My S4 and HTC One Comparison (Ongoing)


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May 31, 2013
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This is my own personal comparison between the S4 and HTC One. I'll try to be as organized and as to the point as possible for those that may find this interesting. This post will continue to be updated regularly over the next two weeks. I am going to be running both devices the exact same way as I go about my days (same apps, same settings, as close as possible to same usage patterns).

Since I have the HTC One for the next two weeks if you have specific questions please let me know. If you want to see screenshots of certain things i can provide those as well.

Devices being compared:
  • Verizon 16GB S4 (purchased at launch)
  • AT&T 32GB HTC One (purchased July 4th, 2013)

This is not an AT&T vs. Verizon debate even though I'm testing out both carriers. While I am going to be keeping track of what I think about AT&T service, this is more about the phones than about the carriers. I'm no expert and I'm not sure if certain things (such as battery life) would be different because of using Verizon vs. AT&T. If there is, it would be helpful to let me know, as I will be talking about the battery life of the HTC One since I'm comparing it to the S4.

Why did I decide to also purchase an HTC One?
While I love my S4, two things ultimately led to curiosity about testing out the HTC One:
  1. UI Lag and performance issues with the S4 (well documented already)
  2. Touchwiz design (the more I use it, I just find it very unappealing to the eye in every way possible and very limited where I need it)

I'm at a point in my life where I just need my stuff to work as it should and that applies to anything I buy. I'm done with rooting, I'm done with jailbreaking, I'm over 'fixing' problems that shouldn't necessarily exist (and often times creating other problems as a result). Perhaps it's a love/hate relationship with Android or perhaps I need to try out stock Android (never have owned a stock Android smartphone), I don't know. The point is, I haven't been as happy as I should with the S4 because of the reasons listed above (I still have the same performance issues as I had with my S3) and that has enticed me to try out another alternative. I may even throw a stock android device in the mix just for comparisons sake to help me find a device that I don't feel I need to upgrade to get better performance. An iPhone is not an option because it simply doesn't do what I need it to do and the same applies to BlackBerry and Windows Phone 8.

What type of user am I?
  • I'm 50% work, 50% personal use.
  • I don't use social networking services at all.
  • I keep things incredibly light when it comes to widgets (Google Now, Dashclock and Pure Calendar are my only current widgets).
  • I only play a few standard games (Tetris Blitz, Homerun Battle 2, Subway Surf) when I am killing time traveling for work or just bored somewhere; but I'm not a heavy gamer.
  • I am listening to music everyday, particularly when I'm driving and my device auto connects to my car via bluetooth.
  • I use messaging services (Lync 2013, WhatsApp, imo, Voxer, Google Voice and of course standard text) regularly each day.
  • All GPS options are always on, as is Bluetooth. NFC is off because I don't use it. Wi-Fi is off when not in use.
  • While I load movies on my phone, I rarely watch them, except perhaps when on a plane; but typically I use my tablet for that.
  • The app I check the most each day is probably Feedly, as i literally will check it probably every half hour on average.
  • I live off my calendar.
  • I average about 3-5 gigabytes of data a month with my highest month being something around 12 or 13gb, most of which coming from when I use hotspot for my laptop.
  • Google Now is my favorite widget because it delivers the info I need for my work (flight notifications, calendar appointments and travel time, etc.) and personal (movie ticket stubs, reminders, weather).
  • Currently on my S4 I can almost always make it through an entire day on one charge (unplugging around 7 or 8am and not plugging back in until midnight or later). Heavier days (especially when I'm traveling) it will die or need a recharge probably around 4pm for me.
  • I use Nova Launcher because of gestures and cleaning up the homescreen a bit.
  • I have apps that auto sync/backup or perform actions for me so I don't have to (SugarSync, Tasker, come to mind).
  • I check email, retrieve large attachments and need to often times view or edit those attachments on my phone all the time (work).


Day 1: First Impressions - July 4, 2013: Leaving AT&T, setting up phone until the battery dies, recharge, play with it (same thing I did on my S4)
First thing that was funny to me is how much smaller the screen felt compared to the S4. I thought this was funny because the screens as we all know are not that far apart in size. It was also funny to me because with my S4 I sometimes felt that the phone was just a little too large for comfortable one-hand operation for me, but as I held the HTC One it made me chuckle to realize that you get comfortable using larger screens quicker than you think. With that being said, the HTC One screen is still fine to me and obviously in no way is it 'tiny'. After playing with it for a little bit, it's easy to tell why I had that initial reaction: the physical phone size is really close to the S4, but the screen is smaller thanks to HTC's speakers occupying the to and bottom of the device, which forced the HTC logo and navigation buttons up another row and obviously ate into what could have been a larger screen. The thicker bezel on the sides also make it seems smaller, as does the fact that it uses a black bezel around the screen. Had they only thrown the screen on the device and kept the surround aluminum like the rest of the device it would have looked larger. Granted, I find the stereo speakers a very worthy substitute for having to chop off a few millimeters of screen, especially given we're not talking about small screens here.

Putting the phone in my hand I felt that the HTC felt a little better. I'm not talking about materials because that doesn't need to even be mentioned here, but rather the fact that being a few millimeters narrower definitely makes grasping the phone a little easier. The only downside here is HTC's power button being located on the top, making it a little harder to reach with one-hand use, especially given that you have to press it firmly to activate. This isn't a complete downside, though, because one area I think this is beneficial is that when I take the phone out of my pocket I notice I don't accidentally turn on the screen or launch into my camera app because of lockscreen widgets as I do on the S4 because of the power button being located where you're going to grip the device. So, different strokes for different folks. Once again, not a deal breaker for me, just something to get use to.

Powering it on I had about 45% charge when leaving AT&T. I got home and started setting up, downloading all of my apps. It took about 3 hours to completely kill the battery with everything going on and that included being connected to Wi-Fi. I don't remember what the charge was on my S4 when I bought it, but I remember it taking upwards of 5-6 hours to kill it. I could have had more charge out of the box, though. I just remember being impressed with how long it took to drain given the heavier usage of setting it up. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad sign of battery life, but I always just assume that the day you set up the device you'll get poor battery life so I'll hold my judgement on battery until I actually use it as I normally use my S4. One thing to note is that I did receive a 20mb update when setting up the device and while I don't know everything that update was for, the one thing I did definitely notice is that it fixed flaky home and back button behavior (wouldn't register your presses half the time). When I first was using the device those buttons were incredibly picky in regards to how small the touch area was and often times I'd miss it. After doing the update that problem went away entirely. Also, after restarting the device it dropped about 8 percent battery life, an issue I remember having with my HTC Incredible and Rezound in the past. I hope this isn't a flawed device.

For the first impression I will say this: this phone is very smooth and fast. Now, as of this writing I have not finished setting it up exactly as I have my S4. However, this phone exhibited NO lag even when downloading gigabytes of apps, syncing my gmail and exchange at the same time. This is something that the S4 could not do for me. Even just downloading apps my S4 lags if you try to do other things and that includes when I first bought the device as well. Suffice it to say, I'm pretty impressed with UI performance as of right now given that I had quite a lot going on in the background and the phone chugged along as if nothing was happening at all.

The first thing I started checking out on the HTC One were all the things that I hated about my S4, namely the UI design and specific applications that I replaced with third party apps on my S4, which included the following:
  • Dialer
  • Contacts
  • Calendar
  • Text Messaging
  • Exchange Email
  • Settings menu

My initial reaction to using each of these briefly is that they are much nicer designed than Touchwiz in every way possible. I was very pleased with this because while I do understand that third party applications exist that offer better functionality it's always better if you can use less applications to reduce the amount of things running in the background. Why replace a bunch of stock things if you're happy with the stock ones? You can save that memory for other things and not bog down your phone by replacing things that should have been nicer by default.

Touchwiz doesn't hold a candle to how nice of a job HTC has done here. It's also a huge bonus that HTC even managed to include a lot of Android design specific items, such as being able to swipe left or right in virtually every application. It's just much nicer. Really, the only negative I can say so far about the UI from those applications is that HTC's calendar app is missing the "day" for Agenda view, which makes that view pretty useless when you're not entirely sure what "day" a certain appointment takes places that's not for today because it just says "upcoming" and gives an hours remaining estimate. I don't want to have to solve math by figuring out that my next appointment is 14 hours from now.






A few interesting things to note:
  • There's no quick shortcut for toggling sound profiles on the HTC One like there is on the S4 (hold power button). Go figure.
  • Changing animation scale to anything other than the default settings on the One in Developer Options actually creates choppiness on it. Leave it as it is for best performance.
  • If you use a pin lock on the One, it actually uses whatever keyboard you have installed instead of one specifically for the lockscreen. This is nice, but can also be bad if you don't like the look of the keyboard on the lockscreen. Personally, Samsung's transparent keyboard looks nicest here.
  • Notifications in the notification tray are collapsed by default. Personally, I like this over the S4's expanded by default since it keeps things more neat looking.
  • The HTC One takes forever to charge, especially if you're using it. If you're using it then it pretty much doesn't move the needle at all.
  • So far my most missed Touchwiz feature is Smart Stay (keep the screen on as long as you're looking at it). Seriously, other OEM's need to license this out. Makes a huge difference.
  • Random comment: I prefer the standard Incipio DualPro case that I have on the S4 over the DualPro Shine that I have on the HTC One. Just has a nicer feel to it. As it stands, I like holding the S4 more than I like holding the HTC One, but I think it's because of the Shine case. I'll swap cases and see what I think.

Day 2: Early Morning Impressions after a flight across the country
As it stands right now, for the most part both devices are now set up virtually identical except for apps that I felt I no longer had to install as a result of liking certain aspects of Sense that I pointed out in Day 1.

Broken Dock & Lockscreen Shortcuts System
Something that I've noticed that's a bit annoying and so far is the only area of UI control that HTC has dropped the ball on is when it comes to their standard dock (which also serves as the lockscreen shortcuts). The first issue is that whatever you have on that dock is what's on the lockscreen. Samsung's options here are for more useful since you can have different things on the lockscreen than what's on your dock. Second, HTC has possibly the dumbest and worse implementation of editing a dock I have seen in my life and it took me some googling to figure out what to do. You cannot just drag the icons from the dock to get rid of them if you're on one of your homescreens. All it will do is create a shortcut for it (REALLY!?). Since when the heck did we jump back to Windows 97? Instead, you have to open the app drawer and THEN drag the icon off the dock (or an app into the dock if you want to change the app) for it to work. Really stupid and they also don't make this very clear anywhere. From my research, this has also been fixed in 4.2.2. Now, as I mentioned before I'm using Nova Launcher so really after I edited the dock once I won't really touch this aspect of the device too much going forward (I just removed all the shortcuts entirely), but it is a bit annoying that you'll have to launch into the Sense launcher if you want to edit that in the future since HTC doesn't give any options in the settings.

No Customizable Call Reject Messages?
Next, something that sort of bugs me is that there doesn't seem to be a way to customize the call reject messages and save them. You have a few standard ones to choose from and then you can type in your own as you reject the call, but it doesn't save anything you type. After that, also weird is that you don't seem to get the reject option at all if you decline the call from the lockscreen.


Day 3: Exploring Sense a Little More - July 6 | Customization, performance, and AT&T / VZW LTE Speed Comparisons in Chicago
I'm on the third day and am now pretty comfortable with the HTC One in terms of understanding their design principles. Where Samsung likes to have a ton of options available on every single screen that's attached to the menu button in many situations, HTC really minimizes options on any given screen and often times you have to find things in the Settings menu. Which one you like better is personal preference. To me, I often times miss the dedicated menu button of the S4 with its options just because it seemed quicker to me (not to mention it's just easier to press than reaching to the top of the screen to press the menu button), but many users will prefer HTC's approach to having "one" location (pun intended) to adjust settings. Their approach is closer to stock android and apple as far as I can tell. Again, though, this is something that will be remedied in 4.2.2. when it hits the One.

What I'm noticing so far - and you probably have to - is that I thus far have very few complaints or issues with the HTC One. And, even better is that the few that I have appear to be fixed in 4.2.2. Could you really ask for more from a company? Have a problem? It's been fixed in the next software update. This sort of reminds me about how we're in 2013 and Android still can't properly handle a 3-way call if you want to hang up on one person and instead and to just sit there and see on your screen that the person is on hold even though they've disconnected (seriously Google? Can you fix that already?).

Unscientific Battery Comparisons
As I mentioned before, I'm currently on vacation traveling around in Chicago (I'm from California). I figured this would be a good opportunity to do an unscientific battery comparison, which only reflects how I've used the device (which was outlined at the very beginning of this article).

NOTE: For some reason, the S4 says it was only unplugged a few hours ago in this screenshot. This is not true. Both devices were unplugged exactly at the same time (14 hours, 22 minutes ago). For whatever reason with the S4 and this app (Battery Widget Reborn) it seems to reset the counter for random reasons. Not sure why. The point is, some of the stats about time may be off, but the battery life percentage is accurate.


I didn't use these two devices "exactly" the same, but I did try to mirror them as closely as possible, with all sync settings the same, same usage (if I checked an app on one phone I'd check it on the other, etc). I did forget to check the S4 a few times throughout the day and I did use the camera for about half an hour on the HTC One, which I did not do on the S4, so the screen on time is longer on the HTC One today than the S4 and I also streamed some bluetooth music to the HTC One for maybe 10-15 minutes that I did not do on the S4. On the S4 though I used my mobile hotspot for about half an hour that I did not do on the HTC One. I also forgot to turn imo on for the S4. This really made me wonder if imo has that large of a battery drain (nearly a 30% difference between the two differences) or if it's just because I had more screen on time for the HTC One.

With that being said, I'm impressed with the battery life of both devices. I made it quite a bit for how I use my device. As you can see, 14 hours is a good sized day for most people and definitely for me. Here are some brief battery observations:
  • The S4 seems to do better in standby. When I would check the devices after not using them for a bit, the S4 would have just a few small percentage points more than the HTC One.
  • The HTC One seems to do better when the screen is on. While the S4 seems to drain relatively quickly when the screen is - especially depending on what you're looking at - the HTC One seems to drain a lot less quickly (and I have full brightness on for both) and it's also more steady and didn't seem to matter what was on the screen.

Also, it's worth noting again that the HTC One definitely doesn't take advantage of the chips quick charge feature. I've tried a 2.0amp charger along with the included HTC charge (1.0 amp) and they literally charge at the same speed...and that speed is slow. Expect upwards of 5-6 hours from completely dead and even if you're just trying to top off, in an hours worth of time you'll barely scratch maybe 10 percent.

Chicago LTE Speed Comparisons
I'm all over Chicago for the next few days so periodically and at different locations I randomly decided to do speed tests just out of curiosity. AT&T is maintaining its reputation of having significantly faster LTE coverage - at least in Chicago and at least with these two phones.


Wallpaper Customization Curiosities
As with previous versions of Sense in the past, HTC still continues to give us different styles of lockscreens. This is useful perhaps at least until 4.2.2 comes and some may even find HTC's lockscreen options more useful even with 4.2.2. Here's a quick look at all of the options:


My only complaint so far is that as far as I can tell, the only way to have a different wallpaper on the lock screen than what's on the home screen is to use the first option (Wallpaper). My favorite option they have here is Productivity, but if you select it you have to use the same wallpaper for both the lock and home screen as far as I can tell. A little annoying to say the least, but again, not annoying enough to be a deal breaker but it is weird to only see that option on one of the wallpaper settings.

YOU CAN Share Screenshots Immediately
For some reason I keep reading everywhere that after taking a screenshot you cannot immediately share it with other places. Even in the Android 4.2.2 Walkthrough video that's up on the main page of right now for the HTC One they make a comment about not being able to share pictures immediately. Well, unless I'm misunderstanding what they meant, yes you can and here's the screenshot (I'm still running 4.1.2.):


All notifications on the HTC come shrunken down by default, but using two-finger gesture to expand it does in fact reveal the Share button. So, I'm a bit lost as to what people mean about not being able to immediately share.

How am I adjusting to the HTC One after being a Galaxy S3 and S4 owner?
Have I mentioned how small the HTC One screen feels compared to the S4? Lol. I believe I have. Again, it's not a small screen, but it definitely feels smaller and if you use them side by side this becomes more apparent. When I stop to actually just use the HTC One by itself the problem somewhat goes away. It goes without saying that you do get larger to the screens that you have so going smaller - even when it's very minor - seems to be a big deal. But, could I use this screen size as my only device if I wanted to? Yes.

Honestly, the hardest part for me to adjust to so far is the lack of a menu button. People can say what they want about the menu button or wanting capacitive buttons to go away, but it's still just a super fast way of getting to options no matter what screen you're on. Without it, you either have to reach to the top of these large screen devices to activate menu or you have to go into the default settings screen to adjust things. Personally, I can't wait to get 4.2.2 so that I can get the menu option back.

Three days later and the HTC One is still super smooth and my S4 is still noticeably laggy. An interesting observation is that I still think the S4 'looks' simpler even though the HTC One feels simpler. Not sure if that makes any sense (no pun intended). Basically, the S4 - outside of the calendar app - is just black background with blue bars. That's pretty simple. The HTC is textures, gradients, etc. although toned way down. When you look at them, the S4 just gives the impression of simpler, but using them the HTC One is superior to me, especially since you have gestures such as swiping left/right in virtually everything, whereas the S4 has tabs. All of HTC's apps generally feel connected and follow the exact same design principles and not all of Samsung's do (I'm looking at you Calendar, Hub, Smart features vs. everything else).

It does make me wonder though if I'd be happy with the S4 if they fix the lag with a software update. Part of me says yes because that's probably the principle reason I'm even testing the HTC One and part of me says no because I still find the blue on black theme ugly and the tab structure not as intuitive as HTC's left/right gestures (which is also more akin to stock android).

So far, though, the HTC is holding up 'THE android phone that just works well'. It's not lagging, I haven't gotten any forced closed app errors as I do randomly on my S4 and I like the new look of Sense quite a lot. If things stay like this over the next few days as I continue to use it, I may very well end up with an HTC One for Verizon as long as they offer the 64GB version.

Nova Launcher & Wave Launcher
I decided to try reinstalling Wave Launcher (my favorite shortcut app) because I had removed it from the S4 because it caused a very noticeable lag when opening the notification menu (even more lag than what's already there some times) that just looks like its dropped a few frames. On the HTC One it doesn't seem to lag the menu. Yay.

Something weird with Nova Launcher (or possibly Tesla Unread) for the HTC One is that say you get a new notification for something, such as email, and you click on that app to open it. Even if you don't read it, it will remove the notification. I've only noticed this so far for the HTC Email app. For Exchange on the S4 it shows unread notification as long as its unread. On the HTC just opening the app will remove the notification.

Nova, if you're listening, this may be an issue with your launcher or Tesla Unread. Oh and while you're at it, please give the HTC One a transparent notification bar too. :)

I rarely take pictures on my smartphone, but for this trip I've obviously decided to try out the HTC One's camera. I'm not going to do a camera comparison because that's been done to death. All I wanted to say here is that I quite enjoy HTC's ZOE and Video Highlights. It's very well crafted, high-quality and professional. I never use features like this on smartphones because I've never cared for them, but after using HTC's it makes me wonder if I never used them because the others weren't just that good. The point I'm making is that these features are designed well enough that it actually makes you want to use the camera more just to see them in action. I thought I read somewhere that you can only share the highlights with other HTC users and if that's true then that would be a disappointment because these things work great.

Late Night Updates
  • Oh HTC, why can't I turn the phone off from the lock screen? This was something I remember being annoyed with when I had my previous HTC devices. Can anyone who's installed a 4.2.2 rom let me know if HTC allows you to pull down the notification shade when using a pin lock? If so, I suppose you could always put a toggle in there to power off the device?
  • For Exchange email, HTC doesn't allow you to format signatures like the S4 does. You can bold, change colors, font size, etc. on Samsung, but for the HTC it's just standard text. A little disappointing, but I wonder if that's a 4.2.2. feature? I ask because you couldn't format on the S3, but you could on the S4 and trying to figure out if that's touchwiz or Android. Can anyone confirm?
  • Unless I'm losing my mind, I could swear I saw an option to 'remove attachment' from the Exchange email on the HTC One and I thought I even accidentally did it. But, when trying to repeat it I can't seem to do it. This would be really cool if that's there. Will keep digging.
  • I miss the swipe to view folders gesture on the S4. I find it really odd that Samsung has that gesture (especially given that gestures like that aren't really common in Touchwiz) and HTC doesn't. Hopefully this is again an Android 4.2.2. feature.

As another note, I've been using the device with the Power Saver On with all options except for Dim the Display (I leave brightness at 100% all the time) on. This means I'm even using the CPU option that supposedly slows down the CPU to save power. I have not seen any lag on this device even with it checked. One of these days I may uncheck it to see how I feel it affects battery life, but overall, I don't see any performance issues with leaving it checked. Again, kudos to Samsung.

Honestly, so far I'm pretty happy with this smartphone when compared against the S4. It just feels more polished, especially for a 'skinned' product. Even more surprising is that I thought going from 4.2 to 4.1 would have been a bigger deal, but it really isn't. There are a few things I miss, but the more polished experience of the HTC One seems to cover that up and with 4.2.2. hopefully not too far away for the carriers many of my issues (the few there are) may be resolved.

Really, what I miss the most keeping in mind what 4.2.2. fixes that I'm aware of is the screen size. You really do get use to that 5" if you've used it. If you haven't it's no big deal and even if you have adjusting to the 4.7 is not at all difficult. Since I keep talking about screen size, here's a comparison:


Guess it's a little bigger difference than I was expecting. :p

Day 4 - Video Highlights: Playing with the camera features (Video Highlights and Zoe) at a Graduation Party
It goes without saying that the video highlights feature of the HTC One is excellent. In fact, after showing a few quick ones to some party goers I was sort of designated as the official 'fun camera guy' for the party. People just wanted to see the 30 second clips. Being able to easily randomize the photos/zoe's made things easy and it was funny to see how many people would pass the phone around to see them. I'm not a huge picture taker, but like I said before, the features of this particular camera actually make me want to use it more.

Unfortunately, disaster struck and I'm not sure how to fix it:


This popped up towards the end of the evening and even through today it will not work. I'm not sure what went wrong. Even video highlights of zoe's and pictures that WORKED before this error seem to be affected, as if it's the entire feature that has actually crashed. If anyone has any input on this that'd be great, but as it stands right now, the entire video highlights feature is broken. A bit disappointed. I can still record and take pictures, I just can't use those features to play back. Just to confirm that it's the feature and not the files, I downloaded a bunch of pictures and tried to use the video highlights feature and I still get the same error. So, to me that doesn't seem to suggest that the media files are corrupt as the error says, but that there's an actual issue with the feature. As of right now I haven't found a solution.

I killed the battery earlier than I wanted yesterday and I forgot to bring my Astro 2 battery charger so I ended up using my S4 most of the day. Switching back to the S4 I still like the larger screen and the dedicated menu button. I can attest to the HTC One's having pretty excellent low light and indoor picture taking capabilities, as well as the screen on the One being easier to see outdoors in direct sunlight. The S4 does seem to have slightly better battery life to me, especially in the 'idle' department (it barely drains when you're not using it), but yesterday possibly could have seen lower battery life because on the One I was going in and out of 4G LTE and 4G and my understanding is when the radios are switching like that regularly it's draining quite a lot of battery (that's what would happen when I would go from LTE to 3G on Verizon).

Day 5 - ZOE is fixed and downloading S4 update
Well, Zoe either fixed itself or I fixed it. When I had the issues as noted on Day 4 I tried turning off and turning on the phone and that didn't help. I did some searching and found a suggestion of renaming the Zoe music folder. I did that and then restarted my phone and it worked again. So, either the renaming worked or restarting (as opposed to power off/on) fixed it. Either way, things are working again as normal. I also noticed that after I turned it back on there was one picture in my gallery that was 'broken' (which wasn't there before). I assume this is the image that the error was trying to identify, but it's strange it wasn't in the gallery prior to changing the music folder name/restarting the phone. Therefore, if anyone has the problem I suggest doing the following to fix it (as it worked for me):

Do a folder search for zero_editor using a file explorer (I use EX File Explorer), navigate to resources and then rename the music folder literally to anything (I just added a word after music to let me know I renamed it). Restart your phone and Zoe/video highlights should be back to normal.

As I type this I'm also downloading the latest VZW software update that has bug fixes, Move-to-SD card support and some other things (hoping for performance improvements). Remember I pointed out that my main reason for testing out the One in the first place was performance (and I didn't like the look of Touchwiz) so it'll be interesting to see how I feel about Touchwiz IF the UI lag is gone in this update. Will update later today as I play around with it.

Day 7: VZW S4 Update Opinions and Comparisons
By now you're aware that the VZW S4 software update has been released. I decided to try to update/use it in 2 different ways. First, I did a direct upgrade through the desktop software (without wiping my device). Terrible results. Performance was even worse than my original device with virtually everything lagging. So, just in case you were even thinking about doing that, don't. Afterwards, I performed a wipe of the device with much better results. To keep comparison with the HTC One a little more fare, I decided not to tinker with the Developer Settings at all (as I didn't touch them on my HTC One) and I set the device back up exactly as I had before and the same way the HTC One is.

First thing I will say is that there is definitely a noticeable improvement in performance in this upgrade. Opening and closing things are just a little quicker and smoother and Samsung has tweaked a few things that I think make for a nicer experience.

For starters, the "clear" button in the notification menu is noticeably larger than it was before. I hated that better. It was just too darn small and I often times missed it.


Second, the little animation for the toggles shortcut is now gone. When you pulled down the notification menu the toggles would sort of snap into view (I'm guessing this was either just unnecessary eye candy or it was an idea Samsung had to let you know that you could slide the toggles to view more of them). Either way I'm glad to see that the animation is gone now.

The Application Manager is different for obvious reasons, but it also loads the apps a lot quicker when you open it.


Under display - unless I missed this before - there's a new font legibility setting. As far as I can tell, this makes the most impact in the settings screen, when reading Google Play Books or looking at smaller fonts in the stock browser. However - and it could just be the placebo effect - many other applications seem to benefit as well. For example, my ExDialer dialpad looks smoother, as does Google Now and a few other random applications. Not everything seems to benefit. As something that could just be my eyes deceiving me, the update seems to have altered the display tones as well, at least in the Adapt Display mode settings. Things seem to be a lot more vibrate and rich for certain areas, such as when just on the homescreen. I was looking at certain icons (such as my Any.Do) and after the update the blue color just seemed a lot more rich in color. Not sure if I like it or not yet, but I don't hate it I can say that much.


I'm also glad to see that you can finally have a transparent notification bar on the lock screen. On a side note there seems to be a shadow effect at the top and bottom of the screen now that I don't remember being there before. I suppose it makes sense, especially if you have a white or really light colored wallpaper, but I'd rather have the option to hide it because it can sometimes make things look ugly as well. Taking a look at the screenshot below there's a shadow at the top that wasn't there before.


It's hard to tell what are all of the differences except for some obvious ones and things like Knox, App-to-SD, and the things noted above, but I'm sure what you came here to read was more about performance since that what my whole post is primarily about.

Well, as I said, there's a very noticeable increase in performance. However, with that being said, it's still not as smooth as the HTC One. There are still hiccups in performance and lag, although less often now. Really, for me, the screen font legibility was probably my favorite part of the update because it seems to have made text just a little sharper in many areas, making the awesome screen shine just a little more. However, when it comes to performance, the HTC One - from my experience - still the better performer.

On a side note, I think I discovered why there is a little notification menu 'lag' when you open it on the S4. If you tap on the notification bar (don't pull down) it will slide down partially to reveal the time, date, settings and toggles shortcuts. Now, if you let go and then pull down slowly, you'll see that it always stops there before continuing to scroll all the way down. This creates a 'hiccup' in performance because you're expecting it to pull down smoothly if you swipe all the way down, but it always will stop for a quick second, which can create a sense of lag or a hiccup.

With the HTC One recently passing through FCC for Verizon it seems that it's likely going to arrive sooner rather than later. At this point (only half way into the 14 day test period) I'm really leaning towards picking up the HTC One. Honestly, it's only the smaller screen that sort of is a turn off to a certain extent and I do think in many cases I prefer an Amoled display to the LCD with the exception of outdoor visibility where the HTC is just noticeably better. I still haven't quite made up my mind, but right now I do prefer using the HTC One everyday as opposed to the S4.... hmmm

Final Day - My Conclusion and final observations


Well, here we are on the final day of ownership of the HTC One, as I have to return it back to AT&T shortly, as I was only testing the device to see if I'd want to pick it up when Verizon releases it. Here are some final thoughts, as well as what I decided at the bottom considering rumors and currently known information:

Galaxy S4 Final Thoughts
  • Design-wise, I think Samsung has the smarter design (not referring to materials). The two phones are virtually the same physical size with the HTC just being marginally thicker, but the Samsung gives you far more screen estate in the same package. Despite its plastic exterior, it the material feels grippy in the hands and I worry less about dropping it if I did not have a case on it than I do with the HTC One. I'm still a personal fan of physical buttons and I like Samsung's home button and navigation buttons.
  • The power button on the side is also a huge plus.
  • I like the fact that I can swap in another battery if I need to, but honestly I have not had a need yet for how I use my phone and personally I just prefer to carry my Astro 2 slim battery charge that - along with the fact that the S4 supports quick charge - charges the S4 very quickly anyway. I use a case so taking cases off to swap in a battery is more cumbersome to me than just plugging in a small portable charger.
  • Even with the software update the phone is still sluggish, especially compared to the HTC One. While Samsung I don't think specifically mentioned in the update whether or not it improved speed, many users including myself definitely noticed that speed was improved. However, it still lags in many areas.
  • I personally find Touchwiz more and more hideous the more I use it. The design is still very Gingerbread'ish, ancient and there are too many parts that looked like they were all designed by too many people. It's also annoying that Samsung doesn't employ swipe gestures and still uses tabs for everything.
  • S4 wins at outdoor photos, but barely.
  • There's far more accessory support for the S4. Don't even hope for that kind of support for the HTC One so keep that in mind if that's important to you.
  • Excellent battery life for how I use my device. Excellent standby time. Support for quick charge is also a huge bonus, especially if you just need to boost up a little to keep going.

HTC One Final Thoughts
  • This phone is just super fluid, as a phone should be today. Honestly, this is the best performing Android smartphone I've ever used and it makes me feel like I'm using an iPhone when it comes to UI fluidity and design flow. Sense looks great to me and while it can sometimes be 'overdone' (when you compare it to say stock Android), what's been added is logical and does actually add value to the experience. I like that HTC uses left/right swipe gestures virtually everywhere, which makes navigating so much easier and even the settings menu is far simpler (side note: I've had the S4 longer and still find its settings menu to be clunky and I forget where things are. Way too many tabs in too many areas).
  • There's no arguing that craftsmanship is top notch. However, I put cases on my phones so really that only matters to me if/when I take it out of its case. I could personally care less whether its plastic, polycarbonate, carbon fiber, magnesium or aluminum when you're going to put a case on it anyway. On this note, though, when I do hold it outside of its case I feel very uncomfortable. It just feels like if you drop it that the screen is definitely going to smash no matter how it lands and it's definitely not as 'grippy' feeling as the S4. I'm no expert, but my understanding is that the advantage of plastic is that it can absorb or spread the impact better than aluminum does, which would help to keep the screen from shattering.
  • Two weeks of use and its still taking me a little while to get use to HTC's button setup. I simply prefer Samsung's setup better. I like physical buttons for certain things what can I say...4.2.2. Plus, I just think having a menu button on a phone this large just makes sense so that you don't have to stretch your thumb to the top of the screen for many apps. This is somewhat fixed in 4.2.2, though, which I haven't used so this argument could be moot once it comes out.
  • I personally love the LCD of this HTC One. The S4 definitely shines when it comes to blacks, but whites and especially pictures look far more realistic and natural. I took a ton of photos on both devices and even asked friends (most of which are not phone aficionados) which looked better and they all preferred the screen of the HTC One in this regard as well. Samsung's looks better in apps, though, and depending on your screen setting I view the S4 as having the 'plasma' screen of the smartphone world, with very vibrant colors that really pop. HTC, though, just seems to be far more accurate for natural colors.
  • Battery life for me was only slightly shorter than the S4...and I mean slight. I'm talking maybe half an hour difference. Both make it through a full day for me.
  • Charging time is retarded on the HTC One. It takes forever to charge. Considering they both are using the S600 chip it was a boneheaded move on HTC's part to not support the quick charging aspect of it. You're looking at about 5+ hours to charge from completely dead and quick charging is almost non existent.
  • The dual-front speakers personally seem to be hit or miss to me. Some apps it's super loud and crisp and others it's really low. In fact, some times I had to turn off Beats audio to get the volume louder. This isn't limited to third-party apps either. Even in HTC's on video highlights the audio can be very low sometimes, which I'm assuming might be a bug because the same music will sometimes be loud and other times low.
  • I experienced something weird today on the plane ride home. When trying to turn the phone back on it wouldn't power on and the navigation buttons kept blinking. I simply held down the power button for perhaps 10 seconds, the lights stopped blinking and then I tried it again and it powered on. Not sure what happened, but it seems to be fine now. That also seems to be the official way to kick it back on if that happens to any of you.
  • Something really stupid to me is the fact that HTC still continues to NOT let you power the device off from the lockscreen. WHY! Seriously? Can someone even attempt to explain why this would make sense to not give the phone the ability to power off from the lockscreen? I just personally find this annoying to have to unlock the phone to turn it off.
  • The HTC One absolutely rocks in low light. Great, usable photos. Downside of that 4mp camera though is that the photos generally have to be a lot smaller resolution to look good. Anything larger than 2688x1520 looks terrible and even then it seems that scaling down the width to say 2000 seems better.

All things considered, which device do I prefer? The HTC One. While there are many things I love about the S4 there is just no denying that the HTC One - for me - has been a better performer. It's consistently smooth in operation whereas the S4 has random hiccups that occur far too often. Sense looks more appealing to the eye to than Touchwiz, battery life has been pretty comparable for me because of how I use my device and I like the fact that I can see the screen outside better in bright sunlight. Really, the only negative I have against the HTC One is that I'd like the screen to be a little larger.

What am I going to do considering Verizon has unknown release date for HTC One and there's possibility of HTC One Max on the horizon...?

Considering what HTC did with the Butterfly S, if that phone comes to the US I really don't see there being a better device and I'd jump on that in a heartbeat. Yea, yea yea... it'll be made of plastic, but like I said, I wear cases on my smartphone so the material doesn't matter. But, with a 5" 1080P display, all the bells and whistles of the HTC One with a much higher capacity battery... I don't really see there being much in the way of competition there. The HTC One Max is also tempting, although I have a hard time imagining myself using a smartphone that large.

With those things in mind, though, I am going to patiently wait just another month or two to see how some of these rumors pan out. Verizon at the earliest I figure will release the HTC One in August, possibly the rumored 'upgraded' model with S800 processor (just seems weird to me to release the 'same' smartphone so late, unless they were just waiting for what many people hope was only a 6-month AT&T exclusive on the 64GB version to end - August would be just a little past 6 months). I figure if I don't see anything pan out in regards to the HTC One Max or possibly even a US version of the Butterfly S (this would be my ideal phone honestly) then I'll grab the HTC One without reservations.

Personally, I have lost a little faith in Samsung. They have not updated Touchwiz in UI design since Gingerbread and haven't really shown any signs that they plan to either. They just try to cram more gimmicks into the phone instead of polishing up the current experience. HTC took the road less traveled and added some useful features while focusing on the experience. It is - dare I say - the iPhone of the Android world... excellent craftsmanship, smooth performance and features you mostly find useful and very few you don't.
Last edited:


Well-known member
Jul 8, 2011
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This is a far more useful of a comparison than a review done by a major website. Keep updating!

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Sep 16, 2011
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Waste of time. Most people at least in the s4 and one forums have read all the comparisons and done comparisons themselves. I've used both devices and there have been multiple posts.

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May 19, 2013
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I am glad to see your post. I am currently test driving both of the phones myself. I agree with most of what you posted although I do not find the S4 too big for one handed use.

I am with you about just wanting things to work. I have rooted my tablet but I just want the phone to work they way I want it to work without having too root.

I am amazed at how much bigger the screen seems on the S4. I just wish I could shrink the the soft button and icon size. I am pretty sure I saw a posting on how to change the grid size on the S4 but I am having trouble locating the info.


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Jun 6, 2012
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Thanks for the good forum reporting. This will help people make a decision if they are really dedicated. If they are not, they will succumb to the Samsung Advertising Monster. I used the forum to make my decision, not the advertising blitz. I chose the S4.


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Jul 5, 2013
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Very good post! In my opinion, both phones are great. Buy what you like, not because of the trend. This comparison is just to aid in your decision. Just my 2 cents.

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Nov 13, 2011
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Good thread. BTW, installing BatteryGuru will help your battery life a lot. HTC has started uploading 4.2 in some places. Might want to wait until both devices have the same OS so it's a more fair comparison, but I like what you've done so far.


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Sep 25, 2011
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This is kind of funny since I own the One, but I really like the looks of the TW UI for the calendar, messenger. I also like the layout of the keypad on the S4 compared to the one in Sense 5. This was a very good read nonetheless :)

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Jun 15, 2013
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Very good stuff.

The phones are very close and it quite simply will not be the same for every consumer (I don't think the same can be said for some other generations, where there have been clearer frontrunners). This post should help tease out some of the nuances that can help people decide which phone will work better for them.


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May 31, 2011
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Kinda hard on the touchwiz interface especially since you can replace it with excellent launchers from the play store in about 5 seconds.

My HTC one also had zero lag but I didn't like the feel in my hand of the back aluminum edges and the top OFF button drove me nuts.

I really missed using the front Home button to power on the S4.

Using the HTC One for 3 weeks taught me to keep my s4 UI simpler...I now basically use my leftmost home screen for flipboard /news / evernote widgets and my main home screen for few folders/apps/weather widgets that I use most. And use the app launcher to access whatever app I need.

Also found I do appreciate the larger s4 screen for my aging eyes.

I am probably the exception but I thought the Blinkfeed was great.

Anyway im on the S4 now and its a keeper.

Thanks for your review.
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Jul 6, 2013
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Nice comparison, I believe S4 wins in terms of software features, where HTC One wins in terms of better-looking and luxurious device.


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May 19, 2013
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A couple of items I have noticed that you have not yet touched on.

Subjectively the HTC One seems a bit faster to lock onto GPS. Not a huge difference but it feels noticeable in testing but probably not something you would notice in real usage.

Bluetooth seems to be better on the HTC One. They both connected fine to the car but some songs on the S4 did not transmit data. I also received errors in playing songs on the S4 but that is probably the documented issues with the SD card not playing nice with the phone.

Voice quality is very good on both phones and I have very similar LTE speeds.

The phone dialer on the S4 very annoying. Is it really too much trouble to use real phone tones vs. the simple "beeps"?


Well-known member
May 31, 2013
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A couple of items I have noticed that you have not yet touched on.

Subjectively the HTC One seems a bit faster to lock onto GPS. Not a huge difference but it feels noticeable in testing but probably not something you would notice in real usage.

Bluetooth seems to be better on the HTC One. They both connected fine to the car but some songs on the S4 did not transmit data. I also received errors in playing songs on the S4 but that is probably the documented issues with the SD card not playing nice with the phone.

Voice quality is very good on both phones and I have very similar LTE speeds.

The phone dialer on the S4 very annoying. Is it really too much trouble to use real phone tones vs. the simple "beeps"?

I agree with what you pointed out. I did notice it, but didn't really mention it as of yet. GPS definitely does seem to lock on quite faster and thus far I haven't had any bluetooth issues with the One. The issues I had with my S4 is that it would randomly disconnect from my Jawbone bluetooth headset (both the Era and Icon HD), but it would still say it's connected and I'd have to turn the headset off and back on to get it to reconnect.

- - - Updated - - -

Updated with a few quick late night observations from today.


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May 3, 2011
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Trumps for me is the display and sd slot. With apps, the S4 has a 5" display, but the One has about a 4.3" display yet the same size device. A fixed nav bar is an annoying waste of space on a 7" tablet, yet alone a far smaller display. JMO.

That all said, if the One could hide the nav bar in apps (without root) and had a micro sd slot.... then I would have a decision to make.

Added: The one thing I did not notice is a signal reception comparison. My results were the S3 and S4 are the same, but not tested the One since not a Verizon device yet.


Mar 14, 2011
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Trumps for me is the display and sd slot. With apps, the S4 has a 5" display, but the One has about a 4.3" display yet the same size device. A fixed nav bar is an annoying waste of space on a 7" tablet, yet alone a far smaller display. JMO.

That all said, if the One could hide the nav bar in apps (without root) and had a micro sd slot.... then I would have a decision to make.

Added: The one thing I did not notice is a signal reception comparison. My results were the S3 and S4 are the same, but not tested the One since not a Verizon device yet.

You better get your facts straight the one has a 4.7 screen

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