HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z: Battle of the Flagships

With the battle for mobile supremacy now fiercer than ever, HTC and Sony recently released their respective gorgeous and awe-inspiring flagship smartphone contenders for 2013: the HTC One and Sony Xperia Z. Both handsets play pivotal roles as the two manufacturers fight for survival and a slice of the mobile industry market which is currently dominated by the likes of Apple and Samsung. Although the HTC One and Sony Xperia Z boasts different and varied capabilities and features, both generally appeals to multimedia-centric consumers hungry for unparalleled performance and streamlined and polished user experience. Who will reign supreme between the two? Read on to find out.

Specifications Overview

To allow us to better understand these two devices, let us first take a look at their spec sheets.

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HTC One

Sony Xperia Z

2G Network GSM 850/900/1800/1900 GSM 850/900/1800/1900
3G Network HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100 HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100
4G Network LTE LTE
SIM Micro-SIM Micro-SIM
Dimensions 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm
Weight 143g 146g
Screen Super LCD3 capacitive screen, 16M colors, 1080×1920 pixels, 4.7inches, 469ppi density, multi-touch, Gorilla Glass 2 protection TFT capacitive screen, 16M colors, 1080×1920 pixels, 5.0inches, 441ppi density, multi-touch, shatter proof and scratch resistant glass
Screen Contrast Ratio 1541:1 (nominal)
2.504:1 (sunlight)
705:1 (nominal)
2.462:1 (sunlight)
Card Slot No Yes, micro SD up to 64GB
Memory 32/64GB, 2GB RAM 16GB, 2GB RAM
Connectivity GPRS, EDGE, WLAN, Bluetooth, NFC, Infrared, micro USB v2.0 GPRS, EDGE, WLAN, Bluetooth, NFC, v2.0
Camera 4MP primary camera (Ultra Pixel Technology, autofocus, LED flash, 2µm pixel size, simultaneous HD video and image recording)

2.1MP front camera

13.1MP primary camera (autofocus, LED flash, HDR, sweep panorama)

2.0MP front camera

OS Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), upgradable to 4.2.2 Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), upgradable to 4.2.2
Chipset Qualcomm APQ8064T Snapdragon 600 Qualcomm MDM9215M / APQ8064
CPU Quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait 300 Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait
GPU Adreno 320 Adreno 320
Battery Li-Po 2300mAh non-removable battery Li-Ion 2330mAh non-removable battery

Hardware and Build Quality

From the specs sheets, the HTC One trumps the Sony Xperia Z with its Super LCD3 display, aluminium unibody design, front-mounted Beats Audio stereo speakers and IR blaster. On the other hand, the Sony Xperia Z towers over the competition with its dust and water protection, all glass body design, larger screen size, micro SD support and a higher resolution camera.

In terms of build quality, HTC and Sony are both known to deliver great hardware design and reliability. The same holds true with these two new flagship devices, as both the HTC One and Sony Xperia Z not only looking amazing but feels very premium too.

Display technology, on the other hand, is a different story; with Sony employing the Bravia2 engine while HTC using its new Super LCD3 technology. All these translate to insanely high pixel densities unrecognizable in real-life applications. However, in terms of image quality, the HTC One is a tad superior to the Sony Xperia Z. It offers overall better contrast, viewing angles and color saturation.

With regard to battery life, the two gadgets are almost evenly matched with the HTC One packing a 2300mAh battery while the Sony Xperia Z utilizing a 2330mAh one. Both also sport power saving features, with the HTC One boasting a Power Saver mode while the Sony Xperia Z showcasing the more complex Stamina Mode.

Lastly, in terms of quality and captured image quality, the higher resolution of the Sony Xperia Z’s camera stands out, delivering more decent shots compared to the HTC One. Although field-of-view and color accuracy is better on the latter, the low 4MP resolution of the HTC One hampers its quality and noise performance.

Overall, it seems like the two are almost comparable in terms of hardware design and build quality. Both devices looks and feels well made, with the slight advantage going to the Sony Xperia Z with more practical advantages and dust and water protection. Screen quality goes in favor to the HTC One, while battery life comparison is a draw. Lastly, the Sony Xperia Z snaps better still images with its higher resolution camera.

User Experience

With both handsets running on Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), consumers can expect the user experience on both devices to be pleasant and stable. Sony, sticking to lesser customizations than HTC, provides a closer stock Android experience than the competition. Meanwhile, HTC tweaked much of the interface with its customary Sense UI.

Control schemes for both are also quite different and noteworthy. The Sony Xperia Z stuck with the traditional setup of three virtual buttons: back, home and app switcher. This configuration delivers a more intuitive and familiar Android feel to the control and works better with most apps. The HTC One’s setup, on the other hand, uses two hardware keys, back and home, with the home button serving three purposes: home function, Google Now and app switcher.

All in all, the Sony Xperia Z, which provides a more stock Android experience, wins this one. Complemented with a couple of additional features which are unobtrusive further enhances the overall usability of the phone.

Conclusion

The HTC One and Sony Xperia Z are both very capable and truly worthy of their respective flagship statuses. Each has their own distinguishing features and key capabilities that set them apart from the competition.

The HTC One sports a gorgeous aluminium body, enviable screen display and quality Beats stereo speakers. It was also the first flagship Android device to innovate in a completely different direction with its Ultra Pixel Camera technology. Battery life is also a bit better with the HTC One. The Sony Xperia Z, on the other hand, packs an all-glass exterior with dust and water protection – something unique among the current breed of flagship mobile devices. User interface is better too, as it sports a slightly enhanced stock Android experience.

Hence, we conclude this head-to-head comparison of these two new Android flagships with a draw, with neither one winning this hotly contested fight. It will now just boil down to the consumer’s preferences, priorities and needs as to which of these two new beasts to get.

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