It does need an improvement when it comes to battery life though, as we noted some real issues there. It's also got one of the most unwieldy designs, with a blocky exterior only helped by the fact it's able to withstand life's knocks and lumps.
Samsung Galaxy S4
This is Samsung's best phone ever, without a doubt. We were worried that it would be something a little iterative from the S3, and while you can argue that's the case for the design, what's underneath is a new animal.
The Full HD Super AMOLED screen is fantastic, it's breathtakingly good at doing things like browsing the web and playing media, and it comes with a bunch of new ideas to play with.
The problem is those new ideas simply don't work. For all the hard work making it a decent phone, the moves from the S3 really comprise of a slightly more solid design, an uprated camera, a boosted processor and a better screen. It's still a really nifty set of changes, but it's not enough for us to recommend it over the HTC One.
The One is a masterpiece from HTC. The build quality is superb, and enshrines a really top-notch screen that really takes the fight to Samsung. BoomSound and Ultrapixels are novel and useful concepts, and the Zoe functionality brings a twist to cameraphone use, if not being the most needed of things on a phone.
It may run into some issues when it comes to the onboard storage, and heavy use will push the battery a little hard, but this is a smartphone that fuses art with power.
Winner: HTC One
The HTC One is the winner nobody would have seen coming last year, but we've got to take our hats off to the Taiwanese brand for making something so usable and well designed.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a powerhouse, and one that we like to use day to day a lot, but it's definitely all evolution without much in the way of revolution in smartphone terms.
The Sony Xperia Z feels like a great step forward for the electronics giant, if not the handset to scale the smartphone peak just yet. It's chock-full of great ideas, but needs some design and interface work before it can be considered a true great.
So if you're short on time and have to make a snap decision, go for the HTC One. We promise you won't regret it.
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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.