Samsung Galaxy S4 versus HTC One

The HTC One won an Editor’s Choice here at GottaBeMobile. The Samsung Galaxy S4 impressed, but didn’t get the honor. But while we hear a lot of buzz about the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4 might well be a better choice for Android phone buyers, even though the HTC One might look like the better piece of hardware.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 ships in a plastic case that some consider flimsy and cheap compared to the HTC One. The HTC One looks more revolutionary. Many people call it beautiful or sexy. The HTC One comes with a more revolutionary metal case and higher overall build quality. But a phone is more than the hardware, and when we look at some other issues in this head-to-head, the Samsung Galaxy S4 holds up better than people think. Consumers should compare the two company’s history of software updates, potential customer support due to the strength of the company and a narrower margin of quality than people give the S4 credit for.

Samsung vs. HTC Update History

When Google launches a new version of their OS, only Google Nexus devices will get it within weeks or even months of the announcement. HTC and Samsung both fail at shipping updates in reasonable time. No Android handset maker matches Apple in OS updates. Most Android phones more than a year old will take forever to see significant updates. By the time they do, Google will announce an ever newer version, leaving the updated phones behind a generation or more. The record of Android updates is pretty dismal.

But when comparing the history of the two companies, Samsung fails less miserably than HTC. All of their most recent flagship phones should run Android 4.2 this year, including the Galaxy S3, the Note 2 and possibly the original Note and Galaxy S2. The Samsung Nexus received the update for off-carrier phones already and it’s not that recent. Readers can see our list of possible Jelly Bean phone updates for more information.

HTC has a bad history of timely updates. Only a handful of their phones even run Android 4.1 and we’re still waiting for 4.2, which should come soon on the HTC One. However, how will the prospects look for an HTC One update at this time next year or 18 months into the life of the phone? Remember the HTC Thunderbolt?

The Samsung Galaxy S4 shipments are set to outpace the HTC One by 5 to 1 in May.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is set to compete with the HTC One.

HTC Not as Strong a Company as Samsung

There was a time that HTC had the mobile and PDA markets in the palm of their hands (pun intended). But the days of the Palm, Handspring and HTC Windows Mobile phones are a distant memory. Today, Samsung offers a much stronger company. Expect better support and longer term support. Before the HTC One we heard whispers of HTC’s demise. Those whispers were silly, but the fact that people started repeating them means there’s a problem. No one talks like that about Samsung. The incredibly over-the-top announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S4, with their cheesy broadway style show, tells us they’ve got plenty of money to keep them solvent for a long time. Their crazy Super Bowl ad and effective advertising shots across the bow of Apple show they came to play and will put their money where their phones are.

Third-party vendors will likely support the Galaxy S4 more than the HTC One. Samsung’s history of success in the last year or two means they will likely sell enough S4 devices to support a swarm of cases, docking stations and other gadgets.

Even with improvements, Android launches may never be perfect.

Even with improvements, Android launches may never be perfect.

HTC Hardware Better But Not by Much

The HTC One looks beautiful. Aluminum phones hold up better than plastic. They last longer and look better longer, usually.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 hardware may not feel as elegant, but in a workmanlike way, it feels good. The update feels more solid than the Galaxy S3. Besides, most people keep their phones in a case anyway. Here’s a list of ways they compare nicely:

  • Big beautiful screens
  • Great cameras
  • Fast processors
  • Fast LTE support
  • Similar battery life

Here’s a few tricks the Samsung Galaxy S4 can do that the HTC One can’t.


There’s good news. No matter what we pick, in the end, we’ve got two great Android phones to pick from this spring. In addition, Google will likely offer a new Nexus model to heat up the competition soon. Everyone wins. But don’t make the mistake of ignoring the Samsung Galaxy S4 because the HTC Once looks pretty.