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iPhone 5 vs HTC One

Andrew Williams


iPhone 5 vs HTC One

iPhone 5 vs HTC One - Intro

Update: The iPhone 5 has been replaced with the plastic iPhone 5C which has almost exactly the same spcs as the iPhone 5 but with a bigger battery and the metallic iPhone 5S which is a significant upgrade.

Metal phones are in fashion, and it’s largely down to the popularity of two of the year’s best mobiles – the HTC One and the iPhone 5.

However, aside from being made of the cold, hard, shiny stuff, these are completely different phones. But which is right for you? We’ve compared their vital statistics to help you find out, from what they look like and how they sound to what they're like to use and how fast they can go...

HTC One vs iPhone 5 - Design

HTC One – Aluminium rear and front, plastic side strip, 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm, 143g

iPhone 5 – Unibody aluminium shell, 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm, 112g

The HTC One and iPhone 5 are the two highest-profile aluminium phones of the year so far. Metal is in.

However, their looks and feel are quite different. The HTC One is a much larger phone, at around 15mm wider than the iPhone. This will make quite a difference if you have smaller hands. HTC One vs iPhone 5 2

The HTC One - slim, but not super-slim

Ergonomics are completely different too. The iPhone 5 is a super-slim rectangle that doesn’t shy away from severe edges. The HTC One’s rear is a curved plate of aluminium, giving the phone a much softer feel.

It does leave the HTC significantly thicker than the iPhone 5 – 9.3mm thick against 7.6mm – but the HTC One never feels chunky. Large? Sure, but not chunky.

The sheer size of the HTC One, which makes the 4-inch iPhone 5 look petite, ensures that it’s a fair bit weightier. It’s 31g heavier, but what’s notable here is not how heavy the HTC One feels, but how light the iPhone 5 is. Almost unnervingly so. HTC One vs iPhone 5 7

The HTC One is the only one of this pair to use any plastic in its construction. There’s a strip of white plastic (or black in the black version) that runs around the phone’s outside edge. It's a bit of a dirt magnet, but doesn't reduce the strength of the body.

HTC One vs iPhone 5 1

HTC One vs iPhone 5 – Internal Speaker

HTC One – Stereo speakers, front-facing

iPhone 5 – Mono speaker, fires out of bottom of phone

Speakers are an often-neglected part of mobile gadgets – even though they’re used pretty frequently. The iPhone 5 has a decent-quality speaker for its size, offering reasonable treble fidelity for a phone. In standard Apple fashion, there’s a decent baseline experience on offer here.

However, the speaker is still pretty limited. The sound fires from the bottom of the phone, through two grilles that sit to either side of the Lightning port, but the sound comes from a simple mono driver.

Why two grilles for a single speaker? It makes the sound much harder to muffle, which becomes particularly important if you’re playing games or watching a movie – holding the phone in landscape orientation.

The HTC One is a cut above. It uses a pair of user-facing speakers mounted to the front of the phone. They fire through the little dotty grille cut into the area above and below the screen.

HTC One speaker

This combo offers much better bass, more meaty sound and higher volume than almost any other phone out there at the moment. If anything, we found that the lowest volume was a little too high at times, rather than there not being enough on tap.

The HTC One also has a Beats mode, which tailors the sound for the small speaker, making it sound richer and more refined. It does this (in part) by cutting the mid frequencies, which give small speakers like this an 'ugly' edge.

Of course, it’s still nowhere near good enough to consider a ‘mini hi-fi’ if you want to use your phone as a music source – let’s not get carried away here, folks. For kitchen listening though – especially for podcasts or the radio – it’s great.

HTC One vs iPhone 5

HTC One vs iPhone 5 – Screen

HTC One – 4.7-inch 1080p IPS screen

iPhone 5 – 4-inch 1,136 x 640-pixel IPS screen

A comparison of the screens of the HTC One and iPhone 5 is a case of weighing up similarities and differences. Most obvious of all, the HTC One screen is significantly larger than the iPhone 5’s.

It is 4.7 inches across where the iPhone 5’s is a 4-incher. As we find with so many of this year’s top-end Android phones, the HTC One makes the iPhone 5 seem a bit toy-like in its small size. This instantly makes HTC’s phone better to watch videos on.

HTC One vs iPhone 5 3

Their resolutions are also completely different. The HTC One’s display is one of the most pixel-packed we’ve ever seen. It has a 1080p screen like the Samsung Galaxy S4, but as it’s packed into a smaller space than that 5-inch phone, it’s even sharper. Pixel density is a staggering 469ppi.

We thought the iPhone 5’s 326ppi 1,136 x 640 display was impressive, but HTC takes it to the next level. There is an argument to be made that density beyond the iPhone 5’s is a bit pointless as you can’t tell the difference in sharpness, but the HTC One’s screen is more immediately impressive, for multiple reasons.

Both phones use the same screen type – IPS. This is an excellent panel type for phones, offering great viewing angles, fairly natural colours and decent contrast.

HTC One vs iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 and 4S, side-by-side

These are two of our favourite mobile phone screens. But for adding those extra screen inches without any sense of sacrificing sharpness, the HTC One gets our vote.

HTC One vs iPhone 5 7

HTC One vs iPhone 5 – Storage

HTC One – 32/64GB, non-expandable

iPhone 5 – 16/32/64GB, non-expandable

Over the last few years, HTC has ticked off a few old-school Android fans – it was one of the companies that started cutting out memory card slots from its phones. The HTC One carries on that trend. If you want expandable memory you’ll have to look to the Galaxy S4.

As a seriously high-end phone, HTC has sensibly made 32GB the lowest storage option for the HTC One – slap a few videos on a 16GB phone and you’ll soon find its memory eaten up. There’s also a 64GB version of the HTC One, however it comes at a frankly scary premium. You’re looking at around £700.

iPhones never have, and perhaps never will, offer memory card slots. The iPhone 5 is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB editions. Much like the HTC One, the range tops out at £700 - whic is how much the 64GB model costs SIM-free.

HTC One vs iPhone 5 1

HTC One vs iPhone 5 – CPU and Power

HTC One – Quad-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Krait, 2GB RAM

iPhone 5 – Dual-core 1.2GHz Apple A6, 1GB RAM

Looking at the specs alone, the HTC One appears to be much, much more powerful. It has a quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 CPU using the up-to-date Krait architecture. The iPhone 5 has a dual-core 1.2GHz processor with the, admittedly also pretty darn new, Cortex-A15 architecture.

The HTC One has double the RAM, 2GB instead of 1GB. HTC One vs iPhone 5 6

In theory, the HTC One should squish the iPhone 5 in between its curvy aluminium fingers. It’s not quite so simple, though.

In the Sunspider benchmark, which is roughly a test of how fast a device can render webpages, the iPhone 5 significantly outperforms the HTC One. It completes the test in around 900ms, where it takes the HTC One closer to 1400ms. Much of this is down to software optimisation.

Geekbench, which is a much wider test of a gadget’s performance, shows results closer to those we’d expect to see. The HTC One comes out with 2719 points, the iPhone 5 1612 points.HTC One vs iPhone 5 5

The HTC One is a more powerful phone, with a generation’s worth of spec upgrades. However, Android's less taut system design and a seeming slight lack of optimisation on HTC’s part seems to hold the HTC One back a tiny bit – the Samsung Galaxy S4 shows stronger performance than the iPhone 5 across the board.

HTC One vs iPhone 5 6

HTC One vs iPhone 5 – Software

HTC One – Android 4.2 with HTC Sense

iPhone 5 – iOS 6, iOS7 incoming

The HTC One saw HTC debut a brand new version of its long-standing Sense Android interface. And it has a new look.

It’s pared-back and simple – and pretty stylish compared with the older version. BlinkFeed takes centre stage. This is a home screen that shows you recent updates from your favourite websites in a scrolling feed of tiles. The various widgets are also starker and simpler than ever before. It’s a good effort from HTC.HTC One vs iPhone 5 4

HTC's BlinkFeed

The iPhone 5’s software currently looks more-or-less like it always has. However, that’s all due to change in just a few short months.

iOS 7 gives the iPhone operating system a complete visual overhaul. Some say it looks a bit like Android – some say that’s a bad thing – but it adds a bunch of useful features, including a camera app that has a good deal more to it – such as filters.

HTC One vs iPhone 5 6

HTC One vs iPhone 5 – Camera

HTC One – 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera with LED flash

iPhone 5 – 8-megapixel camera with LED flash

The iPhone 5 camera was a minor upgrade to its predecessor, the iPhone 4S. It uses a re-worked lens construction that helps the camera fit into the phone’s ultra-slim body. It is a great camera, capable of making some great shots in good lighting.

Periphery features you get with the iPhone 5’s iOS 6 camera app include HDR mode, which melds two exposures to render more detail in any given scene – especially those with tricky lighting – and the panorama mode. The iPhone panorama is particularly impressive, as it captures at full resolution rather than at cut-down quality like many other phones.iPhone 5

An iPhone 5 test shot

The HTC One offers many, many more features, though, and takes a much more dynamic approach to its camera technology. As well as HDR and panorama, the HTC One brings oodles of features and effects, Zoe mode, HDR video and more.

What’s far more notable is how its sensor works. The strategy of the HTC One's UltraPixel tech is to use a sensor roughly the same size as the current top dogs, but to have fewer, larger photo sensor pixels. These are able to harvest more light in the same exposure time as rivals.


An HTC One test shot

The real-life result of this is that the HTC One takes far, far better low-light shots than an iPhone 5. In bright daylight, though, the iPhone 5 will capture far more detail. Four megapixels only get you so far.

HTC One vs iPhone 5 6

HTC One vs iPhone 5 – Verdict

The HTC One is a bolder, more dynamic phone than the iPhone 5. It takes more risks with its camera, software and design than the iPhone – not that Apple’s latest really needed to innovate dramatically to draw a crowd. The HTC is also far better for movie-watching thanks to its much larger screen. If there was ever a phone to tempt Apple fans away from their beloved iPhones, this is it. That Android doesn’t have as good as apps or games selection as iOS ensures the iPhone 5 keeps the lead in some respects, though.

Read also: HTC One M8 review

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