HTC Desire HD vs Samsung Galaxy S

Interface, Messaging and Functionality:

We won't be delving into deep comparison between TouchWiz 3.0 and HTC Sense UI, since we've already covered them when they first appeared - in the Samsung Galaxy S and HTC Desire Z reviews, respectively. TouchWiz 3.0 is simpler and more app-centric, with great social networking integration in your contacts list. The new HTC Sense, on the other hand, comes with cloud-based services for remote management of your phone, with a central command place at HTCSense.com. It also includes a joint effort by HTC, TomTom and Route66 to provide offline maps for navigation in more than 90 countries in the new Locations app. Other improvements are the 5 seconds boot time, and numerous options for skinning and customizing.

Our personal preferences lean towards HTC Sense, in its newest iteration, which makes it an all encompassing experience with amazing personalization options, but it's all subjective, of course. We did a detailed overview of the new HTC Sense UI in our Desire Z review, if you want to check those new features we mention in depth.


Our Samsung Galaxy S unit was updated to Android 2.2 (Froyo), which brought on full Adobe Flash support, some eye-candy like transparent homescreen dock and flashy icon backgrounds, and also a self-portrait mode in the camera interface using the front-facing cam. The benchmarks showed performance improvement by about a third as well. While navigating the interface or firing up applications, though, the difference wasn't quite visible – Samsung's finest is already fast enough. The split-second black screen before the phone entered some applications, such as the contacts list, is almost gone now - TouchWiz 3.0 is fluid, and a pleasure to use on the Samsung Galaxy S.


The HTC Desire HD, although it scored 1700+ on the Quadrant test, which is more than we've ever seen on a handset out of the box, actually had noticeable lag in inertial scrolling in the main menu. Despite the next-gen 1GHz Snapdragon chipset, and the 768MB RAM, when we swiped briskly up and down in the menu, it stuttered to a stop. It is definitely not a horse power issue, as confirmed by the benchmark tests, just some optimization needed in the new HTC Sense UI, since anywhere else scrolling is as smooth as it gets. There is a new firmware out now, which probably takes care of the teething issues.

The graphics chip, used in Samsung's Hummingbird, is theoretically better than the one in the HTC Desire HD, but, in a year-old 3D game, we consistently saw 58-60 fps from the Snapdragon, while the Galaxy S meandered between 47 and 58 fps - once again the synthetic limits obviously don't mean much in real life, unless there is software specifically written to take advantage of this or that chipset.

Both phones allow for integrating the contacts from your social networks with your phone buddies, but we like the TouchWiz 3.0 approach slightly better, as it allows a quick glimpse at anybody's Facebook account happenings, for example, via a simple tab in the person's contact details.


Both devices have excellent text messaging and email apps, but we liked the email software on the Samsung Galaxy S more, since its settings are easier to find and more detailed. You can download all your emails for offline viewing (and searching), up to 10MB size, in HTML view, and with the attachments. The email client on the HTC Desire HD allows you to set “maximum size” to download, without HTC specifying what size would that be, plus Sense UI is just now introducing combined inbox, a feature that TouchWiz 3.0 has had for a while.


Typing those emails and messages, on the other hand, is easier on the HTC Desire HD – add the traditionally excellent HTC virtual keyboard to a 4.3” screen, and you'll never need another keyboard. Not that it's much harder on the 4” screen, plus the update to Froyo brought Swype to our Galaxy S, so things got even better in the text input department. Oh, wait, there is some trouble in paradise – when typing in landscape mode, or when editing documents, for example – the input on both phones goes into a text box, so the only thing you see is the keyboard and the text box, instead of a split screen. A crying shame on these large screens, which needs to be addressed in the next iterations of Android - these are the only times we prefer a physical keyboard.



We'd have to say again that, since performance on these latest-gen 1GHz chipsets is not an issue, the choice of interface boils down to personal preferences. TouchWiz 3.0 is simpler, and easier to learn and use, while HTC Sense takes some getting used to, but gives back in integrated functionalities and unsurpassed customization options.


Internet, Connectivity and Software:

Both browsers are performing fantastic – scrolling, panning around, multitouch and double-tap work flawlessly, without a hint of lag. They share similar functionalities, with the main differences between the two being the more flexible text selection ability in the Sense UI browser with two waypoints, and the separate brightness setting in the browser on the Galaxy S, presumably to tone down the power drain from AMOLED displays, when showing white website backgrounds.


The only difference in performance we noticed was when we loaded the Unreal Tournament 3 site, which is Flash-based, and has an embedded video inside to boot. The browser on the Samsung Galaxy S slightly stuttered on the video, while on the HTC Desire HD things were smooth as silk, most likely due to the 256MB of RAM more that the handset possesses, and the hardware acceleration in Sense UI's browser. Also, we mentioned that the PenTile matrix used to produce the Super AMOLED display uses two subpixels for one pixel instead of three, thus making text and images appear smoother on the LCD screen.

Both browsers support text reflow, so the pages are rendered to fit the screens entirely, but the elements on the Desire HD are just bigger than on the 4.3” screen, and thus easier to read. Here we give slight advantage to the browser on the HTC Desire HD, unless you are mesmerized by those gaudy, saturated colors that the Galaxy S produces while browsing, or doing anything else, for that matter.

On the connectivity front, both devices support the full set of radios – 3G, Wi-Fi, A-GPS, Bluetooth, FM Radio and DLNA. The devil is in the details, though – the HTC Desire HD supports 14.4Mbps download speeds, while the Samsung Galaxy S makes do with 7.2Mbps. Given that there are now 29 live HSPA+ networks in Europe, this is a nice short term fix for your need for speed, until LTE is rolled out completely. On the other hand, the Galaxy S has Bluetooth 3.0, which is much faster than the 2.1 variety, but there aren't many devices supporting it as of now, so it is just a futureproof feature for the time being. The golden palm in the connectivity front here goes to the HTC Desire HD.

Moreover, the new HTC Sense UI utilizes fully the GPS chip with the pre-installed Locations app, which we examined thoroughly in our HTC Desire Z review, including its performance on video, if you need more details. It is basically a partnership between HTC, TomTom and Route 66 for offline navigation on HTC devices running Sense UI. Detailed maps and POIs of more than 90 countries, or entire regions, can be downloaded to the app and used for navigation, aided by a digital compass, without having to splurge on data or roaming charges. If you want voice-guided navigation, you can purchase it within the app for additional charge, which is pretty competitive.

The other major software difference is the cloud-based service for phone info backup, remote locking, wiping or locating your handset via HTCSense.com, which is a new thing. That's a must have functionality, which we are sure Samsung is working to add to its handsets in some way, but the new Sense UI has these integrated throughout the interface – for example, when personalizing the looks, you can download additional scenes, skins, wallpapers and widgets from the HTC Hub, and that's within the app. HTC Likes takes the guesswork out of your application shopping experience by pre-screening them for you, and is an added-value alternative to Android Market, and so on. We give credit where it is due, and HTC has the upper hand here for seamlessly integrating a wealth of customization options and functionalities in the new Sense UI.



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29 Comments

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: 8; 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: 8; 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. jony.tk 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 hd...no doubts!!

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