Getting a new phone is an annoying decision. I mean, aside from the fact that you dish a lot of money for a handset that you’ll be using constantly for a year or two, a phone is such a personal purchase. It isn’t just a new MP3 player or a new camera; you need to connect to a phone to enjoy it. After all, it becomes an extension of you.
After over two years of lovingly using the Samsung Galaxy S2, it was time to get a new phone. I immediately knew that I wanted an Android, because I don’t trust Windows and because I really hate how closed Apple’s iOS is. My two top options: HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.
Then came the testing. I tested my mother’s HTC One (HTC have SHITTY marketing in the MENA), and the S4 was generously loaned to me for testing purposes by Samsung. Fortunately, Nokia also sent me the Lumia to test, so I basically had in my hands the three top-of-the-line handsets available to compare before I made my purchasing decision.
If you want to get a phone, here’s my review of each:
The Samsung TouchWiz GUI is easily the best Android user-interface I’ve ever used. It is easy, intuitive, and powerful. They also pack a lot of features that make the experience more novel, especially today when there hasn’t been any groundbreaking new technology introduced to mobile in years. But Samung seriously need to invest in better visual design, but more on that in the design section.
I was blown away by Windows on Lumia. I never thought I’d say this about a Windows product, but damn, it’s different, in a really good way. Although there are certain confusing aspects about the user experience, Windows managed to change the way we interact with apps on the Lumia. It feels like the future. I love it. The only issue is that app support is absolutely crap.
The HTC Sense GUI is simple and beautiful, although a lot can be done to improve the user experience. It just isn’t well thought-out. The touchscreen is too sensitive, for one thing, so I call people by mistake at least once a day. There are some really absurd UX decisions that really piss me off, like the difficulty of getting to contacts. Of course, it’s Android, and the beautiful thing about Android is that you can hack it to perfection, but HTC Sense is quite stupid out-of-the-box.
You can’t beat the great hardware shoved into the S4. It’s light, durable, and top-of-the line. The camera is great and packed with features.
I have a serious issue with unibodies. I really panic at the idea of not being able to look at the guts of my phone. The camera is excellent, even at night. BeatsAudio is disappointing.
Hardware also seems good, but it’s a unibody and unibodies are stupid. The customary Carl Zeiss Camera is okay.
It’s amazing how gorgeous the handset looks. It’s easily the most beautiful phone available, with the chiseled edges and the perfectly-aligned everything. It feels like something that involves Steve Jobs… the evolution of Apple aesthetics. This is how the iPhone should look today. I miss you, Steve. Even the OS is gorgeous; the type, the attention to detail, the colors. I love it. I want to hug it and kiss it and tell it how beautiful it is.
The only retarded thing about the design is the standby button on top. It’s hard to access, and there’s no other way to activate the screen. Stupid.
Very clean and beautiful interface for the HTC One
The HTC One looks better than Apple products
Beautiful design. I am exceptionally impressed with the way the Nokia looks. The typography is GORGEOUS. The user experience is fresh and different. The hardware is sexy. Everything makes sense and fits perfectly. Every element is designed. Great job, Windows.
Lumia has beautiful hardware
Amazingly gorgeous interface for the Lumia
This is where the Galaxy really screws up. With such amazing R&D and amazing products, I can’t figure out why Samsung can’t get better designers. The phone is hideous; the curves feel outdated and the buttons just don’t fit properly. The software is also hideous. There is no attention to detail whatsoever… The undesigned state of the menus and error messages breaks my heart. The typography is not typography, it’s just text. Samsung, I love you, please get better designers.
Ugly menus in Galaxy S4. This could easily be a screenshot from a Windows ’95 PC
The curves on the S4 look like someone scaled them without retaining proportions
I ended up getting the HTC One, mostly because it’s gorgeous. I am sort of panicking about the stupid unibody; how am I supposed to grow a real connection with my phone if I can’t open it? Whatever. I would have bought the Nokia Lumia, if app support wasn’t so crap. I mean, come on. No Instagram? No Dropbox? What’s the point of a smartphone with no Dropbox?