Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One (M8)

27 March 2014

Last year the Galaxy S4 and HTC One were neck & neck in quality and performance, yet the S4 dominated in sales while the One fell in to relative obscurity. This year is HTC’s big chance to come back and take some of that lost market share with the new HTC One (M8), but it’ll have to get past the Galaxy S5 first.

Neither of these phones represents a huge upgrade over its predecessor. Both boast the same 1080p resolution of last year’s flagships, and both offer an appreciable, albeit expected improvement in power and hardware.

The Galaxy S5 was the first to be announced, garnering a large amount of media attention although less so than in previous years. Now that the One (M8) has been officially unveiled, we can compare how these two devices look and get some idea of what to expect.

Telstra Optus Vodafone Virgin Mobile
Samsung Galaxy S5 16GB Telstra plans Optus plans Vodafone plans Virgin Mobile plans
HTC One M8 Telstra plans Optus plans Vodafone plans N/A

Side by side

Galaxy S5

HTC One (M8)
Display 5.1 inch 1080p (432ppi)
5 inch 1080p (440ppi)
Display tech
Super LCD3
Android version
4.4 KitKat
4.4.2 KitKat
Camera 16MP 4 Ultrapixel + secondary rear camera
CPU Quad-core 2.5GHz
Quad-core 2.3GHz
Storage 16GB/32GB 16GB/32GB
MicroSD Yes Yes
USB 3.0 2.0
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
802.11 b/g/n/ac
Battery 2800mAh 2600mAh
4G LTE Yes, Cat4 Yes, Cat4
GPU Adreno 330
Adreno 330
Dimensions 142mm x 72.5mm x 8.1mm 146.4mm x 70.6mm x 9.4mm
Weight 145g 160g
Water resistant?
Yes, IP67 certified

Galaxy S5 camera

The 16MP shooter on the Galaxy S5 sounds impressive. It combines two kinds of autofocus, one of which is common in smartphones - called Contrast Autofocus - and the other which is more common in expensive DSLR cameras - called Phase Detection. This pairing allows it to achieve focus within a third of a second, and enables a range of useful features.

Among these is the ability to readjust your focus after you have taken a photo, which should be very helpful to the less photographically proficient among us. Another is its ability to take HDR photos simultaneously, allowing for clearer images when there are differences in lighting across a single image. Traditionally three back-to-back photos taken with different levels of exposure have been required for this.

HTC One (M8) camera

HTC has continued down its patented Ultrapixel path. Technically this means that the One (M8) has just a 4MP camera, but it's how you use those megapixels that's important. The underlying premise is that fewer pixels allow for more light to be captured, which in turn makes for superior low-light and night time images.

The Ultrapixel approach also works well during the day. This is thanks to some clever imaging sensor technology from HTC that provides a smooth image despite the fewer pixels. We do have some concern that HTC seems to be using the same technology as last year in many respects, at least on paper. Hopefully there's more going on behind the scenes to provide an upgrade in photo quality over last year's model.

Intriguingly, HTC has included a depth sensing lens on the back of the One (M8). This is to allow for the same post-photo focus readjustment as the Galaxy S5, yet the S5 uses just one camera. It will be interesting to see which of these two novel approaches proves to be superior.

There's also some other features that allow for funky post-editing. The depth sensor has the ability to separate the foreground from the back, opening the way for you to play with one without touching the other. You can make your friends look like they're standing in a cartoon wonderland, or once the next camera update rolls out around April 15th, even copy them from one photo and place them in between objects in another.

Our top features

The Galaxy S5 is highly water resistant. It is rated IP67, which means that it can survive in up to 1m (3 feet) of water for up to half an hour. As such it should be pretty much immune to accidentally spillage and unplanned trips in to the kitchen sink.

We're also big fans of the fingerprint scanner on the S5 situated under the screen. This is similar to the one found on the iPhone 5s, except that in Australia Samsung has paired with PayPal to allow for easy and secure online payments. This may prove to be a big hit with consumers.

The HTC One (M8) wins the style award. Admittedly it looks very similar to last year's model, but there's no fault in echoing success. The unibody aluminium frame is back in all of its gorgeous glory. It's a bit more rounded-off this time around, and the capacitive buttons have been replaced by on-screen ones, but it's still a sight to behold.

Pricing on Aussie carriers

Telstra has both phones for the same price. The $82 and $101 plans are definitely the best value in terms of data. For just $1 per month more than the $81 plan, the $82 offers an extra 1GB of data. If you go as high as the $134 plan, you're paying $33 per month more for a mere 500MB over the $101 plan.

Galaxy S5 on Telstra Plans One (M8) on Telstra plans

On Optus the One (M8) is a bit cheaper than the S5 by around $3-$4 per month depending on the plan. On Optus the $76/$72 plan is our pick. For $5 more than the next plan down you get 3x the data. If you want just 500MB more you'll need to fork out another $15/$16 per month.

Galaxy S5 on Optus Plans One (M8) on Optus plans

Right now only the Galaxy S5 is available for pre-order from Virgin. No release date for the HTC One (M8) has been given.

Virgin Mobile still combines texts and calls together in to one allotted credit amount. Right now the $73 and $93 plans offer double the data. They are usually just 1.5GB for $73 and 3GB for the $93.

The Galaxy S5 is $4 more per month than the One (M8) on the two lower plans, but the same price on the $100.Vodafone is offering double data on all of its Red Plans until the first of July. All Red Plans offer infinite national standard calls and infinite texts both within Australia and to overseas mobile numbers. The added credit can be used for making overseas calls, which is a nice bonus if you have family living elsewhere.

Galaxy S5 on Vodafone Plans One (M8) on Vodafone plans


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