New Android phones give iPhone competition

Android made tremendous inroads against Apple with the Galaxy and Droid mobile phones lines, but two new flagship releases hope to apply even more market pressure.

Released this spring, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and HTC’s One devices offer a wide featureset and competitive pricing.  Though both Android devices, the two are different enough that they essentially provide Android with a multi-tiered approach to marketing against the iPhone 5.

Here’s how the two newest Android centerpieces look at launch:

Samsung Galaxy S4

The follow up to the wildly popular Galaxy S3, Samsung’s new Galaxy model, the S4, builds on its predecessor by improving features and adding size.

The most obvious change in the S4 is it’s new screen size and higher resolution display, at 4.99 inches and 1920×1080 pixels (441 ppi), respectively.  The iPhone 5’s retina display runs at 326 ppi.

The Galaxy S4’s 13 megapixel camera is top notch and said to be one of the best available on an Android phone.  Battery life on the device is also reported to be above average, at least compared to the “will this last the day” battery capacity of other recent power smartphones.

The S4’s innards are powerful; the phone’s fast quad-core processor runs the heavily-customized Android 4.2 experience well.  New features for the S4 experience include enhanced air gesture and eye tracking support, which allow the user to control elements of the device without directly touching it.

HTC One

HTC’s newest device in the One line, simply titled HTC One, follows 2012’s One X.

The new One’s defining feature is it’s classy, elegant look, which is closer the iPhone aesthetic than the plastic look employed by most Android smartphones, including the Galaxy S4.  HTC nailed the One’s design; it looks and feels high end.

At 4.7 inches, the One’s screen is smaller than the nearly 5 inch display on the S4, but both run at a resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels, giving it the One’s screen a higher pixel density at 468 ppi.  The included rear camera has a low-on-paper 4 megapixel sensor, but employs what HTC calls “Ultrapixel” technology, which lets the sensor take it more light for better night photos.  Reviews on the camera are mixed; most consider the S4 and iPhone 5 cameras to be superior.

A quad core processor powers a new version of HTC’s Sense UI, which runs over Android 4.1.2.   Like the Galaxy S4, benchmarks on the phone’s processor are very good.  Nice features of Sense 5.0 include a simpler interface, Blinkfeed aggregation support and notification improvements.

Along with the camera, the other notable disappointment with the One is average battery life.  The One’s battery isn’t poor (again, it’s average), but most power users are looking for strong battery performance out of phones competing at the top end.

Pricing and availability

Both the base model Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One should be available now for $199 with a 2-year contract, though carrier availability varies.

Samsung’s touting Galaxy S4 availability on seven United States carriers, so it’s a good bet that it will eventually be everywhere.  Right now it’s available via AT&T, with Sprint and T-Mobile joining soon.  The HTC One is available via AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

For more information on the Galaxy S4, see Samsung’s microsite at http://bit.ly/16vTJ2i.  HTC maintains a portal for the One at http://bit.ly/Xivalj.

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