By May 25, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One compared (Part 1)

s4_one The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One are two of the most popular devices on sale at the moment and are going head to head for the top smartphone spot. In fact the HTC One has already won a couple of industry awards, including Best New Mobile Handset at MWC earlier in the year.

I’ve been using the HTC One for a few months and the Galasy S4 for a couple of weeks so I thought it was about time that we started to compare some of the key features of both devices.

For the sake of full disclosure, I should say that I was not expecting to like the Galaxy S4. I wasn’t a big fan of its predecessor, the S3 and I was already using and very much enjoying the experience of the HTC One. However, after just a short period of time with the S4 I like it too!

The questions I most frequently have via Twitter at the moment is ‘Which is better the S4 or the HTC One?’ or ‘Should I buy the S4 or the HTC One?’. I think these questions are almost impossible to answer in isolation, there are many factors to be considered as each device is, obviously, different and therefore better at some things than others.

At time of writing this first part, of what a suspect will end up being 3 or 4 posts over the next week or so, I haven’t been able to make up my mind either. I’m switching between the S4 and One throughout the day depending upon what I want to do so I am also hoping that writing these comparison articles may help me decide too!

So in this first part I’m going to talk about the cameras on each device. As we have discussed in other posts on the site before, HTC have been quite brave with the choices they have made with the HTC One camera. Instead of chasing more and more megapixels HTC have gone the other way and reduced the pixel count down to 4.0MP while increasing the size of the individual pixels on the sensor. The result, they call the Ultrapixel camera, yields an over 300% increase in the amount of available light, and more light equals better pictures, in theory.

Samsung have have been rather more conventional with the S4 opting for a 13MP sensor. That’s not to say that it’s not a good sensor and that it’s not a good upgrade from the S3 but it’s the approach to cramming in more pixels.

So lets take a look at some of the photos. In all the samples below, there is no editing or cropping. HTC One on the left, S4 on the right:

 

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From the simple shot about, in auto mode on both devices, you can see that the HTC One has a wider angle than the S4. The sky is a little brighter and bluer on the left and colours are a little more faithful. I also notice a misty looking appearance to the S4 photo that I initially thought was grime on the lens but seems not to be the case. Thanks to the extra pixels the S4 photo has more detail that you can zoom in to which is good if you want to do any cropping.

 

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Close up photos of fabric also yield good detail from both devices. Again the colour on the HTC One is probably a little truer than on the S4 but there’s additional detail in the S4 shot.

 

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This close up shot of an Arduino interface shows slightly better exposure on the One with the S4 being a little over exposed. Settings on Auto once again.

 

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Above the difference in focal length is again obvious.

 

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Taken from the same distance, the colour on both of these shots is very close indeed with perhaps a little more brightness from the S4.

 

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Comparing a couple of HDR shots, the HTC One is much brighter which allows more detail in the trees to the right of the frame, whereas the S4 is a little darker but richer.

 

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In low-light with no flash the HTC One has far less noise than the S3, primarily down to those larger pixels one would imagine.

 

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In this final shot taken with flash at roughly the same distance you can see that the colours on the S4 become quite washed out on the background which has become more grey than blue. However, the HTC One has washed a lot of colour out of the yellow and green beads.

 

In terms of the controls available, both phones have similar settings, HDR mode, Night Shot, Auto, Portrait, Macro, Night and Panorama. In addition, the S4 has an ‘eraser’ function. This takes a series of photos and can remove moving objects by combining the frames. Ideal for removing someone walking by when you are taking that special portrait photo.

Overall, where the camera is concerned, I prefer the results from the HTC One and the for me the HTC One is a far better alternative to carrying a point-and-shoot camera than the S4 is. The overall performance seems much better my eyes. Sure there are fewer pixels to play with but 4MP is enough to print a photo up to about an A3 size quite easily and still allows for some zoom/dropping.

Fewer pixels wont be to everyone’s taste though and the S4 certainly doesn’t do a bad job at all. I’m sure that everyone will have their own opinions looking at the photos above.

 

Read about the screen on both devices in Part 2 of the comparission.

 

Posted by: Matt

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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