the footsteps of releases from HTC (Nexus One) and Samsung (Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus). And while consumers were skeptical, given LG lack of a track record in the United States, the Nexus 4 wound up being far more than Google and LG could chew.

When the device arrived back in early November, there was a buzz about the phone but no one could have predicted what came next. Almost immediately, the Google Play Store sold out of both the 16GB and 8GB Nexus 4 variants while the T-Mobile web store, which offered the T-Mobile locked variant a day later, saw its stock deplete as well.

Advertisement

Two weeks later, the Nexus 4 returned to the Play Store, only to encounter similar results. This time though, Google lets users order all the way up until the device showed shipping times of more than a month. At that point, Google and LG pulled the plug and the device was listed as sold out, something that lasted all the way up until a few weeks ago.

Read: Nexus 4 8GB Shipping Times Ease.

Several weeks ago, the Nexus 4 finally returned to the Google Play Store, the T-Mobile web store, and various other retailers making it as widely available as it as ever been. It also has finally made the Nexus 4 a viable option for consumers looking to snag a new smartphone. And one of the devices that it will be competing with is the new HTC One.

The HTC One represents the latest from HTC, and a device that will replace the HTC One X and the HTC One X+ as its flagship smartphone for the first half of 2013, at least.

HTC has equipped the device with quite a few bells and whistles, bells and whistles that it hopes will help it compete not only with the latest iPhone and the upcoming Galaxy S4, but with the Nexus 4 as well.

Those in the market for a new smartphone will likely have both of these phones at the top or near the top of their shopping list and here, we want to take a look at how the new HTC One matches up versus the Nexus 4 in terms of release date, features and more.

Release Date

As we’ve said, the Nexus 4 officially was released back in November. However, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that the device actually became available for the general populous to buy if they wanted.

That’s because LG and Google were dealing with supply issues due to high-demand for the Nexus 4,. According to LG, Google grossly miscalculated demand for the Nexus 4, something that wound up causing a major shortage for Google’s most current Nexus smartphone.

The HTC One could hit the U.S. on March 22nd.

The HTC One could hit the U.S. on March 22nd.

LG promised that it would have a handle on the supply issues by the middle of February and as of right now, the Nexus 4 is widely available. Those looking to snag the unlocked model are now able to do through the Google Play Store with shipping times listed at one to two weeks.

And those looking to snag the T-Mobile version can easily find it through T-Mobile’s online store, a physical T-Mobile retail location, or several other retail outlets including Best Buy and Walmart.

Unlike the Nexus 4, the HTC One is not on shelves just yet and unfortunately, still hasn’t received an official release date in the United States from any of the carriers that will be hosting it on their network.

At its launch event, HTC announced the carriers that would be carrying the HTC One but it left out the device’s important release date. Fortunately, we do have some hints in the form confirmations from carriers and retailers as well as an unconfirmed rumor.

According to Vodafone UK and retailer Clove UK, the HTC One will be touching down in Europe on March 15th. Originally we had heard March 8th, but it looks like that, at least in the United Kingdom, it will arrive on March 15th.

As for the United States, things are less clear. The four main carriers that will be offering it still haven’t announced any release date details and all we have right now is a rumor that suggests it will be arriving on shelves on March 22nd.

That could very well be close to the actual release date if it is indeed not the accurate date. We expect carriers to make their plans known in the not-so-distant future.

Design

Those taking in the Nexus 4 for the first time might note that LG’s Nexus 4 looks quite a bit like its predecessor, the Galaxy Nexus. However, another glance will reveal that the Nexus 4 has a completely different look than the previous Nexus.

One reason that consumers might mistake the device is because of its plastic design. Indeed, the Nexus 4 is indeed made of plastic, but it also incorporates a glass back, similar to the one included on the iPhone 4S. The back gives off a shimmering effect when its put into the light and it also features a large Nexus logo that clearly displays the device’s allegiance.

The Nexus 4 uses a 9.1mm design with a weight of 139 grams which means that it’s both thicker and heavier than some current-gen smartphone models. Despite its size, the Nexus 4 is both easy to hold and can fit snugly inside of a jean pocket.

To get a better idea of the Nexus 4′s style and size, take a look at it next to the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy Note 2 in the photo below.

The Nexus 4, in the middle, next to the Galaxy Note 2 and iPhone 5.

The Nexus 4, in the middle, next to the Galaxy Note 2 and iPhone 5.

While the Nexus 4 design is comprised of plastic and glass, the HTC One is completely made of metal. HTC says that its design has no gaps in its construction and that means that it keeps virtually the same texture throughout.

Additionally, the “ZeroGap” construction allows for the polycarbonate materials to form up with the anodized aluminum back which adds strength and durability to an already beautiful design.

The design also has a few distinctive qualities. In the front, HTC has attached two front-facing speakers that it calls HTC BoomSound. Both of these are said to deliver high quality stereo sound as they take advantage of a dedicated amplifier and Beats Audio. HTC has also seen it fit to include an IR port so that users can easily control their home theater.

HTC One vs. iPhone 5.

The HTC One will compete against the likes of the iPhone 5, seen here, and the Galaxy S4.

HTC One design specifics include a form factor that is 9.3mm thick but at the edges, a mere 4.3mm thick. It also weighs 143 grams. This means that the HTC One is about as thick as the Nexus 4 is and only weighs a bit more.

Display

The Nexus 4, despite launching at about the same time as the 1080p equipped Droid DNA, sports a 4.7-inch display with 720p HD resolution.

The size of the display is a great size for watching movies or television shows, browsing the web or catching content on YouTube. And while it may not have full HD 1080p resolution, 720p is still going to be good enough for average consumers who don’t need top of the line resolution.

Helping matters is the fact that LG outfitted the Nexus 4 with a 320 ppi (pixels-per-inch) count which translates into good looking text and images though likely not better than the content that will appear on the HTC One’s display.

One of the trends of 2013 are 1080p resolution displays and fortunately for those interested in HTC’s brand new device, it’s packing on board.

HTC One Design

The HTC One features a 1080P HD display.

The HTC One sports a similarly sized 4.7-inch display though it is equipped 1080P full HD resolution. It also packs 468 pixels-per-inch, which when combined with the resolution, translates into gorgeous content including photos, text and video.

Both are capable of widescreen content with the Nexus 4 offering a 16:10 aspect ratio while the HTC One delivers a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Camera

Camera technology, like the display technology, is moving at a fast pace and 2013 looks like it’s going to be bringing some high-powered rear cameras to the table.

The Nexus 4 is part of the last-generation of devices and therefore features an 8MP sensor that is capable of shooting 1080p video content. The camera is solid but it may have trouble keeping up with the camera tech on phones in 2013.

A sample taken with the Nexus 4′s camera can be seen below. For those looking for more in-depth analysis, take a look at our hands-on with the Nexus 4 camera.

Nexus 4 camera sample.

Nexus 4 camera sample.

One of the phones that is raising the bar in terms of rear cameras is the HTC One. Last year’s HTC One X had one of the best cameras of any smartphone and it appears that HTC is shooting for the stars again.

Its new flagship boasts 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 ability to capture fantastic low light photos has become an important quality in the smartphone camera world.

HTC says that the larger pixels on the Ultrapixel camera can capture more light than 8MP cameras like the iPhone 5′s, and likely, the Nexus 4′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 was evidently taken in a low-light environment.

iPhone-5-vs-HTC-One-Photo-Samples1-575x176

HTC One camera versus the iPhone 5 camera.

The HTC One’s camera also uses Optical Image Stabilization to reduce blur in photos and keep shaky video footage to a minimum. It also can capture 1080 video footage.

Both phones have front-facing cameras though the HTC One’s is a wide-angle front-facing camera which means it can fit more on screen, perfect for those that video chat with several loved ones at a time.

Specs

Beyond these specs, both devices also feature some other specifications. Here, we take a look at the similarities and differences of the HTC One and Nexus 4 specs.

First, a rundown of the Nexus 4.

  • 4.7-inch IPS Display 1280 x 768 pixel resolution (320 ppi)
  • 1.5GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon S4 Pro Processor
  • 8GB/16GB Storage (No microSD card slot)
  • 8MP Camera/1.9MP Camera
  • 2100 mAh battery (Non-Removable)
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Wireless Charging
  • NFC

And now, 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
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • IR

First, neither device comes with a microSD card slot which means that users are stock with those storage options. That means that Nexus 4 owners will have to heavily rely on the cloud for storage due to the smaller storage options.

Second, neither device features a removable battery. That means that owners will be stuck with the stock battery for better or worse. Replacing the battery will also be a hassle as it can’t simply be replaced and owners won’t be able to install an extended battery for more juice.

The Nexus 4 features wireless charging. The HTC One doesn't.

The Nexus 4 features wireless charging. The HTC One doesn’t.

Third, while the Nexus 4 features wireless charging, backed with the LG Wireless Charging Orb, the HTC One will not come with the feature and the non-removable back means that users won’t be able to snag a wireless charging kit.

And finally, fourth, both devices feature powerful quad-core processors which means that they will likely be able to handle most applications and multitasking.

Software

The Nexus 4 isn’t called a Nexus for no reason. Google’s Nexus line of devices are developer devices which means that they get some pretty special perks that no other devices get.

First, it means that the Nexus 4 runs a vanilla version of Android. That means that its void of carrier bloatware or manufacturer skins. Instead, it’s a Google Experience device and it’s the plain old vanilla Android software.

A Nexus also means that it is easily customizable as it has an unlocked bootloader. Users wanting to install custom ROMs should have no issue and the development community for the Nexus 4 is a thriving one meaning that tweaks are never far away.

The fact that it’s a Nexus also means that Google will issue software updates to it long before other devices. Even the T-Mobile model will be one of the first devices to bug fixes and major Android updates.

If that wasn’t enough, the Nexus 4 was one of the first to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, seen below, and it will be one of the first to Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, rumored for Google I/O in May.

As for the HTC One, it will also be running on Android Jelly Bean, though, it runs a version older than Android 4.2. Instead, it runs the older 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.

Also unlike the Nexus 4, the HTC One runs a manufacturer-built skin called HTC Sense 5.0, HTC’s latest version of its well known user interface.

Sense 5.0 is a bit of a departure from the previous versions of the company’s UIs as it includes a new look that includes a new look and several new features.

The most prominent of those is HTC BlinkFeed, a live home screen that aggregates news and social feeds on the home screen. HTC has lined up several big name partners including ESPN and LinkedIn which should make this an extremely useful widget.

HTC Sense 5.0 also includes 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 and it also features Peel remote control software that pairs with the device’s IR port and allow users to control their home theater and/or television.

Carriers

There are two versions of the Nexus 4. The first is an unlocked version that is sold through the Google Play Store and is compatible with GSM networks like T-Mobile and AT&T. It is able to run on both of those without a contract meaning users will want to take a look at several different pre-paid carrier options including T-Mobile itself.

For more information on the carrier options for the unlocked Nexus 4, see our comparison.

For AT&T, the Nexus 4 will run on its HSPA+ 21 network while on T-Mobile, it can run on the carrier’s HSPA+ 42 network. Users will need the proper SIM card in order to use the device on these networks.

On the other hand, the on-contract version for T-Mobile, runs on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network. The Nexus 4 will more than likely not run on T-Mobile’s upcoming LTE network despite having an LTE radio.

A comparison between HSPA+ 42 data speeds and 4G LTE data speeds can be seen in the video below.

Last year, the HTC One X arrived on AT&T’s 4G LTE network, severely limiting consumer interest in the device. This time around, HTC has corrected this by offering the HTC One on four carriers in the United States at launch.

Read: HTC One – AT&T vs. Sprint vs. T-Mobile.

AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile will all support the device on their 4G LTE networks while Cincinnati Bell, a regional carrier, will launch the device as well. Thus far, Verizon has not confirmed the device though we have heard rumors that it may be coming later in the year, possibly in the form of the Droid DNA 2.

Price

Another interesting aspect of the Nexus 4 is its pricing. The on-contract model for T-Mobile has pricing typical of any high-end smartphone. The device costs $150 on-contract through T-Mobile though those looking hard enough will find it for cheaper at other retailers.

It’s the unlocked model that has the most intriguing pricing model though. The Nexus 4 though the Google Play Store boasts some of the cheapest off-contract pricing that money can buy.

The Nexus 4 commands a cheap price on the Google Play Store.

The Nexus 4 commands a cheap price on the Google Play Store.

Specifically, the 8GB Nexus 4 is a mere $299 while the 16GB Nexus 4 costs $349. Both are significantly lower than typical off-contract pricing which can be upwards of $500. An unlocked iPhone 5 costs $649 by comparison.

As for the HTC One, HTC failed to announce any sort of pricing for either the 32GB model or the 64GB model. American carriers also haven’t made their on-contract plans known.

Rumors suggest that the device will start at $199.99 for the 32GB model which wouldn’t be surprising given the pricing of the iPhone 5. The 64GB model is rumored to be $299.99.

T-Mobile 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’s the former, expect to pay more than $199.99 or $299.99 up front.

Comments

  1. hampton says

    Good blog. I have a HTC One S and it works great, but the swipe-ish feature isn’t on par. And my texting is delayed now… Can’t decide if I should get the Nexus 4 or HTC One..

    not a fan of the 4.7 inch trend going on. My 4.3 inch is perfect. Wish they made it a bit smaller than 4.7

    • She says

      “not a fan of the 4.7 inch trend going on. My 4.3 inch is perfect. Wish they made it a bit smaller than 4.7″
      That’s not what she said :P

  2. sean says

    HTC makes the best hardware out there IMHO. However, their service and software suck large. If HTC ever decides to release a device with vanilla android on it … that’s when I may consider them again. Until that point, they’re not even on my radar.

  3. Uriah says

    I am going to wait for the HTC One to get here before I get a Nexus 4. I am very excited about trying out the 1080p display on the One. The only time that I really get to catch up with my favorite shows is on the ride to and from work at DISH, so I use my phone as a TV a lot. I have the DISH Anywhere app on my phone, which lets me stream live and recorded shows anywhere I go, and I think it would work perfectly with the full HD display like the HTC One’s.

Leave a Reply