Sony Xperia Z1 vs HTC One

Sony Xperia Z1 is the Japanese company’s latest flagship and it was announced at IFA 2013 in Berlin. Sony Xperia Z1 had been the victim of numerous leaks prior to launch and when Sony announced it, nothing came as a surprise – even the 20.7MP camera. The 20.7 MP is one among the key features of Xperia Z1 and it makes it the smartphone with the biggest camera sensor on an Android smartphone, even bigger than the one on the camera-phone – Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, but without the optical zoom.


HTC One was announced in early half of 2013 during February before the MWC 2013. HTC One continues to be the company’s flagship with its 4.7inch Full HD display, solid aluminum build and it was the first smartphone to come with the UltraPixel camera that allows better low light imaging. HTC One is indeed one of the best looking Android smartphones with a solid build quality and top of the line specifications.

Today, we will be seeing how Sony’s camera centric powerful Xperia Z1 will take on the slightly older HTC One. Lets find out how they compete against each other. You can check out the entire comparison video right below.

Design and Build Quality

In terms of looks, Xperia Z1 and HTC One are very different. Sony Xperia Z1 follows a slightly played out industrial design language with a rectangular build and a single piece of aluminum at the center and glass for the center and back – this is the same design language that Sony has been using for its flagships in 2013. HTC have come up with the device having the best build quality and looks. HTC One is dominated by a solid chunk of Aluminum and that gives it a very premium finish and look.


In terms of dimensions, the Xperia Z1 is taller and wider than HTC One, but thinner. Xperia Z1 weighs comparatively heavy 170g while HTC One weighs just around 143g.

On the front of the phones, you can see two Full HD displays. The bezels are kind of big on the Xperia Z1 while they seems normal on the HTC One. On the Xperia Z1, above the display, the earpiece is along the top edge and on the right side of the Sony logo, we have the 2MP front camera. On the left side of the logo, there is the combination of proximity and Ambient sensors. The front of HTC One is where HTC have placed the dual Boom speakers above and below the display. Above the display, we have the long speaker grill at the center and the wide angle front facing camera on the right side while the pair of sensors – proximity and ambient rest on the left side.


Below the display, there are no navigation buttons on Xperia z1 and hence all navigation is restricted to on-screen buttons. On the HTC One, below the display,we have the HTC logo at the center flanked by a couple of capacitive touch keys and the logo is not touch sensitive, so there is no way to use it. Below these navigation keys, we have the second speaker grill that constitutes the front facing stereo speakers along with the grill on the top.


The positioning of keys is drastically different on both the phones. On the right side of Xperia Z1 you have the circular and symbolic Sony power lock button, volume rocker, microSIM card slot and an extra camera shutter key since it is a camera centric device while the right side of HTC One has just the volume rocker.


On the bottom of Xperia Z1, there is just a single long loudspeaker grill while on the HTC One, we find a microUSB port and a microphone. On the left side we have provision for docking at the center on Xperia Z1 and a covered microUSB charging port along with microSD card slot. The left side of HTC One is mostly barren except for the microSIM card slot.


On the top, Xperia Z1 has just a 3.5mm audio jack while on HTC One, we see a 3.5mm audio jack along with the power lock button. HTC is one of the very few companies to have the power lock on the top(Apple does that). All the ports except the 3.5mm audio jack are covered with flaps in Xperia Z1 to make it dust and water resistant.


The back of these devices couldn’t be more different. The materials used for the back are quite different and hence the characteristics are different as well.The back of Xperia Z1 follows the same design language as the Xperia Z and Xperia Z Ultra and uses glass. The choice of glass looks and feels premium, but it is quite glossy and attracts fingerprints. Xperia Z1 has a 20.7MP Sony G lens on the top left corner with a LED flash below it. HTC One has a curved aluminum back that gives it even more premium build and looks stunning. There is a 4MP UltraPixel camera along with OIS at the center with flash towards its left. There is also a secondary microphone on the back of the phone.


Overall, in terms of design, build quality and handling, the industrial design and solid built Xperia Z1 seems premium, but is prone to scratches, finger prints and it becomes slippery. HTC One, looks solid and is relatively compact and offers an even more premium finish, but it comes with a smaller 4.7inch display. It definitely comes down to personal preference between the glass body of Xperia Z1 which tends to be more slippery, scratch and fingerprint prone against the smaller solid Aluminum unibody of HTC One.



Both these flagship phones come with Full HD displays. Xperia Z1 has a 5inch Full HD Triluminous display with a pixel density of 441ppi while HTC One comes with a 4.7inch Full HD SLCD 3 display with a pixel of 469ppi. HTC has one of the sharpest display’s in the market.


In various aspects of a display like brightness, contrast, viewing angles and sunlight legibility, HTC One is way ahead of the Xperia Z1. The viewing angles of Xperia Z1 are very poor and remind us of the screen of Xperia Z which suffered from similar problems. When seen from a slightly different angle, the screen of Xperia Z1 appears whitish. The display of HTC One simply looks gorgeous.

Overall, the display of HTC One is much better.

Hardware and Performance

Sony Xperia Z1 packs the fastest processor in the market – Snapdragon 800 SoC clocked at 2.2GHz, packs 2GB RAM and Adreno 330 while the One comes with a slightly less powerful Snapdragon 600 clocked at 1.7GHZ, 2GB RAM and Adreno 320 GPU


Both the phones come with 2GB RAM and out of the 2GB RAM, Xperia Z1 has 1.7GB usable RAM and when the device is idle, around 1GB is free while the HTC One has just 1.5GB usable RAM and when the device is idle, around 1GB is free.


In terms of internal storage, there is 16GB internal storage on Xperia Z1 and HTC One comes in 32/64GB variants. Xperia Z1 has support for microSD cards which is missing in One. Out of the 16GB, around 11.7GB is user-accessible on Xperia Z1, while in HTC One, around 24GB is accessible. Only the dual SIM HTC One is now available in India which comes with a microSD card slot.


Having a newer processor and new GPU clearly gives the Xperia Z1 an advantage and it is seen in the benchmark scores. In terms of daily use performance, both the phones are quite fast and opening apps, switching between them is seamless.

Overall, Xperia Z1 is the winner because of the newer processor and GPU.


Sony Xperia Z1 is the company’s first step towards a camera centric flagship as it comes with the biggest sensor on an Android smartphone. The Xperia Z1 comes with a 20.7MP Sony G Lens sensor and houses Sony’s own Bionz Image processor for superior image quality. HTC took a different turn when it comes to the camera of HTC One and came up with 4UltraPixel camera that has a 2um pixel size and provides better low light images and it equipped with OIS(Optical Image Stabilization). Though the Sony Xperia Z1 runs on Snapdragon 800 SoC, there is no 4K video recording and you do not even get 1080p Full HD recording at 60fps which you find on other Snapdragon 800 phones like LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Both the phones have a 2MP front camera that can record 1080p videos as well.


In terms of camera UI, there is a huge difference. On the Xperia Z1, the camera UI is different as the mode selection button is present on the bottom right corner above which we have the camera shutter key and video record button. The shortcut to recent images is on the top right corner. On the left side, we have the toggles for Flash and switch for Front/Back camera. Below it is the three vertical dot icon for settings. The various shooting modes that are available in Xperia Z1 include the regular Superior Auto mode, Manual mode, Timeshift Burst mode, Picture effect mode, sweep panorama, AR Effect, Social Live and Info-eye. Also Xperia Z1 produces over-sampled 8MP images in Superior Auto mode. This is one of the first Android smartphones to produce over-sampled images (which was introduced to smartphones by Nokia). HTC’s camera app has Zoe and Video highlights which differentiate it from the rest of the phones. In terms of features, it is nowhere close to what Sony offers.


In terms of image quality, the daylight photos and videos taken on the Xperia Z1are better with nice details and more colors, but when it comes to low-light, HTC One has just a small advantage.

Software Features

Sony Xperia Z1 is available with Android 4.2.2 JB while HTC One was released on Android 4.1.2 Jellybean and now it is updateable to Android 4.2 Jellybean. Both the phones now run on Android 4.2.2 and Xperia Z1 has Sony’s own UI with their version of apps like Album, Movies and Walkman while HTC has their famous Sense UI along with Blinkfeed.


The app drawer on both the phones is different and both of them allow you arrange the icons in any order, alphabetical order. HTC One has a vertical app drawer in which you can arrange apps as per your needs. Xperia Z1 has exactly ten and fixed toggles for various connectivity options like Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC and so on in the notification bar while HTC One has a more traditional stock like UI with no toggles when pulled down with single finger and when pulled down with two fingers, it reveals the quick toggles. Xperia Z1 comes with Sony’s small apps which can be accessed by pressing the third navigation key that also opens the list of already open apps. There are various small apps like calculator, recorder, timer, bookmarks and so on. You can open any number of these apps at a time and have them on screen. They are always present on the screen unless you close them. Instead of closing them, you can drag them to the right side of the screen where they become small icon and attach themselves to the right side of the screen. On clicking those minimized icons, they are visible again. These small apps can be very useful for taking down notes and doing small things in a fast manner. Unlike Sony, HTC has gone the way to implement more features that to add up on multi-tasking. HTC One has Blinkfeed which gathers news from the sources you specify and you get it right on your home screen.

Each phone is unique in its way, but we feel that HTC One has the upper hand here because of the better looking UI and the rich feature set.


Sony Xperia Z1 comes with their home-brewed multimedia apps like Album, Walkman and Movies. The Album app which is the image gallery is quite functional as it supports pinch to zoom feature. When you pinch out inside the app, all the images rearrange themselves to the smallest possible thumbnail size and when you pinch in, they zoom in and keep zooming in until you are with a single image and even when pinch in further, they zoom the picture. The rearranging takes place so fast thanks to the Snapdragon 800. Walkman is Sony’s trademark music player and comes with all the features and some good Eye-candy. Movies is the video player for Sony smartphones and not it does it play the movie, but also fetches information about the movie from the Internet which gives you a quick summary of the movie.

HTC has its own app for videos, gallery and music. The gallery app of the One is great because of the video highlights that shows the photos in an album in a quick 30 sec preview and with added effects. In addition to that, it also a music player that goes hand in hand with the great sound quality that it offers. It comes with Beats audio and you can choose to enable it in the music player.

Both the devices are great for multimedia, but because of the better display, HTC One has the advantage although Xperia Z1’s display’s dimensions cut short the advantage.


In terms of gaming, both the phones are good. But because of the newer processor, higher clock speeds and better GPU, gaming is definitely better on the Sony Xperia Z1.

Battery and Connectivity

Xperia Z1 comes with a 3000mAh Li-ion battery while the HTC One has a 2300mAh Li-Po variant. Both the phones are sealed and the battery is not user-accessible. Battery life is better on Sony Xperia Z1 because of the higher capacity.


In terms of connectivity, both the phones are equipped with WiFi(802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), DLNA, WiFi Direct, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth, TV out(via MHL), GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS, NFC, microUSB and USB OTG. Only the dual SIM HTC One is available in India.


Sony Xperia Z1 is redefined Xperia Z with much better specifications while the HTC One is the first of its kind with a very impressive build and top of the shelf specifications at its launch time. The Sony Xperia Z1 is currently available for Rs. 41,000 while only the Dual-SIM variant of HTC One is available in India and it is priced at Rs. 49,000.


Advantages of Sony Xperia Z1 over HTC One

  • Bigger display
  • Better specifications
  • Better performance and gaming
  • Better camera
  • Better battery life
  • Relatively cheaper
  • Water and dust resistant

Advantages of HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z1

  • Dual SIM support
  • Solid build quality
  • Compact form factor
  • Beats Audio and stereo speakers on the front
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Author: Monish Kumar

Monish is passionate about smartphones who is also interested in User Experience and Design. He is currently using Samsung Galaxy S3. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+