HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z

Sony offers Gracenote identification for each movie, so when the info is downloaded you'll get official information about your films if you've nabbed them from a hard drive. It also uses the aforementioned Mobile Bravia Engine 2, which really does well to improve the performance of an otherwise uninspiring screen.

And the HTC One is good when it comes to watching films without headphones, as the Boomsound speakers offer a really crisp and punchy sound for a mobile phone.

On the audio front they're all excellent, with intuitive players, sound enhancement and a rich UI that makes it easy to find your content. The Galaxy S4 only lets itself down in this area by having the weakest music player widget, but that's a really small criticism compared to the might of the playback.

Although it's horrendously tight, the Samsung Galaxy S4 just feels so much more professional in the media stakes and builds on a nascent heritage at making mobile media manageable, meaning we find ourselves reaching for that one when wanting a marathon music session.


What's one of the most important things a smartphone can do? Not to lose all its power when doing nothing in the pocket.

It's very difficult to talk about how strong a phone's battery is, as so many people use it for different things. Any phone is going to crumble in hours if you do a lot of video streaming, and using the camera loads (with all the processing going on) will similarly chuck the juice out the battery door.

HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z

In our tests, we found that the HTC One and the Xperia Z both did the best at the video playback test, with both of these only losing 19% when playing back a 90-minute video.

The Galaxy S4 only dropped another 2%, with 79% juice left at the end, so it's not a big problem at all. And it should be noted that we brightness corrected the test, so all had the same lumen output during the video playback. However, the Galaxy S4 uses algorithms to boost the brightness and colour reproduction up when playing back video, and with the same output managed a much, much better picture.

So like for like, the S4 lost the test, but if you want to enjoy your movie then you'll need more brightness from the One and Xperia Z, and battery life will suffer accordingly.

In real life usage, we found the Xperia Z to be the poorest. We played video and took photos on all three, then playing music and browsing the internet intermittently. Even with Stamina Mode turned on (which is supposed to save battery life when the phone is not in use by switching off mobile data and stopping apps syncing) it still only lasted until 7PM.

The HTC One managed to get to nearly 9PM, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 kept right on chugging until nearly midnight, when it still had around 10% of its juice left.

It's worth noting that all of these phones have excellent sleep modes though – if you're planning on only having them for email, a quick bit of app or internet browsing and perhaps some music on the commute, you could get up to two days' use between charges, which is a real step forward for battery management.


So - down to the main reason you'll have come here: which is the best mobile phone on the market right now and why?

Sony Xperia Z

The Sony Xperia Z is a darn good phone, there's no two ways about it. There's a really crisp screen, the waterproof shell, a strong effort at making usable media apps and a quad core processor under the hood.

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.