But we love the fact there's a superb effort on the HTC One to make the smartphone more accessible, from the reduction in apps on the grid (which HTC says is the direct result of research into finding out what barriers consumers are finding to smartphone purchase, although you can extend this) to the more helpful tutorial screens that litter the phone when you turn it on.
The blend of simplicity and power here is what makes us feel that handing our grandmother the HTC One will be the least difficult experience... providing she doesn't go into BlinkFeed, that is.
There are two ways of looking at performance: either real life use or by trotting out a number of benchmarks to see how strong a phone is when it comes to raw grunt.
In both cases the Sony Xperia Z comes last - its attempts to show that its quad-core processor can mix it with the big boys showed there's still a little way to go in terms of making a smartphone that just works without flaw.
In terms of benchmarking, the Z is far behind its peers, seemingly the result of Sony finding its feet as a full smartphone brand. It also has a few bugs in the software causing it to pause and flicker on a couple of apps – it's nothing major but it's also not a problem we're seeing in the other devices.
In terms of performance, there's very little to choose between the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4. The latter nudges it in the Antutu Android test, but it's honours even in the browser benchmarking tests, showing that there's not much to choose here if you're going to raw power.
Neither will falter even under heavy use, which is great news for the smartphone users of the world.
It's just a shame that Samsung didn't unleash the octa-core version of its phone onto the UK and US – apparently that thing is shredding up benchmark charts the world over…
Value for money
When it comes to value for money, it's hard to argue the case for any of these phones, as each is at the top end of the scale when you're thinking about the monthly fee to fork over.
However, there is a slight disparity between the three, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes at the wrong end of it. It's available for £580 SIM free, where the other two can be nabbed for £530 and £490 respectively. This is less of an issue when it comes to contracts, where the S4 is £1 more expensive per month, and carries a higher upfront cost to boot.
None of the three really cost over the odds though - £35 is the rough marker we'd expect to be paying per month for a top end smartphone (if you want a decent whack of minutes and internet allowance) and all three manage to sit in that area.
But there's no doubt that the Galaxy S4 offers less value for money than the other two, simply because it has arguably the lowest design values and the highest price. It's got some decent internals, but there's a worry that the South Korean brand is getting a little too much like Apple in its high-end price strategy.
It's a hard choice between the HTC One and Xperia Z in the value for money stakes: the Z is cheaper, but comes with half the memory. That said, you can add a memory card into the Sony version to expand the memory, and for less than the £40 difference between the costs.
The HTC One could be considered the best economically, as it has the best feature set and design combination while not taking the mickey when it comes to price either – but the lower price and high feature set of the Xperia Z mean it should get the value for money title.
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Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.