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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


March 25, 2013, 8:22 pm

HTC is the one to go with here. It's sink or swim for that company at the moment, so it you can be rest assured they put in the extra effort to impress the hell out of the consumer. Tim Cook is under some pressure at the moment, but not to HTC's extent, he still has a comfy few billion bucks cushioning his fall.


March 26, 2013, 1:29 pm

Tempted to go for this phone, the competitors have been a real let down with pointless unnecessary features, just waiting for Apple to play their cards before I make my move.


March 26, 2013, 10:29 pm

I was waiting for Apple to play its cards too, but after waiting for so long now, my patience ran out. And with Jonathan Ive leading software development, I'm not sure it's going to get better. IOS does not want to be even more simplified, but made more flexible, and I don't think that's what Ive will bring. I hope I'm wrong..

enri viisileht

March 26, 2013, 10:39 pm

Well, 32GB One costs here 640€ and the IPhone 5 32GB 790€, so i'm failing to see why should anyone pay 150€ extra for the phone that has inferior display, battery life and graphics card.


March 29, 2013, 11:17 am

It's a no brainer. We won't see iPhone 6 for a while and it's probably going to be more of the same...by then we will probably have the next HTC One iteration...

Robert Elliot

June 17, 2013, 3:35 pm

I don't get why the "storage" section is awarded to the HTC. From the text, they offer the same amounts of non-upgradable storage at the same price. If there's some other reason, the text fails to mention it.

As an aside, the UX on registering to post sucks. Sign in with twitter - and then still have to register with Disqus. So what's the point of that, then? And having done so it refreshed this page, deleting the comment I'd already written. Quality.


June 17, 2013, 3:43 pm

Hmm the Storage section is meant to be evens between the two - it's the graphic below the paragraph that relates to the 'win'. If that's not clear maybe we should tweak how it looks.

Robert Elliot

June 17, 2013, 3:51 pm

Ah, OK, I understand - that makes much more sense. Thanks for the clarification.


June 18, 2013, 10:28 am

I find it interesting that you give the win on the camera front to the HTC One, when in the majority of applications the iPhone 5 takes markedly superior shots.


June 18, 2013, 10:28 am

phones don't have graphics cards - they have SoCs with graphics cores.


June 19, 2013, 7:47 am

this is how good the HTC one is...i received the Z10 from work in Feb and i have recently bought my HTC one after buying one for my wife...i hardly even touch my Z10 anymore..i have set up the exchange account on my HTC so virtually no use for my Z10. HTC one is the best and it was our first android ever! i refrained from droids in the past due to their known problems but decided to jump after being blown away by its looks and feels and after reading the reviews. i got one for my wife then i used it for few weeks and i decided to get one for myself. you cant go wrong with it!


June 20, 2013, 1:45 am

the key word is INFERIOR :)


July 26, 2013, 4:32 pm

I've been trying to figure out which two phones to get and after reading this, I have made up my mind and i'm going to get the HTC one :) Thanks!

Dana Harper

August 6, 2013, 1:59 pm

the HTC one has a dedicated "image chip"

Fei Wang

August 6, 2013, 2:29 pm

After comparing with iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4, we purchased 2 HTC One yesterday. They are blazing fast! Anytthing is a breeze and joy! The sound is so good. The screen is so sharp, same as my 50' HD TV :) Hope new iPhone will have bigger screen.


September 8, 2013, 2:27 pm

Well, the HTC One, takes a picture of how it is really seen with your own eyes realistically. The iPhone, on the other hand, sucks and does a different picture quality.


September 9, 2013, 1:56 pm

'the htc one takes a picture of how it is' - that is by definition what cameras do. If you're referring to the iPhone 5's image signal processor included in the A6 chip it's clearly doing a good job because in a high dynamic range test conducted on phonesreview.co.uk, the iPhone came top for its HDR mode of all the tested camera phones.


September 12, 2013, 1:04 pm

htc one best phone


September 12, 2013, 1:06 pm

iPhone 5 is a flop


September 14, 2013, 2:22 am

Yeah, and nothing says ignore this post more than the use of "...sucks". Thanks for the insightful opinion.


September 14, 2013, 2:32 am

Yes, I just got a HTC One a little over a week ago after 5 years w/ the iPhone. The physical comparison is true...it makes the iPhone seem so small and amplifies the ridiculous stance Apple has taken in not enlarging their screens (I don't need the size of the Fischer-Price-like Note but 4.5" would be awesome).

It takes some getting used to when making this switch but it's there. In defense of the iPhone, however, it must be stated how true it is to say Apple's solution is much smoother and simpler to work with. Android both excels and suffers from the multitude of customization its phones offer...but sometimes it's just too much.

Still, I can't get away from the comfort of having a larger screen and legible text to read. I'm not the least bit impressed with the photos taken by HTC One compared to iPhone but they're not bad and certainly not inferior to the point of wanting to switch phones. Plus the physical beauty and tactile feel of the HTC One is on par with any iPhone.


September 14, 2013, 2:49 am

Yep, nothing says flop like sales of 100 million iPhone 5 in one year.


September 14, 2013, 1:16 pm

Low light pictures are better on the HTC one although I don't have iPhone but read enough reviews of both to know this. In normal light yes the iPhone should have a better cam.
As for the rest, why I prefer HTC one is actually due to having the option to display any type of info I need on the home screen rather than purely having icons which gets boring and it's limited with its commands I. E. You can't go back etc...
I have for example things like my next flight, news on hand on blink feed, social network updates on blink feed, other widgets which provide lots of info, the fantastic Google now widget with updates and info live on screen rather than an icon only..
So I'm happy with the HTC one and I acknowledge the fact other phones also offer great features but the iPhone risk not for me.
Not to say I don't like IOS as I have an iPad and it's my main tab and it's a wonderful device but I believe this is where ios excels in the tab segment as apps are designed to optimise the use of its resolution whereas droid tabs are not so iPad wins hands down.


September 14, 2013, 1:18 pm

Sorry... Thats one of the features I like more on the HTC one than on Iphones... There are other things which I prefer on the HTC one... The list is long...


September 14, 2013, 1:19 pm

Thats an exaggeration there...

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