Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One: Software Feature Showdown

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One are arguably two of the best Android smartphones of 2013, but neither phone is a pure Android smartphone. Samsung and HTC rely heavily on the software features to enhance the user experience and stand apart from each other, and the Nexus 4, in a crowded Android smartphone market.

This plethora of software features is also a strategy to compete with the iPhone 5, and to offer a unique experience that each company feels is better than the vanilla version of Android that Google offers on the Nexus 4.

Samsung focuses on sensors and smart features which come as part of TouchWiz, a fancy name for the skin and special software features that ship on the Samsung Galaxy S4. These software features bring the best features from the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2 and add a few more which will launch with the Galaxy S4.

HTC may not include the same set of sensors, but it does ship the HTC One with HTC Sense 5. As the number suggests, HTC Sense is not a new software innovation from HTC, but with HTC Sense 5 users get a cleaner look and a collection of smart new features.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One Software Features

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One compete with special software features.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One compete with special software features.

Many users will compare the design, style and specs of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, but a closer look at the software is just as important when trying to pick the best Android smartphone. Of course, check out our Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One breakdown to see how the two devices stack up in this regard.

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After spending time with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, it’s time to share how the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One software stack up.

HTC Sense 5 vs. TouchWiz

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One run similar versions of Android, but on top of Android, is a skin that changes the look and functionality of Android. Both phones run a modified version of Android Jelly Bean, but that’s where the similarities stop.

Samsung TouchWiz and Nature UX sit on top of Android, offering up a more colorful version of Android with extra apps and features that connect the phone to other Samsung devices. The Samsung Galaxy S4 builds on the features and designs of the Galaxy S3, and offers a familiar experience.

HTC places HTC Sense 5 on the HTC One. This new version of HTC Sense includes several new features such as BlinkFeed, which takes over the home screen with a news feed and social network section that makes it easy to follow topics and friends. HTC Sense 5 brings a more minimal look to Android icons and other areas of the user interface.

Both of the phones offer a launcher with 4 apps at the bottom of the home screen and customizable app drawers. The HTC One runs Android 4.1.2 with an update to Android 4.2 rumored in the next month and the Samsung Galaxy S4 runs Android 4.2.2, the latest version of Android.

Galaxy S4 Smart Features vs. HTC One

The Samsung Galaxy S4 takes the lead in the software department when it comes to smart features. The Samsung Galaxy S4 features nine sensors that let users control the phone with motion, eye tracking and even without touching the display.

The video below highlights the Samsung Galaxy S4 software features such as Air View, Motion control and eye-tracking.

With Air View, Galaxy S4 users can hover a finger above the display to see a preview of a text, email, photo or place in a video. The motion control allow users to swipe over the phone to answer a call or scroll through a web page.

With eye-tracking the Galaxy S4 display can stay on when it detects a user is looking at it. Additionally, it allows a user to combine motion to scroll without touching the screen. The Samsung Galaxy S4 can also use this eye-tracking technology to automatically pause video when a user looks away.

The HTC One is a feature packed phone, but it does not offer any of these features with HTC Sense 5.

HTC Zoe vs. Galaxy S4 Camera Features

The HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 are both designed with mobile photographers in mind. HTC tries something new this time around with an Ultrapixel camera that uses large pixels to deliver better low light photos. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is equipped with a 13MP camera which Samsung enhances with some new photo features.

The HTC One arrives with HTC Zoe, a feature that shoots a 3 second video and 20 photos with the push of a shutter. This makes it possible to capture motion, photos and sound all at once. Users can then share the Zoe as a moving photo or edit it to make a photo that shows multiple frames. On stage HTC Zoe sounded like a gimmick, but ater using it for a week it’s clearly a great HTC One feature.

The video above shows the Sequence shot feature in action, thanks to HTC Zoe. There is also the ability to take a group photo and pick the best face for each person in the photo, something that can accomodate a larger group thanks to the wide-angle camera.

HTC also bundles in an eraser feature that lets users remove unwanted people and objects from a photo. The video below highlights the feature.

Another cool HTC One feature relates to video. Users can pick between slow motion and regular speed, slowing down a video at a dramatic point. Check it out in action in the video below.

Rounding out the camera software features on the HTC One is the Video Highlights feature which creates a video highlights reel of an event. Check out one we made in the video below.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 doesn’t deliver an HTC Zoe competitor directly, but with a collection of features it delivers a similar experience. The standout Samsung Galaxy S4 camera feature is Dual camera mode, a setting that combines the front and rear facing cameras to let the photographer be part of the photo or video. Check it out in action below.

In addition to combining the cameras, the Samsung Galaxy S4 can also combine sound with a photo. The Sound & Shot feature is similar to HTC Zoe’s combination of photos and sound, but there is no video component. The Samsung Galaxy S4 ad below shows how this works, and why you might want to use it.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 camera app also includes familiar favorited like a group shot that lets you pick the best face and a new eraser mode that helps users remove unwanted people from photos.

HTC BlinkFeed vs. Samsung Home Screen

The HTC One delivers BlinkFeed, a new way to check updates from friends and favorite news sources. HTC Blinkfeed is customizable, and the HTC One software hands on video below shows it in action.

HTC BlinkFeed allows users to pick from a wide variety of sources, topics and connect to social networks. In addition to showing social networks, it also lets users update Facebook and Twitter from that main screen. This is the main home screen, but users can swipe to get a familiar Android home screen with apps and widgets.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a more common Android experience with multiple home screens, support for widgets and some built in widgets like the Galaxy S3 shipped with, but there is no direct BlinkFeed competitor.

Samsung S TV vs. HTC Sense TV

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One both include IR which allows users to control an HDTV with the phone. The HTC One ships with Sense TV, which includes fast access to favoriet shows. Tap once on a show and the software automatically changes the channel to it.

HTC Sense TV is a companion app that turns the HTC One into a remote control.

HTC Sense TV is a companion app that turns the HTC One into a remote control.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses WatchOn software to deliver a similar experience. The WatchOn software includes a similar looking interface that allows users to pick a show and have the S4 change the channel. This software also offers a search function which can search TV channels as well as Samsung’s movie rental and sales service. The Galaxy S4 also features a Peel Smartphone app for manual control.

Multi View vs. HTC One

The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes Multi-View, a feature that lets users run two apps on the screen at the same time. This is a very nice way to do more on the 5-inch 1080P HD display. We may see some limits to the apps that can runin dual screen mode on the U.S. model based on the Galaxy Note 2.

The video above highlights the Multi-View feature on the Galaxy Note 2. The user experience is the same on the Galaxy S4.

The HTC One does not offer such a feature to users, so there is no way to use two apps on the screen at the same time with the HTC One.

Two vs. Three Buttons

The Samsung Galaxy S4 features three buttons, while the HTC One only offers two. This changes some of the Android interaction and in many apps leads to an extra bar at the bottom of the screen. Because there is no menu botton on the HTC One, some apps will show one on screen, like in the screen shot below.

The HTC One does not feature a menu button, and instead shows one on screen.

The HTC One does not feature a menu button, and instead shows one on screen.

By removing one button, there are a few other limitations, though HTC does a decent job of adding in multiple taps to address them. The HTC One home button can; take a user home, launch Google Now with a long press or launch Multitasking with a double tap. The back button only goes back, but there is a tweak that allows it to also act as a menu button, removing the on screen menu bar. This may ship as a standard feature on the HTC One for T-Mobile AT&T and Sprint.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a physical button which acts as the home button, a menu key and a back button. The home button offers similar functionality with a single press, long press and double tap. A single press goes home, a long press opens the multitasking menu (where access to Google Now is found) and a double tap opens S-Voice.

S Voice Drive vs. HTC Car Mode

The HTC One features a Car mode which offers some in car voice control, but it is only able to use the built in music app and make calls. The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes S-Voice Drive, which is more full featured and an extension of S Voice.

S Voice from the Galaxy S4 on the Nexus 4 (left) vs S Voice on the Galaxy S3 (right).

S Voice from the Galaxy S4 on the Nexus 4 (left) vs S Voice on the Galaxy S3 (right).

S Voice drive can control navigation, music and phone calls as well as check weather and other information while you are driving. Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 users can try out S Voice Drive right now.

Comments

  1. Leslie says

    Thanks for the review, Josh – any comparison on which phone works better with Google Voice? I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 and using Google Voice on it doesn’t work as well as it did on my HTC Thunderbolt – seems to be a Samsung issue – so I’ve been considering leaving Samsung and going to HTC One – looking for any info before I decide.

    • Warcen says

      because samsung is focusing alot on the software i think you should have no problem with a nother samsung phone. also remember all phones is different even from the same companies. Me my selv has no problems with the google voice and after I got the google now uppdate it takes 1-2 second for it to find out what i was saying, so maybe its a software isue

      • Tim Siersema says

        the s3 has a problem with google voice, not google voice search, a misconception I have run into a lot. People that use a google voice phone number, like myself, find that the s3 and the note 2 at least do not work with that app well at all, and for this reason I am looking to go back to an htc, which I have had three of with no problems with google voice.

        • Sean says

          I have the One S and it doesn’t work with Google Voice. The reviews on the app show that it doesn’t jive well with the one S for some reason. I was thinking of switching to the S4 and am hoping Voice works on that.

    • Scott wilson says

      I am a huge google voice user as well and it works great on my htc evo 4 g, but not on my wife’s samsung s3. I’m planning on the htc one for this very reason.

    • Leslie says

      Thanks Tim and Scott for the feedback on GV on HTC vs Samsung. I’m ordering the HTC One 32MB that’s being released next week on AT&T – so I’ll let you know if it works. Based on my past experience, and your input – it sounds like HTC works much better with GV than Samsung. That’s a deal maker/breaker for me!

  2. Leslie says

    Thanks Warcen – I should clarify what the issue is that I want to see if the HTC One or S4 will solve as though I love Google Voice and almost all features work great on my S3 there’s one problem on S3 – that incoming calls don’t show the actual # or caller ID – it shows the Google relay # instead. HTC Thunderbolt didn’t do that, but showed me the caller’s #. I’m actually not sure if it’s a phone issue or a carrier issue. S3 is on T-Mobile in US. Thunderbolt was on Verizon in US.

  3. Wiryono says

    I am currently using a Samsung S3 but I don’t feel this phone is as good as its marketing said it to be. I am currently looking forward to changing to HTC…all my friends who got HTC were all surprised by their new products.

    • Navy Sailor says

      Sorry wiryono, I was a die hard htc user starting with the touch, up until the one X which ruined htc for me. Just the fact it had no removable battery or sd card slot astonished me. I switched to samsung with the note 2 and have not had a problem yet. The battery life itself made the note 2 a winner. Battery life on the one X was horrible. It would die 2-3 times just performing simple tasks. I would hold on to samsung because I am definitely impressed with their latest phones.

      • Rahinder says

        well…everyone need not be discouraged because someone else wants extra slot and removable battery…

      • Joel R. Mongrain says

        I currently have the S2, Galaxy Nexus and I bought the HTC One X the day it was released in Canada last year. I also had the HTC Legend and several Blackberries and the iPhone 3Gs.

        The HTC Legend was a good phone, but pathetic battery life. I hated the iPhone and Blackberries were only good for texting.

        I Love my One X! The battery life is amazing. If I only use it on standby with occasional texting and calls, I can go 2 full days without turning it off or recharging. Video and web surfing will last a good 10 hours and games will chew it up in about 4 hours. I did have some poorly written apps that drained my battery fast: Magic Jack was horrendous, but once I removed it, everything went back to normal.

        I’m really torn with these next 2 choices! They both have features I want, but niether one has all the features in one package. The camera on the HTC rocks, and the voice command on the S4 looks well integrated. 2 must have features!

        Decisions, Decisions!

        Samsung is more popular and widespread. I like to be different then the norm, so I may go with HTC. Besides, I am very pleased with my last choice.

      • joy says

        my dear frnd I m also a grt fan of HTC bt HTC one x waz so so useless bt I thnk htc one will be ohsme bcz its battry backup z very good….

  4. Allan says

    Finally!

    This review really appealed to me because it took a close look at the details on both devices, letting me see what phone really suited me. Each phone has its strengths and weaknesses, and it’s impossible to come to a solution on which is absolutely better.

    As opposed to the other retards who call themselves editors and do the usual “HTC One stomps the GS4″ or the “GS4 destroys the One in every way possible”.

    Good job, Josh.

  5. mikejackson320 says

    Looking at both the devices they gives a tough competition to each other as galaxy s4 has the eye scrolling technology and htc one has the best camera quality which is not found in any other device. But still more reviews are to be gathered to choose among both these devices.

    • Operator 13 says

      Actually he didn’t showed all the GS4 camera features, dual shot and many features equal or better then HTC one’s

  6. Ryan V says

    In the process of looking at different carriers (i’ve been with sprint since 2004, but my contract is up) i came across the htc one and was quite impressed with its features; the only problem is that i have had my heart set on the S4 since its announcement. Reviews like this are both helpful and a hindrance because anything is better than my Samsung Epic 4g (1st gen galaxy), which has been more “reliable” than any phone to date (5 drops onto pavement and rocks, no screen breaks, but my sd card died 23 months into the phone and the battery life is atrocious). The htc one’s aluminum body seems like it would be durable, beats sound is a great feature and the camera features seem awesome, but the s4′s slightly larger screen, more updated software and previous reliability have my attention.

    What i would like to see is a side by side comparison of screen breaks on the last 2 releases htc and samsung phones. I have noticed a lot of broken screens lately (primarily iphones, but a good number of s2′s and s3′s as well), and i don’t know anyone with a htc phone to compare that data to.

    Sadly, i think it will all boil down to what the carriers are going to try to charge for the s4, since the htc one is already preordering at $199, and if the s4 is more than that I will probably jump from samsung to htc.

    *sorry for the long post*

  7. SHAZUL says

    I HAVE COMPARED THE FEATURES OF HTC1 & SAMSUNG S4 BUT I LUV SAMSUNG S4,BUT WEN IT IS REALISING GCC COUNTRIES & THE CUSTOMERS ARE BOOKING FOR 1 OF THE BEST BRANDS SAMSUNG OU GUYS HAVE TO GIVE SOME GIFT TO THE PEOPLE WHO BOOKS FOR THE PHONE BCZ THEY LUV TO USE THE SAMSUNG MOBILES & NO MORE ABOUT THE SAMSUNG S SERIES SO PLZZ IF YOU CAN DO IN IT PLZ REFER ON IT @ MY BRAND IS SAMUNG & IF U ARE COMPARING WITH IPHONE & SAMSUNG S SERIES IPHONE THE MATERIAL IS USED IN STEEL & OTHER MATHERIALS & SAMSUNG IS MATERIAL IS IN FIBER MATERIALS SO FOR THE NXT RELEASE IF U CAN DO IN THE IPHONE MATERIALS LIKE STEAL & ETC SAMSUNG IS 1 OF THE BEST BRAND MOB IN WHOLE WORLD BUT IN IF MY OPINION IS SAMSUNG S SERIES BCZ I HAVE USED MOST OF THE BRANDS IN MOBILES BUT I LYK IN SAMSUNG IS SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 2,I HAVE USED NOTE & NOW NOTE 2 ALSO IAM WAITIN FOR S4 NOW SO GUYZ KEEP IT UP FOR YOUR FEATURE BST OF LUCK SAMSUNG TEAMS :)

    • Joel says

      Wow shazul. I think you win the award for the longest yelling run-on sentence.

      Seriously, though, are you trying to say that you really like Samsung products? And something about the materials. I’m not trying to be critical. Ok, just a little, but I’m just trying to understand your comment.

  8. The Shadow says

    This is the best side by side comparison I have seen yet between these two phones and it confirms my choice to buy the S4.

  9. Khan says

    Good phone comparison but the article missed mentioning a few features of the Samsung Galaxy S4 camera to compare to the ones mentioned on the HTC.

    The S4 has a Drama Shot which is similar to the Sequence Shot on the HTC. It captures movements/motion and creates a single photo which I can’t wait to try. It also has the ability to erase unwanted people/things from the photo. I believe the S4 allows one to choose which person looked best to create the perfect group shot. Not completely sure but it does have the best shot feature like the S3 which takes multiple photos and then the best picture can be taken.

    Apart from the above it has the ability to create a short gif, do funky things like keep certain people fixed while you are moving through a crowd, an HDR mode for clear crisp photos, etc.

    I must add that when I personally played with the S4, the eye scroll and video pause features weren’t perfect. It might require getting used to perhaps. But I prefer the gesture control which is more dependable for scrolling through websites or going through photos. The air view works fine.

    I haven’t tested the HTC one and I’m sure it’s a wonderful phone but I definitely find the S4 more appealing. One additional reason being the removable battery and SD card slot.

  10. Amit says

    Good cam, i like it, but it makes no miracles over the Xperia Z. I wonder what it will be in real life usage, because the best cam i had on a phone was with the Note 2, but the Note 2 was also the one to produce most failed shots under not optimal conditions, while the Z has never failed me yet. I think Samsungs cam software is good only under optimal conditions, and this may be a problem for S4 as well. Great synthetic performance but low practial performance.

    I dont mean to troll anyway, i be honest enough to say that theres no way i would consider an S4, i already had my dose of samsung the half year i had Note 2. Still, i like to compare the cams of S4 and Z, same Sony sensor and everything, fair enough i hope =)

  11. Trend Today says

    Samsung is really doing well in latest android phones, every new model is featuring with some new apps. While htc is still stuck with old features. Hope new models will do even better.

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