S4 vs HTC vs Xperia Hardware Battle

As you’d expect all three devices conform to the basic required specs of a fl agship 2013 smartphone: fast quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 4G connectivity and 1080p display. The S4 is also available in some markets in a 4G-less octa-core version. Perhaps surprisingly the screen on the Xperia Z is the weakest of the three, displaying washed out blacks and limited viewing angles. We didn’t fi nd it to be too much of an issue when watching videos, but when viewing photos or playing some games the limitations were evident. The S4 and One use differing screen technologies but impress in equal measure, with bright and vibrant colours and strong contrast. Due to its slightly smaller screen (4.7-inch compared to fi ve) the One has a higher pixel density but at this level it is not discernible.

Because of the similarities in basic features you have to look deeper to fi nd the important differences, and also to see where the manufacturers’ priorities lie. The Xperia is water and dust proof, giving it a toughness in everyday use that you don’t get from the others. The One sports a set of stereo speakers on the front that produce the loudest and highest quality sound output we’ve ever heard from a phone. It also has an infrared port to control your TV, and is very useful. The S4 also has this port, along with a remarkable nine sensors that enable features such as eye and motion gestures, as well as a suite of health apps with accessories.

For the main camera the S4 and Xperia Z both use 13 megapixel sensors, and the HTC One four megapixels – or ultrapixels as the company calls them. The cameras are generally on a par. The 13-MP shots inevitably contain far more detail than the HTC can produce in good light, but drop off in performance in lower light. We’re not convinced by HTC’s argument that fewer, bigger pixels is better, but the wider aperture and image stabilisation does mean it takes the best images in low light conditions. But on the whole we’d say the S4 edges it as an all-rounder, especially with the help of its fantastic feature-packed software.

Samsung Galaxy S4

What’s good
•Excellent camera quality, especially in good light
•Stunning screen

What’s bad
•Gesture support can be gimmicky


What’s good
•Front speakers are immense
•Low light photo quality impresses

What’s bad
•No expandable memory
•Photos lower res and lack detail

Sony Xperia Z

What’s good
•Reassuringly tough in most conditions
•Camera quality reliably good

What’s bad
•Few imaginative extras
•Slowest processor of the group

Verdict : The S4 packs in much more than Sony manages,
while HTC’s ultrapixel camera seems like an
unnecessary, and not wholly justifi ed, risk.

Android Magazine UK Issue.25.2C.2013