HTC Desire HD vs Samsung Galaxy S

Introduction and Design

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:

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