iPhone 5 or HTC One: An in-depth Comparison for the Undecided Techie

*Due to moderator comments, re-posted (and now removed duplicates from both Android Army and Apple Core)

To those in both the Apple Core and Android Army, this comparison between the two phones is not a review of either phone, nor is it a definite conclusion for which one to buy. I made this post in order to aggregate, in the best possible way, a multitude of differences between the two devices, and to give the undecided smartphone user / tech-junkie, as fair an assessment as possible. This series of posts mainly covers the hardware, but does also include some significant tidbits about the software; even if this comparison included every facet of each mobile OS, I believe that trying each one out is the only way for a user to determine his/her best fit.

Let’s begin!

Part 1: Design and Build

With the HTC One, the recently troubled high-end Android OEM decided to make a bold move; by employing an advanced unibody aluminum design, HTC alerted all to its manufacturing prowess and capabilities as a dedicated handset maker. So, how does it compare against the iPhone 5? Let’s take a closer look...

Overall, both phones share some similar design cues, and they both manage to stand out from the smartphone crowd of today. With its thin and light design, the iPhone 5 is very well known for its very luxurious fit and finish, and since its launch, has managed to garner a lot of attention for its unique (and sometimes-emulated) aesthetic. As one of the last products to receive the "aluminum and glass" treatment, it is also a prime definition of Apple’s trademark look; the slate model exudes a sense of sleekness and sharpness, while the silver version further highlights the diamond-cut chamfer, and jewel-like attributes of the device. With a weight of 112g and a 7.6mm body, the phone is slender, but not fragile, due to the use of sturdy metal and gorilla glass (For those who don’t know, Apple was the first major customer for Gorilla’s glass panels with the introduction of the original iPhone in 2007). The rounded corners and flat back are also design traits taken from previous generations; when compared to the curved back of the HTC One, the choice becomes a personal preference (each phone thus offers slightly differing grips in the hand, as well as a different stability when laid flat). The slate model does have a caveat though; confirmed through personal use, the soft-anodization layering through which the raw aluminum is altered, can be removed with scratches / progressive wear and tear of the device over time. This results in both the chamfer, and/or aluminum of the black model revealing the raw color underneath. However, there is one more positive note; the metal back does allow for great impact-resistance.


via images.apple.com

As for the HTC One, the phone seems to be a culmination of HTC’s fully-realized potential; with a classy unibody exterior, the aluminum construction of the One is both unique among a sea of mostly plastic-products, and bodacious enough to battle the iPhone in its own territory. While deviating from the design of the latter, the One stands on its own, as arguably the best-looking Android device on the market today. While flaunting sharper edges than the iPhone 5, the One’s body curves slightly around the back, and its larger size is also a differentiating factor as well. With a strong foundation that stems from the One X, HTC’s new flagship manages to retain some of the old, while also rethinking major aspects of the exterior. While the overall principles remain largely similar, areas such as the placement of the front-facing audio peripherals and buttons, change the experience for the better. The altered design does bring about an issue though; unlike the iPhone, the HTC One is actually heavier than its predecessor, at a total mass of 143 grams (about 20 percent more when compared to the iPhone 5 itself). To some consumers though, the weight difference is also a relative preference, as many will not be bothered by the mass of most phones on the market today. And in the end, the premium, classy aluminum body is a fantastic deal, no matter the slight differences in weight and thickness (anything more extreme might not have been taken as lightly though).


via www.htc.com

By utilizing an antenna integrated into the metal chassis itself, HTC has also tried to differentiate itself from the iPhone in another way; with what their marketing chief has called a “zero-gap” body, the build excludes both a plastic chin (as per the HTC Legend) or pieces of glass (utilized by the iPhone 5) to help channel wireless signals. Instead, the cost of the all-aluminum back is both a longer-manufacturing time (over 200 minutes apparently) and an excessive need for glue; this has resulted in an iFixit repairability score of 1 out of 10 (vs. the 7/10 score for the iPhone 5). This also becomes another instance of personal preference, where ease of repairability might trump the need for pure aluminum aesthetic, or vice-versa.

In summation, while both bodies are stunning in their own right, the overall design characteristics lead the consumer to stand at a crossroads; while many will prefer the classy all-metal housing of the One, others with probably lean towards the sleek and stealthy finish of the iPhone 5. With both proudly displaying edge-to-edge glass across their fronts, the bigger picture becomes more clear; if you prefer a larger, predominantly-aluminum hunk of slab, the One is, well, “the one”. Otherwise, the thin, light, and jewel-like nature of the iPhone 5 might sway you to the other side. All I know for sure is, the competition sure is heating up this year!


iPhone 5 - Sleek and stealthy, the iPhone 5 has a gorgeous design, with both luxurious aluminum-and-glass slants, as well as the attributes of a compact smartphone with which so many people have come to love.

HTC One - With a fantastic unibody design and shell strictly sourced from aluminum, the One manages to dazzle with attention-grabbing build quality, and hallmark construction not found elsewhere in the Android universe.

Next: In-Depth Display and Audio Comparison