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So the all new HTC One M8 has been announced, is now available, and has been groped to no end. By now you’re probably wondering how it compares to the other big phone launch of the first quarter of 2014.
We’re talking about the Samsung Galaxy S5, of course, which was announced at last month’s Mobile World Congress (be sure to find our hands-on here). How do these two stack up? Almost as well as both previous handsets in the series did — nearly indistinguishable when looking at specs alone, so let’s take a closer look!
Build and Design
Not many people were thrilled with the Samsung Galaxy S5′s dotted (or dimpled, as HTC calls it) back plate, though we can’t imagine a nice case doesn’t take care of that.
The South Korean juggernaut still chose mostly plastic for the fifth version of this flagship, but that’s not so bad. Plastic can be durable, and — if properly taken care of — can also look good over time. It also keeps you clear of any possible reception issues that metal might introduce.
Still, we can’t help but to stare at the all new HTC One M8′s metal exterior. Its unibody chassis coated in the neutral colors seen below draw our eye just as much as the original did.
We would have loved it if HTC used the lack of hardware navigation buttons as an opportunity to cut down on the vertical length of the device, but woe are those who don’t get what they want. The HTC One M8 might not have taken a huge leap over the previous model in terms of design language, but you simply don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Both devices are sporting a 1920 x 1080 display. It’s quite interesting that neither decided to push things to the limit, though perhaps these companies are finally learning that increased screen resolution just doesn’t make much of a difference to the human eye at these limited screen sizes.
There is a bit of size difference, though, with the all new HTC One coming in at 5 inches and the Galaxy S5 stretched out to about 5.1 inches.
Processor, Performance and Battery
This is where these two seem like twins — both are packing the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset, and both are also infused with 2GB of RAM. Samsung’s model does come clocked about .200MHz faster, for what it’s worth. We should also note that Samsung will use their own Octa-Core solution for handsets in select markets, though we don’t expect that configuration to be as widely available as the Snapdragon one. The HTC One M8 enjoys a standard 32GB of internal storage alongside a microSD card slot, though, so it gets a bit of a leg up there.
The difference in perceived performance will undoubtedly come at what is going on at the software level. The two might have nearly the same exact internals, but they can run extremely different depending on how much or how little optimization is done.
In the areas of battery, the Samsung Galaxy S5 enjoys a 2,800mAh pack inside, while the all new HTC One has 2,600mAh. HTC says they’ve conditioned the HTC One M8 to go easy on it, though, as they claim to be able to pull about 21 hours of talk time out of it. They also have a new “extreme battery saving” option that will allow the phone to survive for two whole weeks on a full charge (so long as the user isn’t actually using it, natch).
Software and Features
HTC Sense 6.0 on the all new HTC One M8 didn’t take many huge leaps, though we do get a few new features. For starters, new unlocking mechanisms called Motion Launch now allow you to double tap your display to unlock to the home-screen, or use swipe gestures to go straight to the camera, BlinkFeed, and more.
BlinkFeed also gets a bit of a facelift, though basic functionality of providing updates about news, social network posts and more are largely unchanged. One of the most obvious changes is the addition of on-screen navigation buttons in absence of physical ones. HTC also added new camera features and enhanced Zoe, though we’ll be discussing those in a separate section. Rounding out the list are redesigned Gallery and SenseTV apps.
The Samsung Galaxy S5′s user experience was more of an iteration than a reinvention, as well. Samsung took care to center the experience around health more than ever before, and also threw in some newly-styled quick settings toggles.
The device’s Fingerprint scanner also gives it a unique way to unlock the phone, though there isn’t much else for it to do beyond providing enhanced security and an easy, quick way to process Paypal payments. The Galaxy S5 can also monitor your heartbeat if you want it to — perfect for all you health nuts out there.
This is one of the most interesting areas of competition between these two, especially for the all new HTC One M8. HTC has introduced a dual-camera configuration that isn’t totally unlike that which we got on the HTC EVO 3D a few years ago.
The HTC One’s main rear camera is still an UltraPixel sensor — which focuses on wider pixels for better low light performance more than higher megapixel count — but has been supplemented with a 2.0 megapixel camera that enables a couple of cool new things.
For starters, this will help users refocus shots after they’ve already been taken. It’s great for those fast shots where you didn’t have time to get everything setup exactly how you wanted before snapping the photo.
There’s also a “foregrounder” tool that will allow you to quickly and easily extract subjects out of a photo which will come in handy for setting up your own whacky scenes. It also allows you to enable some cool 3D effects that can only be done by having two cameras.
Rounding out HTC’s camera features include an upgraded Zoe mode, which can now automatically optimize your video / photo highlight to the beat of whichever soundtrack you chose (meaning your slideshow will flow just as naturally as the music does). HTC tells of an upcoming cloud and share feature, though this isn’t available at launch.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 stayed on a more traditional route in terms of camera, with the company bumping the sensor to 16 megapixels. More than just a megapixel increase, though, Samsung is using their new ISOCELL camera sensors that could allow DSLR-like photos without having to have a DSLR-sized sensor. More about all of that can be found here.
What’s your take?
And that about does it for these two. Two great smartphones, two great options for the first half of 2014 (one of which is already available as early as today). Which one would you go with? You already know what to do with the poll below, so take care of that. Have more to say than a simple tick box on a poll? The comments section below should get you well on your way to a very capable soapbox.