Moto X or HTC One?

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htc-one-vs-moto-xWhen I was asked about the “alternatives”  for Moto X, the firs one popping out  is HTC One. Not just because of the similar screen size.

But yes, Moto X and HTC One both have small display (compared with other flagship Android phones from Samsung,  Sony and LG). It is 4.7″. Actually the display is not small. Both of them use very thin bezel and therefore, they looks even smaller than their actual size. Just for your information, Moto X has similar front surface area with iPhone 5, but with 20% more display space.

Unlike Asian users, most American users still prefer one-handed smartphone, i.e, the phone can be easily operated with one hand. Moto X apparently caters such demand. It is not a coincidence that both Moto X and HTC One are in the same size range of iPhone 5.  Of course, Android users are spoiled  with large display, so 4.7″ screen is a reasonable compromise.

Design and build quality

Among today’s Android manufactures, HTC is still a  leader in hardware design. I’m not talking about market share, for which HTC is plummeting. Maybe HTC will have to leave US market just in 2 to 3 years if the trend cannot be reversed.

The design of HTC One seems better than Moto X. The metal body will strengthen your impression when you compare Moto X and HTC One side by side.

Moto X actually deviates from Motorola’s old design,  especially the robotic Droid design. The exterior design of Moto X is very similar to HTC One: simple and elegant. What drags Moto X down is the plastic feeling.  Because Moto X wants to offer customization on the back plate, metal or tempered glass is out of the options.

So, from the view point of design and build quality, HTC One is surely better.

BTW, “designed, engineered and assembled in the USA” does not help much on design and build quality for Moto X.

Software

Both Moto X and HTC One run Android Jelly Bean 4.2. Both will be upgraded to 4.3 in a couple of months.

Moto X has a cleaner Android, actually very close to vanilla Android except the touchless control and a few other customizations. Motorola is also trying to move these unique features to Google Play as exclusive apps. This means Moto X will be easily upgraded like Nexus phones.

HTC One comes with HTC’s own skin, Sense 5. So, you will get  some extended features out of box. For example, the BlinkFeed gives you the stream update automatically (from the source you defined).  Such functions used to be appealing when the apps in Android market were limited. But now it is less relevant because you can easily find apps with similar functions in Play store. For example, you can easily replace this BlinkFeed with Flipboard or even Google Currents.

Some customization can be a source of degraded performance.  A lot of users have found that their Android phones become slower (sometimes acceptable) and less responsive after the major OS update.  The vendors may blame the old hardware, and may skip the update.  Sometimes, such issues are actually due to inadequate test of UI modifications on new OS. This explains why Nexus users seldom encounter such issues.

The good thing is that HTC’s Sense skin is not so bloated, compared to Samsung’s Touch Wiz. But anyway, unless the additional feature is exactly what you want, vendor UI is some kind of bloatware.

It seems Moto X gives up Motorola’s Motoblur. It is a smart move.

So, for software, although both use the identical version of Android, Moto X is a better choice unless you need some specific features of HTC  Sense UI.

Hardware specs

Most flagship Android phones are over-powered. Comparing raw hardware specs is actually meaningless, except for a few hardware hackers.

 For raw hardware specifications, HTC One is obviously the winner:  faster CPU, more CPU cores and higher display resolution.

However, the advantage in hardware specs cannot be translated to actual phone performance or user experience.

Camera

For camera,  both Moto X and HTC is trying to improve  real world performance, instead of racing for the number of pixels.  This is a smart  move. More and more vendors will have to follow this path.

Moto X embraces the clear pixel technology with one additional color filter in the camera sensor. At same time, one companion chip  automatically convert the resulting shots into the Bayer RAW format.  So, photo taken is fast and low-light performance is impressive.

HTC One uses its own  UltraPixel technology  and its own dedicated image chip. More practically, the optical image stabilization is also deployed in HTC One. So, although it is just a 4MP camera, it can take incredible pictures and of course, the low-light performance is also impressive.

The main problem of both HTC One’s and Moto X ‘s camera is the inconsistent performance reported by some users. Sometimes, the photo taken is weird.  Probably, the technology behind is not so matured yet.

Anyway, for camera, it is a draw for Moto X and HTC One.

Display

The size of the display in Moto X and HTC One is almost identical: 4.7″. But the resolution are quite different. HTC One boosts full HD 1080p (1920*1080), while Moto X only has 720p (1280*720).  The added pixels in HTC One actually is wasted for most users. The 316ppi ( pixels per inch) in Moto X is already close to human eye’s limit (if you hold your device 4-5″ away).  HTC One’s 468 ppi is surely beyond the limit of most human eyes.

Another display difference between HTC One and Moto X is the LCD panel type. Moto X uses AMOLED. While HTC One uses Super LCD 3 (IPS).  The difference of these two types LCD can be found in my old post fort Galaxy s4 community:  Will Galaxy S4 use Super AMOLED or SoLux Display? Why it matters? The short answer is both are good display. The color in AMOLED panel is usually over-saturated.  So, the color is not so accurate, but it is pleasant to view.  Super LCD usually produces more accurate color, but not as “colorful” as what you can get in an AMOLED display.

For display, maybe HTC is slightly better than Moto X for some users.

Audio

HTC one comes with dual (not just one!!) frontal stereo speakers powered by built-in amplifiers. It is loud and clear. The Beats Audio stack also  improve the sound quality. So, currently, no other phones can beat HTC One for sound quality. The dual front stereo speakers are an icon of HTC phones now.

Moto X does not have much to say in this aspect. It is just like other smartphones in the market.

So, HTC One surely is the winner in audio.

Unique features

HTC one is a great phone. But it is hard to find useful unique features except the audio.

However, Moto X is packed with some unique features. Unlike a few useless or half-baked features in Galaxy S4, most of these features in Moto X are really useful and improve user experience.

In my previous post of top 5 unique features in Moto X, I already listed these 5 most useful features:

  • Touchless control
  • Quick capture
  • Always-on (and always-ready)
  • Customizable exterior
  • Active display

So,  Moto X surely wins in unique features.

Conclusion

Moto X is focusing on user experience. Motorola studied smartphone usage and came with their solution to help us use the smartphone more effectively. Moto X is not a traditional smartphone.

HTC One is a traditional smartphone packed with the best hardware and lots of features.

If you use your smartphone for music quite a lot, or you are a hardware hacker expecting the latest hardware, or you hate plastics,  HTC One is your choice.

For most users, Moto X is the better choice.  Software, hardware and usability is well balanced in Moto X.

 

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