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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  • 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.

  • The HTC One's display helped to push the handset just ahead of the Xperia Z, illustrated nicely by a marmot in the picture above.

    For me, the HTC One pips the Xperia Z to the post, I prefer the slightly smaller chassis that results from the slightly smaller screen size. The screen also provides a slightly better quality in terms of brightness and colours.

    On the down side, it's not the slimmest handset in town and the lack of a microSD expansion slot also riles me a bit, but in comparison to the overall design of the Xperia Z, I'd sacrifice a microSD slot rather than deal with the flappy covers on the SIM, microSD, and other ports on the Xperia Z. I’m also a bit of a sucker for the new BlinkFeed software too, unlike some others I find it as useful a way to fill the homescreen as any.

    Coming into this test off the back of a recent good experience with a Sony Xperia device and little good to say about recent HTC handsets, I half-expected the Sony to best the HTC for me, but it just didn’t happen. Both are great phones and neither should leave people feeling disappointed, but if I had to choose one, it'd be the HTC One.

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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