There’s never been a better time to be an Android user. With phones like the LG G3 and the HTC One (M8) both out on the market, the lineup for great Android devices has never been better than in 2014. Unfortunately, sometimes it can difficult to look passed the marketing schemes and fanboys to decipher the real differences between these smartphones.
The truth is that they’re both top of the line and highly regarded—so you can’t really go wrong with either choice. But we’ll break down some of the differences and try to make it clearer which phone might suit you better.
Right off the bat, the screen might just be the determining factor for you. The HTC One (M8) has a great display, but it’s just not the best one available—that title goes to LG’s G3 which will have the first Quad HD screen in the US when it launches later in the summer.
What does Quad HD mean? The display has a resolution of 2560×1440 and 538 pixels per inch. Essentially there are so many dots packed so tightly on the screen that everything looks clearer and crisper. It also means animation is more fluid and high resolution pictures and videos look better.
The One (M8) has a high resolution screen with a resolution of 1080×1920, so it’s still great, just not the best. LG claims the super high resolution screen won’t drain the phone’s battery life, so if that remains true, there shouldn’t be a downside to picking the better display.
Device size is often completely subjective, so unlike screen resolution, there won’t be any clear winner here. The G3 comes with a 5.5-inch screen while the One (M8) includes a 5-inch screen.
While five inches might seem like a lot, LG has done quite a lot to minimize the overall footprint of its new flagship device. Most notably, they’ve decreased the bezels down to near nothing, making it feel like a much smaller phone than it actually is. The G3 is still big—not unruly, but definitely big. HTC on the other hand didn’t go small, but it resisted the urge to dive into the phablet realm. Both phones are manageable in an adult male’s hand, but if I had to pick I’d say the One (M8) feels more comfortable to hold. Again, this ends up being mostly a personal preference and usage.
LG tends to go with plastic for its devices, but this time it used a metal back. It doesn’t feel bad, but it still leaves something to be desired. While HTC’s One (M8) doesn’t photograph especially well (in my opinion) its unibody design is a thing of beauty in the hand.
The One (M8) is solid without being overly heavily. It feels like a high end phone should feel. This is another personal preference type of comparison, but I think most people would agree the One (M8) is just a well designed and nice phone to hold. Watch out for the Harman Kardon black and gold edition. While it has a great color scheme with subtle gold accenting, the black back is a finger print magnet.
Like its predecessor, the G2, the G3 features the power and volume buttons on the back. A lot of people like this to keep the sides free of buttons, but it does present a little bit of learning curve and certainly affects the overall feel of the device. If you like it, it can be great, but if you don’t it could be a big sticking point.
It seems like phone manufacturers are finally realizing that small and thin hardware isn’t an excuse for thin sound. Both HTC and LG put some thought into the area of sound and it shows.
The G3 includes an exposed speaker on the back which is capable of 1-watt output. Beyond just increased volume for movies and music, the speaker also helps to hear call and text alerts. If the G3 wins hands down on screen, then the One (M8) wins hands down on speakers and sound. LG’s effort is a worthy one, but the two front facing speakers HTC includes are simply amazing. The sound is loud, clear, and pretty much puts all other phones speakers to shame.
Manufacturers are still manipulating Android, but it’s not as heavy handed as it use to be. Both HTC and LG include their own flair, but for the most part the changes are helpful rather than being counterproductive.
LG seems to add more apps and extra “features,” while HTC re-did all the menus and underlying parts. The main app HTC includes with the One (M8) is its Blinkfeed which pulls in news and personal content for a stream of (hopefully) relevant data. It works well, but the nice thing is that if it isn’t your style you can easily turn it off.
LG on the other hand added a lot of consumer facing apps. It has its health stuff—which will probably make more sense after the G Watch launch—along with a new personal assistant. LG claims the assistant feature will compliment Google Now rather than compete with it.
The G3 also includes a new KnockCode feature to unlock the phone by tapping on the sleeping screen, similar to the One and the G2. There’s also a built-in encryption feature to keep guests away from your photos. While both phones come with some of the less intrusive Android skins, unless you’re a long time fan of HTC’s sense skin, the customizations LG made are nice to have. LG has finally given its customers helpful features that they can enjoy without having to cringe over the outdated UI and cartoony animations.
Neither camera is perfect, which has always been the bane of even the best of Android flagship devices. Despite some interesting and advanced aspects on each phone, unfortunately, neither can really outdo the iPhone 5s, and that’s a real shame when these phones have made such great strides in other areas.
The One (M8) includes two rear cameras for the ability to refocus pictures after the fact. The problem? You have to use a special mode and it’s not easy to share multi-dimension photos. As cool as the photo features are, most that HTC includes are still gimmicky at the end of the day. The low 4.0 megapixel camera takes decent low-light shots, but in most circumstances, it can’t compete with the 13 megapixel shooter on the LG G3.
LG’s camera includes a new laser auto-focus system which is nice. Whether it actually works as advertised in every situation, it should increase the odds of getting a non-blurry picture.
Both of these devices truly are top notch and come highly recommended. But in the end, deciding between the LG G3 and the HTC One (M8) really comes down to a matter of what is important to you. If the feel and industrial design is all that matters to you—if your phone is more of a fashion statement than anything else—you really can’t beat the HTC One (M8). It should also be stated that the G3 doesn’t actually hit store shelves until later this summer, so if you’re in the need of a new smartphone right this minute, the HTC One might just be your best choice.
However, the average smartphone user will find a lot of things about the LG G3 that make it the more desirable purchase if you can wait a month or two. Whether it’s because of the G3’s incredible display, improved camera, or revamped software, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better Android device on the market.