You may have noticed that HTC has just launched a shiny new phone.

People are calling the HTC One (M8) the best Android phone ever. In some particularly enthusiastic corners of the internet, some people are calling it the best phone ever.

Of course, one of the phones that will have something to say about that is Apple's own iPhone 5S. So, how does HTC's new kid on the (single aluminium) block match up against Apple's flagship blower?

We'll look at the two phones from a general design and performance point of view, then round things up by taking a look at which is better for playing games. Which is why we're all here, after all.

So, lets pitch these two giants of smartphone design against each other. Not literally, of course. Can you imagine the scratches? Doesn't bear thinking about.

Design and build

HTC is one of maybe only two smartphone makers out there that can give Apple something to think about on the design front (the other being Nokia, if you were wondering). So, it should come as no surprise to learn that the HTC One (M8) is a striking bit of kit.

Here, HTC carries forward many of the design cues from last year's HTC One, which itself showed that it was possible to produce a premium metallic smartphone that didn't look like an iPhone. No mean feat.

Well, the HTC One (M8) is even more metallic in every way. Its body is now 90 percent metal (the original HTC One is 70 percent), as evidenced by the single piece of aluminium that wraps right around the back and sides of the phone, from screen edge to screen edge.

Is it better looking than the iPhone 5S? It sounds like a cop-out, but beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. The HTC One (M8) is certainly fresher looking than the iPhone 5S, which can trace its basic design back almost three years to the iPhone 4.

The HTC One (M8) is much, much bigger than the iPhone 5S, which will either enhance or detract from its desirability depending on your view.

HTC's latest is more than two centimetres taller and one centimetre wider than Apple's flagship phone, which is a huge difference in an industry that typically measures such differences in millimetres. The iPhone 5S is significantly slimmer, too, at 7.6mm vs 9.4mm.

Meanwhile, at 154g, the HTC One (M8) is more than 40g heavier than the iPhone 5S. That's going to make a real difference in a trouser pocket.


These two phones represent two very different philosophies on smartphone design. And it's the screen size that's at the heart of this debate.

On one side, we have the iPhone 5S, the latest product of the Steve Jobs school of thought. The late Apple founder (and his design team) believed that for a phone to be truly mobile, it had to be readily usable in one hand. The result is the same 4-inch screen that was in the iPhone 5, and that is only marginally longer than the display on the very first iPhone (from 2007).

The HTC One (M8), meanwhile, represents the Android way of doing things, which has generally become the accepted norm in non-Apple circles. This can be summed up as 'bigger is better.'

Given the screen on the HTC One (M8) is a whopping 5 inches in size, you may need two hands to operate this phone. The pay-off, however, is a clearer movie, web browsing, and - yes - gaming experience.

Indeed, it's crisper, too. While Apple has stuck with its Retina display technology for the iPhone 5S (producing 326 pixels per inch), the HTC One (M8) has a 1080p resolution that produces 440 pixels per inch.

Essentially, the display on the HTC One (M8) is bigger and sharper - and, by all accounts, is a top-quality screen in terms of brightness and colour accuracy.

Is it better than the iPhone 5S's? In terms of pure technical quality, yes. Practically, of course, the answer is a lot more subjective.


Modern smartphone processors are multi-core beasts, with integrated graphics chips that can support near-console-quality graphics.

Both of these phones fit into that category, but their designers take very different approaches to achieving relative parity.

The iPhone's A7 chip basically uses two highly capable cores clocked at a relatively modest 1.3GHz, while the HTC's Snapdragon 801 CPU uses four less capable cores clocked at a high 2.3GHz.

On the graphics front, the A7's PowerVR GPU and the Snapdragon 801's Adreno 330 chip seem to be roughly equal overall, though they have very different strengths and weaknesses that would be too tedious to reveal here. Which is my way of saying I don't understand them.

Essentially, then, these are two high-end phones, both sitting at the very top end of smartphone performance. Buy one of these, and you're guaranteed blistering gaming performance, lag-free multitasking, and silky smooth HD video.


Again, the difference in approach between the makers of these two phones makes a like-for-like camera comparison difficult. But while the rear cameras on the iPhone 5S and the HTC One (M8) take very different routes to photo taking, it looks as if Apple's phone has the edge overall.

Apple's is the more traditional snapper. It's an 8-megapixel unit with an f/2.2 aperture and the largest image sensor in an iPhone yet. It does have a couple of innovative touches, such as a neat two-tone flash system that adjusts the light to the warmth of the scene and 120fps video recording that enables super slow-mo playback. Essentially, though, it's just a very good all-round smartphone camera.

With the HTC One (M8), on the other hand, HTC continues its efforts to subvert the established smartphone order. Like last year's HTC One, this new flagship phone sports a 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera which, thanks to having larger-than-average pixels, can capture more light than your average smartphone camera. The result: brighter night time and indoors photos.

You may notice that there are two cameras on the back of the (M8), and that's its big innovation. This second lens enables you to change the area of focus after you've taken the image. Clever.

Perhaps more practically, it enables those high-end depth of field effects at a variety of distances. If you want to blur out the background in a smartphone shot, you need to typically be very close to the subject.

Unfortunately, HTC's UltraPixel cameras tend to struggle when it comes to general camera performance in normal lighting conditions, with somewhat blown-out and grainy results. Early reports suggest that the (M8) fails to improve significantly in this area.


Apples or oranges? Beatles or Stones? Android or iOS? All stupid questions that lead you down a needlessly binary path.

I, for one, like all of the above. Apart from the Stones. They're just a glorified singles band-turned-geriatric circus act.

Anyway. There's no denying that Android and iOS are the two major players on the smartphone scene, but anyone who says one is definitively better than the other should be ignored. They're both ace.

Android is the more fully featured, flexible, and customisable operating system. And it's developing and changing at a more rapid rate. On the other hand, iOS remains a slicker, tidier, and more cohesive experience than its Google-based counterpart. While iOS's feature set is more nailed down, there's a greater range of quality apps available on the App Store to meet your wider needs.

Both operating systems have tipped their hats to the other in recent times - iOS with a funky redesign complete with handy shortcut menus, and Android with a much more cohesive and streamlined UI.

Of course, there's a bit of a snag with the HTC One (M8). It still doesn't run stock Android. Rather, HTC persists with its custom Sense UI here, and tinkers with every last interface element from the underlying Android OS.

It's the best version of Sense UI yet, sure, and is far less overstuffed than previous versions. But it's still not stock Android. As such, we have to give the iPhone 5S the nod on this one.


When all's said and done, you're a fan of mobile games. That's why you're reading this rather than (or in addition to) a specialist tech site's opinion, right?

At the very least, you want a capable high-end phone that just happens to be awesome at playing the latest games that everyone's talking about. The next Threes! or Candy Crush Saga or Flappy Bird.

Others may not care too much about what their phone looks like or can do beyond messaging and calling... as long as they allow you to play the latest mobile games without compromise.

If you're in the former group, then both handsets come recommended, and you should decide based on the above factors. Both handsets have more than enough casual gaming goodness on offer.

If you're more heavily into your mobile gaming, though, we have to say that the iPhone 5S is the better bet. The gap has closed between Android and iOS for the pocket gamer, yes, but it still exists.

Games generally go live on Apple's App Store sooner, are in greater quantity there, and run better there than they do on the Google Play Store.

Android may be more widely used than iOS, but Apple's platform is a more stable, lucrative, and unified platform that creates greater yields for mobile game developers.

That's a simple fact. Will that trend change? Things are changing all the time, with more and more games getting ported to Android in less time - and often surfacing simultaneously. Like I said, though, right now Apple is the undisputed kind of mobile gaming.

Physically speaking, the larger, sharper display on the HTC One (M8) makes it better suited to more complex games - particularly those that require multiple digits to play. But the old adage that 'it's all about the games' has never been more appropriate than it is here.