Just a few months ago the thought of arguing that the next version of one of the most popular phones of all time could be bested by something from lowly HTC would have been madness. Samsung didn't become the undisputed king of Android over night. Samsung has been making innovative, high quality products at a reasonable price for years now. Smart phones like the Galaxy Note and the Galaxy S II were more than just dependable pieces of hardware; they raised the bar for Android devices around the world. The Galaxy Note line actually took the "phablet" term from something derogatory and made it into a legitimate market that other manufacturers have been scrambling to copy.
Much has been said about the Galaxy S III and by now we are all familiar with what it brought to the table. A powerful, snappy processor, a responsive UI, a solid camera, NFC, and good battery life. The Galaxy S III will no doubt be considered a "classic" smart phone in years to come; a device that pushed other OEMs to create better and more functional devices.
But all of that was then, and this is now. HTC is looking to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of years of losing customers to Samsung and LG. The One is HTC's last-ditch effort to prove that they can make high quality hardware, and pair it with an Android skin that doesn't take away from the user's experience. From where I'm standing, it looks like they succeeded.
The Galaxy S4 is a fine device, there is no doubt about that. But at the end of the day it is just a Galaxy S III with a bunch of added software gimmicks. The design is essentially the same, TouchWiz is starting to look cartoony and a little dated, and the plastic build that the Galaxy S III got away with is starting to feel cheap to most of us.
On the other hand we have the HTC One. This device might be the most beautiful, best built smart phone ever sold. The camera is fantastic in low light, the hardware is second to none, and Sense has really evolved into something that doesn't make you immediately run for the nearest launcher. The HTC One draws the eye, the screen is crisp and clear and the experience of using the device is smooth and satisfying.
The mobile industry is moving forwards at an incredible speed. We are seeing new, exciting devices being released just months after other fantastic innovative devices have hit the market. The great thing about the Android ecosystem is that we (consumers) have options. Maybe you are looking for something dependable and light, but design and hardware aren't as important. In that case the Galaxy S III or S IV might be the right option for you. If you like to have the best looking device available and you love taking pictures indoors, the HTC One is probably the best choice. Maybe you are like me and you are waiting for something truly mind blowing before you give up your current device, so give it a few weeks and see what the future holds for devices like the Motorola X or the Note III.
The point is that now is a great time to be in the market for a new Android device. Maybe Samsung has ruled Android for the last couple of years, but don't let that blind you to fantastic new devices from other manufacturers like HTC, LG and Motorola. In the increasingly competitive smart phone market it takes something pretty impressive stand out from the crowd, and it takes something truly amazing to beat Samsung's latest and greatest; but in my opinion, the HTC One has done just that.