Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8: Looking Back At 2014's Best Droids

Vs Paul Briden 12:06, 20 May 2015

Samsung's Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8 are now both in the open, here's the two compared

The Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 represented the sharp-end of Android’s high-end-stick in early 2014, following their announcements during the first half of the year. LG and Sony soon joined the fray with their respective handsets, but for most, as was the case in 2013, it really was ALL ABOUT HTC and Samsung’s flagships.

Both the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 have now been usurped by their respective successors, the Samsung Galaxy S6 (and Galaxy S6 EDGE) and the HTC One M9. Sadly, for HTC, Samsung really got its arse in gear for 2015 and produced two of the best handsets we’ve ever tested –– the Galaxy S6 got full marks in our review, and that literally never happens! 

The HTC One M9, while still a fine phone, feels rather too incremental for its own good. Like a classic car, it’s great in theory but just doesn’t feel all that fulfilling after prolonged exposure. The One M9 pales in comparison to the Samsung Galaxy S6 in almost every regard and this is bad news for HTC, as it really did need a hit with this year’s model if it hoped to turn around its fortunes in 2015/16.  

Both handsets run similar hardware, specs and processor chips. So, as was the case in 2013, a lot of the buying decision is based around how the handsets look and what you can do with them. Samsung has kitted out its Galaxy S5 with a myriad of bells and whistles, including a fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor, while HTC has once again focused its energies on creating the most gorgeous, premium handset money can buy – it’s very much “features vs. design and aesthetics” in this regard.

Here we'll be looking at how the HTC One M8 compares to the Samsung Galaxy S5. 

Design and build

The HTC One M8 is now here and the rumours were true – the exterior is very similar to the previous HTC One. However, there is a bit of refinement going on here which does make it that much better.

Pretty much every surface of the aluminium unibody has been reshaped to make the handset look and feel smoother and to sit more comfortably in the hand, it also now features a brushed texture to the metal and a clear coating to give it all a nice finish. The unibody now extends around the sides of the handset in one piece with curved edges and tapered corners, again this makes it nicer to hold than its predecessor.

Earlier rumours suggested grey, black, gold and silver colour options but HTC has now confirmed three of the four were correct. HTC said it wanted to pick metallic colours which emphasised the phone’s aluminium build, which means it comes in silver, gold and grey, or, I should say, Arctic Silver, Amber Gold and Metal Grey.

The HTC One M8 is slightly larger than its predecessor to accommodate a bigger battery and a larger 5-inch display. It still features the same end cap design with HTC’s front-facing BoomSound stereo speakers and their punched grilles. The phone is still pretty thin, sports a dual-camera port arrangement on the rear and generally HTC has used as much metal as possible. 

As predicted the M8 is a variation on the HTC One’s aluminum-glad design. The corners are rounder and the overall handset is slightly bigger and slightly heavier. Still, the device is an absolute beauty, looking even more premium and stylish than its predecessor. HTC scores big again. 

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 has shaped up to be a similarly incremental update in terms of the exterior. The handset is slightly larger than its predecessor but the screen hasn’t actually expanded at all (more on the display later). It’s a little squarer at the corners, while the back panel now has a matte finish and a dimpled texture for improved grip. The silver surround is not metal but remains plastic with a metallic finish and now features a ridged design to make things even grippier.

The Galaxy S5 now features IP67 water and dust resistance and the microUSB port at the base of the phone has a port cover as a result. HTC's One M8 has no such tweaks to enhance its durability - a dunk in a puddle will probably still cause a big problem and the aluminium casing is quite fragile compared to Samsung's plastic. A case is most certainly a good idea, although it will detract from that luxurious exterior design, rendering it somewhat moot.


Again, as per previous reports, the HTC One M8’s display has expanded from the HTC One’s 4.7-inch size to a full 5-inches. HTC has not explained what display technology is in use, however, and has simply stated that it uses a new LCD technology for improved visual quality. It has a full HD 1080p resolution at 441 pixels-per-inch (ppi). Consistently, HTC has managed to deliver impressive touchscreens on all its major flagship handsets and the HTC One M8 is no different. The screen is incredibly clear with vivid colours, excellent brightness and nice, punchy contrast.

While normal display performance is great, we have noticed when taking the phone outside in bright sunlight that things fall a bit flat. It's a big improvement on the HTC One in this regard, but still quite difficult to read under these conditions.

Rather than rumoured LTPS LCDs Samsung has actually gone for the same Super AMOLED tech seen in its other devices. It’s a 5.1-inch panel rather than the rumoured 5.25-inches, with a full HD 1080p resolution at 430 pixels-per-inch (ppi). Essentially, not much has changed, but this is also not necessarily a bad thing as the 5-inch size was nice and optimal, while picture quality is still sharp with great colour, contrast and brightness.

Display Mate, a testing website for smartphones, has claimed the Galaxy S5 has the “best performing smartphone display we’ve ever tested”. That’s a big claim but the website says it’s because of the brightness, colour accuracy and contrast ratio on the display. Statistics wise it equates to be 22% brighter than the Galaxy S4 screen and even manages to use less battery on powering the screen than its predecessor did.


Samsung Galaxy Alpha Is OFFICIAL

Like the Galaxy S5 just smaller and with a metal frame, the Galaxy Alpha is yet another odd release from Samsung. On paper and in Samsung’s marketing materials you’d think this was a new flagship handset, but it isn’t – no, this is sort of low-high-tier handset akin to the Moto X and HTC One M8 Mini.

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is an odd one, to be sure and it likely isn’t the Galaxy F either. That’s still apparently on the cards for later on in Q4… 

Contrary to some rumours, the HTC One M8 does not use Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 805 chipset. No, it’s much more in-line with current competitors, meaning a slightly lower-key upgrade to the Snapdragon 801 quad-core chip. For HTC that’s still a noteworthy leap, however, as the previous HTC One only ran a Snapdragon 600 while many of its peers ran the Snapdragon 800.

The Snapdragon 801 aboard the M8 is clocked at 2.3GHz and has access to 2GB of RAM. In use, the HTC One M8 is considerably quicker than its predecessor in general operation and should be able to smoothly handle any Google Play content you care to throw at it.

Samsung has gone for the same chip inside the Galaxy S5, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.5GHz and with 2GB of RAM.

Frankly, 2GB of RAM is a little surprising, we were expecting 3GB off the back of changes made to the Galaxy Note 3 and considering Sony’s Xperia Z2 was just outed with 3GB.

While the new processor is almost certainly quicker than the Galaxy S4's and HTC One's Snapdragon 600, both phones are going to be evenly matched, although for owners of the existing models looking to upgrade the HTC One M8 makes a bigger leap from its predecessor's tech. 


Rumours ahead of the HTC One M8 launch pointed to a “dual-camera” setup. Well now that it’s here it has been revealed it wasn’t a dual-camera lens at all. The top “lens” is, in fact, a dedicated depth sensor, which enables a few funky features for the HTC One M8’s actual camera positioned just below. For example, “U Focus” works rather like a Lytro camera, allowing you to re-select the focal point on an image after capture. The data is stored in the image file, meaning you can focus and re-focus as many times as you like, whenever you like.

The camera itself is similar to the HTC One’s hardware – a 4-megapixel “Ultrapixel” back-illuminated sensor (BSI) with an f/2.0 aperture. As with the HTC One, this works very well in low-light conditions, but HTC claims to have tweaked things for better all-round performance too. The handset features a dual-LED two-tone flash with amber and white LEDs for better low-light colour, but optical image stabilisation has been dropped as it interferes with the re-focus features. The front-facing secondary has been improved to a 5-megapixel sensor and HTC has designed some dedicated camera modes made for capturing good selfies. 

Samsung’s camera updates are also quite substantial. The handset packs a 16-megapixel ISOCELL sensor, an upgrade on the Galaxy S4’s 13-megapixel arrangement, and features a 0.3 second shot speed. Another cool addition is “Selective Focus”, which is somewhat similar to a Lytro camera in that it lets you snap a shot and then re-select a focal point later. An HDR Live mode has been included, which allows you to see how HDR could alter a shot before you take it, meanwhile the video capabilities have been improved to allow 4K quality.

Other features

The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a couple of interesting features activated with the user’s finger. As per earlier rumours, there’s a fingerprint scanner and Samsung has taken a leaf out of Apple’s book by embedding it in the Home key. After going through a fairly extensive process of verifying your print, you’re able to unlock the phone by scanning your finger. You can also use it in conjunction with a PayPal account, although it’s not yet clear the extent of payment services available.

Another scanner on the rear of the handset is used in conjunction with the S-Health 3.0 application to monitor your heart rate, with health features forming a prominent part of the new device.

The HTC One M8 comes with 16GB of onboard storage and microSD support for cards up to 128GB. Meanwhile the battery pack is non-removable and rated at 2,600mAh.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 has options for 16GB or 32GB onboard, though we don’t yet know the availability for each version. Both types have microSD support for cards up to 128GB. 


Want to see the HTC One M8 in action? We’ve created a video hands-on with the device for you to see it in all its glory. This way you can fully see the new Sense 6.0 UI and we introduce you properly to the refined design. We also give an in depth look at the camera and show off that gorgeous 5-inch display.

If you like the video be sure to give us a like and a subscribe for our future content - we'll aim to have Galaxy S5 footage as soon as we get a review unit.

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