After reading countless iPhone 5 and HTC One reviews, many users are still left with the question of which phone they should buy. Unlike many previous iPhone vs. Android decisions, the HTC One design and build quality rival the iPhone 5, offering a premium experience with the open-ness of Android and a 1080P HD display. That’s not to say everything is roses in Android-land, as app quality is still lacking and some users will find the larger size a turn off.
Though the iPhone 5 is 7 months old, it is still one of the top competitors for the HTC One, as consumers look for well-designed, sturdy smartphones. HTC eschews the plastic found on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and on previous HTC devices for an aluminum unibody design and is the best built Android smartphone yet.
It’s impossible to compare the iPhone 5 vs. HTC One without talking about software, and this year HTC and Android bring a more mature feature-rich operating system to compete against Apple’s iOS 6 operating system. We’ll delve deeper into the differences of iOS 6 and HTC Sense 5 as we compare the features of the HTC One and the iPhone 5.
For a more detailed look at an individual smartphone, check out our HTC One review and the iPhone 5 review after 5 months, where we delve deeper into the user experience, specs and features of each phone.
HTC One vs. iPhone 5 Video
In the video below we share how the iPhone 5 and the HTC One compare in terms of design features and software. We dive deeper into the comparisons in the sections below, but in five minutes this video covers the major differences for consumers looking for a HTC One vs iPhone 5 comparison.
Aluminum, glass and good looks are three words we use to describe the HTC One and the iPhone 5. Consumers who buy the HTC One or the iPhone 5 will be in for a treat when it comes to design, looks and build-quality.
The HTC One is made from a single piece of aluminum, which means users get a very solid feeling smartphone that plastic can’t match. HTC opted to keep the HTC One thicker than the iPhone and build in a curved back and angled sides that feels comfortable in the hand.
White rubber accents the aluminum of the HTC One, offering better grip on the sides of the device and allowing radio signals to pass through. During our time with the HTC one it fell twice and is no worse for the wear, even after bouncing around a wet sink.
HTC clearly though through how consumers use their smartphone, placing two speakers on the front of the device and hiding the LED behind the speaker grille for a more subdued notification system. Unlike many Android phones, this LED won’t wake you up at night when an email comes in.
A black HTC One is on the way to select carriers.
The iPhone 5 comes with aluminum and glass on the back, offering a two-tone design in white and black. The iPhone 5 features a similar construction which delivers a great looking phone that is easy to use with one hand. Apple opts for corners where HTC uses curves and angles, but the phone is still comfortable to hold thanks to the smaller size.
While both phones use a chamfered edge the iPhone 5′s shows significant wear after several months, especially on the black model.
Apple doesn’t include a front-facing speaker or a notification LED on the iPhone 5.
Advantage: Draw. The iPhone 5 and HTC One both feature great looking designs with the user in mind. Users who need notifications or prefer a larger, slightly heavier phone will prefer the HTC One.
While design is important, the display is just as important as users will spend nearly all of their time using the HTC One and the iPhone 5 looking at the screen. There are key differences to the displays.
The HTC One features a 4.7-inch 1080P HD display. That’s the same resolution as most HDTVs and thanks to the small size this translates into a 468 pixel-per-inch (PPI) rating. The higher the PPI, the less likely users can see individual pixels on the screen. When pixels aren’t discernable to the eye, users see sharper images and crisper text.
The HTC One’s display delivers deep blacks and bright whites, delivering a good mobile viewing experience, much better than the iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5 features a 4-inch display witha 640 x 1136 resolution which falls short of HD. The iPhone 5 Retina Display is nice to look at and with a 326 ppi rating it delivers crisp text and photos.
Unlike previous iPhones the display is set up for widescreen viewing so users loose less of the content to black lines, but it pales in comparison to the HTC One.
Advantages: HTC One. The HTC One features a larger, higher resolution screen that doesn’t sacrifice quality for size. The iPhone 5 display delivers a brighter white than the HTC One, but the advantage is still to HTC unless you want a smaller smartphone.
When comparing iPhone 5 vs. HTC One in the camera department the specs are confusing thanks to the HTC One 4MP Ultrapixel camera which uses larger pixels than the competition. On paper the lower MP rating may appear bad, but in use it is not.
The HTC One’s Ultrapixel camera delivers good low light performance and offers a better overall photo than the competition in many comparisons.
HTC also includes the HTC ZOE feature which can capture 20 photos and 3 seconds of video in one push of the shutter. This allows users to capture and show motion in photos and to get shots that the iPhone 5 will inevitably miss. HTC also includes a highlight feature that automatically stitches together a set of photos into a slideshow set to music, with multiple effects. Check one out above.
iPhone 5 vs. HTC One Photo Samples
The iPhone 5 features an 8MP camera that is no slouch. Apple brags that it is the most used camera every day. The iPhone 5 camera doesn’t do as well in low light situations, but it does take great looking photos.
When it comes to software, the built-in iPhone 5 camera app is bare bones with HDR and panorama options only. There are third party apps to add features, but users cannot quickly open these apps from the lock screen. The iPhone 5 also lacks a HTC Zoe style option as well as a one tap option to share items like the Zoe Highlights reel.
Advantage: HTC One. The iPhone 5 features a great camera, but with better low light performance, a speedy shutter and a much better camera app the HTC One beats out the iPhone 5 for users looking for frills and modes.
iOS 6 vs. HTC Sense 5
As always there are benefits and drawbacks to iOS and Android, and the HTC One and iPhone highlight these well.
The HTC One features Android 4.1.2, one small version behind, and uses an HTC Sense 5 skin to deliver different user experience. HTC Sense 5 isn’t as flashy as the software on a Galaxy S smartphone, opting for flatter design and a new home screen.
HTC BlinkFeed sits on the main home screen of the HTC One offering users fast access to customizable news, calendar information and social network updates.
Android offers several things users won’t find in iOS 6, such as widgets, settings toggles in the notifications and lots of customizations. To start users can set a default app, allowing a different browser to handle all the links for example. Users can also install a new launcher, such as Facebook Home or Nova launcher to change the experience. For more ambitious users there is an option to root the HTC One and to install a custom ROM.
The iPhone 5 features Siri, while Android arrives with Google Now and predictive push alerts based on searches and emails. Google Now is now on the iPhone, but it is not as good as the Android version.
While other Android devices are running a newer version of Android and we expect an even newer one in a few weeks, the HTC One will likely wait a long time for the update. Android updates must be integrated into HTC Sense 5 and then approved by carriers, which takes much longer than an iOS update.
With Android, users also miss out on many app enabled accessories like the Nike FuelBand and other connected devices. If these devices come to Android they often only arrive for certain devices.
The iPhone 5 runs iOS 6.1, and receives fast and frequent updates from Apple. Like Android we expect a new version of iOS this year, likely called iOS 7. Unlike Android, the iPhone 5 (and the iPhone 4S) will see this update roll out on all carriers on the same day, bringing new features without the wait we see on Android devices.
With iOS 6 users get a notification center, but don’t get access to widgets or a pull down settings drawer. Out of the box there is not as much customization for iPhone users. There is an iPhone 5 jailbreak that delivers an incredible amount of customization for users who are willing and able to jailbreak, but there is no jailbreak for iOS 6.1.3, so buyers who get a new iphone 5 are out of luck.
Siri is built in to the iPhone, allowing users to ask for information and to complete tasks with a long press of the home button. Siri can open apps, something Google Now cannot do.
The iPhone also enjoys a larger number of accessories and app enabled accessories which will work out of the box with the iPhone. Some, like the Nike FuelBand only work on iOS devices.
While it varies from user to user, many claim iOS is an easier system to use, with a shorter learning curve. Some users will prefer the fewer options and more cohesive user experience of the iPhone.
Advantage: Draw. iOS and Android are as much a personal choice as Chevy or Ford or Lifetime or Hallmark. There are benefits and drawbacks to each system and there is no one best system for every user.
From an entertainment standpoint the HTC One features desirable features like front-facing speakers and a larger 1080P HD display, but the iPhone boasts access to iTunes and first shot at new entertainment apps.
The HTC One comes with BoomSound, a fancy name for the two front-facing speakers which direct music and movies directly at the user so there is no lost volume or dialogue. This is paired with Beats Audio which gives a boost to the sound through the speakers and with a good pair of headphones. When combined with the large HD display, the HTC One delivers a great portable movie watching experience.
The HTC One also features an IR port tucked behind the power button that allows users to control an HDTV, cable box and home theater. The HTC One TV app includes a great looking app to show what’s playing, based on your preferences and a remote control to change the channel and more.
As for content, the Google Play Store is not as deep as iTunes. There are some shows and movies which aren’t available in Google Play. For example Blue Bloods is available in iTunes, but not in Google Play. There are third-party apps to fill some holes, but it is noticeable.
With the right HTC One accessories it is possible to watch the HTC One on an HDTV, but the HTC Media Link doesn’t deliver features like the Apple TV.
Another thing to consider is many of the latest games come to iPhone first, so there is currently no Fish Out of Water for Android. The same goes for other apps and services. When apps do arrive they may not boast the same features or may end up a year behind in updates.
The iPhone 5 doesn’t feature a built-in remote, but it does boast access to some of the best looking apps and the deepest catalog of music, movies and TV shows on a mobile device. Rarely will users come up empty when looking for the hottest app or to rent or buy a movie or TV episode.
The iPhone 5 speaker faces to the bottom of the device, which requires users cup their hands around the smartphone to direct music back at the user. This is less than ideal.
Apple delivers a better environment thanks to the Apple TV. This $99 box lets users put their iPhone screen on an HDTV like the HTC Media Link, but it also offers access to the iTunes store, iCloud photos and apps for Netflix, Hulu and sports when the iPhone is not connected.
The quality of apps on the iPhone is generally higher than on Android, even for the same app. There are also many popular apps that are not available on Android such as Tweetbot, Alien Blue and many others.
Advantage: Draw. The HTC One offers more entertainment features like a larger HD display, front facing speakers and remote control capabilities, but the iPhone 5 delivers a deeper catalog, first shot at apps and Apple TV integration.
It’s tough to choose the best smartphone for every person, but this review of features should help users choose between the iPhone 5 vs. HTC One when it comes time to buy a new smartphone.
Both phones offer features not found on the other, which makes a general conclusion of which smartphone to buy tougher. Even in the same category there are trade offs. The HTC One is more enjoyable for watching movies and TV shows, but the selection is lacking, as one example.
With this comparison in mind, you can pick the best smartphone for your needs. Both of these smartphones offer the promise of features and design that will last two years, the typical length of a smartphone contract in the U.S.
Android users can check out, HTC One vs. Samsung Galaxy S4 Feature Showdown for more on how the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 compare.