HTC Desire HD vs Samsung Galaxy S

HTC Desire HD vs Samsung Galaxy S

The HTC Desire HD and the Samsung Galaxy S are quite a fertile ground for comparison, due to the fact that both phones employ huge screens, coupled to latest generation chipsets. We ought to stage a cage fight to check how the powerful silicon fares at feeding the monstrous displays with visuals, and if there are any actual battery life advantages from the allegedly power-sipping chipsets - big screen phones are notorious for sucking the life out of the battery faster than your toddler finishes a juice box.

Both handsets are running Android, but that's where most of the similarities end, as HTC's and Samsung's approaches to design and software are indeed very different. Who will come out ahead in what department? Glimpse through this comparison to find out...


When the first smartphones with big screens hit the market, they were considered niche gadgets. Lugging around a 4“ or 4.3“ screen in your pocket is not for the faint of heart, especially when you sit down, after all. HTC was the company behind the first smartphones with big screens of high resolution – with the HTC Touch HD, and the outstanding HTC HD2. Too bad those were running WinMo, and didn't get mainstream. We can pretty much pencil in these feelings towards the pre-EVO era, as the HTC EVO 4G ushered us in times where phones with big screens are hip and desirable.

The HTC Desire HD might have been referred to as an EVO 4G for the rest of the world, but the differences are too significant to call it that. It runs a second generation 1GHz Snapdragon chipset, has a solid aluminum unibody, and the newest version of the HTC Sense UI, which brings significant functionality changes.

Samsung Galaxy S, on the other hand, introduced the Super AMOLED screen technology to Android handsets, has a 1GHz Hummingbird SoC with theoretically the fastest graphics processing on a phone, and an all-plastic, thin and light design. Being made entirely of plastic has its positives - plastic is lighter and less rigid thаn metal, and this may actually help the precious Super AMOLED screen survive drops and other rough handling.

Those different approaches towards the design make for the entirely opposite feel of the two handsets when held. The HTC Desire HD is wider and thicker than the Galaxy S, which is explicable considering the slightly larger screen and aluminum casing, but the metal also makes it a third heavier at 5.78 oz (164 g), than the 4.16 oz (118 g) Samsung Galaxy S, which feels almost eerily thin and light for a handset with a 4“ screen. A huge solid slab versus featherly feeling – we have to give the handling round to the Samsung Galaxy S, although the Desire HD is just beautiful in its aluminum unibody with soft-touch plastic elements.

Speaking of screens, this one will be a tough call – the 4.3“ Super LCD on the HTC Desire HD is only a tad larger than the 4“ Super AMOLED one on the Galaxy S, but looks quite bigger, thanks to the visual effect of the larger, solid body of HTC's phone. Both screens are of the same resolution - 480x800 pixels and are able to show more than 16 million colors. Even though the pixel density on the Samsung Galaxy S should be a bit higher, the picture when browsing looks slightly more pixelated than the one on the Desire HD, thanks to the specifics of the PenTile matrix used in the production of the Super AMOLED screens. These are nitpicking differences, though, and the resolution is high enough for some gorgeous visuals on both phones.

Now off to the juicy stuff - Super AMOLED is 20% brighter, has 20% less power consumption and is 80% less sunlight reflective than regular AMOLED screens. Super LCD, on the other hand, is the way HTC handles the AMOLED display supply shortages that plagued some of its handsets this year. It is a big leap forward for the LCD technology, as it is characterized by higher brightness and contrast, wider viewing angles, and, most importantly, up to five times better power management than previous generation LCD screens. For a more detailed overview of the two technologies, you can read our article on the topic. The take from the article is that they are good in different things – the Super AMOLED is better for watching videos, thanks to its saturated colors, wide viewing angles, and less power drain when showing colorful images. However, it eats up to three times more battery when showing white – when browsing or reading, for example - thus almost neutering the natural avantage of AMOLED screens, which don't require power-hungry backlighting to function. The Super LCD is practically brighter than the Super AMOLED, which helps in direct sunlight, but the screen on the Galaxy S has a special coating that decreases the light reflectance to the extremely low 4%. This evened things out outside, and when we add the saturated colors, low reflectance and wide viewing angles of the screen on the Samsung Galaxy S, we'd even give it a slight advantage in sunlight visibility.

Still, we'd take the Super AMOLED screen of one and the same resolution any day before an LCD one – battery life would be comparable if you don't do a lot of browsing or reading, but the vivid colors, incredibly high contrast and wide viewing angles more than make up for the higher brightness of the LCD display. On full brightness, the black on the LCD screen looks greyish and the colors appear washed out, while the pixels stay completely off on the Samsung Galaxy S when displaying black, achieving bright, contrasty image. What the 4.3” of the HTC Desire HD has going for it, of course, is that it's just bigger.

HTC Desire HD 360-degree View:

Samsung Galaxy S 360-degree View:



1. ghost_uwi

Posts: 47; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

grabs more pop corn

2. Mart unregistered

A very close call between these 2. I'm still trying to decide which phone I upgrade to in Feb 2011. By that time maybe Samsung will have launched their upgrade to the Galaxy S, as rumoured. If that's the case then my choice is simple - come on Sammy, let the games begin !

3. Yassham unregistered

Uhhm , Sorry For Your Conclusion But : 8MP 2xLED Vs 5MP No LED ( Hanging With Some Friends In The Night And To Say Sorry I Don't Have Flash ' ! ) 1GHZ 786 MB RAM Vs 1GHZ 512 MB RAM ( Booting In The HTC Is Way Quicker Than The Samsung... ) 4.3" SLCD Vs 4.0" SAMOLED ( I Understand That SAMOLED Are Better Than SLCD But It A 4.3" Will Be Better On Typing And Browsing Web ) HTC Desire HD Vs Samsung Galaxy S ( Better Sound Quality And Loudness , Better Voice Quality, Better Navigation On The HTC . Just Some Option In The Samsung That Are Better Than The HTC Which Are : SAMOLED, A 1h Difference Of Battery , Plastic Design . I Would Definilty Choose The HTC Desire HD

4. argumon unregistered

One thing is completely left out, as it will not occur under test conditions. The more apps are installed on an SGS, the it lags, making it completely unusable with 10 or so screens of apps (not running, just installed). Search for SGS lagfix and you know what I am talking about. This can be fixed if you like to be a kernel hacker on your phone. But for the average user, the SGS will become mostly unusable with more apps installed. This problem does not occur out.-of-the-box or with just a handfull of apps, so it is not covered in test situations. I gave my SGS back for that reason

5. Jaskaran unregistered

SGS is really very nice and powerful device. using it for a month with 100+ apps installed but no lags. its pretty fast....... I think I made a good decision

6. Alui unregistered

Desire HD is just too big. I played with a showroom unit and I did not like it how it feels in the hand. Also it does not have a secondary camera (to be used for video calls or taking pictures of the guy who stole your phone with Track and Protect app:) ). Why? Why did HTC not put the secondary camera on their flagship Android phone? I think there should be a clear limit between smartphones and tablets. With 4.3 inch screens the phone is a small tablet in fact. So IMHO, the screen smartphones should be 4 inch tops. Tablets from 7 inch onwards. Any screen between these sizes does not make much sense for me. What smartphone producers should do, is to increase resolution of the screen, not the size.

8. ItsMichaelNotMike

Posts: 9; Member since: Nov 21, 2010

Although I own the Samsung Galaxy S (T-Mobile Vibrant) and love the phone (probably the best I have ever owned), I am not biased toward it. I can objectively say that this shoot out ("review") is spot on accurate. It's also very detailed, well written and thorough. Have to say it's one of the finest product reviews I have ever read. I have an HTC HD2, a MyTouch Slide, and Touch Pro2 (oh, and a G1). So I am familiar with HTC products and I have always said HTC is the hottest handset maker on the planet. So I was quite surprised that the Samsung Galaxy S turned out to be as good a handset as it is. Sure, there's a few things I don't like, but no handset and software has ever been perfect, in my experience. A pleasant surprise is that my Vibrant has held its own against the 2010 holiday phones. I figured that by now a Samsung competitor would have come out with some phone that might motivate me to consider the Vibrant "outdated." But so far no one has debuted a phone that beats my Samsung Galaxy S in terms of hardware, form factor, specs, software and performance. After having used the Vibrant for six months now, the only complaint I have is that when shooting a video the volume rocker at the side of the phone functions as the digital zoom adjustment. I have accidentally hit that at times when shooting videos with one hand. I'd like to be able to disable that feature (digital zoom). Interestingly, that's all I can come up with, in criticism of my Samsung Galaxy S. LOL.

9. ItsMichaelNotMike

Posts: 9; Member since: Nov 21, 2010

Oh, I have my HD2 to compare HTC's 4.3" handsets with, both in form factor and weight. I have to say the HD2 has a great, quality feel to it (when I got it in March 2010 I was thoroughly impressed with it. It was pleasing to the touch and felt like the $500 I paid for it.) However, comparing the two, I prefer the Vibrant's extremely light weight. I know some criticize the Vibrant (Samsung Galaxy S) as being and feeling like cheap plastic. But that doesn't bother me because a lot of my expensive phones are "cheap plastic." For example, my Touch Pro2, an excellent HTC phone that debuted in August 2009, had an expensive looking back, the battery cover looking like brushed metal. But the cover was simply "cheap plastic." And that phone was HTC's flagship product at the time, costing $550 retail here in the U.S. and over U.S. $700 in Europe. It is kind of amusing how people (even professional reviewers) commented on how "cheap" the Samsung Galaxy S felt, simply because it was so light. I guess people thought (and continue to think) that expensive electronics should feel expensive, as in being heavy.

10. tanchev unregistered

Your voice is so stupid man, just go and kill yourself somewhere.. i don`t want to listen to your voice because it`s so stupid. Make some blowjobs and maybe your voice will change. Varna bitch!

11. unregistered

I've got 2 questions. Does the Desire HD have frontal camera? Does the Samsung Galaxy S have flash with the camera? I guess the answer to both are "no".

12. Sven

Posts: 10; Member since: Feb 19, 2009

it's really amazing how people on this site are "HTC-haters"!!!!! when you read a comparison review or a single htc review, it's always HTC who's the worst!!!!! stop doing this to our lovely HTC mobiles please! every phone has its + and - !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

13. GalaxyS Rocks unregistered

Galaxy S is the best! Using it from last one month and very satisfied overall. Just updated to FROYO through Kies, no hassle no lag prbs. Already installed almost 95+ apps from the market no crash no hickups etc...And who use mobile camera's to capture the photo's at night????..Foolish, even if you have a flash you can't capture a good quality pictures at night as compared to any handycam(5mgpxl). Galaxy S is a full entertainment box in terms of size, price and handling..Jumbo HTC need a jumbo hands and jumbo pocket to caryy it. :)--------------

14. MVB unregistered

GalaxyS Rocks posted: Jumbo HTC need a jumbo hands and jumbo pocket to caryy it. Sucks to have suck a low IQ as yourself if you think that 3.8mm wider, 1.9mm thicker and .6mm taller makes the HTC so much more larger. Desire HD = 68mm(2.68") X 11.8mm(0.46") X 123mm(4.84") Galaxy S = 64.2mm(2.53") X 9.9 mm(0.39") X 122.4mm(4.82") The size difference is minimal and I'm sorry to hear about your small hands.

15. crytek unregistered

My personal experience Sense UI is the only advantage of HTC`s flagship unit Samsung is all the way better in everything else, hands down crytek

16. Don.Camello

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 10, 2011

I spent hours reading your valuable comments everyone. I think the choice is still hard to decide between both devices. but, I think I will go for the HTC today, because of the larger screen, which is easier to type for larger fingers as I use emails most of the time. But I'm really worried about the battery issue, I think I'll have to buy a car charger and another emergency charger.. although I hate to walk with all that wires in my pockets :-) But still the HTC Desire HD is the one who grapped my most attention.

17. snuski unregistered

The battery could be uppgradable to 1800 m on desire hd i heard somewhere

18. Ashmit unregistered

It was a very difficult decision......but I chose Galaxy S.....but that doesn't mean Desire HD is not good. 1. DHD has 8 MP cam but Galaxy's 5MP cam is equivalent to it even better in some daylight pics, DHD has flash but LED flash doesn't make much difference. 2. Galaxy has world's best 4" Super AMOLED screen(Scratch resistance Gorilla glass display) and full touch phones are all about navigating on screen like browsing internet, watching videos, watching pics you took or uploaded into your phone, playing graphics rich games etc all is pleasure on Galaxy's screen. DHD has 4.3" S-LCD which is good too but .3 inches doesn't make any difference as 4" is more then enough and S-LCD can't be compared to Super AMOLED. 3. HD video quality is far better in Galaxy S and has video out capability. 4. Galaxy S has front facing cam for video calling. 5. Better Audio quality. 6. Most importantly battery life.....DHD needs to be charged by evening after moderate use but Galaxy S's battery works whole day even more. I compromised on build quality and LED flash because that is not much important for me then the other things specially Display and battery backup.

19. the critiquer unregistered

I must say that the desire hd is an awesome phone... Probably the best match up for galaxy s. I can clearly see why people would prefer the htc with its monstrous 4'3" display, fast download speeds and so on. However, it is not perfect. All these features... including those in the o.s overlay, do eat away at the time you have with the phone. What's the point of so many features if you won't be able to use them long? Take my advice, the sgs delivers where its most important. Its close, but sgs just about remains as the smartphone king for now.

20. James1998 unregistered

Hi also just spent hours trying to figure out which one to buy. Eventually I chose the Samsung, mainly because the screen looks a lot nicer and the battery life is better. The HTC looks nice, but a little too big and that screen looks washed out compared to the Samsung. Plus, I'm worried about battery life. The lack of flash on the Samsung bothers me. I have the Nexus at the moment and the flash was very useful. But hopefully I won't miss it too much. I receive the Samsung tomorrow. Can't wait!

21. Rubadubadoobag unregistered

Well, maybe the Samsung is better. But Im pretty sure the Desire will do better, because as a casual buyer/user, I looked at both of them and decided to pay more for the latter because the former felt and looked cheap and lightweight. Like it or not a book's cover is part of the purchase calculus and the Galaxy S's build will tell against it even if it is objectively a + for women and small-handed men.

22. Kustom unregistered

Why has no one expanded more in the multimedia section and the gorilla glass of the phones? I have owned HTC mobiles for the past 4 years and have loved them, but after getting a SGS, I am douptful of returning to HTC unless they can make something pretty good, and the DHD isnt one of them. I have the SGS and have to say that it has been able to play any video format Ive thrown at it. I have a lot of HD Tv shows and movies that are usually .mkv format. The SGS just plays it straight out of the box without any computer conversions required. I just plug in the phone to the PC and copy any movie I want to play on it. Cant do this on the DHD or any other android phone for that matter without converting it at home. Additionally, if you have a Samsung TV on your home network you can instantly stream photos / music and videos to it as long as your TV is on through Samsung Allshare app built into the SGS. No messing around with TV remote at other then turning the TV on. Shoot some video footage while out and about, come home press allshare, select Samsung LED, select the vids to play and then they start streaming in 720p on the TV. People have this thought in their head if a device is lite it cant be good. I was the same when I first got my SGS, but after having it for the past 4 months there is no way I want to go back to a heavy brick like DHD. There is no problem with the build quality of the SGS. The gorilla glass is great as well. I dont have any screen protector on my phone and havnt got any scratches on the screen after months of use. This is a major advantage as most people do not review a phone with a screen protector on it, which usually decreases the screens visibility and responsive ness. this makes the SGS screen an outright winner in this category.

23. sammie unregistered

Hi everyone. I started to thinking about a new phone. I am choosing between the Samsung Galaxy S and HTC Desire HD. But I can not decide. I can get Galaxy for better price, but I prefer HTC. Which one would you suggest and why? Thanks for any help! P.S.: Sorry for my English. Regards.

24. Jim unregistered

I spent 12 days with the Galaxie S. I did like it, but found it buggy, It reboots several times a day. ey claim to be working on a fix) Also it did not play nice with the Ford Sync. I had 14 days to take it back. On day 12 the Desire HD was released in Canada. I switched the sim card to the Desire HD and never looked back, While it may be spec'd better the HTC is easier to set up. I much prefer the htc keyboard. htcsence online is neat, will ring your phone when you can't find it, also turns the ringer back on. Not to mention the gps find your phone feature. Big brother may not like these features, but I do. It is way less buggy than the Samsung, and was running on 2.2.1out of the box. I returned the Samsung the next day. No contest in my mind. Tried the screens side by side, running the same applications, and found the HTC was easier to see. Not sure why, but liked the contrast better.

25. sammie unregistered

Thank you, I will buy HTC Desire HD.

26. Rikki unregistered

Kaixo, I'm now in Australia and I am no sure to buy the Desire HD or the Samsung Galaxy S. Samsung seems to go better In Australia with Telstra Next G coverage, compared to to the DHD which can only run on 3G. I think I might go for the Samsung 'cause of the battery life. If the DHD had a better battery option, I would choose that as I love it's features. So it's the Samsung Galaxy S for me, and I'm a chick, so I don't have fat stubby fingers, but the life of the battery is important. Byieee.

27. Nick unregistered

is that battery life really that bad on the DHD?

28. KD unregistered

I must say, I'm quite surprised the Galaxy S was the winner here. I got the Desire HD recently and my friend the Galaxy S. I've played around with both quite a bit and I'm glad that I got the desire HD. The 4.3 inch screen is just the right size for me and the device sits perfectly comfortably in my hand. Also when comparing the home screen on the DHD and Galaxy S, both with full brightness, the colors on the DHD's S-LCD are SO MUCH more vibrant. Great performance and the battery lasts fine too. I love this phone!

29. Ameya unregistered

Many thanks for this comprehensive thorough review. It helped me make a decision.

30. mb unregistered

htc desire doubts!!

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