HTC One vs. Sony Xperia Z: Head-to-head

Which is the better smartphone? Sony's Xperia Z or the HTC One?

If you're currently in the market for an Android phone, both the HTC One and the Sony Xperia Z should be at the top of your shopping list. Both are set to hit the Australian market shortly, but which one is right for you?

Read our full review of the Sony Xperia Z
Read our preview of the HTC One

The Sony Xperia Z features a 5in, full HD 1080p display, a 13-megapixel camera and is both water and dust-resistant, while the HTC One has a new camera technology the company calls 'UltraPixel' and comes with a revamped, tile-based home screen called 'BlinkFeed'. How do these smartphones compare? Let's find out.

HTC One

HTC One Android phone (preview)

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z Android phone (preview)

Verdict

?
Operating system
Google Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Google Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Draw
Screen size
4.7in
5in
Sony Xperia Z
Display resolution
1920x1080
1920x1080
Draw
Display technology
Super LCD 3
TFT LCD
HTC One
Pixel density
469ppi
441ppi
HTC One
Front camera
2.1-megapixels (wide angle)
2.2-megapixels
HTC One
Rear camera
4-megapixels (UltraPixel), single LED flash
13.1-megapixels, single LED flash
Unknown
Camera features
Autofocus, tap to focus, face & smile detection, optical image stabilisation, HTC Zoe
Autofocus, tap to focus, face detection, image stabilisation, HDR, sweep panorama
HTC One
Video recording
1080p HD @ 30fps (with HDR)
1080p HD @ 30fps (with HDR)
Draw
Internal memory
32GB/64GB
16GB
HTC One
Expandable memory
No
Yes, microSD
Sony Xperia Z
Thickness
9.3mm
7.9mm
Sony Xperia Z
Weight
143g
146g
HTC One
RAM
2GB
2GB
Draw
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 1.7Ghz Krait (quad-core)
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz Krait (quad-core)
Unknown
Australian 3G networks
HSDPA 850/900/2100
HSDPA 850/900/2100
Draw
Australian 4G networks
LTE 1800MHz
LTE 1800MHz
Draw
Wi-Fi
802.11a/b/g/n
802.11a/b/g/n
Draw
Bluetooth
4.0 with A2DP
4.0 with A2DP
Draw
HDMI-out
No (Yes via MHL adapter)
No (Yes via MHL adapter)
Draw
Quoted battery life (talk time)
Not quoted
Up to 14 hours
Unknown
Connector
Standard Micro USB
Standard Micro USB
Draw
SIM card
Micro-SIM
Micro-SIM
Draw

HTC One vs. Sony Xperia Z: Design

The design of the Sony Xperia Z sets it apart from other flagship phones on the market. It's relatively comfortable to hold, has good ergonomics and the completely flat surface on the back gives it a distinctive look and feel. However, the edges of the phone can be a little sharp and often dig into your fingers.

The Xperia Z is dust and water resistant, rated to IP55 and IP57 standards. The water resistant capabilities mean all ports are covered with flaps, but this is something we can live with as the Xperia Z can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes without damage.

Sony says it conducted research and took feedback on board from consumers which suggested that water resistance is a requested feature in a smartphone. We feel the water resistant capabilities will be welcome news to many Aussies. It's a feature that's not normally seen on high-end flagship devices so it could be a huge ace up Sony's sleeve.

Sony says it didn't want to compromise on the Xperia Z's design by making it water resistant.
Sony says it didn't want to compromise on the Xperia Z's design by making it water resistant.

The Xperia Z's glass design is different to the HTC One, which has a full metal body with what the company calls a "zero gap" construction. This means there's no visible gaps or slits in the case design. While the front is completely flat, the back of the device is curved and the edges taper inwards in order to try and provide better ergonomics. The handset is 9.3mm thin and weighs 143g.

One of the most distinctive design features of the HTC One is the inclusion of dual-stereo speakers that sit above and below the display. The speakers and audio system, which the company has trademarked the tacky 'BoomSound' name, promise louder and clearer sound and include integrated amplifiers. HTC says the speakers will push out up to 93 decibels of sound, which is significantly more than most other smartphones. Another nifty feature is a built-in IR sensor, which allows the HTC One to act as a universal remote controls for devices around your home. It's something not seen in many smartphones.

The fit and finish of the HTC One is among the best we've seen on any smartphone.
The fit and finish of the HTC One is among the best we've seen on any smartphone.

HTC One vs. Sony Xperia Z: Display

Aside from its water resistant capabilities, the standout feature of the Sony Xperia Z is its 5in screen. It's a full HD display with a resolution of 1920x1080. Full HD screens are set to become the norm in 2013 and while Sony isn't the first to market with this technology (the HTC Butterfly and Oppo Find 5 came first), the Xperia Z will be one of the first to officially land on Australian shores.

The full HD resolution of the Xperia Z gives its display a pixel density of 441ppi. It displays ultra crisp text with minimal, visible aberrations but viewing angles are lacklustre compared to many rival models. We don't consider this a critical issue as most people who use their smartphone will be looking at the display directly front on. However, other potential users may disagree.

The Xperia Z's display has lacklustre viewing angles compared to many rival models.
The Xperia Z's display has lacklustre viewing angles compared to many rival models.

The HTC One on the other hand has a 4.7in, super LCD 3 display with a full HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. The display is optically bonded to the screen in order to minimise the space between layers. The screen itself has a pixel density of 468ppi, making it the highest on the market. The colour reproduction, brightness and viewing angles on the HTC One are almost unrivaled. It's a display that has to be seen yourself in order to be fully appreciated.

Unlike the Xperia Z, which uses Android's stock on-screen button combination, HTC has stuck with capacitive buttons that sit below the display. However, the One only has two capacitive shortcut buttons, a back button on the left and a home button on the right. Double tapping the home button will open the multitasking menu in the absence of a multitasking button and a longer press will open the Google Now assistant.

HTC One vs. Sony Xperia Z vs. Software

The Xperia Z will initially come with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) but the company has promised it will be upgraded to the latest 4.2 version "shortly after launch". Perhaps the most interesting software addition is what Sony calls "Battery Stamina mode". The feature prevents applications from running when the screen is locked, therefore saving power of the 2330mAh battery and improving standby time. You can individually select apps to bypass this feature if you wish, so there's an element of personalisation.

The software on the Xperia Z is very similar to the stock version of Android. Sony has a poor track record with timely Android updates to its smartphones, so we remain hopeful that the light UI skin may mean the update process of the Xperia Z can be more timely than previous models.

The software on the Xperia Z is very similar to the stock version of Android.
The software on the Xperia Z is very similar to the stock version of Android.

HTC on the other hand is sticking with its Sense UI. The biggest addition is a redesigned home screen called 'BlinkFeed'. It looks like a cross between Windows Phone 8 and the Flipboard media aggregation app and pulls in content from a variety of pre-selected sources including your social media accounts. In what may prove to be an annoyance, BlinkFeed can't be completely removed from the HTC One. It must be one of your home screens, but doesn't have to be the primary one.

HTC also says it has slimmed the Sense package down. Critical UI elements like the app drawer, the notifications panel and the home screens have been toned down in order to provide a simpler and more effective user experience. The look itself is quite different to stock Android, but we can only hope it is much more consistent than previous versions of HTC Sense.

BlinkFeed can't be completely removed from the HTC One but it doesn't have to be your primary home screen.
BlinkFeed can't be completely removed from the HTC One but it doesn't have to be your primary home screen.

HTC One vs. Sony Xperia Z: Camera

The Xperia Z has a 13-megapixel camera that features an Exmor RS image sensor. Sony claims it's the world's first smartphone image sensor with HDR (High Dynamic Range) video. The camera takes good quality images with notable detail levels and reasonable, but sometimes oversaturated colours. Contrast is excellent and detail is notable for a camera phone, but still photos aren't significantly better than many other flagship devices on the market.

Other features of the camera include a superior auto setting that claims to capture photos with "optimal" settings, a sweep panorama mode and the ability to capture still photos while simultaneously recording video. The latter isn't a new feature — HTC has used it on a number of its phones including the popular One X and One XL. Curiously, the Xperia Z can also capture video underwater.

A photo we captured with the Sony Xperia Z (click to enlarge)
A photo we captured with the Sony Xperia Z (click to enlarge)

HTC is clearly betting on a new camera technology to win over consumers. The One has a 4-megapixel sensor dubbed the 'UltraPixel' camera. The custom image sensor uses enlarged pixels that the company says can absorb up to three times more light than those inside "most leading 13-megapixel phone cameras."

HTC promises that the use of UltraPixels make for an improvement in low-light performance and there's also optical image stabilization (OIS) and an f2.0 aperture, the largest available on a smartphone camera. In addition, the 2.1-megapixel front facing camera uses an ultra-wide angle lens, the same seen on the HTC Windows Phone 8X.

The HTC One's camera uses a 4-megapixel 'UltraPixel' sensor that makes use of enlarged pixels to capture better quality images.
The HTC One's camera uses a 4-megapixel 'UltraPixel' sensor that makes use of enlarged pixels to capture better quality images.

The UltraPixel sensor also allows HTC to introduce a new media called "Zoe". It enables users to capture up to 20 photos and a three second video simultaneously. The feature looks similar to Twitter's Vine videos or the Cinemagraphs used on the Nokia Lumia 920 but you can only share the files through YouTube and Facebook, or on HTC's servers for a limit of 180 days.

HTC One vs. Sony Xperia Z: Internals

Naturally, both of these handsets boast impressive specifications. The Sony Xperia Z is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz Krait processor, has 2GB RAM and comes with 16GB of internal memory. There's also a microSD card slot, which will be welcome news to many ardent Android fans. A theoretical maximum 48GB of memory will keep most potential users satisfied.

The HTC One on the other hand is powered by a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, has either 32GB or 64GB of internal memory and comes with 2GB of RAM. Unfortunately, there is no microSD card slot, which means you can't expand the memory.

Neither of these phones have a removable battery, but both are 4G capable in Australia and come with a built-in Near Field Communications (NFC) chip.

The Sony Xperia Z will launch in Australia in March on Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. HTC has confirmed the One will be available through multiple carriers in Australia when it launches in March or April. Telstra, Optus, Vodafone Australia and Virgin Mobile are identified among a total of 183 global carriers that will sell the device.

What do you think about the Sony Xperia Z and the HTC One? Which smartphone would you buy and why? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Related content

Sony Xperia Z review
Sony reveals more pricing, availability details for Xperia Z
Sony Xperia Z: What's hot and what's not
Sony "bringing the wow back" with Xperia Z
HTC One preview
Hands-on with the HTC One
HTC's BlinkFeed can't be removed from your home screen
HTC One coming to all Australian carriers

Tags Sony Mobileandroid phonessony4G smartphonesjelly beanoptusTelstrahtc4ghtc oneSony Xperia Zmobile phonesVodafonesmartphones

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World

14 Comments

mark

1

xperia z hands down. waterproof is a must for any high end smartphone

Parag

2

I am not surprised that HTC One battery life details haven't been published yet, that is one of the biggest gripe HTC users have had so far, i would go with the Sony

Namreg

4

The ONE and only...... Not even close

px

5

htc one seems like the most solidly built premium feeling device money can buy now

CK

6

wow that screen n wide aperture is appealing. I have Xperia S and it rocks & I really want waterproof. but sony ui is bland n htc looks hot. had lumia 920 which I also love and I think android with a win 8 ui overlay is sweet. If only htc added waterproof.
Beware people sony phone cameras r not very good. most phones has beaten it 12 mp camera with 8 mp n good software. I think the same will apply to 13 mp. sony is good but its UI is n software needs a lot of work. Nokia n HTC r winning on that front. now lets see what Sammy is offering with the S4. I hope the yume display they showed at ces is on. but if it still feels cheaply built and touch wiz still sux HTC is the way to go.

ronzalpha

7

This is ridiculous. Sony almost always has the better camera in terms of mobile technology and the specs are even better than the HTC. Yet you say HTC is better. Come on, update your article please.

michael

8

Erm ronzalpha the specs are better on the one....

truckieboy

9

I would go with the one that is 'blueticked', when we find out.

Will

10

Htc ones battreyt life is reported at 11 horus talk time with lte running woth i think 398 hours 3g - lte runnign cant rember also The htc one is reported to run faster and te processer is faster and also its a 2300 mah battrey and to Ronzalpha the Htc One has the best camra details out at the moment "for mobile phones" Ultra pixals are much better quilty and bring out better color and also much high coloor in the dark than any other phone out

George M

11

i have the OneX & it's kinda crap ... the ONE seems better, but water proof can't be overlooked (I've lost two top end phones to water within a week of purchase)

nase

12

I have had the s2 for the past 2yrs, l was originally getting htc sensation, phew, the sensation was shit! You remember it was the 1st phone with sense ui. You think I would be discouraged from buying htc, however HTC on this occasion have produced a premium product. I bought the xperia, its ok, returned it, ordered HTC. Glass is so last year, metal the way forward!!!

Camera Enthusiast

13

Having a higher megapixel camera does NOT make it a better camera on those stats only, in fact it can and does make it worse if the firmware/software driving it is not up to par which is what we have here with the Sony camera. You may like the Sony for other reasons but the HTC camera is streets ahead of the Sony. Also unless you are planing to enlarge your photos to poster size, 4 megapixel photos are all you should be shooting. An average computer monitor can only display 1 to 2mp photos it will down scale anything larger so imagine what your phone does. A high megapixel camera only comes into its element in a high quality/professional camera wielded by a high quality camera man, not a camera phone wielded by the masses. The HTC image chip and firmware/software is by far the best out there for camera work from a phone.

joenkelix

14

sony emang jozz gandhos kothos- kothos

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