Camera and Multimedia:

Both camera interfaces are touch-friendly and it's hard to pick a winner here, since the one on the Samsung Galaxy S offers more scene modes, but the interface on the Desire HD looks fantastic, and has no less than 13 color effects that can be applied to your photos and videos.

Good interfaces don't mean much if not coupled to good cameras, and we have to say that both the 5MP cam on the Galaxy S, and the 8MP one on the Desire HD can be very good, but not excellent. The photos from the Samsung Galaxy S come slightly out of focus, if not kept steady, boasting good color representation, but indoors the noise suppression algorithm kicks in, and takes away from the details, as on all handsets that can't light up the scene with a flash, or don't have a backlit sensor.

The HTC Desire HD has a dual-LED flash, but problems with metering, which returned yellow-tinted “darkness with flash” snaps. Outdoors the Desire HD was hit-and-miss. It captures details aplenty and returns accurate colors, but there is again some blurring if the phone is not held extremely steady.

With that out of the way, we must say that both handsets can produce very good photos, but it takes learning the scene modes and image adjustments for that to happen. Out of the box, the 8MP doesn't shoot better photos than the 5MP one, leaving the flash as the only advantage of the Desire HD camera for cases when it's pitch dark. Both devices shoot HD video at 30fps, but the one from the Samsung Galaxy S comes out smoother, with better image quality, and more accurate colors.

HTC Desire HD vs Samsung Galaxy S Sample Videos:

The photo and video gallery on the Samsung Galaxy S is the stock one, with nice animations and some rudimentary editing capabilities. The HTC Sense approach is a category list, and a thumbnail grid view; it also has separate tabs for Facebook and Flickr. Both handsets allow for media streaming to DLNA-enabled devices straight from their galleries.

The music players cover all track sorting basics, with the Samsung Galaxy S displaying a list, and HTC Desire HD having a Cover Flow-like approach for flipping through songs. Now, both devices are of the few that support some sort of surround sound. Samsung has this faux 5.1 channel SRS effects in headset mode in a lot of its  phones lately, and similar technology is present on the HTC Desire HD. However, HTC's handset ups the music ante with offering the surround sound effect both in headset, and in loudspeaker modes, while topping it off with Dolby Mobile technology. SRS intensifies the sound, as if the singer is breathing in your ears, while Dolby Mobile boosts the base sounds for some throbbing tunes. Both are a nice addition for the audiophile in us, but, on the flip side, the loudspeaker on the HTC Desire HD manages to produce just average volumes.

Having those huge screens at your disposal means that you will be watching plenty of videos - both handsets support a large number of formats, including DivX/Xvid, and the chipsets are powerful enough to play HD resolutions without any issues. The HTC Desire HD is a bit more capricious at what you throw at it, and DivX/Xvid played well up to about 640x480 pixels of resolution, then there was some lag and stuttering. Knowing that the bottleneck is not in the speedy chipset, we downloaded a video player off Android Market, which fixed the issue, and added the ability to loop video and subtitle support to the mix. We can still check that as a disadvantage of the video playback on the HTC Desire HD compared to the Galaxy S, though. The player supports the SRS and Dolby Mobile effects in the speaker when watching video, but you won't be noticing much difference, given that the speaker is turned away from you and barely heard then. With plugged-in handsets it does make a difference for a more immersive experience, though.

We were curious to test the battery life for video playback, so we looped an HD trailer, encoded in the popular MPEG-4 with the screen brightness to the max on both handsets, killed idle processes in the background, but left the 3G and Wi-Fi radios on to simulate more of a real-life usage.

The HTC Desire HD achieved 4 hours and 34 minutes of video playback before the battery gave up the ghost, while the Samsung Galaxy S lasted slightly more at 5 hours and 17 minutes, which can be easily explained with the bigger battery. We were actually expecting more from the Super AMOLED screen, given that it sucks the least juice in video playback, but this just proves that the new Snapdragon chipset is well optimized for video playback too. In the end it comes down to a choice between a bigger screen, and more vivid, lively colors. Our personal preferences are the saturated colors and excellent player on the Samsung Galaxy S, but having extra 0.3” of screen diagonal is nothing to sniff at either.

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