Droid rage: HTC One, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy S4

Date:21 August 2013 Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,

Android smartphones have never been more popular or powerful. We tested three mobile slabs – actually, a couple were already quite familiar – to separate the great from the merely good.

HTC One LG Optimus G Samsung Galaxy S4
BUILD QUALITY Sleek, almost seamless aluminium frame with comfortable arced back. Solid brick of glass and plastic. Elegantly understated and pleasing to the eyes and hands. Big slab of plastic (hey, it’s a big phone) and somewhat slippery in the hand. But it has a removable battery, which is good.
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SCREEN 4,7-inch; LCD. With the highest pixel density in the business (yes, even better than that phone), the HTC display is crisp and beautiful. 4,7-inch; LCD. The look is beautiful and crisp but slightly less vibrant and detailed than that of the other two options. 5-inch Super; AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic LED). Incredibly bright and big, although colours seem almost unnaturally vivid. Is this bad?
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CAMERA HTC’s sensor uses UltraPixels, which are larger and capture more light. Great for night-time shots, but daytime shots are oversaturated and low-res. 13-megapixel photos are impressive and crisp but inexplicably not wide-format. Camera app is basic but has a few cool options Different modes erase people who walk through shot, produce GIFs or merge multiple images into one. Also takes slow- or fast-motion video.
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BELLS AND WHISTLES Front-facing speakers are the best we’ve heard on a phone. Built-in infrared remote control. BlinkFeed home page collects Facebook, Twitter and news into infinite scroll. Polaris productivity suite is nice, but not a lot of gee-whiz options here. LG’s interface is the closest of the bunch to stock Android – yet not close enough for Android purists. Almost too many: eye-tracking scroll, gestural inputs, hover-over finger inputs, multi-language translation, infrared remote. Fascinating stuff, but haphazardly applied.
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PERFORMANCE Quad-core 1,7 GHz processor, 2 GB RAM – fast enough for gaming, video or anything else you can throw at it. Quad-core 1,5 GHz, 2 GB RAM. Slowest of the bunch, but still fine for most apps. Will this change with the arrival of the Pro version? Quad-core 1,9-GHz processor, 2 GB RAM. The fastest in the bunch. But not much of a difference in everyday use.
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OVERALL Best-looking phone since the iPhone – a true pleasure to use. The interface is attractive but clunky and confusing. Camera philosophy is interesting, but photos are strangely disappointing. Handsome and satisfying to use, but interface feels out of date and unremarkable. Then again, it’s a nice alternative if you hate feature By far the best phone when it comes to performance and features, although the fit and finish lag behind that of rivals.
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