Samsung announced the Samsung Galaxy S5 recently to some polarizing reaction with some observers excited about the new look while others poked fun at it. Many think the older HTC One still looks better than the new Samsung Galaxy S5. We’re not talking about the upcoming HTC One M8 that HTC said would “one up” the Galaxy S5. We’re comparing the newest Android phone to the now ancient (by smartphone standards) HTC One that came out last spring.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 comes with some appealing features including a bit of a camera upgrade compared to the S4, a new design on the back, a heart rate monitor as well as a fingerprint scanner.
We predicted that the HTC One could beat the S5 and we were right when it comes to the hardware.
We were on hand at the announcement event and got some hands on video of the phone seen below.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 comes with a newly designed dimpled plastic back that some wags said looked like a band-aid.
The Galaxy S5 Gold, or what I call the Galaxy S5 Band-Aid pic.twitter.com/xU5fzvWrvz
— Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) February 24, 2014
While I think it looks decent, it still doesn’t compare to the superior build quality of the nearly year old HTC One made of aluminum, ceramic and glass. The curved back feels good in the hand and looks better. Plastic doesn’t necessarily mean cheap, but when it comes to Samsung phones, it often does.
The colors of the S5 look attractive, but users can get multiple colors on the HTC One as well. The red and blue options look great and the black and silver look better than the S5 design.
The HTC One really shines when it comes to audio. Beats Audio as a brand doesn’t impress too many serious observers, but it blows the Samsung Galaxy S5 speakers out of the water. HTC put two grills on the front of the phone above and below the screen. Samsung offers just some tiny holes on the bottom. In our tests, the Galaxy S5 sounds okay, but won’t compete with the HTC One in terms of quality or level.
The detailed specs of the two phones don’t make it as obvious as the above items. For example the Galaxy S5 comes with a 5.1″ display that provides 1920 x 1080 resolution. That’s a 432 ppi density. The HTC One’s smaller 4.7″ display comes with the same resolution which means it offers a 468 ppi density. Theoretically it should look better and more crisp. We’ll see when we compare them side-by-side, but at this high a pixel density I doubt it makes much difference.
Both phones come with 2GB of storage but the HTC One offers options of 32 or 64GB of onboard storage. The S5 only offers 16 or 32GB. The S5 can use a micro-SD card up to 128GB, but Android doesn’t play well with external storage unless it’s only accessing personal files like photos, music or video. Many apps don’t behave well on an SD card or won’t install there at all. We’d rather get more onboard storage than limited storage on the phone plus a 128GB SD card. Also, the HTC One can use external storage through the USB connector and an adapter. That’s not ideal, but works in an emergency.
The S5 battery comes in at a higher rating of 2800mAh compared to the HTC One’s 2300. The larger screen could eat up a lot of that difference so again we’ll need to wait to see how they compare. HTC promise only 18 hours of talk time versus 21 from Samsung.
See the HTC promo video touting the metal design:
Samsung announced an impressive new phone, but not impressive enough to make me switch from my current HTC One. Disgruntled Apple users might want to switch to get a larger display and the more customizable experience that Android brings. HTC and Samsung compete for that group. The HTC One brings more Apple-style to the smartphone than Samsung. Samsung didn’t do enough to win over the switchers and we’ve not even see everything the new HTC One M8 will offer to improve on the current model.
Assuming HTC doesn’t screw up a good phone with their update of the HTC One with an announcement coming March 25, I think HTC will win the upper hand in the battle for former iPhone owners. It also think it will win the battle for the best smartphone of the year this next December when we look back.