It’s nearly impossible to go a full week without a new Android phone announced these days. Samsung, HTC, Sony, Huawei, LG and Motorola will each deliver 10-15 new Android-powered devices this year, but our focus and consumer dollars will be appropriated to only a handful of flagship phones. While Sony and LG have some amazingly designed and spec’d devices in their lineups, the most fierce Android battle of 2013 will be fought between the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One.
Based on what we saw in 2012, Samsung will certainly have no problems getting the Galaxy S 4 into the hands of consumers. There’s no denying that Samsung has found a way to market its phones to consumers and drum up demand from those looking for an Apple iPhone alternative. The brand is hip. The messaging is uplifting. And the phones deliver exactly what consumers expect.
If you’ve been keeping up with your tech news lately, you may have heard that the Samsung Galaxy S 4 feels more like a refresh of last year’s Galaxy S III than a brand new device. That may be true for the look and feel of the hardware and software, but Samsung has done an incredible job of adding dozens of new features like Smart Pause, Smart Scroll, WatchON, S Voice Drive, Home Sync Air View, Air Gestures, S Translate, Group Play, Drama Shot, Sound Shot, Dual Camera, S Health and Adapt Display. Just to be clear, we chose to end the list there.
There are so many new software features crammed into the Galaxy S 4 that we’re a bit surprised they didn’t throw in something called S University to take you through an accelerated learning course on how to use all of them.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the new HTC One. While Samsung’s been flying high on record earnings reports, the past 18 months have been extremely hard on HTC. HTC was hoping to turn things around with the HTC One X and One S last year, but the devices failed to gain carrier support in the United States. (The One X was picked up by AT&T, and the One S went to T-Mobile). HTC was forced create more variants of the devices for Sprint and Verizon. In an effort to turn the tides, HTC went back to the drawing board and came up with a single device – the HTC One.
Rather than pushing out a refreshed HTC One X, HTC chose to go in a completely new direction. The company threw out its polycarbonate design in favor of an all-aluminum shell. But that wasn’t the only bold move HTC made. The HTC One sports a 4 megapixel Ultrapixel sensor, which reduces the size of pictures while allowing for better performance in low light situations, instead of a camera with bumped-up megapixels. HTC even redesigned HTC Sense to make BlinkFeed the default home screen, giving consumers news and social media updates every time they turn on their phones.
In the end we’re left with two flagship Android devices: the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One. Many think that Samsung took very few chances with the Galaxy S 4, while HTC took too many with the One. Both phones offer some amazing specs and will easily outperform the best phones from 2012. From the consumer standpoint, we all win. With its massive marketing budget, Samsung will easily win the battle when it comes to handset sales. But HTC’s measure of success will probably be found in the company’s quarterly earnings reports and stock price.
To give you an idea of what features or phone the Android and Me writers are looking forward to the most we took a short internal poll. While our writing staff is typically all over the board when it comes to polls like this, the HTC One and its features came out as the clear winner. Our internal stats match up with our latest reader poll in which you guys picked the HTC One 3:1 over the Samsung Galaxy S 4.
Do you think the HTC One is different enough to put a dent in the market? Or will Samsung’s marketing make the HTC One and all other Android phones completely invisible to consumers?