HTC One versus Sony Xperia Z: Smartphone flagship showdown

HTC One versus Sony Xperia Z: Smartphone flagship showdown

Summary: Hands on with HTC and Sony's high end smartphones; which one will have the edge?

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  • While Sony has done a good job of creating an ultra-thin 7.9mm depth on the Xperia Z, it pairs it with somewhat strange design choices, like making the power button on the side of the phone a large silver button that protrudes from the side of the device. I'm not really a fan of that (or the small flaps you need to open to access the SIM, microSD and charger sockets which are required to ensure it stays water and dust resistant) but it does at least provide minor differentiation from other handsets and also ensures the button remains accessible when it's being used in a case.

    Still, I prefer the narrower and slightly shorter chassis on the HTC One, which makes for a slightly more comfortable holding position. It's not that the Xperia Z is particularly wide, it just has very square edges which don't make for the most comfortable holding position.

    The One's official depth is 9.3mm and it weighs 143g, making it 3 grams lighter than the Xperia Z. The One isn't perfect though, I did repeatedly keep tapping the HTC logo at the bottom of the screen expecting me to take me to the homescreen.

  • HTC's BlinkFeed app which populates the homescreen with info from websites, the weather app, and social media sources.

    As both handsets run the Jelly Bean version of Android the feature lists are very similar, but both manufacturers are known for making modifications to some of the core apps and features. For example, the Sony Xperia  Z comes with the Walkman application in addition to the standard music player which provides a better interface and brings features like the Infinity button linking straight to info related to the artist or track that is playing, for example.

    Likewise, the HTC One also puts some emphasis on the music, continuing HTC's long tradition of integrating Beats Audio software into its phones.

    In a side-by-side comparison, my preference was for the sound produced by the HTC One, which was clearer and louder all round, likely helped by the speakers being placed on the front of the device.

    The other major difference between the two devices is software tweaks, with HTC using its new BlinkFeed app to populate the homescreen with updates from things such as Facebook, Twitter, messages, TV favourites currently showing and weather.

  • The flaps on the Xperia Z

    In contrast, the Xperia Z's homescreen feels less personal, or populated, which some people may prefer. Both have included a 'driving mode', which groups together relevant driving-related apps and displays them with oversized icons to make it easier to operate.

    Most of the user experience of the rest of the  two devices is comparably similar, but I preferred the feel of the HTC One; the screen just seemed that bit more responsive and the design of the handset appeals to me just a little more.

    Overall, for me it's a close call between these two handsets: I hadn't been particularly impressed by either brand in recent years and now along come two great devices at once.

    Both are also around about the same price – premium Android territory around the £500 mark.

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Topics: Smartphones, Mobility

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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