HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z

However, it's interesting to note that at the higher magnification, the S4 has the most jagged edges and obvious pixels, showing the HTC One has a very high-class screen.

The HTC One also uses LCD technology, but opts for Super LCD3 as a display and as a result performs so much better. It helps that its peak brightness is much higher (although beware of this munching your battery), but it also packs such an improved contrast ratio as well - far more than we've come to expect from an LCD screen.

(For the uninitiated, the contrast ratio is the distance between the full black part of the screen and the white elements - the further apart this is, the better the display, especially when used in high brightness areas).

The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a Super AMOLED Full HD screen, which is a whole new type of technology. This allows an almost infinite contrast ratio, as the black parts of the screen are true black and not slightly grey while masking the backlight needed to light up the screen.

The difference between the One and S4 is negligible to some people, but when it comes to watching video or browsing the internet, we can't help but love the S4. It's got a lower peak brightness than the One, but doesn't need to be as bright as the better contrast ratio makes everything look sharper and clearer.

Its screen packs a very slight greenish tinge when viewed at full brightness though, meaning when placed side by side with the One it can look like some sort of washing powder ad. But that hue does make watching the screen a little easier on the eyes, which is far more important.

We challenge anyone not to be a little bit wowed when looking at the 5-inch Full HD screen crammed into such a small device, but if you prefer things brighter, then the One is for you. The S4 is better on all around performance though; we simply cannot stop watching all manner of things on that glorious AMOLED display.


We know this is verging on a broken record, but once again all three phones pack a real media punch, and for different reasons. The Sony Xperia Z draws on some really powerful heritage in this space, using things like the Bravia Engine to improve the quality of movies.

HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z

HTC has drawn in Beats audio enhancement and combined it with its new BoomSound technology to create an even better sound, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 has the best sound quality of the lot - plus it's got the most intelligent audio and video monitoring of the lot to ensure consistency.

The HTC One is the only device currently sold with a 32GB internal capacity, which makes the price impressive. However, it lacks a storage slot for increasing the memory, which is rather irritating as it can fill up with music, video and photos rather quickly.

The Sony and Samsung offerings both are offered in 16GB versions (although the latter will be available in a 64GB flavour) and come with the memory card slot we love, which makes them very easy to upgrade.

When it comes to out and out video performance, you'll be able to tell that we like the Samsung the most if you check out the screen section above - and on top of that it's got the most options for altering the quality of the video on screen. It also has the best video player offered by default (HTC doesn't even HAVE one) and will auto-play thumbnails of the clips in your library too.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

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.