m8vss5

With the HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5 now available in stores as of this morning, it’s time to look at what’s between them, and in which areas one pulls ahead of the other. Our review of the One (M8) is round the corner, and Joel will be reviewing the Galaxy S5 for us from today.

We’ve put together this comparison based on what we know from spec sheets, our hands-on experience with a couple of One (M8)’s, and having a play with a Galaxy S5 briefly, though we don’t (at the time of publishing) have a review unit in our hands.

Display

The HTC One (M8) features a 5-inch display with a 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution with a pixel density of 441ppi. The Samsung Galaxy S5 features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution and 430ppi. That means the Samsung Galaxy S5 has slightly larger display but a slightly lower pixel density.

The human eye isn’t going to notice much of a difference between the pixel densities, but you may notice a difference in terms of screen technology. The Galaxy S5’s AMOLED display offers more vibrant colours and deeper blacks, whereas the HTC One (M8) is more realistic in its presentation of these colours. Which you’ll prefer is entirely a subjective determination; we ourselves think each display is pretty damned good.

There’s other minor details: the Samsung Galaxy S5 gives you slightly more screen space, not only because it’s fractionally larger, but because the HTC One has on-screen controls as opposed to Samsung’s retention of capacitive buttons. Screen fiends might side with Samsung on this one, but those who dislike capacitive buttons might go to HTC.

Let’s call it basically a dead heat.

Processor

The Australian version of the HTC One (M8) features a 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 chipset, paired with 2GB of RAM.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 features a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor as well as 2GB of RAM.

Yes, they’re exactly the same chipset, with exactly the same amount of RAM.

Even though they’re running the same CPU with the same RAM, if anything, the SGS5 feels a little slower because the TouchWiz user interface just doesn’t feel as slick as the HTC One’s Sense 6.0. Maybe its because it tries to do more, or because it’s not as optimised, but the reasons don’t really matter — it just doesn’t feel as quick.

With these devices side-by-side, the HTC One (M8) feels faster.

Storage

The HTC One (M8) features 16GB of on-board storage, a microSD card slot capable of up to 128GB, and 65GB of free Google Drive space.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 features 16GB and 32GB on-board storage variants, with microSD support for cards up to 128GB, and 50GB of free cloud storage through Dropdox for 2 years.

There’s really no difference here; Samsung offers more on-board space, but its operating system also takes up more space. On a 16GB Galaxy S5, you’d be lucky to see much more than 10GB of free space.

MicroSD support is new to HTC’s flagship, and it’s a welcome change. You can sync your Google Play Music down to SD, store your videos and TV shows and the like there… taking the differences in storage proposition between the two handsets to effectively nothing.

Battery

The HTC One (M8) features a 2600mAh battery that is supposedly 40 per cent more efficient than the first HTC One, which could last up to two days with core business use. However, HTC has added aggressive power saver options to make sure your device lasts the distance and in our early assessment, it’s fairly impressive. I never got a full day out of the Nexus 5, but the One (M8) can reach a full day fairly easily.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 features a 2800mAh battery that will get you through the day. It also offers power saving features to match those of HTC. Both devices are a step above the previous generation, giving much better endurance.

We’ve not played with Samsung’s extensive power saving options yet, which can go as far as making the display black-and-white only, turning off basically everything besides phone and SMS functionality. It might render your smartphone more of a dumbphone, but it will get your Galaxy S5 lasting for days on end if you’re away from power.

With this, and a removable battery, Samsung wins hands down.

Camera

The HTC One (M8) features the same UltraPixel sensor (f/2.0 aperture) found in the original HTC One, although it’s a better all-round performer than last year’s model. It also has a Duo Camera for depth perception only, meaning there’s a range of fancy features on offer, and 5-megapixel (f/2.0 aperture) front-facing camera which is excellent for selfies. We can say this. We’ve tried. They’re great.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 features a 16-megapixel sensor with fast 0.3 second capture speed. The smartphone can also capture Ultra HD video – something the HTC One is incapable of – and there are a range of smart functions, including “selective focus” which produces similar to HTC’s Ufocus, without the requirement for the additional lens. HTC’s UFocus works a bit better…

The HTC offers some nice features and is a slightly better performer in dimmer conditions, but the SGS5 is simple to use and delivers lovely vibrant colours, along with the advantage of a higher resolution if you want to crop in a bit.

We haven’t been able to experiment too much with the Galaxy S5’s camera performance just yet, besides some tinkering at the launch event, but it does seem likely that across the full range, the Galaxy S5 will probably be the better shooter.

OS

The HTC One (M8) features Android 4.4.2 KitKat and Sense 6.0. The Samsung Galaxy S5 features Android 4.4.2 KitKat and a new version of TouchWiz.

Underneath, the Android is the same. The only difference is the user experience offered by the manufacturer’s skins on top. Sense 6.0 and TouchWiz essentially come down to taste.

TouchWiz offers more options than most people would know how to use, but the price for this is the somewhat slower experienced performance. Sense 6.0 is much more minimal, both compared to TouchWiz and to earlier versions of Sense as well. It’s pared back, it’s faster, and it’s less intrusive into the Android experience.

In a nutshell, if you’ve used other Android handsets, the HTC represents a much easier learning curve; the Galaxy S5 is much more different, and puts things in different places.

HTC Sense looks and feels a little more mature, but importantly, as we said before, it feels snappier in operation: folders open faster, it’s faster to start, faster to unlock, faster to move around the UI, so it wins for now.

Network

Something pointed out by a few of our readers is the status of the Galaxy S5 as a Telstra Blue Tick handset. What does this mean? Basically, the handset has been tested by Telstra and they believe it offers the best coverage for users outside of metropolitan and regional areas. The Galaxy S5 has been ticked for rural coverage outside the places where we normally live, and so if you’re an off the beaten track kind of person, this might be a factor for you.

The HTC One (M8) however has not been so ‘Blue Ticked’. This won’t matter to you much if you’re not a Telstra customer, but if you do live in a remote area and cell coverage is already a concern, the Galaxy S5 is likely to perform a little better.

Build

The HTC One (M8) features a machined aluminium body that wraps around the sides making for a 90 per cent metal finish. There will be three colours available: gunmetal grey, arctic silver and amber gold (depending on your carrier and country, of course). It’s a beautiful design, it looks the part and feels sensational to hold.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is mainly plastic, sticking to familiar design, but with a more tactile back for better grip. The big positives are that it is dust-proof and water-resistant down to a metre in depth (grade IP67), and it’ll be available in a range of colours (shimmery white, charcoal black, copper gold and electric blue).

While the protection of the SGS5 is handy, the HTC One’s premium finish easily betters it. The HTC is the phone to be seen with.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy S5 offers more features. TouchWiz does more, its compatible with more accessories and third-party services, it has a nice bright display and plenty of power. However, just as it was with the S4, it feels slow in some parts, and some of the more gimmicky options really won’t be used by many people, making their inclusion a questionable choice.

The HTC One (M8) is a slicker device in daily use, though it’s not too fair a comparison at this point, because we’ve not had the same time with the Galaxy S5.

The user interface is faster and although it has less options and features, the interface feels more sophisticated, more refined. It offers amazing sound quality, a great display, but the real winner is the design. It just looks so much more premium.

I’d give it to HTC, but your opinions may (and should) vary. Let us know in the comments — which of this year’s superphones do you think will take the crown?

  • Netto

    Don’t forget that the S5 has received the blue tick from Telstra, so that could be an important factor if you live in a rural area.

  • johnny k

    Ausdroid has always been anti samsung. The s5 clearly beats the HTC m8 in all areas covered here and then some (which ausdroid failed to mention).

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      We’re not really anti-Samsung Johnny. Historically, more of us have purchased Samsung phones than HTC phones. It’s TouchWiz that we’re not too fond of.

    • David Anderton

      I would argue ausdroid have always been pro Samsung, so in order to beat it the m8 must have been halls better.

    • Enrico

      All areas? What about speakers, low light photos, build quality, user interface? Ausdroid is not the one who is biased here.

    • http://ausdroid.net/ Chris

      I wouldn’t describe us as anti-Samsung. In fact, of late, if anything we’ve been anti-HTC. We’re not really pro- any manufacturer, that’s not our job. We just present what we see.

      Samsung make beautiful handsets, and a lot of different varieties. HTC have, recently, been making one flagship a year and a couple of others. HTC’s One last year was a stellar handset, and the One M8 is the clear evolution of that model, and it’s a great phone.

      The S5 is a great phone as well. There’s no doubt that Samsung has become the dominant player not by its sheer size, but because it actually makes great phones that people want to buy and own.

      I, personally, am not interested in the S5. Last year I had both the HTC One and S4, and used them side by side, and the S4 quickly was palmed off. Yes it was quick and easy to pick up, but after awhile it got annoying. Battery life woes, slow launcher interface, bright, almost child-like interface design, and I just couldn’t stomach it.

      If the M8 was IP67 rated, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat, but for me (personally) it’s the right mix. For many others, the S5 is the right mix. That’s why we post these things, so people can see the basic facts about each, and make up their own minds.

      We’ve no vested interest in pushing one over the other. We have a great relationship with both Samsung and HTC, and we’re close to many of their Australian staff, and that remains so whether we like their immediate products or not. They’d both be disappointed with us if we said strongly to go one way or the other, and rightly so.

  • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

    I like the speedier interface of the M8 but that’s about it. The enormous bezels make it look like it belongs back in 2011 and the camera samples floating around show both over and under exposure problems.

    The S5’s interface is still not something I’d want to deal with but the fact that it gives you more display in a smaller, easier to manage package pushes my buttons. Camera looks pretty awesome too.

    So I guess if I had to choose between the two phones it would be the S5 with a different launcher. No denying that the One M8 is a lovely phone that I’ll recommend to the right audience – it just pushes the wrong buttons for me.

    • mark0Z

      Agreed on all points. The One M8 comes across as something you’d rather place in a showcase to bask in all its chamfered glory and only brought out to be admired and shown off to people on special occasions. While that speaks volumes about the level of fit and finish HTC has achieved with the phone, the S5 still gets right down to it as the go-to smartphone, one you can hold onto easily, get lightly thrown about, get splashed on and still delivers the goods.

  • Doc

    Telstra’s Blue tick is a big factor for me as I live in a regional town. Another factor is that the SG5 resists water, rain, sweat, dust, sand. Both will set you back $82/mth on Telstra’s medium plans – quite a bit!

    • Jason Murray

      We received the press release about the Blue Tick rating for the S5, but I don’t really understand what this means — seemed like more of a marketing term to me. Can you tell us a bit more about why this plays a part in your decision?

    • Michael Kerr

      I don’t believe that blue tick crap. I have the M8 and I couldn’t be happier

  • Phill Edwards

    Sounds like one key difference is that the S5 has a removable battery which is very handy.

  • derp

    Is the available storage correct? I was under the impression they were both the same around the 12gb mark this time around.

    Also I haven’t heard anyone say the new touchwiz is slow yet. Most comments have been praising his much faster and smoother it is this year.

    Hopefully competition makes the price drop quickly again this year. I’m still keen on the xperoa z2 though.

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      The S5 Vodafone had in their Bourke St store had real issues. Maybe it’s an isolated case but it was black screening for 5 to 10 seconds at a time each time I tapped the home or back button. I showed the sales guy and he said it was only a demo model. It improved a little after a reboot. The M8 in the neighbouring Optus store seemed almost on par with my Nexus 5.

      This is only one example but if it plays out for other people in a similar fashion it won’t be good for Samsung. Although, people just gonna keep buying them regardless of a lesser performance delta anyway – if that is indeed the case.

      • Phil

        Didn’t have an issue when I went to the voda store. The demo at Dick Smith at Bourke was very fast, almost Nexus 5-ish, with the only lag coming from the transition to the my magazine section

  • Nick Bryant

    Both look like nice phones, although the large physical home button on the Samsung remains a massive turn off for me. But at the end of the day, pure Android and timely updates are important for me, and despite being clearly out-spec’d now, I just ordered a Nexus 5 from the Play Store, as well as a Nexus 7 (2013) to replace my 2012 version.

  • GingerNutter

    Anyone tried the S5 in a docking station yet? Can’t help but think that the water/dust cover is going to hinder it somewhat and no doubt it would look rather odd if it was taken off.

    • Jason Murray

      An excellent point. You can’t understate just how annoying the flap over the USB port is until you’ve actually used it.

      The Micro USB 3 connector hidden underneath is also not much of a looker, but that’s hardly Samsung’s fault.

  • Phil

    Biggest complaint I have about the M8 is that it is very slippery, almost as slippery as the Samsung S4. the tallness of the phone is a tad annoying as well, especially since the power button is at top.

    Biggest disappointment with both is the 16gb, especially since the original one had 32gb/64gb and the Note 3 having 32gb

  • mark0Z

    I believe both have their merits and misses. But the common folk on the streets will almost definitely gravitate toward the S5, in no small part due to the blanket of Samsung ads starting from today’s launch. Like it or not, Samsung’s flagship is still the poster child for Android, “ugly” Touchwiz and all.

    I actually think the S5 slightly edges out the M8 in overall offering in terms of practicality (yes it’s still plastic…so?) but I can’t help but admire HTC for pushing on as hard as they can. In light of this, I personally got myself the M8 to remind myself that Android can be beautiful and refined when restraint – a strong lesson (achieved by the likes of Moto X and the Nexus devices) that Samsung should and seem only now begin to understand moving forward.

  • murray

    I have used Samsung phones for a few years now but got sick of waiting for updates. I would end up using a custom rom for 2 reasons, Touchwiz is terrible and to get up to date android updates. I have been using the HTC ONE M8 for a week now and it is the best phone I have ever had, ( used the S3, S4, Note 2 & 3 ) No need for a custom rom, works perfectly in country areas, superfast, elegant design. Perfect in every way. Could not give a rats if its not waterproof. That’s what insurance is for. Oh and the best thing, I can fit all my music ( 98 gb ) and still have 30gb of storage on my micro SD

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  • Cindy

    I love My Sg5 But I Did Have one question I hope you can help with. I accidently made my typing screen very all. how do I fix it