Samsung and HTC have made a habit of introducing their new flagship Android smartphones each spring within a month of each other, which inevitably leads to head-on comparisons of the two. This year HTC is attempting to build on the momentum of its One lineup with the new One M8, while Samsung tries to maintain its Android marketshare dominance with the Galaxy S5. Both devices come with the current Android 4.4 “KitKat” system software preinstalled, suggesting that the days of the two vendors struggling to keep their devices compatible with Android platform development may have come to a close. While both devices offer largely similar technical specs, including screen sizes that are nearly the same, there are notable differences in hardware and software.
The Galaxy S5 continues Samsung’s pattern of bundling a host of in-house apps on its devices. Those apps have generally not improved in quality over their Galaxy S4 counterparts, and take up just as much storage space. But at worst the apps are a one-time annoyance, as they can be deleted in order to reclaim that free space. Samsung’s insistence on packing the S5 with software may be a turnoff to some potential buyers. But it’s difficult to classify HTC’s relative lack of bundled apps on the One M8 as an advantage, either.
The more defining difference between the two phones comes down to build quality. Samsung continues to use a soft plastic outer shell on the Galaxy S5, despite the widespread criticism it received for doing so on the S4. That alone is enough to give the One M8 the nod in terms of its more sturdily constructed body. Still, the two devices are similar enough overall in terms of tech specs, Android system software version, and screen size that the argument for the M8 over the S5 is a narrow one.
Both devices will face a challenge in the fall when Google delivers its successor to the Nexus 5, the highly rated Android phone whose only liability is the fact that it’s been on the market for half a year and offers last year’s tech specs. In the mean time, Samsung and HTC will continue to battle it out for Android market dominance. Samsung won the sales battle decisively last year – can HTC turn the tables this time around?