Now that Android smartphone manufacturers no longer have to be so focused on achieving a good level of performance or building a portfolio or unique software features, they can start thinking more about design and build quality
Now that Android smartphone manufacturers no longer have to be so focused on achieving a good level of performance or building a portfolio or unique software features, they can start thinking more about design and build quality - characteristics that are typically overlooked in the Android world, save for a few exceptions.
One such exception is HTC - a company that has traditionally paid close attention to what its phones actually look like, as well as what they are made of. The Taiwanese have recently been joined by Sony - under their new CEO, Kazuo Hirai, the Japanese company's mobile division is going through a small renaissance of sorts, which is evident if you look at their recent offerings, such as the Xperia Z, Z1 (Z1S) and the Z2.
Introduced in the second half of last year, the Sony Xperia Z1S (US version of the Z1) offers an impressive exterior design that sets it apart from most other Androids. True, it's fairly big in comparison to most of its rivals, but it also has that valuable quality of feeling like an exquisite product. Just like the brand new HTC One (M8). Oh boy, so many awesome handsets, so little time to play with them all!
Anyway, let us not drift away in our SoC-powered thoughts, because we now have two very high-end smartphones to compare. Yes, the Z1S is a late-last-year model, but it's still more than capable in each and every respect. And with it being quite a popular smartphone, it'll surely be interesting to see if the new One (M8) by HTC can outdo it!
In this fight of metal versus glass, there can be not just one, but two winners.
This is one of the areas where both the HTC One (M8) and Sony Xperia Z1S hope to captivate consumers the most. Yes, they are both very ambitious in the design department, but interestingly, they have gone down two completely different paths, when it comes to appearance and construction.
First on the line is the One (M8), which mostly stays true to its predecessor's aluminum body. However, the M8 builds on it by featuring even more metal - gone are the polycarbonate (plastic) sides which the original One (M7) had. Now, the One (M8) sports a smoother, almost all metal exterior that is every bit as slippery as the M7, but has become even more exquisite-looking!
Meanwhile, the Sony Xperia Z1S utilizes tough glass surfaces for its front and back sides, all surrounded by a metal frame that adds some much needed contrast and an extra touch of class to the phone's overall appearance. Neither phone is especially comfortable to hold, but the Z1S seems to be a bit better in this respect, as its glass back tends to be less slippery. On the other hand, the One (M8) is a bit narrower, plus its rounded edges make it feel slightly more compact (5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37 inches (146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm)), compared to its Sony rival (5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches (144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm)). As far as weight goes, both handsets are quite imposing, but the Sony Xperia Z1S' 6.00 oz (170 g) slightly outweigh the One (M8)'s 5.64 oz (160 g).
The Xperia Z1S features a well-made two-step camera shutter key, but overall, its hardware buttons aren't as clicky as those of the HTC One (M8). The original One had a problematic power key, but that issue has been fixed in the M8, as its power button is more protruding and easier to press. That said, the power/lock key of the Z1S is on the right hand side, which makes it easier to reach (the one of the M8 is on the top side). It's as if HTC was aware of this disadvantage, though, since the company has now implemented a double-tap-to-wake gesture, so reaching for the One (M8)'s power button is no longer mandatory, if you want to wake your phone up.
Taking a look at the visual peculiarities of the two devices, we can definitely point out the HTC One (M8)'s Duo Camera setup, as well as its plastic part on the top edge, which happens to hide the phone's IR blaster. In contrast, the Sony Xperia Z1S has a charging dock connector on its left hand side, but what we really like in this handset is the fact that it's IP 58 certified, adding a substantial degree of resistance against water and dust.
With equal size and resolution, the One (M8)'s IPS LCD panel outclasses its opponent in terms of overall image quality.
At 5 inches and 1080x1920 pixels, the HTC One (M8) and the Sony Xperia Z1S have displays of equal size and resolution. Needless to say, both present us with more than enough viewing area, as well as perfectly fine resolution, thanks to the extremely high pixel density of 441 pixels per inch.
The devil is in the details, though, so if we take a look at our scientific display measurements, we can quickly notice that the HTC One (M8)'s IPS LCD screen is more accurate and balanced than the TN-LCD panel of the Sony Xperia Z1S. Maximum brightness is about the same for both handsets, at about 490 nits, but color temperature, gamma, and Delta E are all slightly better on the One (M8), suggesting an overall superior screen. The M8 can also get slightly dimmer than the Z1S, so it'll be just a bit more comfortable to view in the dark. Meanwhile, its viewing angles are also better, as the TN-LCD panels used by Sony on pre-Z1 Compact phones are notoriously poor in this respect.
Both displays have relatively large color gamut areas of 110% (compared to sRGB). This means they will be able to display some quite vivid and saturated colors, however, the One (M8)'s colors tend to appear significantly livelier more than those of the Z1S.