This year we’ll be having a pretty interesting battle on the high-end Android smartphone segment. We already have two powerful competitors for the best smartphone of 2013, the Sony Xperia Z and HTC One, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 is yet to come. Personally I was expecting LG to also have a powerful smartphone launched in the first quarter of 2013, but the LG Optimus G Pro and its 5.5-inch is rather a phablet than a smartphone.
While the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a mystery to us all, we though it’s about time to put two of it’s biggest rivals in a head to head HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z battle. Both the HTC One and the Xperia Z belong to the same generation of smartphones, therefore you shouldn’t be too surprised if you find a lot of similarities between the two.
Both the Sony Xperia Z and the HTC One are expected to become one of the most popular smartphones of 2013, and judging by their technical specifications we can already consider them worthy rivals for Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and Apple’s iPhone 5S.
As you probably noticed the standards of the 2013 Android smartphone segment have been set by the first devices that debuted at CES 2013, MWC 2013 or in-between the two reputed tech fairs, therefore most of the high-end Android-powered smartphones will be packing quad-core Cortex A15 processors, 2 GB of RAM, and full HD displays.
The winner of the HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z battle will be elected after seven rounds. Each round will bring one point for the winner, and, in the end, the winner of the HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z fight will be the smartphone that scored the most points. We will be judging the two smartphones based on Display, Dimensions, Processor, Connectivity, Memory, Operating System, and Camera.
Anyway, let’s go ahead and begin the first round of the HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z battle.
To me (and probably to many of the smartphone users out there), the display is one of the most important characteristics of a device, mostly because it’s the thing you are looking at each time you turn on/unlock your smartphone. That’s why I think it’s very important for the user to love the display of his/her smartphone.
As I mentioned above, because the HTC One and the Sony Xperia Z belong to the same generation of smartphones, they both align to what will supposedly be the standards for the 2013 market: 4.7+ full HD displays.
In the red corner we have the Sony Xperia Z packing a 5-inch full HD TFT display with a pixel density of 441 ppi and in the blue corer there’s the HTC One with a 4.7-inch Super LCD3 display with a resolution of 1,080 x 1,920 pixels and a density of 469 ppi.
While the differences between the TFT and the Super LCD3 panels aren’t huge, the HTC One brings a slightly higher pixel density, but most of the users will not notice it.
In my opinion, the Xperia Z’s display is insignificantly better when it comes to web browsing, gaming or video playback (because it’s bigger) while the HTC One’s display is a little bit more friendly when it comes to handling the smartphone with one hand (because it’s slightly smaller).
Summing up, because there are no huge differences between the displays of the two smartphones, the HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z display round ends as a tie.
While some customers look at the display of the smartphone, other want their smartphones to be compact and thin. The phone makers know this, that’s why they are trying to make a compromise between installing big displays, providing decent battery life and building light and thin smartphones.
The Sony Xperia Z measures 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm, being one of the thinnest smartphones currently on the market, only 0.3 mm thicker than Apple’s iPhone 5. The Xperia Z also weighs 146 grams.
On the other hand the HTC One is 137.4 mm tall, 68.2 mm wide, and 9.3 mm thick, while weighing 143 grams.
The Xperia Z is definitely taller and wider than the HTC One, but we should’t forget that it has to accommodate a slightly bigger display. The weight difference of 3 grams is too minor to be taken into consideration, while the Sony flagship is definitely the thinner of the two, which is enough to secure the point allocated for the Dimensions round.
The processor is the heart of a smartphone, therefore this one will be a tough round.
The Sony Xperia Z is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset with 1.5 GHz Krait 200 cores and Adreno 320 GPU, while the HTC One is underpinned by the Snapdragon 600 SoC, launched earlier this year at CES 2013, based on four Krait 300 cores clocked at 1.7 GHz, helped by the same Adreno 320 GPU.
The S4 Pro and the Snapdragon 600 are basically the same chip. The model number is almost identical (APQ8064 vs APQ8064T; the Plus, Prime, and 800 all have very different model numbers), same fabrication process at 28 nm, same L0, L1, and L2 caches, same GPU. The difference is higher clock speed (1.5 vs 1.7 GHz), and potentially a faster/bigger memory channel.
By no means does the S4 Pro instantly become antiquated. Between it and the 600, they’re more similar than they are different.
But, the Snapdragon 600 is quad core Krait 300 (as opposed to 200 in MSM8960 or APQ8064) which brings a 15 percent increase in IPC as well as higher clocks (from 1.5 to 1.7 GHz), for about 20–30 percent higher overall CPU performance. 20 – 30% it’s significant but not huge.
Because the HTC One brings a newer and more powerful chipset, the processor battle is won by the Taiwanese flagship smartphone.
The connectivity aspects are pretty important for a smartphone, but the differences between the flagship smartphones of different companies are minor and sometimes inexistent.
Since the LTE is one of the major selling points for the modern smartphones, both the Xperia Z and the HTC One come with support for the 4G LTE networks.
The other connectivity features are similar: Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.0, NFC chip, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, but the HTC One also comes with infrared port and WiFi ac.
The differences in terms of connectivity are minor between the two terminals, therefore this HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z round ends as tie.
The storage aspects of the modern smartphones are sure important, as there’s a lot of content available in Play Store and, as you probably know, some games are sized 1+ GB.
Of course, some will say that there are a lot of storage in the cloud solutions out there, but they are not ideal while on a mobile data connection.
The Sony Xperia Z comes with 16 GB of internal storage, while the HTC One has two internal storage options 32 and 64 GB.
Because both smartphones come with unibody cases, the microSD card support isn’t available on any of them.
The Xperia Z and the HTC One come with 2 GB of RAM, and since the Taiwanese smartphone comes with more internal storage we must feel obliged to award it another point.
Both run on Android, both run on Jelly Bean, both run on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. Of course, you will say there’s no difference between the two, since they run the same Android version, but, in fact, the way each company implements its proprietary user interface over the stock Android is sometime a reason to buy or say no to a smartphone.
Of course, just like most of the Android smartphone markers, Sony has included its own UI skin on top of the software but it’s not as deep as Samsung’s TouchWiz UI or LG’s Optimus UI, and is rather more close to the stock build. Sony says that the unified UI will bring the same user experience to tablets and phones, and include its media apps.
In fact, in my opinion, it’s not as great as Sony claims it to be. It brings a lot of Sony apps and services and widgets, and many of them are useless, especially for the users that never had a Sony smartphone or tablet.
On the other hand the HTC One brings company’s proprietary Sense UI, which now reached version 5.0. The Sense UI is one of the most controversial user interfaces in the Android environment, and while some purchased the HTC smartphones especially for the HTC user interface, others castes glances to the competition because the Sense wasn’t their thing.
I can’t say I’m the biggest Sense fan, but I’ll have to admit that the Blink Feed it’s pretty nice. Of course, you can as well use Flipboard, but the idea of having a feature like this integrated in the operating system, and knowing that HTC made a lot of efforts, teaming-up with various publications, to bring the latest new feeds on the display of their smartphones would make be consider the One.
In case you don’t know it already, HTC describes the Blink Feed feature as a “personal live stream straight to the homescreen.” You’ll find pre-defined news feeds (similar to an RSS reader) using ‘more than 1,400 media sources’, Facebook updates, Twitter and gallery content, including stuff from the new HTC Zoe camera feature.
Courtesy of the Blink Feed feature, the HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z operating system battle is won by the HTC flagship.
Well, there’s a close one here. While Sony’s Exmor R sensor has a good reputation, HTC’s UltraPixel camera might be capable of setting the standards on the segment.
The Sony Xperia Z comes with a traditional 13 megapixel camera with autofocus, LED flash, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, image stabilization, HDR, sweep panorama, and full HD video recording with continuous autofocus, video light, video stabilizer, HDR.
On the other hand, the HTC One boasts a 4 megapixel UltraPixel camera with autofocus and LED flash, but with 1/3” sensor size, 2µm pixel size, simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, face and smile detection, and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). The camera also comes with full HD video recording capabilities, HDR, stereo sound recording, and video stabilization.
Of course, we can’t know yet which of the two camera sensors have better performace, as no one has put them head to head yet. Until the HTC One and the Xperia Z pass the real-life camera test, this round will be a draw.
Here we are, at the end of the HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z battle, and I guess you are just as curious as me too see which of the two is the best.
Because the two smartphones belong to the same generations and because both Sony and HTC want to become one of the most important smartphone makers, we’ve ended as tie when it came to Display (both coming with similar sized full HD displays), Connectivity (4G and all the features worthy of high-end smartphones are there), and Camera (we couldn’t see the results of the real-life tests, so far).
The Sony Xperia Z has outmatched the HTC One when it came to Dimensions, because the Sony smartphone has a profile of only 7.9 mm, being one of the thinnest smartphones out there.
HTC One has ended victorious when it came to Processor, Memory, and Operating System, courtesy of the powerful Snapdragon 600 chipset, the two storage options available (32 and 64 GB of storage), and HTC’s interesting Blink Feed feature.
Summing up, the HTC One is our winner with 3 points, while the Sony Xperia Z scored just 1 point, but it was on par with its rival in three out of seven rounds.
Do you think the HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z battle should have had another winner? Please let us know in the comments section below.
UPDATE: Just like Andy Keogh Parker pointed out, the Sony Xperia Z comes with microSD card slot (up to 32 GB of storage supported), thus the HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z memory battle is also a draw. Even so, the HTC One is still the winner, but by a smaller margin, with a final score of 2 – 1.