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HTC One vs Galaxy S3 vs Nexus 4 vs Xperia Z

How does the HTC One stand up against the best Android phones, the Galaxy S3, Nexus 4 and Sony Xperia Z? Read on for our head to head look at the details

htc one vs the rest image

We pitch the new HTC One against the best Android devices currently on the market. Does it set the standard for the rest to match this year?

Design

Dimensions
HTC One: tbc
Samsung Galaxy S3: 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm
Nexus 4: 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm
Sony Xperia Z: 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm
Weight
HTC One: tbc
Samsung Galaxy S3: 133g
Nexus 4: 139g
Sony Xperia Z: 146g

 

The HTC One has a premium design and build that matches the very best on the market. Details such as the front facing stereo speakers have been incorporated into the design to give the phone its own identity. With a fully metal body and glass front with curved edges the quality is outstanding, and manages to cram in bleeding edge features while being 10% smaller than last year’s HTC One X.

It’s about the same size as the Galaxy S3, and a touch smaller than the Xperia Z, and feels a step up against both. The Nexus 4, with its largely glass design, is another stand out, although is not the most rugged of smartphones.

Winner: HTC One

The HTC One is approaching levels of design and build seen only by Apple and Nokia (at its best). A cut above the Android competition.

 

Specs

Processor
HTC One: Snapdragon 1.7GHz Quad-core
Samsung Galaxy S3: Exynos Quad-core 1.4GHz
Nexus 4: Snapdragon Quad-core 1.5GHz
Sony Xperia Z: Snapdragon 1.5GHz Quad-core
RAM
HTC One: 2GB
Samsung Galaxy S3: 1GB
Nexus 4: 2GB
Sony Xperia Z: 2GB

 

The HTC One packs a 4.7” full HD display, compared to the 720p displays on the S3 and Nexus 4, and the 5” display on the Xperia Z. The quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon processor is faster than the other devices, and is backed by 2GB of RAM, double that seen in the often memory-starved S3.

Other key specs include 32GB on board storage, Android 4.1.2 with Sense 4 (the Nexus 4 is the only phone with 4.2) and a 2.1MP front facing camera, better than all but the Xperia Z with 2.2 megapixels. All devices bar the Nexus 4 can run on 4G networks, and the One is the only device to support the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.

One thing unique to the One is an infrared port that can be used to control your TV.

Like the Nexus 4 the battery is not removable and there is no memory card slot; the other two devices have both. The battery capacity is 2300mAh, around 10% larger than the Nexus 4 and S3, and fractionally smaller than the Xperia Z (although that device has a noticeable larger screen).

Winner: Tie – HTC One, Xperia Z

The two 2013 devices inevitably lead the way, although raw specs are becoming far less important than they once were

 

Screen

Screen
HTC One: 4.7 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels, 468ppi
Samsung Galaxy S3: 4.8 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels, 306ppi
Nexus 4: 4.7 inches, 768 x 1280 pixels, 318ppi
Sony Xperia Z: 5 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels, 441ppi

 

The screen on the HTC One is full HD, and otherwise very similar to that on the One X, which was already our favourite. The pixel density is class leading at 468ppi, compared to 441ppi on the Xperia Z, 318ppi on the N4 and 308ppi on the S3.

The laminated OLED display gives the impression of being painted directly onto the front glass, and is bright vibrant and has wonderful viewing angles.

Winner: HTC One

With a stunningly vibrant display and the highest pixel density the HTC One is the clear winner. Kudos to HTC for resisting the temptation to make the display even bigger too

 

Software

Software details
HTC One: Android 4.1.2 with Sense 5
Samsung Galaxy S3: Android 2.1.2 with TouchWiz
Nexus 4: Android 4.2.2
Sony Xperia Z: Android 4.1.2

 

If having the latest version of Android is your priority then the Nexus 4 is the only device to consider. The other three run Android 4.1.2. HTC has a middling reputation for updates – Sony is best for updating the widest number of its devices, and Samsung for delivering the most new features in an update.

Sense 5 on the HTC One has been stripped right back from where it was a couple of years ago. Its main feature now is Blinkfeed, a new home screen panel that collects together news, social network updates and other information and presents them in an easily digestible form. Think Flipboard integrated into your launcher. It can be disabled if you don’t need it.

Well have to wait and see whether it impacts on performance as much as previous versions of Sense have. It appears to be a lot lighter than the rather bloated Touchwiz on the S3 (and contains fewer new apps and tweaks to useability as well), as well as less junk  than clutters Sony’s launcher.

Winner: Nexus 4

HTC Sense gets better with each version, but unskinned is still the best way of experiencing what Android has to offer

 

Camera

Camera
HTC One: 4MP
Samsung Galaxy S3: 8MP
Nexus 4: 8MP
Sony Xperia Z: 13.1MP

 

HTC is doing something different with the camera on the One. Rather than going for lots of pixels, it is focussing on making them larger instead. The result is a four megapixel camera. And while that presents something of challenge to the marketing team, who will need to explain to the consumer that more megapixels does not equate to better pictures (and can often make them worse) the science is well and truly behind it.

Each pixel in the HTC One measures two microns (a micron is a millionth of a metre). This is much larger than on the 8MP cameras on the S3 and Nexus 4, and considerably larger than the 13MP camera on the Xperia Z. (For the record it is larger even than the camera-centric phones produced by Nokia, and is on a par with enthusiast compacts such as the Fuji X10).

This equates to 200% more light reaching the sensor than on an 8MP camera, and 300% more than with 13MP. Add in a fast f/2.0 lens – faster than all the other devices – and optical image stabilisation and the HTC One should produce considerably better low light images than you would expect to see in a smartphone.

Winner: HTC One

An interesting approach to camera phone technology should make the HTC new low light champion

 

Verdict

Hardware specs may be largely standardised across all high-end Android devices these days, but the HTC One does enough to make it stand out as the device to beat. Superior design and build quality and an approach to the camera that emphasises quality of specs make this an appealing device.

However the HTC One will be priced in line with other high-end smartphones, so will not be able to compete with the incredible value of the Nexus 4. And the lack of an SD card slot might be an automatic deal-breaker for many users.

Check back soon for our full review of the HTC One.

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