Choice Made! See #42 (was: how to choose between HTC One & SGS4 for android novice?)

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by trina27, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. trina27, Jul 4, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013

    trina27 macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    I am currently an iPhone user...but I am hardly an Apple fanboy. Well, fangirl. I did buy a 3GS at launch and like it. But, I did not upgrade at every launch and in fact was using the 3GS up until this last Sunday. A family member switched phones and passed down their 4S to me so I am now "updated" :p to a 4S.

    Likewise, the only reason I have an iPad 2 is that a family member gifted it to me when they bought a new one.

    My feelings about Apple and iPhones? I think they are nice hardware. I think the ecosystem works for them. I don't 100% *hate* the walled garden approach and there are a lot of great apps out there. But the point at which I do *hate* the walled garden approach is in regard to file support. This is usually more in play on the iPad rather than iPhone though since I don't do much doc editing on the iPhone. I do *strongly dislike* iTunes though...but I use it on a PC, not a mac.

    As you can tell by my having the 3GS for 4 years I'm not a hardcore fan who must always have the latest and greatest. And though I like the hardware, I find the whole "iPhone & iPad" hysteria over-hyped.

    So, that all out of the way...I'm considering taking advantage of the current AT&T "smartphone trade-in" promotion to trade-in the 3GS (and likely keep the 4S as a backup...or sell the 4S later) towards one of the android options. With a 2 yr contract renewal this means I'll only pay $99 for either one?

    I have picked up both the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 in the AT&T store this week and as much as you can hold them with the theft removal cable attached, I think both felt fine in the hand. The screen on both looked pretty good to me (again, though, coming from a 3GS and 4S).

    I understand the HTC has 32gb storage but no expandable SD slots? While the "cheapest" S4 is a 16gb model but to which you can add a microSD card? I've survived on a 16gb model phone for quite a while...I keep only my favorite music with me...but additional space would be nice.

    I briefly considered the S4 because of the user replaceable battery...but then realized by 3GS battery is 4 yrs old and I've never had a problem.

    In terms of all the apps & widgets and navigation...I found both to be slightly overwhelming in store...but that is probably in part because people play with them so much that they get overloaded and I couldn't figure out how to remove items from the screens? I realize there will be a learning curve obviously.

    That said...anyone know of any youtube "android phone tips for dummies" videos?

    I guess I get the feeling that either one would be fine for me since it would be my first android, any tips on how to make the choice? Other things to consider?

    Also, I believe I correctly searched and found that both the One and the S4 use microSIM cards? So this means I could swap the sim back and forth from either one to the iPhone 4S if I desired, right?

    Thanks to anyone who made it through my excessive *brain-dump*. This was a bit longer than I planned.
  2. jcpb macrumors 6502a

    Jun 5, 2012
    Do you like being able to swap microSD cards and batteries? If so, buy the GS4.

    Do you want the Android equivalent of the iOS+iPhone experience, all the way down to hardware? if so, buy the One.
  3. trina27 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    The battery...not such a big deal. Like I mentioned, when I thought about it my 4 yr old 3GS battery is still fine. Plus I'm not such a power user and can often go 3-4 days on the 3GS without charging. Though the 4S seems a bit worse on battery life so far but still 2-3 days.

    Storage space though I wonder about. I have survived on 16gb for quite a while, but am starting to need/want more. Would the 32gb on the HTC One be enough? Probably. But I can't deny the appeal or peace of mind in being able to add a 64gb microSD card to the S4.

    I think I'm off to spend a few hours watching youtube reviews of the 2 phones.
  4. slicedbread macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2006
    After owning every generation of iPhone there is, I was getting a little bored and curious about android and so I got both an HTC One and Galaxy S4 to try.

    The iOS to Android switch is quite jarring, especially for someone like me who has been iPhone and Apple native for a long time. However that is a whole topic unto itself and we could argue until the cows come home and be right back where we started...

    Specifically between the HTC one and S4:

    HTC One pros:
    • speakers are excellent
    • camera better in low light
    • excellent construction and build quality
    • mildly higher DPI screen
    • LED backlit screen
    • comes in 32GB/64GB options

    S4 pros:
    • larger screen
    • AMOLED (better in some situations)
    • higher resolution screen
    • replaceable battery
    • MicroSD
    • button layout more ergonomic

    There are loads of reviews out there and on youtube (I particularly like the reviews by MobileTechReview and Pocket Now) which cover everything really.

    A few of my opinions after owning and using both:
    • Button layout is a big factor. The HTC one has only one hardware button that can activate the screen and its at the top on the left. Coming from an iPhone I found this really difficult to get used to, particularly as the phone is so tall and makes it hard to reach. Conversely the S4 has the power button on the side which is easier to reach. It also has a hardware home key in the centre that can activate the screen; in general the home key being in the middle was more intuitive. (The HTC one's home key is capacitive and to the side of the logo, initial firmware had the capacitive buttons less responsive than expected as well, but that got patched)
    • MicroSD isn't as great as expected. Per GB it is cheaper than integrated memory but it's of lower quality and slower. Thus Android mostly prefers to install apps on the internal memory. Something to consider if you're gonna go for more than 16gb of apps. There is a speed difference shooting burst photos to the MicroSD compared to internal storage.
      However for "dumb" storage such as music/media storage then it's fine. Updated S4 firmwares now allow installing some apps to the MicroSD card, but not all. Also I think in the US the phones are the same price but the S4 comes with 16 and the HTC 32?
    • AMOLED vs LED - mostly personal preference. The AMOLED colours are more saturated - but at the expense of visibility in daylight. This is very obvious when you are out with both phones, the AMOLED needs to be at max brightness to even have a chance of being visible.
    • The DPI difference is negligible and it's more about whether you find 4.7" or 5" more comfortable to view and use.
    • Camera is personal usage - do you take more photos in good daylight or at night? If you only take photos on Instagram or for facebook, I'm honestly not sure either will make much difference. But in fact I preferred the iPhone 5's camera despite it's megapixel difference!
    • Build and physical - there is no doubt the HTC one feels better in the hand due to it's premium finish and aluminium. However the S4 is smaller/thinner and also lighter. The plastic shell gets a lot of hate, but it's not terrible either. As someone who burns through battery the option of spare batteries is great - they are much smaller and lighter than external battery packs. And you can go mental and get behemoth third party batteries if you can tolerate the size.
    • Finally the software is very different - touchwiz is huge, ugly and bloated. Samsung software designers should hang their heads in shame. Also there are a million gimmicks in the S4 - the airview, eyetracking, etc. I've never found any of it useful IRL and disable it ASAP. HTC's Sense UI is much less gaudy and is less prone to UI lag. However you are forced to used blinkfeed and you can't get rid of it. Also the ZOEs idea frustrates as they can't be exported easily to be shared (they are just a sequence of jpgs with an audio track then presented on the phone in a fancy UI).

    Either phone is excellent and you can't really go wrong. Once you become more advanced and start doing things like rooting and custom ROMs, the software differences are even less as you can install the Google Edition "pure android" versions. At that point it's down to the hardware differences and which side you prefer.
  5. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    I was in the same boat OP, and I chose the One. The S4 only has about 9GB of storage available to the user out of the box.

    As a longtime iOS user, the transition is rather steep.
  6. 0dev macrumors 68040


    Dec 22, 2009
    You'll find a lot of Android geeks have strong feelings about either handset. My advice is to simply use both in the shop and consider the specs (no microSD on One is a deal breaker right away for me) and just see which one you like.

    Personally I would never buy anything from HTC again with the experience I've had with the Sensation and I think TouchWiz is better than Sense. I also prefer Samsung's hardware and I like that the bootloader basically comes unlocked, the memory is expandable, the battery is replaceable, and the screen is bigger. But from what I understand HTC have actually got quality control on their phones now and you may prefer the aluminium housing to the plastic which some find "cheap." You may also prefer the LCD to the AMOLED (although personally I prefer AMOLED).

    Yes, both phones use micro SIM cards, and yes you can just switch your SIM between either phone and your iPhone.

    So yeah, try both and see what you like more is my advice.
  7. Krimsonmyst macrumors 6502

    Dec 18, 2012
    Another point to consider is software updates? How important is it that you keep getting updates for the foreseeable future?

    Traditionally all Android OEMs suck at this, but Samsung is, by far the manufacturer that is getting better at it. The galaxy s2 from 2 and a bit years ago is still getting updates, while HTC announced that their One s, a phone barely 18 months old, won't be receiving any extra support.
    The galaxy S3 and S4 already have early builds of android 4.3 available to download, while the one is still waiting for 4.2 (something that HTC promised would be out a little while ago)

    Also, how much do you see yourself playing around with roms and custom software? As someone said before, all Samsung devices come with their boot loaders unlocked, and probably have the larger modding community.

    For me the S4 was the clear winner in this generation, but everyone is looking for different things in a phone.

    YouTube reviews are good, playing around with them yourself is good, but at some point you just have to make a decision and go with it :-D good luck!
  8. 0dev macrumors 68040


    Dec 22, 2009
    Very true. OP, if you want to stay on the latest version of Android, get a Samsung. HTC's software support is still as awful as ever.

    The modding community on both phones is about the same size, but the Samsung is far easier to root and install ROMs on, once you get used to Odin anyway. HTC's official bootloader unlock still makes it tricky to install custom kernels and is far more fiddly than Samsung's.

    Yep, do your own research, play with the phones, then go for the one you like, simple as that.
  9. Fanaticalism macrumors 6502a

    Apr 16, 2013
    I think many that have made the transition from a long history of iPhone usage to Android have had come across this decision, myself included. I've had every iteration of iPhone starting with the 3GS.

    There are many valid opinions of the differences between the two. One thing that I appreciated of the iPhone was 3rd party support via peripherals, stability in OS support and overall app support. It is no secret that the device with the widest market share will receive these luxuries, which is ultimately what swayed me toward the GS4. Couple this with incredible contrast of AMOLED technology and that was all she wrote for me.
  10. Explicitic macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2012
    The choice really comes down to display and design. Other than that, you won't feel much of a difference with either phone.

    The Galaxy S4 sports a SAMOLED while the One has SLCD3. They are both 1920x1080, though the One's is denser due to the screen size (4.7 v. 5). If you really care too much about seeing a clear display in direct sunlight, get the One. It's a billion times brighter than the S4. I prefer the Amoled displays because for me: blacker blacks > whiter whites...

    The Galaxy S4, yes, is plastic. Even the "metal" band around it is plastic. The One is metal, unibody, whatever. I prefer the Galaxy S4 just because the design feels more natural in the hand, easier to hold. Plus I don't feel like I have to take care of my phone as if it were my baby to prevent any scratches to the beautiful metal body...

    It's not too difficult of a decision...
  11. Vegastouch, Jul 4, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2013

    Vegastouch macrumors 603


    Jul 12, 2008
    Las Vegas, NV
    I find the Micro SD to be excellent. The camera works the same and it is the camera taking the pictures. You get the choice of saving pictures on the Micro SD card or internal card. I mean c-mon....a actual camera uses a SD card to save the pictures on it. There is no difference.

    No Micro Slot for me is a no go.
  12. trina27 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Thanks so much for your extensive summary and the references to mobiletechreview.

    You mentioned button layout and I do have to agree that just in the brief time I spent at the AT&T store I found the S4 with the center button a little more intuitive.

    On the otherhand, the HTC UI did seem much better to me.

    I did go look at mobiletechreview and they had a nice 26 minute smackdown comparison between the two phones. I'm still pretty torn though. I may just have to go visit the store again and maybe flip a coin.
  13. Krimsonmyst macrumors 6502

    Dec 18, 2012
    Usually I love Mobiletechreview's videos, but in the S4 vs One shootout, they seemed to have an axe to grind against the plastic of the S4. Every time they refer to the S4 as a 'yucky plastic' outer, I sort of scrunch up my face a bit. I agree that aluminium is a nicer material, but the shape and build of the S4 feels much nicer in the hand (imo).
  14. slicedbread macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2006
    I've always used the home key to turn the phone on when I go to pick it up (habit since the first iPhone really) and couldn't get used to the HTC power button placement. And a minor thing is that the HTC doesnt have a menu button, only back and home. A few older apps still require a menu button and overlay a black bar at the bottom of the screen to simulate it. Pretty ugly. You need to install some mods to get rid of it.

    And as others have said, HTC software support is pretty poor. This phone is released on android 4.1.2 and the update to 4.2.2 hasn't come out yet. Also their previous flagship the HTC One S (only 15 months old) will not receive any further updates and won't even get to 4.2.2 now. How much do you want to support a company that has a track record of leaving users behind on software?
  15. fredaroony macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    Me too, I put 64GB cards in my Xperia Z and Xperia TX so I get 80GB with a bit taken out for the OS etc.
  16. maxosx macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    Now that I've owned both the S4 & HTC One, using them concurrently over quite some time I find them both to be excellent. That said my personal favorite is the Galaxy S4 by a fair margin. It's fit and finish are excellent and I happen to find the plastic very comfortable to hold especially for long periods of time.

    Having had each model in the Galaxy S series, I find the revisions and improvements to TouchWiz excellent. It seems to be quite fashionable to hate TouchWiz, but given a chance you may find it as nice as I do.

    Although it doesn't seem like much on paper, I do find the larger 4.99" screen of the S4, better than the 4.7" display in the one. But it would be accurate to say that I always prefer a larger display. The overall size of the S4 is ideal and seems to be the sweet spot for me.

    Battery life is another strength of the S4 as is its removable memory card, a big plus. Stepping back, you can't go wrong with either, it comes down to personal preferences.
  17. trina27 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Honestly, it may very well come down to a coin toss for me. I've read and watched reviews; read other threads here and at another forum about the HTC vs. SGS4 and they are truly both excellent phones. I do prefer the aesthetic of the HTC slightly, including the UI. But the G4 has a ton going for it including the expandable memory. I'm about to head back out to the AT&T store to have another look and we'll see what, if anything, I come home with. In some respects there is no reason I couldn't go on using the iPhone 4S for another year.
  18. Tikatika macrumors 6502


    Mar 12, 2012
    Northern California
    Good luck, OP :). I was in the same place you are in May, coming from an iphone 4S. Spent hours in Best Buy playing with both phones, read umptyclutch reviews and blogs and forums.

    And what it came down to was that the S4 just "felt right". Two months later, I love everything about the S4. The learning curve wasn't all that difficult. Live wallpaper yesterday of fireworks made me smile all day. And being girly, I have it in a gorgeous blingy case by CaseMate. It simply is a great fun phone!

    Oh, and call quality is superior.
  19. trina27, Jul 6, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013

    trina27 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Thanks for actually mentioning call quality! That is still important.

    I did spend a good 20 minutes with each phone at the store last night and honestly...I may just do a coin flip.

    I've also been doing a little bit of reading at XDA and have some questions...I may or may not be understanding everything yet! To clarify...most of my interest in this topic is because of the Samsung TouchWiz bloat/excessiveness.

    1st...both HTC & GS4 when purchased subsidized thru AT&T have locked bootloaders, correct? The HTC bootloader (at least as of a video made in May) can be easily unlocked and HTC will actually provide the token file needed to do so? While the GS4 bootloader cannot be unlocked, only exploited for a workaround called Loki?

    2nd...if I understand correctly, rooting is separate from the unlocking of bootloaders and both phones can be fairly easily rooted?

    3rd...Various custom rom's exist to take the place of the stock rom that shipped on the phone. However as long as a rom for the GS4 is "loki'd" then I can apply it to the GS4? Further, Google Experience rom versions already exist and can be applied to the AT&T subsidized phones?

    4th...Once I have applied a custom rom I would not want to accept a pushed update from HTC or Samsung so it would always be up to me to update my rom?

    5th...It is possible to restore to the OEM stock rom if I no longer wish to run one of the custom rom's?

    So, is my very basic understanding here correct?

    Regarding my thoughts between the two from the time at the we go:
  20. jimbo1mcm macrumors 68000

    Mar 21, 2010
    Did you make a decision yet?

    If not, go for the S4. I had an S3, a Droid, an Iphone 4 and Iphone 5 and the S4 beats them all. I had the HTC one overnight and sent it back because of the button placement and non-removable battery. As far as the speakers in the front, I purchased an Element atom case that ports the sound of the S4 to the front. Samsung will support their phone, HTC might not. Having a removable battery is a good thing. I really like the S4. Tell us what you did.
  21. 0dev macrumors 68040


    Dec 22, 2009
    Unlocking the bootloader is generally a prerequisite for rooting. Once the bootloader is either hacked or officially unlocked you can root or install a custom ROM (which will come with root). You can however simply root the stock ROM if you don't want custom ROMs but official OTA updates will no longer work. You can flash a pre-rooted stock ROM for the GS4 which will make OTA updates work but you lose your root if you apply them.

    The Google Experience phone is an i9505. Personally I recommend you buy one of these, either a normal one or Google Edition, because it means you don't have to bother with bootloader hacking and you don't have to worry about playing cat and mouse with carriers. Plus it'll be network unlocked and won't come with AT&T's bloatware and branding.

    If you have a custom ROM you will no longer receive OTA updates from the manufacturer unless you restore your phone to official stock. However some ROMs (such as CyanogenMod) allow OTA updates to newer versions of the ROM.

    Yes, the process differs but it's always possible.
  22. AutoUnion39 macrumors 601


    Jun 21, 2010
    Does the case really amplify the speaker?
  23. trina27 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    No, no decision least not decision in the definition of having bought one!

    I actually keep leaning slightly towards the HTC one but have posted both here and at XDA trying to figure out which one might have better call reception. At my home, my iPhone 4S ranges between -94 to -111 so I certainly need a phone whose reception is at least equal to the 4S!

    Question about the S4 though...I know the bootloader is "exploited" via loki. How likely is it that AT&T will patch that? I like that the HTC bootloader can currently be unlocked directly from HTCDev.
  24. 0dev macrumors 68040


    Dec 22, 2009
    AT&T will patch it on the next update. As I said, if you want an S4, buy the i9505 unlocked. If you want it for rooting and ROMing get the Google Edition with AOSP officially supported. That is a very nice phone. Although if you get a normal i9505 you can easily flash the Google Edition ROM anyway and the bootloader will still be unlocked.
  25. AutoUnion39 macrumors 601


    Jun 21, 2010
    Using the HTC boot loader exploit voids your warranty. With the GS4, you can reverse everything you've done.

    And I wouldn't be shocked if they patch it soon. Shouldn't matter though because once you do it and flash a ROM, you wouldn't be on the AT&T roam, so the upgrade wouldn't be forced.

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