Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 vs HTC One review

iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S4 vs HTC One review

We compare three of the biggest smartphones on the market: the Galaxy S4, iPhone and HTC One.See also: Galaxy S4 Zoom specs, UK price, release date.

Apple, Samsung and HTC are three of the biggest names in the smartphone world so what better to compare than their flagship handsets? If you're trying to decide between these three phones then you've come to the right place. See also: HTC One review: a fantastic high-end Android smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 vs HTC One: Design and build

We won't bother trying to decide which of these phones is the best looking, since that is a matter of opinion.

What we will tell you is how big they are and how much they weigh. The iPhone is the smallest and lightest phone in this group due to its smaller, thinner screen while the Galaxy S4 and HTC One are pretty similar despite the former having a bigger display.





Samsung Galaxy S4




Apple iPhone 5








Arguably more important than the measurements is the build quality of these devices. Even though Samsung has done a fantastic engineering job on the Galaxy S4, it's disappointingly plastic and doesn’t posess the premium feel which we feel a flagship device deserves.

Both the iPhone 5 and HTC One use elegant designs comprising glass and aluminium. They are two of the best smartphones on the market for build quality and we can't split them in this regard. See alsoGroup test: What's the best smartphone?

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 vs HTC One: Screen

Both Samsung and HTC have come out with 'Retina' beating displays on both the Galaxy S4 and the One – both offer a Full HD resolution, probably the same as your TV but on a smartphone screen. This results in a superbly crisp image.

The Retina display on the iPhone is still good and a reason to opt for it would be that you don't want an overly large display which can be difficult to interact with physically. The iPhone is the easiest to use one handed, for example.

As you can see in the table below, the HTC has a slightly smaller screen than the Galaxy S4 so has the most impressive pixel density (the highest on the market today). However, you won't realistically notice the difference. It's better to decide whether or not you want the eye popping colours of the GS4's SuperAMOLED screen.




Pixel Density

Samsung Galaxy S4




Apple iPhone 5








Samsung Galaxy S4

See also: Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Sony Xperia Z comparison review

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 vs HTC One: Processor and memory

It's a similar story when it comes to key internal components. Samsung and HTC both have a more powerful setup than the iPhone – both offer twice the amount of RAM and number of processor cores.

On paper, the Galaxy S4 is the best equipped with its clock speed of 1.9GHz. The HTC One has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor but with a clock speed of 1.7GHz.

The Galaxy S4 beat the iPhone 5 in a couple of benchmarks scoring 3227 and 41fps in Geekbench 2 and GLBenchmark compared to the iPhone 5's 1650 and 38fps. However, the iPhone 5 got a better time in SunSpider - 903ms against 1092ms.

Overall the Galaxy S4 comes out better based on these figures. However, in actual use we found the device to be laggy when opening certain apps and when we didn't expect it. This is really what counts and means the iPhone 5 is actually better in this regard.


Processor speed



Samsung Galaxy S4




Apple iPhone 5








We've put together a table of the benchmark results from each handset. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the overall winner, taking top spot in two out of three of our tests. However, these numbers are the be-all and end-all and during our test the Galaxy S4 actually presented some lag which the other two handsets didn't.


GeekBench 2



Samsung Galaxy S4




Apple iPhone 5








Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 vs HTC One: Storage

The Galaxy S4 has the most flexible storage on offer here being the only smartphone with a microSD card slot. We understand that a software update will allow apps to be moved to the SD card, resolving the issue surrounding its internal storage being largely unavailable.

With no expandable storage on the HTC One and iPhone 5, the latter has more capacities on offer but it's worth noting that the 32GB model of the HTC One costs around the same its rivals so you get twice as much storage from the off.


Storage options

microSD slot

Samsung Galaxy S4



Apple iPhone 5






iPhone 5 iOS 6

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 vs HTC One: Cameras

For the key details you can check the table below, but we've found the Galaxy S4's camera setup to be the best on offer out of these three phones. Both front- and rear-facing cameras offer excellent quality snaps and can record in Full HD. It also has a range of nifty shooting modes which the others don't possess.

The HTC One has a decent rear camera; don't be fooled by the low megapixel rating. The Ultrapixel lens can capture three times the amount of light compared to a 13Mp rival. We found it the best smartphone camera for low-light situations.

On paper the iPhone's camera isn't as good but takes decent pictures and video making it still a viable option in this area. The main area where it falls short of its rivals is the 720p maximum resolution for video from the front camera.


Rear Camera

Front Camera

Video (rear/front)

Samsung Galaxy S4




Apple iPhone 5





4Mp (Ultrapixel)



HTC One Ultrapixel camera

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 vs HTC One: Software

Software is always a tricky thing to compare between phones. Android vs iOS is becoming an age-old debate. The fact of the matter is that they are the two best mobile operating systems on the market and we can't blame you for siding with either, or liking both.

If you prefer iOS then obviously the iPhone is the device for you. However, if you're on the Android side of the fence then choosing between the Galaxy S4 and HTC One is another matter. Both run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean but there are differences.

The HTC One has a more vanilla Android users interface but its Sense 5.0 overlay adds some other features such as BlinkFeed. The Galaxy S4 uses Samsung's own customised interface and has tonnes of extra features such as Smart Scroll and Air Gesture. Some are genuinely good but we also found a lot to be little  more than gimmicks.

Just so you're aware, over the summer 'Google Editions' of both the Galaxy S4 and HTC One will be released with stock Android pre-loaded instead of the vendor's own interface.

See also: iOS 6 review.

See also: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean review

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 vs HTC One: Battery life

The battery life of a smartphone can never really be expressed in one definitive number. It will vary depending on how you personally use the device. Our testing shows that all of these three smartphones will last you a day of heavy use, unless you are a very heavy user.

They will also get through at least some, possibly all, of a second day if you have a lighter usage pattern. The Galaxy S4 has typically lasted us the longest, but not by a significant amount.

One thing to point out is that the Galaxy S4 is the only one to have a removable battery pack.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.


In this three way battle, there is no clear winner; each smartphone has its strengths and weaknesses. We like the Galaxy S4's hardware and some of the software features but dislike its plastic build quality. The HTC One has great design and arguably the best screen on the market but the interface is an acquired taste and the camera isn't the best. Meanwhile, the iPhone 5 remains a desirable handset despite its relative old age, delivering well across the board.

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