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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.



  1. lex

    05/19/2013 at 11:42 am

    Samsung s4 heats up it can’t cool down my situation calling Samsung goes round and round

  2. Sam

    05/19/2013 at 1:20 pm

    Look, was this review about HTC v.s. Samsung or the HTC One vs Samsung S4 becuase for I know this author made general comments about the companies themseleves, not their flagship phones of 2013.

  3. David (@dchung615)

    05/19/2013 at 1:56 pm

    I’m kind of getting tired of these reviews… metal = automagically better quality and plastic (poly-carbonate) = flimsy. How shallow can you get when reviewing high-end technologies. When you say “hardware” you should include components inside the casing and SG4 is superior than what HTC has to offer.

    • mex

      05/19/2013 at 4:05 pm

      This is because all “tech” reviewers are iboys. Now when iphone 5 is made from cheap tin-can, that means that all devices made from tin-can are “premium quality”
      Besides, Apple and HTC made contact lately(secret one) , and now all iMedia is supporting HTC One to take slice from Samsung’s market, and Apple to regain the lead.
      If you remember , last year they did the same with HTC One X, and S3. This year are even more brutal. But the result will be the same.

      • Jason

        05/27/2013 at 3:03 am

        tin-can? lol u realize theres a difference between tin and aluminium right? An conspiracy theories about phone companies… you need a few extra hobbies mate.

    • vovanatb

      05/21/2013 at 2:52 pm

      The hardware on S4 is slightly better than HTC One, its not super faster than HTC! Qnd still HTC performs better than S4, when it comes to everyday use, S4 sometimes lags, even tho they have a little faster CPU

  4. swm

    05/19/2013 at 4:00 pm

    I agree.I’m tired of so many reviews saying the HTC one is can a phone that’s heavier, thicker, less comfortable in hand, smaller screen, no expandable memory, no battery removable, has lower benchmark totals, proven less standby battery time, 4mp cam… how can it be the better phone.
    it’s SO OBVIOUS what’s the better phone in almost EVERY way. polycarbonate is amazing..youth but lighter.. the S4 in normal daylight camera tests has the best pictures of ANY smartphone yet too! it has loads of software features exclusive 2 apps on screen at once! it was rated at 69h battery endurance compared with 48h for htc one.. I know what I and tens of millions of us will matter how much the media try to put Samsung down and big up htc…

    • khoey66

      05/19/2013 at 7:43 pm

      If something deserves to get credit it should, Shouldn’t we all rejoice as nobody loses here…we’re all under the same umbrella that being Android…everything else is subjective commentary and individual preference. Is there really such thing as the best phone?

      • vovanatb

        05/21/2013 at 2:57 pm

        Totally agree, its all about preference, i love both phones, but still i will buy HTC One, cuz i really prefer built quality, and more simple interface, also i hate cameras that have poor low light quality

    • Shaun Blackman

      05/19/2013 at 9:14 pm

      A lot of what you just said is personal preference. You mention a smaller screen as a negative, well some people might prefer a smaller, sharper screen with a higher PPI. You mention weight, I like solid heavy electronics. I could go on but I’m sure you see my point. Each phone has it’s strength’s and weaknesses and it comes down to personal preference. Most reviews I have seen have them matched pretty close in the end. Sounds like you are extremely biased or just a fanboy.

      • Bret

        06/19/2013 at 7:38 am

        I agree with you a 100% and it is all based on personal reference…!!>?

        • Bret

          06/19/2013 at 7:41 am

          Sorry, meant preference…
          I myself enjoy the Htc One, love the looks, interface, blinkfeed, but hey that’s me & that’s my preference…

    • Ian

      05/20/2013 at 8:46 pm

      This is so true, The S4 is the better device

      • vovanatb

        05/21/2013 at 3:00 pm

        Its just your opinion, for me HTC is better, for number of reasons, but that’s just my preference

  5. Daleos

    05/19/2013 at 4:11 pm

    I disagree. You can use the best components in the world but if they’re put together badly then you’ll end up with a substandard device. It’s not just about the phone with the biggest numbers. How all those components interact is also very important. Besides, whilst a decent performance is a requirement, aesthetics, ease of use and how well the features fit into an individuals routine all have significant value. Different people prioritise differently and I’ve stopped worrying about how fast my phone goes and how much storage it has a couple of years ago. Now for me, it’s all about battery life, whether I can see the screen in sunlight and if the call quality is good. And whilst I don’t really care if my phone is made of metal or plastic, I do care about how it looks, whether those materials are up to the job and no, I don’t want something expensive looking like a toy.

  6. Matt

    05/19/2013 at 4:18 pm

    Better components apple fan boys = Samsung fan boys, the htc one and the s4 have the exact same components sole exception camera and screen, ignore the case because aluminum is a known factor and will last longer period. Each phone comes down to consumer preference, but benchmark are actually divided between the two phones and being that you can root both phones that have the same processor(snap 600) clocked differently, not produced differently, for those who of narrow mind(Samsung fan boys on this site) over clocking a processor as Samsung chose to do will shorten the lifespan of the device, can we all say planned obsolescence (apple… Cough… Samsung cough) if you criticize a device make sure you know what you are talking about

    • feidyst

      05/19/2013 at 4:34 pm

      (Y) Well said!

    • Shaun Blackman

      05/19/2013 at 9:16 pm

      Thank you for your logical post among the endless Samsung fanboyism. I bet 80% of these people have not used either phone yet they think they know what they are talking about… funny how that works.

    • Peter

      05/19/2013 at 10:28 pm

      Do you think the overclocked processor will give out before the battery stops taking a charge? I think the HTC One will most likely have a shorter lifespan. Repair-wise (from what I’ve read) it ranks really bad. People are saying that it is put together with adhesive making internal replacements extremely difficult (worse than apple products).

  7. dave

    05/19/2013 at 4:49 pm

    im buying the HTC because its the underdog of the three main “rivals”. It looks cooler and has less to live upto than samsung or apple. Obviously its going to have its drawbacks but what phone doesnt??? There is just something about that phone that screams awesomeness. The S4 looks great and has .3 of a bigger screen and is the tiniest bit lighter and a little faster but the shape is just the same as the S3 and they are looking a bit boring now. The HTC has done something different by putting the speakers on the front ( not a massive revolution but still different). There are many reasons why you should buy the S4 but its a bit dry and a bit dull, but the HTC is just classy and just feels right. The S4 is like an Fender guitar, very easy to use, looks and sounds great but after a time they all look similar. The HTC is like a guitar from Dean, beautifully made, looks amazing, sound is simply marvelous, a touch of impracticallity but fast, exciting and different.

  8. George Kajaia

    05/19/2013 at 10:44 pm

    I own galaxy s4 for two weeks. I must say it has issues :-( software and hardware ones.
    Doftware issue since galaxy s2, switching from phonebook to phone app lags.. known issue of app not held in device memory. Second really annoing software bug, camera app launches with much lag and sometimes phone hangs and reboots. Hope this eill be fixed soon, but contact phone app lag will never be fixed I know already.
    And now biggest hardware flaw :-( The screen smearing. Svreen smeares when you scroll menu with dark grey colours, the edges of grey lines become purple, lower the brightness more the smearing issue. I’m practically sure that this is the issue of new amoleds subpixel placement as well as pixel onoff time. I’m not sure thatthis particular issue will be ever fixed. For the first time and because of that htc ones screen is better :-( but camera is way better in galacy s4 as well as battery life, as well as software usability. So the only issue with screen stops me to say that s4 is amazing phone. It isn’t… will wait for galaxy s5…

  9. Rahinder

    05/19/2013 at 10:59 pm

    What a misplaced view! No one is ignoring Samsung Galaxy. The real situation is Samsung Galaxy is getting more attention than it deserves. And the popularity of HTC One is because of word of mouth. HTC is definitely the smaller company with limited budget for marketing whereas Samsung spends hugely on marketing. So, HTC has to make better devices to survive. Try to understand and kindly stop cribbing about the lack of memory slot and replaceable battery. 32GB of in-built memory(HTC One) is actually a lot for many users and I have hardly seen the average user use more than 16 GB. Alternatively, why no one is asking Samsung to come up with better looking phones? I might consider Samsung phones then.

  10. Alex Puckett (@AlexPuckett)

    05/20/2013 at 6:48 am

    So exactly.HTC ONE is better I’m trading in my S4

  11. sidiam

    05/20/2013 at 6:49 pm

    It seems Htc One is better phone yet I bought S4 two days back and millions will be following it.

  12. bob marley

    05/20/2013 at 6:57 pm

    Anyone remember the droid dna? Probably not because its already been brushed off by htc. Idk about anyone else but it seems wrong that the galaxy s3 (way older phone) is getting the 4.2.2 update before htc’s last flagship. The droid dna didnt even come out that long ago so I feel bad for my friend that made the mistake of buying one. Aside from software I think the htc one is a very good lookig phone. I just think their tryinf to be to original with all the odd button placement. After holding both phones I walked out with a galaxy s4. And I couldnt be happier.

  13. [email protected]

    05/21/2013 at 12:31 am

    I bought s4 & my brother bought htc one & i think I hv made a big mistake in buying s4, I should hv gone for the one. I decided to buy s4 bcoz I thought that it has so much excellent features like air gesture, smart pause, smart scroll etc, but after using i found out that none of these features works properly, it sometimes work & sometimes doesn’t. More over the price of s4 of 16gb is the same of the 32gb htc one & not only with this out of the 16gb the system eats out 7gb only 9gb gets for use whereas in htc one my brother gets above 25gb. And the biggest drawback of the s4 is that i can’t move the apps to sd card. Even though the s4 has a little bit faster processor, it doesn’t run as smooth as the one. The camera quality of the s4 is good but sometimes it gives over saturated colors and in low light it gives very poor quality photos whereas the htc one is excellent. Inspite of having only 4mp, the htc one gives excellent image quality. Moreover the htc one cameras joe feature is superb and the boom sound of the front dual speakers is rocking. I can say that if htc has used a 13mp camera insted of 4mp then it would hv been the greatest & best camera phone ever. The battery of s4 drains very quickly, it doesn’t even last for a day & compared to that the one lasts for longer duration. More over the s4 lags from time to time, most of the times i hv to remove the battery and put it back and on it. The last thing when i took both the phones in hand, the htc one gives a rich look whereas the s4 looks like an ugliest thing in ur hand just like of an some cheap phones. I m going to replace my s4 ASAP and moving on to HTC One.

  14. Handi Priyono

    05/21/2013 at 12:48 am

    thanks for sharing awesome comparison.. i prefer galaxy s4 :D

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