Flagship Fumble: HTC one (M8) vs.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Sony Xperia Z2

By Kia Dargahi

Ahh Spring: the birds are singing, the grass has never been greener, the skies clearer; it truly is a wonderful time of the year. Not for the aforementioned reasons though… It’s smartphone season! Around the turn of spring, most of Android’s top dogs release what is known as their flagship smartphone: the most premium and well-rounded smartphone that the companies can conjure up. And this year, the competition is fierce, with specs, competition, and ingenuity at all-time highs. Well, we’ve got a lot to cover, let’s start shall we?
Before we dive into the smartphones of today, let’s go back in time one year. Samsung, HTC, and Sony had launched the GS4, One (M7), and Xperia Z respectively. Specs wise, they all ran the same processors, had the same screen resolutions, had similar dimensions, and were all around 5 inches in screen size. Each had its own party trick: The GS4 had its motion gestures and eye tracking to scroll the screen, plus all of Touchwiz’s utilities and quirks. The One had its famous “boomsound” stereo front facing speakers, “ultrapixel” camera (essentially has bigger pixels in the camera sensor), and “blinkfeed,” a process that would condense news and all relevant information into one scrollable screen. The Xperia Z had its first “first 1080p smartphone” gimmick as well as the fact of being water and dust resistant. Overall, the Xperia Z got the least limelight and there was a stalemate between the One and the GS4. For every advantage on one device, there was an equally important one on the other. 
Now, our history lesson complete, it’s time to get to the present and talk about some specs. Here’s a table that compares the three devices:

HTC One (M8)

Samsung Galaxy S5

Sony Xperia Z2


Android 4.4

Android 4.4.2

Android 4.4


5.64 ounces

5.11 ounces

5.75 ounces


Aluminum unibody

Plastic polymer (water and dust resistant)

Glass (water and dust resistant)

Screen Size

5.0 inches (diagonal)

5.1 inches (diagonal)

5.2 inches (diagonal)

Resolution/ Pixel Density

441 ppi

432 ppi

424 ppi


4.0 MP (duo camera)

16 MP Camera

20.7 MP camera

Front Facing Camera

5.0 MP

2.1 MP

2.2 MP


Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (2.3 GHz)

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (2.5 GHz)

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (2.3 GHz)

Built in Storage

Starting from 16 GB

Starting from 16 GB

Starting from 16 GB

Battery Capacity

2600 mAh

2800 mAh

3200 mAh


Improved boomsound, advanced focus, on screen buttons

Heart rate sensor, 4K video at 30 fps, physical home button

Noise cancelling software, 4K video, on screen buttons

Purely from a specification point of view, it appears as if the Z2 is the best. This being said, the specialties from the other two devices are not to be ignored. 
Starting with the Z2, it improves on the Z1 on a software point of view and that’s about it. Yes, the processor has been bumped up to an 801, but that won’t be entirely noticeable for your average user because the noise cancelling software is only compatible with newer Sony products and might be too small of a niche to really tap into. The phone feels similar to the Z1 in hand and I can tell you, it is a premium feeling device. The all glass front and back (reminiscent to an extent of the iPhone 4 design) does add noticeable weight to the device, but this is all in good reason. There merely is no going back to plastic products once you’ve used a device with premium materials. The high quality does come with a downside however. Other than the added weight, the battery is not removable, a sacrifice that is almost the norm for devices with luxury materials. This smartphone, with all of its impressive specs and tech may just be the most premium of the three devices, but it might not end up being the most practical. 
The Samsung Galaxy S5 visually differs from its predecessor by a chamfered back with small holes scattered throughout. While most argue that the gold version of this device has a back similar to that of a band aid, it is up to user interpretation at the end of the day to decide. The GS5 is without a doubt productivity oriented. With all of its gadgets and gizmos, some that may never see the light of day depending on the user, is without a doubt the most utility filled device of the lot. The removable battery, expanded storage, and swappable backs are not to be taken for granted either. For the power hungry user who can’t seem to make the 2600 mAh battery last throughout the day, this could be a make or break for a new smartphone purchase. Touchwiz keeps its same form factor with minor tweaks that can be seen in the settings, but not the design overhaul that many users were expecting. All in all, it can be said that this phone offers best overall performance and productivity, but is it practical?
The all new HTC one, M8, flagship (whatever you want to call it), serves as the middle ground between the two behemoth smartphones. The design is ideal, the features are there, and the power is there. The only thing that is relatively lacking is the camera performance. While HTC say that they have drastically improved the camera, at the end of the day, it is a 4 MP shot. No matter how many software improvements the camera app will make, zooming in and sharpness won’t come near the performance of 16 and 20 MP cameras. This being said, blinkfeed and boomsound are practical features that have room for use not in a niche but in a majority. Blinkfeed could potentially replace readers such as feedly or flipboard and boomsound speakers are the best sounding speakers on any smartphone device. Now, this would be the everyday man’s smartphone (granted you don’t use your smartphone as your only camera). It’s the second lightest, smallest screen, but, most importantly, the best front facing camera. As the song “#SELFIE” portrays, many individuals make use of their front facing cameras. The executive decision on HTC’s part to include a high MP count for the front facing camera makes video calls better, pocket mirrors more realistic, and selfies sharper (make sure the camera doesn’t catch unwanted details!). It is a compromise between power and practicality.
The disappointing news is that there is no clear cut winner. The real winner is the consumer. If you want a spec’d out elegant powerhouse, go for the Z2. If you want a phone that is as productive as your multitasking self, the GS5 is all yours. If you want a good looking device with loud speakers and extreme selfies potential, you’ve found the One (M8)
Well there you have it. Do you think there’s a clear cut winner? Are you satisfied with the fumble? Chime in below in the comments!
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