Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One: 5 Things to Know

In just a few days, the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 will finally arrive in the United States and go head to head as the two most recognizable Android devices of the year. Like most smartphones, they are chock full of features including large displays, speedy processors, and more. But what are the biggest differences that consumers should keep in mind before taking the plunge? Here are the five most important things to know about the impending match up between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One.

Read: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One: How the U.S. Release Matches Up.

Last year, the HTC One X arrived during the month of February as the company’s latest and greatest flagship smartphone. The device, which boasted a large HD display and fantastic camera, hit AT&T’s 4G LTE network and remained one of the best Android options throughout the course of 2012. Only, it wasn’t the only fantastic smartphone on the market.

The HTC One had to do battle with the likes of the iPhone 5, but also, the Samsung Galaxy S3, which arrived a little later in the year. Despite featuring some fantastic hardware and software, the Galaxy S3 took control and went on to not only smash Samsung’s own sales records with over 40 million sold, but it put the Galaxy S series on par with the iPhone, something that had never been accomplished by an Android device.

Samsung’s success with the Galaxy S3, which was helped along not only by features but also a good marketing campaign, put the pressure on HTC which released an HTC One X+ later in the year with more storage and a faster processor. However, the true HTC One X successor and HTC’s true stab at Samsung and Apple did not emerge until earlier this year in the form of the HTC One.

As expected, Samsung announced its latest smartphone only a month later in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S4, a device that it hopes will crush the HTC One in sales much as the Galaxy S3 did with the HTC One X. Whether that is the case or not remains to be seen, but what we do know is that these two are powerful smartphones with a lot of similarities.

Read: 5 Reasons to Buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 Instead of a Cheap Galaxy S3.

They both possess powerful quad-core processors. They both have large 1080p displays with high pixel-per-inch counts. Both devices are slim. They feature 4G LTE data speeds. They come with powerful cameras. Both are rocking Android Jelly Bean. There are differences though, and many of them can be easily spotted by power users.

There are, however, some differences that aren’t necessarily right there on the surface, especially for first-time buyers, those that aren’t following the launches and those that may consider themselves to be average users.

Here, we take a look at the five major differences between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One that we think consumers should know about before buying.

HTC One & Samsung Galaxy S4 Release Dates

The Galaxy S4 release date will likely come after the HTC One in the U.S.

The Galaxy S4 release date will likely come after the HTC One in the U.S.

Maybe the most important thing to know about the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 is that consumers in the United States are going to be waiting for awhile before all of the different variants make their way to shelves. What we mean by that is the HTC One looks like it’s going to be hitting shelves first, followed by the Samsung Galaxy S4, which means that at the start, the options of consumers are going to be extremely limited.

So far, we know that the AT&T HTC One and Sprint HTC One will be arriving on April 19th. The T-Mobile HTC One appears to be headed for that destiny as well though the Magenta carrier has yet to confirm anything. This should mean that the HTC One goes on sale before the Samsung Galaxy S4 in the United States.

The only Samsung Galaxy S4 release date that we know about is the May 1st arrival for the T-Mobile model. The other four main Galaxy S4 variants are still without release dates though AT&T and U.S. Cellular will start taking pre-orders on April 16th. This seems to lineup with a late April or early May release, at least for those.

So what does this mean for consumers? Well, the difference in release date means that those conflicted about which to buy will want to wait a few weeks for both models to come out. It also means that those who are planning to buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 are going to have to wait a few extra weeks to buy the new smartphone.

Camera: 13MP vs. Ultrapixel

One of the main features that come with smartphones these days are powerful rear cameras that are capable of taking not only high-quality video, but photos that are on par with point-and-shoots. Both the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 are going to have fantastic camera sensors on board but there will be some big differences that buyers should know about.

Maybe the first thing that consumers will hear or see about these respective cameras are their megapixel counts. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 13MP camera while the HTC One camera has a 4MP Ultrapixel camera. Despite marketing that has for years focused on megapixel numbers, we wouldn’t put too much stock into the counts on the One and Galaxy S4.

Despite being 4MP, the HTC One camera can take good shots.

Despite being 4MP, the HTC One camera can take good shots.

Despite having a lower megapixel count, the HTC One camera isn’t going to be terrible. It can not only take good, quality photos and videos – particularly in low-light – but it also has access to some power software.

HTC Zoe is HTC’s big camera feature and it allows users to snap photos and video at the same time. As HTC explained, Zoe is a big reason why the One uses a 4MP camera. File sizes for images taken with HTC Zoe would be too big with larger megapixel cameras.

Another HTC One camera sample showing motion and high level of detail.

Another HTC One camera sample showing motion and high level of detail.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and its 13MP camera sensor will take solid photos as well. Like the HTC One, it is backed by some new software as well including a feature called Dual Camera which allows owners to shoot content using both the front and rear-facing cameras.

Point of all this is that there will be differences in how these cameras perform but the HTC One camera is a solid camera, despite being 4MP.

Nature UX vs. Sense 5

Another thing that prospective buyers should know about is that neither of these phones possesses a pure, stock version of Android, the same Android that is advertised by Google and found on the many Nexus devices. Those hoping to waltz in and find a barren, untouched piece of software on either the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be disappointed.

Both the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 possess skins that the manufacturers have placed over Android that not only bring new features to the table but give them a different look as well.

On the HTC One, it’s the new Sense 5 that takes over for HTC’s older Sense 4+ and brings a new look in the form of Windows-esque tiles as well as a host of new features.

Two of those features, that won’t be found on non-HTC devices are HTC BlinkFeed and HTC Zoe. Zoe we already talked about but BlinkFeed is essentially a home screen that delivers a stream of news from social websites and news websites like ESPN. Those that absolutely love staying up to date with their friends and current events will enjoy it. Best of all, it can be flipped off in favor of a typical home screen.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 also features a skin called TouchWiz Nature UX. It looks drastically different from Sense 5 and offers some unique features as well.

One of those is Smart Scroll which allows owners to use their eyes to scroll down a webpage. Another, Smart Pause, which pauses content when a user looks away. The Galaxy S4 is also outfitted with a sensor that allows users to perform touch less gestures. For instance, Air View allows Galaxy S4 users to wave their hand over the display, without touching it, to do things like navigate a website or change a song.

Point is, both of these devices feature drastically different versions of software despite being Android smartphones. Both offer a distinct look and some high-powered features so it will be up to the consumer to decide which style and which feature-set work best.

Carrier Differences

Unsurprisingly, there are going to be some carrier differences between the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 that users should know about.

The HTC One will be coming to AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, along with Cincinnati Bell, but it won’t be coming to U.S. Cellular and Verizon like the Samsung Galaxy S4, at least not at launch.

Whispers suggest a Verizon HTC One is on the way, but the situation remains murky and release date rumors point to the device as arriving one to two months after the AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile models arrive. There is no guarantee that the device is the exact same as the current HTC One either.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 root is successful.

The Galaxy S4 will replace the Galaxy S3 on an assortment of carriers.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 on the other hand will be available on a host of carriers. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon, along with Ting and Cricket Wireless, have all confirmed the Galaxy S4 for arrival.

What this means is that those shopping for a new smartphone should be prepared to be limited by the HTC One in terms of carriers while the Galaxy S4 will offer an assortment of options.

Choice when it comes to carriers is big as many consumers will want to opt to sign a new two year contract.

Plastic vs. Metal

Finally, the last thing that consumers should know about the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 is that they feature different designs, particularly, in the build materials department.

While the HTC One is fastened out of metal, complete with a ZeroGap design that leaves it flush throughout, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is made of polycarbonate plastic. And while the metal design is going to tempt those looking for a new smartphone there are some hidden benefits of the cheaper, plastic form factor.

Add wireless charging to the Samsung Galaxy S4 with a new back, rumored for an April release with a $50 price.

The Galaxy S4’s removable back means it can take advantage of wireless charging.

One, the Galaxy S4 offers a removable back thanks to the plastic. That means that owners can pop off the back plate and put in an extended battery or use a back that is compatible with wireless chargers. It also makes it easy to replace the battery. The HTC One is not a benefactor of any of this due to a non-removable back.

The Galaxy S4 design also comes with a microSD card slot for expanded storage. This is crucial as it means that even if a carrier carries the 16GB and only the 16GB model, consumers will be able to expand to 80GB of storage thanks to support for a 64GB microSD card.

The HTC One's metal design is fantastic but is limited.

The HTC One’s metal design is fantastic but is limited.

The HTC One is way more tricky as it doesn’t have a microSD card slot and only features two sizes, 32GB and 64GB, with the 64GB being an exclusive to AT&T. Those that need more storage simply will have to take a closer look at the Galaxy S4.