HTC One max vs Samsung Galaxy S4
There's an Ultrapixel camera with 4MP of resolution on the back of the HTC One max, and we're not overly thrilled by that fact. After all, the HTC One, on which HTC's Ultrapixel tech made its debut, never managed to impress us with its photographic skills. What's even more underwhelming is that the camera on the One max lacks optical image stabilization, unlike the HTC One's Ultrapixel snapper. Samsung has picked a 13MP camera for its Galaxy S4 smartphone. The cam may not have a fancy name attached to it, but it can take outstanding photos, as we know from first-hand experience.
Launching the camera app on the HTC One max brings us to an interface with dedicated photo and video shutters on the right, meaning that you don't have to switch between photo and video modes back and forth. There's no shortage of useful camera modes, including Sweep panorama, Night, HDR, and Anti Shake, adding software image stabilization to the shot. The settings menu, however, lists these modes and all the rest of the camera settings in a single menu list with sub-menus. Because of that, getting to the option you need might take longer than it should. The camera UI on the Galaxy S4 is not perfect either, but it feels a bit better organized once you get used to its layout. It provides quick access to its plethora of shooting modes and we like the option to have shortcuts to frequently used camera settings.
Looking at these two phones' photos side by side, it becomes clear that the Samsung Galaxy S4 can take better photographs. Thanks to its higher camera resolution, it captures much more detail in photos, allowing us to crop them to our liking or to examine each shot from up close. The HTC One max, on the other hand, preserves less detail in its photos, and what makes matters even worse is the heavy presence of digital noise when light conditions aren't optimal. On top of that, shots from the One max often turn out underexposed, while the ones from the S4 are clearer and as bright as they should be. Thankfully, we found a remedy – tapping on the object being photographed with the ONE max makes a huge difference as doing so sets the exposure properly. Indoors and at places where light is scarce, the camera on HTC One max does a fairly good job, but again, the Galaxy S4 will often yield better results, with more details and livelier colors in its photographs.
As any other high-end smartphone, the HTC One max and the Samsung Galaxy S4 can capture 1080p video with their main cameras. Again, we are more satisfied with the quality of the footage shot by the S4 as it is brighter, more detailed, and with clearer sound. Moreover, the Galaxy S4 can take smoother videos in dim light.
Both smartphones come with 2MP front-facing cameras. The quality of their images and videos is acceptable, which makes them suitable for video chats and occasional self portraits. With its wider field of view, the front snapper on the HTC One max makes it easy to fit a buddy or two within the frame.
Naturally, both these smartphones have what it takes to give a portable MP3 player a run for its money. With their pre-loaded music player applications, one can enjoy quality audio in a multitude of file formats. However, we find the Samsung Galaxy S4 slightly more suitable for the purpose. It has a ton of options for sound enhancement, including a special mode you won't get on a competitor's smartphone – called AdaptSound, it can adjust the phone's audio reproduction in a way that matches both the user's earphones and hearing. The HTC One max lacks Beats Audio support, unlike recent HTC smarthpones. On top of that, it has no equalizer or any options for altering the sound reproduction at all. Of course, one is free to use Google's Play music player instead, or any third-party music player from the Play Store.
An awesome perk you get with the HTC One max is its pair of front-facing speakers. They don't just sound good. They produce better audio than what any other smartphone can deliver, save for the One and One mini, of course. On the back of the Samsung Galaxy S4 we find a single speaker, which is loud enough, but inferior when compared to the max's.
We can probably spend hours watching videos on the HTC One max. Its 1080p screen is definitely large enough for the task and its high quality makes the experience even more enjoyable. But we'd advise you to get a good video player from the Play Store as the One max lacks support for some video formats. Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S4 can play high-definition videos as well and we wouldn't mind using it to check the newest FAIL compilations on YouTube.
Unlike most Android smartphones out there, the HTC One max and Samsung Galaxy S4 have been equipped with infrared emitters (IR blasters), which are used to control electronic appliances. Yup, these two handsets can serve as remote controls for your TV or stereo. What's more, both smartphones have TV guide apps, listing shows that are on air in your area. (Not available in all countries.)