After the official launch of HTC’s flagship smartphone, it became clear that the One and Sony’s hit model, the Xperia Z, which was presented at CES, would be in contention for the title of smartphone king this season. Full HD screens, quad-core Qualcomm chipsets, supreme design, innovative camera options and sound playback are some of the areas in which these two smartphones are competing, surpassing one another by a close shave.
Let’s start with the display: the winner is definitely the HTC One. Not because its pixel density is somewhat greater than the Xperia Z’s (469 ppi compared to 441 ppi) — both devices offer exceptional imaging sharpness and the difference cannot be seen with the naked eye — but because it offers a far better contrast and viewing angle. Blacks are much blacker on the One than on the Xperia Z, while whites are also far whiter, making the dynamic range of color greater on the HTC model. The difference regarding color contrast is clearly evident with the naked eye, just as it can be seen that contrast and color saturation remain the same on the One regardless of the viewing angle, while these are lost on Sony’s Xperia Z if the display is viewed at an angle.
When it comes to speed, the devices are equal. It is true that HTC’s handset provided better results after synthetic benchmark tests of speed, according to both initial tests and the fact that it has a somewhat newer chipset running on a greater frequency (four Krait 300 cores on 1.7 GHz, compared to Xperia Z’s 1.5 GHz Krait). However, both devices are as fast as lightning and the differences are hard to spot even while performing the most demanding of tasks, like zooming in and out or scrolling through very heavy web sites or forwarding video clips.
In the design department, Sony has the advantage, simply because it is waterproof and because it looks like a Sony phone (i.e. original, not as if it were crafted by someone in love with iPhone 5 and/or Blackberry Z10). That’s not to say that I do not like the way the HTC One looks, especially the silver version. However, apart from all of the above, the Xperia Z is also two millimeters slimmer while also being two millimeters wider and two millimeters taller than the HTC One. And one must not forget that Xperia Z has a 5-inch diagonal while HTC One has “only” a 4.7-inch diagonal. Furthermore, HTC may be crafted out of aluminum, but Sony has even slicker material on its front and back: glass.
When it comes to the user interface — the convincing winner is the HTC One. BlinkFeed, a type of Flipboard built in the homescreen that is refreshed in real time, looks good and is both innovative and very configurable. If someone does not like the look of it, it can be removed and many other advanced Sense UI options can be used, which has been one of users’ favorite Android OS skins for years. Sony’s UI modifications are insignificant, lack ideas and do not offer anything we cannot find in poorer third-party UIs.
Regarding the camera and sound playback features, despite HTC’s great emphasis on the work it put into the One, it cannot compete with the engineering knowledge that Sony has. The UltraPixel camera on HTC One yields above average results, but only when objects that are not highly dynamic are being shot, and its maximum resolution comes out to a 4 humble megapixels. True, not everything is about megapixels — a lot is about pixel size — but photos taken by Sony Xperia Z’s 13-megapixel camera are better, especially when HDR is turned on. The same remarks apply to the phones’ sound reproduction, with the Xperia Z edging out the One.
When all is said and done, however, the choice ultimately comes down to each user’s specific needs. Those who find supreme imaging on displays and a modern user interface to be the most important criteria while selecting a smartphone will see HTC One as the clear choice between these two flagships. Fans of great design and supreme multimedia options, meanwhile, will find that no other model can hold a candle to Sony’s Xperia Z.