Last month I selected the Samsung Galaxy Note II as the current top smartphone to consider and I didn't think HTC would come through with a product good enough to change my mind. Since then I spent serious time with the HTC One and saw yesterday's Galaxy S 4 announcement. As great as my Note II is, I would put the HTC One on top thanks in large part to its fantastic hardware and innovative camera functionality.
Samsung Galaxy S 4
The upcoming Galaxy S 4 looks nearly the same as the Galaxy S III, with updated internal specs and several software enhancements. It will likely sell millions, just like the GSIII, but I don't see many current GSIII or Note II owners looking to upgrade to the GS 4.
Samsung followed Apple's lead this time and announced a device with incremental industrial design changes. While their vast software enhancements play well in commercials and press events, I am not sure their shotgun strategy sinks in too deeply or results in actual feature usage after the initial two weeks one spends with the device.
My Note II was my favorite smartphone ever and I actually did use a couple of the software enhancements, primarily the multi-window utility and S Pen functionality. Many of the utilities (eye scrolling, smart scan, etc.) and software features are not quite as easy to use as shown in commercials and I wonder how many people are actually asking for functions such as eye scrolling.
The Galaxy S 4 looks to use the same kind of plastic currently on the GSIII and Note II. Unlike the plastics used on Nokia Lumia and other HTC products, the Samsung plastic backs are a bit thin and glossy. However, I find my Note II to be a fairly solid product and don't think the construction will deter many sales of the Galaxy S 4.
I am planning to finish my own full review of the HTC One on Monday, but you can read current reviews and see that everyone universally agrees the hardware is fantastic with many stating it is the best phone they have ever used. It is quite a bit smaller than my Galaxy Note II and it is refreshing going back to using a pocketable device.
While the hardware is stunning and everyone needs to get their hands on one, the cool BlinkFeed and camera software (Zoe and highlight videos) add to my enthusiasm for the product. I honestly thought I would bypass BlinkFeed, but after nearly a week I think HTC's data that people enjoy "snacking" on this info is correct as I find myself regularly flipping through my BlinkFeed. It helps that the display looks better than ANYTHING else on the market.
I understand the HTC One is delayed a couple weeks, no US carrier release announcements have even been made yet, but Samsung also stated they won't have the new Galaxy S 4 out until the end of April. HTC needs to work hard to get the HTC One out as soon as possible and spend major money on marketing to tell their very compelling story.
The next couple of months are going to be very interesting and I sure hope HTC can turn things around with the HTC One. I do like my Note II and Samsung products, but the HTC One sets the standard for hardware and I would hate to see them get knocked out of the market.