Whether you like it or not, Samsung’s newest flagship will sell by the dozen and that’s just a fact. The Galaxy S4 is an evolutionary step up from the Galaxy S3 in terms of design and features and if you were expecting something radically different, then you’ll be a bit disappointed. Not only does the S4 have some big shoes to fill, it also faces fierce competition from the likes of the Sony Xperia Z, HTC One and the LG Optimus G Pro, although the latter is more of a competition to the Note II. What better way to see how Samsung’s latest and greatest stacks up than a grudge match between these three handsets. This comparison is purely based on specifications and not the real world performance.
Samsung Galaxy S4
The S4’s evolutionary design may seem a tad plain and even boring, but we have to hand it to Samsung for managing to squeeze in a larger display in the same chassis as the S3. This meant shaving down the bezel even further, which was quite thin to begin with, while keeping the height and width pretty much the same. In fact, the S4 has gotten slimmer and a tad lighter as well. The light weight can be attributed to a strict diet of plastic/polycarbonate used for the entire chassis. On one hand, this seems like yet another let down, but on the other hand, you have the option of removing the battery.
Samsung’s focus has clearly been the software this time around and its new eye-tracking gestures, Air View and camera features borrowed from the Galaxy Camera seem to be the main USP. We’re not sure how long Samsung will be able to use this to sell S4s since LG has shown that these features can be "duplicated" via a simple software update. Once Samsung is satisfied with the sales of the S4, we can expect these features to hit the S3 as well.
We haven’t spent a lot of time with the One, but from our brief stint with the phone, we must say it’s quite impressive. The one thing you’ll really love about this phone is the design and build quality. It feels very snug in your hands due to the manageable screen size and the cold metal body adds a soothing touch. HTC has also focused a lot on the software aspect as well and its new Sense 5 promises some 200+ new features. The handset has the potential to do very well, provided HTC prices it sensibly. The HTC One is also due sometime in April and it could very well coincide with the launch of the S4.
Chassis design is truly a class apart
Sony Xperia Z
The Xperia Z is the true successor to the Xperia S that Sony launched a year back. Along with the usual refresh of the specifications and chassis design, we got one of the most sought after features for a high-end phone – water resistance. The Xperia Z is armed with an IP55 and IP57 certification, making it dust and water resistant. This singular feature alone is enough to attract loads of potential buyers and even convert some new die hard HTC and Samsung fans. Sony has even gotten the launch price right this time, which makes it even tougher for Samsung and HTC once they launch their offerings next month.
Begs to be dunked in water
Let’s dive straight to the chart and see how these handsets compare against one another.
Pretty much identical in terms of raw power
The bottom line
In the high-end Android space, we’ve reached a point where specifications don’t really matter, as sooner or later, they all even out and every OEM ends up with something more or less the same. The above three phones are the perfect example of this. Other than a few differences in the screen size and technology, they will all run apps smoothly, will make a very good gaming platform, will have above-average camera performance and will always need to be charged before the day ends. Since they are all priced in the premium segment, I really doubt people shopping with this kind of budget will care about a few thousand here and there. What they will care about is the user experience and whether or not the phone has a premium feel. These two, more than anything else, will determine the fate of these handsets.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 may not be the most attractive handset, but if you fancy TouchWiz and all the gesture-based features it packs in, it may suit you. The Xperia Z has the rugged quality going for it while the HTC One is for the suave, sophisticated type. If I had to pick one out of the three, I’m a bit torn between the Xperia Z and the HTC One. I love the waterproof nature of the Z, but at the same time, the design and finish of the One is really hard to ignore. What’s your pick?
Here's some more dope on the Galaxy S4 for your reading pleasure:
A specifications review of the S4
Nine cool accessories for the Samsung Galaxy S4