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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8

Andrew Williams


HTC One M8 vs Galaxy S5
HTC One M8 vs Galaxy S5

Which is the best Android phone?

Every year, just a few companies battle it out to make the most popular phone of the year. This year two of the top contenders are the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8. But when you cut through the gloss, which is actually the better phone?

We’ve spent time with both, and here’s what we think.

HTC One M8 video preview

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Want to get a closer look at the HTC One M8 and Galaxy S5? Here's a potted version of our comparison you can watch in just a couple of minutes.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 – Price and Dealsgreen line

Which is the cheaper phone? The HTC One M8 is, but not by a great deal. Mobile network Three’s prices demonstrate the difference well.

Both phones come on the carrier’s £38 a month contract, which gets you 2GB data and 600 minutes. You pay an up-front fee of £69 for the Samsung Galaxy S5, and £49 for the HTC One M8.

£20 is worth saving, but when you pay over £900 for the phones over a two-year contract, it’s best to make sure you have the right phone in your hands rather than make such a saving. Three also offers the best current pre-pay deals for the HTC One M8 in the UK. You’re looking at £459.99, which is actually quite low for a top-end contract-free mobile.

However, its price for the Galaxy S5 isn’t available yet as the phone only goes in sale on 11 April.

Amazon’s prices confirm that the Galaxy S5 is likely to be a bit more expensive than the HTC One M8 across the board, though. It lists the S5 as £559.99, the M8 at £529.99.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 - Designgreen line

Galaxy S5 – plastic rear, pitted, removable back, water resistance

One M8 – metal rear, unibody, non-removable back, BoomSound speakers

One of the most obvious differences between these two phones is their design. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is primarily a plastic phone, where the HTC One M8 is all about metal.

The Galaxy S5 has a curious looking dimpled back, with ridged silvery sides. It’s all-plastic, though. It is only the Gorilla Glass covering of the display that provides something a bit harder-feeling. The look won’t be for everyone, but the feel is actually not bad. Its rear has a soft touch finish that is more pleasant on the fingers than the glossy plastic of the previous Galaxy S phones.

HTC One M8

We have to hand this category to the HTC One M8, though. Its simpler, near-all-metal design looks and feels a good deal better, with a cool and hard feel that’s similar to that of the original HTC One.

One difference compared to that phone, though, is the HTC One M8 has dropped any buttons below the screen, instead relying solely on the on-screen controls of Android (aside from the screen unlock button, obviously). In contrast the S5, like the S4 before it, has a trio of buttons. We prefer the route HTC has taken.

The HTC One M8 comes in three different colours, and there are two different metal treatments among them that vary the feel slightly. The ‘Metal Grey’ version has a brushed finish while the silver and gold editions use an anodised-style finish that’s closer to that of the HTC One. All look lovely.

All of the Galaxy S5 models use the same pitted finish, but there are several more colours to choose from. The phone comes in bright gold and blue shades as well as white and black. Samsung has clearly tried, but this is a victory HTC has in the bag.

Here's a closer look at those colours on offer:

Samsung Galaxy S5 Colours

Galaxy S5 colours

HTC One M8 Colours

HTC One M8 colours

Galaxy S5 vs One M8 - Speakergreen line

Galaxy S5 – Single-output speaker on rear

One M8 – dual front BoomSound speakers

The HTC One M8 has much better speakers than the Galaxy S5. It uses front-loaded drivers with deliberately-designed enclosures. HTC calls them BoomSound speakers, and while they’re not going to rival proper speakers – even tiny ones – they are well above average.

Sound is a good deal thicker and more powerful than the competition, including the Galaxy S5.

Samsung’s phone has a depressingly ordinary speaker. Like the S4’s, it sits on the back, firing away from you rather than towards you. Although top volume is decent, the sound is quite thin and tinny-sounding – getting quite harsh at top volume. The HTC speakers are much, much better.

As well as being great for casually listening to music, the HTC speakers are also great for playing games and watching videos.

Galaxy S5 vs One M8 – CPU and RAMgreen line

Galaxy S5 – Snapdragon 801 at 2.5GHz, 2GB RAM

One M8 – Snapdragon 801 at 2.3GHz, 2GB RAM

The Galaxy S5 and One M8 use the same processor type – the Snapdragon 801. However, the Galaxy S5 uses a slightly higher-clocked version. Where the HTC One M8 has a 2.3GHz chipset, the Galaxy S5’s is 2.5GHz. There is a 2.5GHz version of the HTC phone, but we don’t get it in the UK.

There’s hardly any noticeable performance benefit in day-to-day use, though. You’ll get a few more points on benchmarks like Geekbench 3, but in apps and games the phones perform at the same level. They each have 2GB of RAM too, which is the norm for top-end phones – although some like the Xperia Z2 have 3GB of RAM.

There’s nothing on Google Play that these phones can’t handle. The only concern at this point is that Android is likely to ‘go 64-bit’ reasonably soon. It’s currently a 32-bit platform, but Qualcomm has just announced the Snapdragon 808 and 810, which are 64-bit chipsets that are highly likely to power some of late 2014’s top Android devices.

The Nexus 6 is one mobile phone that might make the leap this year. And any apps that really make use of the 64-bit power may not do everything on a 32-bit phone. However, we’re a way off seeing apps that only work with 64-bit phones.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 – Storagegreen line

Galaxy S5 – 16GB, microSD slot

One M8 – 16GB, microSD slot

Although higher-capacity versions of both these phones are planned for other markets, it’s likely that most UK stores will only stock the 16GB versions of both the Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8.

Why? Because they have microSD memory card slots. With the HTC One M8 you’ll find a pop-out tray on one side of the phone. In the Galaxy S5 it’s found under the removable rear. For the HTC, it's a major addition over its predecessor, which many chose to avoid due to the lack of a microSD slot.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 – Screengreen line

Galaxy S5 – 5.1-inch Super AMOLED, 1080p resolution

One M8 – 5-inch SLCD, 1080p resolution

The HTC One M8 has the same size screen as last year’s Samsung Galaxy S4, once again reflecting that HTC’s top phones don’t tend to try to offer the biggest screens in their class.

However, the Samsung Galaxy S5 display is only a tiny bit bigger at 5.1 inches. In pure size terms the difference isn’t worth worrying about too much.

They use rather different core technologies, though. The Galaxy S5 has a Super AMOLED display; the basic type used by previous Galaxy S phones.

The HTC One M8 has an SLCD screen that’s much closer in tech and style to the IPS display seen in phones like the iPhone 5S. These technologies excel in different fields.

Super AMOLED screens are great at reproducing contrast and a deep black level. Even in dark rooms, the Galaxy S5’s blacks will look black. In the same conditions, the HTC One M8’s blacks will likely be slightly grey-ish.

However, LCDs on phones tend to offer higher top brightness (better for outdoors) and more natural-looking colours. Samsung has really worked on its colour calibration this time around, though. We’ll make a more in-depth analysis of these screens in our upcoming full reviews but for now they’re hard to pick apart as they’re both top performers.

Galaxy S5 screen

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 – Softwaregreen line

Galaxy S5 – Android 4.4 with TouchWiz

One M8 – Android 4.4 with HTC Sense 6

Both phones use the latest version of Android: 4.4 KitKat. However, as their interfaces are completely different, they don’t feel all that similar in use.

If you have experience of last year’s top models from HTC and Samsung, these interfaces will seem pretty familiar, though. The new models largely continue the style of their predecessors.

Samsung has pared-back the style of TouchWiz a little bit and touched up the look to make it appear a little simpler, but it’s still a feature-packed system. HTC’s Sense 6 offers fewer add-ons, but most people will find it a bit easier to use.

It’s also a little easier on the eye. HTC’s less (or at least not too much) is more approach really works in the M8, and this time you have control over the font of the system too. One of the options is Helvetica, which brings the phone a classy look.

HTC One M8 BlinkFeed

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 – Cameragreen line

Galaxy S5 – 16-megapixel ISOCELL sensor with with LED flash, Phase detection Auto-Focus

One M8 – Duo camera system with 4-megapixel UltraPixel main sensor, dual LED flash

Both of these phone cameras are very interesting, and aren’t mere spec upgrades – the Galaxy S5 bumps up the megapixel count, but it’s not all the phone does. It also has a new kind of sensor and a new kind of focusing system.

It’s the first phone to use an ISOCELL sensor, which Samsung positions as a successor to the BSI sensors used in most phones. It reduces crosstalk between sensor pixels by putting a barrier between them. The result is better colour fidelity and richer-looking images when compared to a BSI sensor of the same size and spec.

The HTC One M8’s UltraPixel main sensor is trying to attack the same problem – the deficiencies of tiny mobile phone cameras – but from a different angle. Its sensor reduces resolution in order to fit in larger sensor pixels. Detail is reduced, but other photographic aspects get an increase in fidelity compared to other mobile cameras.

HTC One M8 Duo camera

This is just the beginning of the interesting camera elements. The Galaxy S5 also has a phase detection module to give focusing times of just 0.3 seconds in daylight, while the HTC One M8 has a second rear sensor that records depth information to let you blur out of the background or foreground reliably without much effort or post-processing. However, it doesn't work perfectly.

Which is better? In daylight, the Galaxy S5 will produce vastly more detailed photos. However, at night, it’s likely the HTC One M8 will take more accurate photos due to its theoretical better low-light performance. While the Galaxy S5’s sensor has become bigger to fit in the extra 3MP resolution of the 16-megapixel sensor, the actual sensor pixels are still 1.12 microns across – the HTC One M8’s are two microns a piece, so they pick up more light.

Galaxy S5 vs One M8 – Battery Life

green lineGalaxy S5 – 2,800mAh

One M8 – 2,600mAh

The Galaxy S5 has less than 10 per cent extra battery over the HTC One M8, but we noticed a significant improvement in battery life over the HTC phone in use.

We got more than an hour’s worth of extra video playback with the Galaxy S5, and you’re much more likely to be able to get the Galaxy S5 to last for a full two days. Both of these phones last longer than their predecessors the Galaxy S4 and HTC One, though.

Qualcomm put plenty of battery efficiency measures into the 800 and 801 chipsets to make them more efficient than the older models, and it is partly what enables the power-saving modes seen in both these phones. They have a normal power saving mode, which clips a few features to make them less battery intensive, and an extreme power mode. This has its own interface that only gives you access to a few apps.

The Samsung one also makes the screen black and white, as that reduces the power consumption of the OLED screen.

Which is the better phone?

In some respects, we tend to prefer the HTC One M8. Its metal body just looks and feels so much better than the Galaxy S5’s plastic shell. However, in daylight the Samsung’s camera will produce much more detailed shots and its water-resistant frame is also a boon. We’ll be back with more impressions once we’d had more time to play with these phones.

Next, read our HTC One M8 vs original HTC One comparison


March 25, 2014, 5:33 pm

Ugh! why couldn't HTC just put a regular 16MP camera in the phone and make it waterproof so this would be an easy decision?


March 25, 2014, 6:18 pm

Paradoxical, the one with the sealed back is the one which is not watertight.

Prem Desai

March 26, 2014, 8:21 am

Shame that these 2 are probably the most important phones of the year and I don't fancy either.

Maybe my expectations are too high or maybe there are too many compromises made by these phones.

Jon Dwyer

April 8, 2014, 7:51 pm

Are you people kidding or what? Now we are talking water proof. I never heard a single comment of the million I read before either phone was released that the phones better come with water and dust proof technology. Now it's bad for HTC because Samsung followed one of Sony ' s key components. Funny how I'm not reading if only Samsung would of put just a portion of how good the speakers are on the HTC M8, or only if Samsung would of put just a small attempt in making this a premium device for the premium amount of money we pay. I'm just astonished at how easy it is for Samsung to pour some plastic in a molding, upgrade a couple internals and repeat a process for a third consecutive year. And still out sell every other flagship android device combined. While HTC and Sony put huge amounts of effort into bringing innovation, change, premium materials, and actual hard work in to manufacturing a flagship device worthy of the money people pay for them. I promise I am not leaving this comment as a fan boy, I own a Note2. And while I love the size of the screen, I hate everything else about this phone. I bought a 700 dollar plus phone that has serious LAG, it's cheap, only got a update to 4.3 a little over a year of its existence for the sole purpose to make it compatible with there gear watch. They didn't update for me, but for there own greedy purpose. And the only reason the Note3 and S4 was updated to 4.4 kitkat is because HTC keeps pushing out updates. I really hope that the hard work pays off for HTC in sales with the new M8. They learned from there mistakes and are making up for it in a big way, while Samsung keeps pushing out the same device and raking in the money. People need to start thinking about the phones you will get each year if Samsung is your only Android manufacture. It would be really sad to see a great company like HTC not making these beautiful premium devices anymore. especially since they're the ones who started the whole Android craze


April 10, 2014, 11:05 pm

Fully agree with you.

But the HTC M8 also have water resistance at IP57 or something.
Not made to be put in an aquarium but rain,snow and even a lil splash will not damage it even if you drop it in water if you take it out under 30 sec and its less than 1 meter you should also be ok.

The guy who made the demonstration for our cell store showed us how its resist water.

Not as much as a sony or the S5 but more than enuf i think.


April 10, 2014, 11:09 pm

i would take a 8 ultrapixel camera over a normal 16 MP anydays. And the One is IP57 or something So not water proof but resistant to splash , snow , rain ect.
I dont understand why they did not make a 8 ultrapixel camera with thats dual camera setup its would had really rock. All the HTC one camera lack is a bit more pixel. The Iphone 5S prove it its picture are really good and its a 8 MP


April 14, 2014, 1:35 pm

I'd like to see Samung up their build quality, but as a fellow Note 2 owner, I must say I get a lot of use out of the Wacom screen (which no one else on the market has). So much so that even the pristine build-quality of the M8 here isn't going to be able to sway me. The fact that I can do all of my illustrations and design work on my phone is irreplaceable. I also find it handy that the Note2 lost its value rapidly, because it means I can outright buy another one off ebay for a few hundred pounds as a backup, or for a friend. Generally that's a benefit to plastic phones (everyone wanks over the metal phones "retaining their value", but the second you crack the screen, or brick it, that means you pay up the arse again, and for an old phone, no less).Touchwiz is a little laggy on the Note2, but ROM it with any ASOP rom, or even DN3, and it absolutely flies. I think it's unfair to say Samsung doesn't put anything new in their phones. Maybe if you ignore the every increasing list of killer hardware and software features (multi-window, autoscroll, a setting that keeps the phone on while you are looking at it by tracking your eyes, 3GB of RAM for christ's sakes, plug-and-play compatibility with DSLR camera import via USB OTG) etc. etc.) These are not things you find on any other phones. Also, they aren't drinking the lower-megapixel-is-better punch that the rest of the industry (including HTC's M8 here) is touting as somehow "better". Ridiculous. I'll take the 14 megapixel camera thanks very much. I use my Note 2 to make realistic cloth and other material textures for my 3d models. Every megapixel counts.

Adam W.

April 15, 2014, 6:19 pm

Very well said!! Nothing else needs to be said as your remark was spot on. ^^^

Malik Nouira

April 27, 2014, 2:12 pm

8 or 16 mp means heavier files. And no one will ever print an A2 size picture taken with a phone, would be ridiculous. A picture made with a phone should only be web and screen friendly, not gallery sized prints friendly. You can take 3 tims more pictures with HTC. Their solution is by far more intelligent...


April 28, 2014, 6:20 pm

I find it weird, but people always say my M7 takes the nicest pictures. I know the quality isn't that great, but that just proves that an ordinary user who doesn't know about sites like this won't even notice the difference in picture quality or care about how many MPs/UPs the camera has.


April 29, 2014, 1:19 pm

IPx3 I think you'll find, according to HTC, which is still perfectly OK for most situations. I'm torn, really... considering One M8, S5 and Z2 when my S3 contract is up. Build isn't such a huge issue for me, as whatever I get will be cased. I had high hopes for the metal HTC, but the sample I used had a huge gash in the metal back... so clearly not bulletproof. The HTC felt smoother to use... S5's interface was a bit fussier. The camera debate seems to be a big one for some ppl, but honestly anyone who wants stunning photos from ANY happy-snap phone camera is barking up the wrong tree. I'm sure all 3 will snap away more than adequately for realistic purposes. If it weren't for STUPID port flaps, I'd go the Z2...but the One M8 is looking pretty good so far...

Benny Adamo

May 11, 2014, 1:34 am

Because of at&t's policy of letting you try different phones within 14 days of purchase I was able to try out both of these phones. I tried the S5 first, since my last phone was a samsung captivate glide with ice cream sandwich so there wouldn't be much of a learning curve. I didn't think the design would matter to me much compared with functionality but the S5 really does feel cheap and rather flimsy. It is very lightweight but too much so and it doesn't feel solid at all. The 5.1" display on the S5 is really crisp and sharp, and the colors definitely pop more than on the M8. But the .1 in the 5.1" display make the S5 just a hair too big, and that combined with the flat shape of the phone make it awkward to hold and text with one hand. I used it for 10 days before swapping it out for the M8. It took about one day before I knew I would keep the M8. It's slightly slimmer than the S5 and the curved aluminum body fit a lot more naturally in the hand. And it has a weighty, premium feel. Also htc's Sense user interface is a lot more intuitive to use and straightforward to figure out than samsung's Touchwiz. And htc's stock keyboard and predictive text messaging blow the S5's out of the water. Much more accurate and quicker to use than the infuriatingly tedious predictive text of the S5. The M8 is just a better phone. It's really not even that close.


May 27, 2014, 6:33 pm

I know this is a UK-based review but just so everybody knows, the HTC One M8 only ships with 32gigs in the US whereas the S5 is 16.

Great review - definitely a tough call between these two devices!


May 29, 2014, 4:20 pm

Not at all, The HTC M8 is only IPx3 certified, stop spreading misinformation. You are going to get people's phones ruined. IPx3 is only minor splash resistance.


May 30, 2014, 10:19 am

M8 - No contest. It's just so much cooler, as in James Bond levels of cool. When you feel that slick gun metal slide into your hand, it just feels sexy, premium, and serious. The S5 feels like a kid's toy by comparison.

The front facing speakers are really handy for YouTube and Spotify, and kick out a fair old whack, especially for a quick meditate in the morning, saving the hassle of inserting the phone into a sound dock. The dual camera set up is brilliant and being able to focus retrospectively is worth sacrificing the pixel count for IMHO.

Ultimately it goes back to the experience of possessing it, how it makes you feel. They both tick all the boxes, but the M8 has the X factor.

Dr. Taimoor

July 21, 2014, 1:17 am

Very well said...That's the end comment...Nothing needed more!!


September 22, 2014, 4:18 am

Haha, I think apple makes their iPhones like that. Same thing every year just a few upgraded internals. Maybe 1 or 2 new features. Lmfao. 5S to the 6. 5% GPU increase and a 20% CPU increase. It might be the other way around and it may be 25% but I'm not exactly sure. I don't recall any new features on the 6 at all. And then they over price the phone. Its crazy how idiotic people are and buy iPhones. So sad. But yeah.


October 26, 2014, 8:46 am

Rubbish. I'll show you why.

This is an HTC One M8 Water test. Passes with not even a glitch

iphone 6 8Mp Standard 8 bit compressed JPG capture viewed @ 100% magnification
look at the womans face. Notice the muddy Jpg compression artifacts? https://www.flickr.com/phot...

Samsung Galaxy S5 8Mp Standard 8 bit compressed JPG capture viewed @ 100% magnification. look at the mans face & watch. Notice the muddy Jpg compression artifacts?

HTC One M8 4MP 16 bit RAW to 16 bit uncompressed .PNG capture viewed @ 100% magnification. Uncompressed images from the M8 have no such artifacts.

Note: If you process a 4MP capture correctly as an uncompressed PNG file it will put many JPG images from most cameras to shame. The problem with cameras with more than 4 megapixels is that the uncompressed files start to become too large. A 16 bit 4MP RAW uncompressed capture is about 23.4MB; which is perfect for todays web, facebook and will even scale up to a decent A1 size print. Try that with an iphone 6. the largest jpg print from that phone I would do is A3 size and I'd even have reservations about that.?

Regarding the Samsung s5 we have the same issue as with the iphone but like the HTC it too can shoot raw and deliver 16 bit uncompressed files that look fantastic however, they would end up being close to 90MB uncompressed and thus unstable for most on-line publications therefor you would end up in all likelihood converting them to 8 bit compressed JPGs

With that said, now the S5 has the issue of the sub-par front facing camera and lousy speakers to contend with as well as the less than stellar battery life.

Winner- HTC ONE M8 on all accounts except when you shoot RAW with Samsung s5 and print beyond A1 size which almost nobody will do.


October 26, 2014, 8:57 am

As has been pointed out by me in a previous post, with the introduction of raw capture using a16 bit uncompressed format, Decent but not stellar A1 size prints are now possible with the HTC One M8.

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