Of all comparisons between Android smartphones that we do each year, this one is among the most interesting ones, as it pits the best of two of the most prominent rivals on the market against each other.
Of all comparisons between Android smartphones that we do each year, this one is among the most interesting ones, as it pits the best of two of the most prominent rivals on the market against each other. In 2014, we get to compare the newly-launched Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) - two amazing smartphones, both running Android, both relying on completely different approaches to securing a firm and respectable position on this key market.
Well, probably except that between Samsung and Apple, but if we limit ourselves to the boundaries of the Android market, then we definitely cannot think of a bigger rivalry. Obviously, both companies have their own arguments in this struggle, with both actually making a good point most of the qtime. For example, Samsung keeps bugging HTC for its sub-par UltraPixel camera, while HTC continues to point at Samsung's overly-plastic phone designs.
No matter where you stand with regards to this eternal conflict, we all have to give credit to these two companies for relentlessly trying to keep and improve their leading positions, as well as for crafting some of the most amazing smartphones the world has ever seen.
With all of that said, it's time to officially kick-off the competition between this year's contenders - the Galaxy S5 and the One (M8)!
Oh boy, we can definitely understand HTC for praising its premium aluminum design, which has become even more attractive in the One (M8). With even more metal and a beautiful gunmetal finish, the HTC One (M8) is certainly a treat for the eyes of smartphone lovers. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S5 remains true to Samsung's idea of an Android smartphone - it comes with the familiar Samsung look, but there's a twist this time around. After the glossy plastic of the GS4 and the faux-leather finish of the Note 3 (and some of the late GS4 variants), Samsung has once again decided it's time for a change, and so the Galaxy S5 comes with the new Glam look, which features a rubbery plastic finish on the back, decorated with an eye-catching, dotted pattern.
As a whole, both devices look quite good, with the HTC One (M8) having the more striking and premium appearance of the two. In terms of comfort, however, the GS5 proves to be the better handset, as its rubbery plastic material feels warm and inviting to the touch, whereas the cold and hard surface of the all-metal HTC One just isn't so comfortable to hold.
In terms of dimensions, both handsets are quite imposing. The HTC One (M8) (5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37 inches (146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35)) is a bit taller, but it kind of makes up for it by also being a bit narrower than the Galaxy S5 (5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches (142 x 72.5 x 8.1)). Other than that, the GS5 is a bit slimmer than its opponent. When it comes to weight, these devices are by no means feather-light, but the Samsung Galaxy S5 definitely feels a bit lighter with its 5.11 oz (145 g), compared to the HTC One (M8)'s 5.64 oz (160 g).
Both handsets have great physical buttons - all of them are clicky and mostly easy to feel by touch alone.
One definite advantage that the Samsung Galaxy S5 has is found with its IP 67 certification. This means that it's completely dust-proof, plus it can also stay water-tight if it's submerged in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the HTC One (M8) only has IP x3 certification, which means that it's not dust-resistant, and it can only withstand small sprays of water, like rain.
Super LCD, or Super AMOLED - that is the question! But regardless of which one you're going to side with, one thing is certain - things are going to look super-cool!
Without a doubt, being punchy and extra-vivid is Super AMOLED's specialty. However, the LCD of the One (M8) is also nicely saturated and vibrant, all the while being much more natural-looking. The trouble with the GS5 screen is that it lacks enough red color, resulting in rather cold visuals. The One M8 could be a bit warmer as well, but on the whole, its color balance is much better, delivering a much more realistic image.
With its slightly higher maximum brightness, the HTC One (M8) manages to be a bit easier to view outdoors, although the S5 is also pretty decent in this respect. Viewing angles are good on both phones - the GS5 retains its brightness and contrast, but loses some color accuracy, while the One (M8) keeps its colors in check, but loses contrast and brightness.
However, the Galaxy S5 does have the upper hand in the minimum brightness area, as its screen has been designed so that its brightness can go as low as 2 nits, enabling a super-comfortable viewing experience in the dark - something that you can't have with the One (M8) and its 16-nit minimum brightness.
In terms of general specs, the Galaxy S5's screen gets an ever so slightly larger diagonal, at 5.1 inches, while the One (M8) sports a 5" one. However, viewing area is often significantly bigger with the Galaxy S5, since it doesn't use on-screen navigation buttons, such as those of the One (M8). Resolution-wise, both handsets use 1080 x 1920 pixels, resulting in a 441 ppi density for the M8 and 432 ppi density for the GS5. Even though the One (M8) seems to have a slight advantage in this area, there practically isn't any noticeable difference between the two with regards to picture clarity and level of detail - both are extremely good!
Interface and Functionality
With this latest version of Sense, the HTC One (M8) has one of the most visually-pleasing custom Android user experiences. HTC's software is consistent, polished and quite speedy. So, what's going on on Samsung's front then? Well, we're glad to report that the South Korean giant has seriously improved upon the offering it had in its last flagship, and as a result, the TouchWiz user interface has become more modern-looking, flatter and perfected. It's still not as consistent as HTC's UI, leaving some room for improvement, but overall, with these latest updates, we can now safely say that both companies are offering perfectly usable, robust Android variations. Yes, they are still very different, meaning that we can't really proclaim a definite leader, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as both are awesome in their own way.
Sense UI and TouchWiz UI work as any other Android launcher - you have your homescreen for widgets and icons, and there's also the app launcher, which scrolls vertically for the HTC One (M8) and horizontally for the Samsung Galaxy S5. A differentiating feature for the HTC is the BlinkFeed social and news aggregator, though Samsung is now using its My Magazine feature in almost exactly the same manner - the company has even positioned My Magazine to the left-most part of the homescreen, identically to HTC's BlinkFeed. However, same as on the One (M8), this functionality can be disabled on the S5, if you don't find much use for it.
When it comes to core apps, such as phonebook and messaging, Samsung and HTC have done some renovating work, but once again, the manufacturers have worked in the opposite directions. While HTC has chosen to brighten and lighten the graphical environment of its apps, Samsung has flattened the UI, and kept its darker GUI theme that works nicely with the Super AMOLED screen, which consumes less power when displaying darker colors.
Processor and Memory
At first glance, it may seem that the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) use the same exact chipset model: Snapdragon 801. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes evident that there's a bit of a difference: the GS5 has the slightly more powerful MSM8974-AC variation, while the One (M8) has the MSM8974-AB version, which is clocked slightly lower. To be precise, the quad-core Krait 400 CPU of the Galaxy S5 can be revved up to 2.5 GHz, while the quad-core Krait 400 CPU of the One (M8) can go up to 2.3 GHz. Theoretically, the chip inside the Galaxy S5 should be a tad faster, but when it comes to real-life performance, we doubt it that there's going to be that much of a noticeable difference.
When it comes to the graphics processing units used by the two super-phones, both rely on the tried and true Adreno 330 GPU, which can provide more than enough horsepower in order to guarantee a high frame-rate in games and other graphics-intensive tasks.
Both phones are armed with 2 GB RAM, and even though some devices like the Galaxy Note 3 and Xperia Z2 feature even more system memory, we think that 2 gigs are perfectly sufficient at this time.
Both handsets are available with 16 or 32 GB of internal storage, but should you need more, both can offer you the comfort of a microSD card slot (for cards of up to 128 GB capacity).
While most of the novelty in the HTC One (M8) is centered around the Duo camera setup, the Samsung Galaxy S5 offers some additional goodies that are nowhere to be found in HTC's offering. Namely, Samsung's device sports a fingerprint scanner, which may not be of the highest quality or implementation, but it's still usable, and can be utilized for secure unlocking or PayPal purchase authorization, which is a cool feature to have.
Meanwhile, there's also a dedicated heart-rate monitor in the GS5, positioned right next to the handset's LED flash. Not that you can't get similar functionality by installing a third-party app on the One (M8), but the accuracy and integration of the Galaxy S5's pulse monitor are supposed to be better, though results may vary. All in all, we don't consider the lack of these features in the One a dealbreaker in any way.
Internet and Connectivity
Of course, they have Google's Chrome browser, but the Galaxy S5 and One (M8) think they can offer an even more compelling browsing offering, courtesy of their custom browser applications. To an extent, we tend to agree with them, since both custom apps are incredibly fast and capable. Needless to say, both handsets offer superb browsing experience, as web page navigation is fast and smooth with either browser.
In terms of connectivity, we guess it wouldn't be a surprise if we tell you that both the Galaxy S5 and One (M8) feature LTE and HSPA+ connectivity options for maximum flexibility. However, the S5 can theoretically achieve higher connection speeds, though you'd really need to have ideal network coverage in order to take advantage of this benefit.
If no LTE coverage is available, both phones will default to HSPA+ connectivity with maximum downlink speeds of 42.2 Mbit/s, and uplink speeds of 5.76 Mbit/s.
The Galaxy S5 supports Wi-Fi 802.11 protocols a, b, g, n, ac, while the One (M8) makes use of 802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac. Of course, NFC is available with both, and so is infrared, but only the GS5 has a microUSB 3.0 port, as the One (M8) has a standard microUSB 2.0 port.
When it comes to GPS, the One slightly trumps its South Korean opponent by having support for GPS and Glonass, while the GS5 only has GPS.