Update: Checkout our HTC One S review.

HTC has made a dramatic change in its business model for smartphones. Instead of releasing 1-2 dozen phones a year, the company will build several key phones and stick to them. The first is the One series, three phones that all are uniquely different from anything that HTC has offered before, and all look great. In fact, I highly recommend two of the four already available.

But what has the most to offer? In this comparison, we check out all four of HTC’s One devices side by side. Each category will have four scores: 4, 3, 2, and 1, where 4 is the highest. The scores will then be tallied and averaged to see which device comes out on top.

And for those of you asking, the Evo 4G LTE isn’t technically considered part of the One line thanks to Sprint’s branding, it also technically is because it uses the same technology as the One line. Just not the same nomenclature.

Size

All three of the HTC One models are respectably thin and light, and they all are pleasant to hold in the hand or the pocket. The difference? Screen size, mostly. The V is the smallest, with a 3.7″ display, followed by the S at 4.3″, and both the X and Evo at 4.7″.  To match those screen differences, the V is the thickest at 9.3mm, followed by the X and Evo at 8.9mm, and the S is thinnest at 7.9mm.

The Evo and X are almost identical in size, except that the Evo is slightly wider by .03″. When I held the X, it felt just wide enough to not be uncomfortable, and the Evo may have passed that mark. Meanwhile the S is super thin and light, and the 4.3″ screen is a good average between all of the phones. The V, however, is the smallest yet thickest device, which makes sense but also keeps it from being the best sized.

The S is overall the best sized phone, followed by the X with its very thin frame and large screen, then the similar Evo, and finally the small but heavy set V.

Winner: S, X, Evo, V

Appearance

All of the One phones have a distinctive yet similar style. They all also come in one color each: black for the Evo, white for the X, and Grey for the S and V. While color isn’t the only difference in looks, it is the biggest one. And quite frankly, the X is brilliant while everything else is, well, a tad dull.

Aside from color though, the X is very sharp thanks to its slight curved body. The Evo is, again, very similar in looks, while the S is very clean cut. The V is no slouch in the looks department, but it does look like a dumbed-down version of its One brethren.

Winner: X, Evo, S, V

Display

There are two major differences between all of the One devices when it comes to their displays: resolution and screen technology. The V uses a resolution of 800×480, the lowest of the bunch, followed by the qHD (960×540) AMOLED display of the S, followed by the 720p displays on both the Evo and X. So clearly the Evo and X win in pixel count and density.

As for screen technology, the V is still a mystery, but considering how it is the lower-end model, it is likely to be a standard LCD display. The S uses SuperAMOLED, the X uses SuperLCD, and the Evo has an IPS screen, the same used in the iPhone. Which is the best? It depends on its use, but OLED displays suffer in bright conditions while LCD and IPS do not (it should be noted that IPS is a type of LCD technology; for the purposes of this article I am using their names to differentiate the devices). IPS typically also has very accurate color representation compared to traditional LCD displays, though the SuperLCD tech that HTC is very good at producing vibrant colors and excellent color contrast.

So which is the better of the two, SuperLCD or IPS? Too hard to say. So the Evo and X tie, until I can have a side-by-side comparison.

Winner: Evo-X, S, V

Processor

The processors used in the latest One series phones are the latest Krait CPU system-on-a-chips from Qualcomm. In the US they offer the CPU and GPU processing, though in Europe its slightly different. For example, the X uses an Nvidia Tegra 3 GPU in Europe, but the Qualcomm Adreno 225 in the US.

Both the Evo and X have the exact same CPU, the Snapdragon S2 MSM8960, a dual-core 1.5GHz CPU. The S has the sightly smaller MSM8960A. The V has a 1GHz as of yet unnamed Qualcomm CPU, which is obviously the weakest of the bunch.

From benchmarks I’ve performed and seen, even though the S has more headway thanks to its lower-resolution display, it doesn’t outperform the X or Evo in processing power. I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between the MSM8960 and MSM8960A, but whatever that difference is, it’s big enough to make an impact.

Winner: Evo-X, S, V

Storage

The One series thus far has been panned for not having upgradeable memory. That’s true of the X and S, but not of the Evo and V models. The V comes with 4GB of usable memory while the Evo has 16GB. The S and X both have 16GB as well.

No matter how you look at it, the S and X both come up short in this category thanks to their lack of upgradeable memory. The V comes in second, because it is very limited with its onboard memory, while the Evo earns top marks for combining the two.

Winner: Evo, V, X-S

Wireless Connectivity

The One series isn’t known for its fast connectivity, at least not exclusively. The Evo obviously has LTE, albeit through Sprint’s brand new network. It will also have 4G where available, which means that unless you live in an area already with 4G, chances are you won’t be seeing LTE very soon. Only one LTE device exists on Sprint’s network, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, but it only just released and Sprint’s LTE footprint is tiny compared to both Verizon and AT&T. And with its smaller size, it’s hard to tell how quickly their LTE network will grow.

The X, meanwhile, has LTE over AT&T, as well as 4G nationwide (the 3G network no longer exists on AT&T, it’s all 4G now, though Edge is still available). The S has a suped-up 42Mbps chip capable of transferring that much data at once, but their network still remains at about 8Mbps down, 1Mbps up. Finally, the V is like the S, and works over HSPA+ networks.

Which is the best? Because in the US the X, S and Evo are all specific to one carrier (with contract), the X is the obvious choice. It works over the most networks, supporting both CDMA and EDGE as well as LTE. The Evo is limited to CDMA networks, specifically Sprints, but has access to their fastest download rates. The S is a GSM-only model, but assuming 4G speeds pick up it can be as fast as most LTE networks are today. The V works as a worldphone like the X, but has no LTE access.

Winner: X, V, Evo, S

Camera

All of the One phones use brand new technology for the cameras, the best software out for cameraphones to date. The cameras themselves, however, are identical on the S, X, and Evo. They all use the same 8MP f/2 shooter. Only the V has a lower resolution 5MP camera, capable of shooting only 720p video (only, compared to 1080p).

However, while the X and Evo are identical in this category, the S has a lower quality VGA front-facing camera, whereas the X and Evo have 1.3MP cameras capable of shooting 720p video. It may not sound pertinent, but for video chatting and the occasional front-facing shot, you want something a little better than what a Nintendo 3DS can muster.

Winner: X-Evo, S, V

Battery Life

Battery life is a tough feature to really compare without having fully tested all devices, except by taking all of the parts into consideration. Through testing I’ve found that the X has a better battery life than the S, and the Evo should have an even better battery because it’s a 2000mAh battery instead of the X’s 1800mAh unit. The S has a 1650mAh, while the V uses just 1500mAh. The V may be the weakest overall device when it comes to power, but I’ve found that the One phones are all very conservative with power use. Very little is wasted, even when on LTE, though on Wi-Fi power drains surprisingly fast.

Winner: Evo, X, S, V

Carriers

Normally comparison phones come from different companies, generally with contracts for specifically one or multiple carriers. In this case, three of the One phones have a sole carrier in the US, and one is still unknown. The X is exclusive (no pun intended) to AT&T, the S is exclusive to T-Mobile, and the Evo will be exclusive to Sprint. The V hasn’t had any plans officially set.

Taking just that into account, the X would be the winner because AT&T has the largest nationwide network of the three (Verizon is larger), then the Evo, then the S. However, the X also wins because it’s a worldphone and can work over any network, while also working over LTE networks (though it’s AT&T’s LTE network, which means potential international LTE use). The S is a GSM phone, so it’ll work anywhere in the world, but has no access to CDMA networks. The Evo, however, will only work on Sprint; international use will require working with Sprint’s partners. Finally, the V is also an international phone, albeit without LTE.

That means the X is overall the best, because it’s available to the most customers and works everywhere. Then the V, which although isn’t available yet and there are currently no plans for specific carriers, can function on any network. The S and Evo I’m labeling a tie, because while both are stuck on their respective networks, both also offer something positive: the Evo has LTE and the S is a GSM phone.

Winner: X, V, S-Evo

Price

The One is tricky when it comes to price. The V has yet to have any price announced, the X just formally released and can be purchased for $150 plus contract, the S is $200 plus contract, and the Evo doesn’t have a price yet either. Off contract though, the X is $720 and the S is $600.

What does that mean? It means that likely the Evo will be $200, or to be more competitive with AT&T (or at least through Amazon Wireless) $150, and the V will be the least expensive, likely at $100, or if it goes to smaller carriers, perhaps even for $50 or free plus contract.

In any case, the X is the best deal with a contract, and the Evo is likely to get the same deal. If you’re looking to buy it elsewhere, prices are sky high (as per usual for phones), so stick with a contract.

Winner: X-Evo, V, S

Overall Winner

Picking out a winner is surprisingly easy once all of the different categories are taken into account. The HTC One X and Evo 4G LTE both prove to be the absolute best models, and for good reason. They are the most powerful, feature the best hardware, and although they’re the largest, they have the best screens, the best network access, and the best battery life. And they have the best pricing.

But I wouldn’t count the One S out, not just because it’s the T-Mobile exclusive phone if you are already on that carrier. It’s an extremely impressive device in its own right (stay tuned for the full review), and shouldn’t be underestimated. But when comparing it to the Evo and X, it doesn’t look like it stands particularly tall. Don’t be fooled.

The only wildcard is the V, which still has too many unknowns. We don’t know when it will release, we don’t know all of the specs fully, and we don’t know what carrier it’ll be on. And the price is nearly impossible to guess, especially if it ends up going to smaller carriers.

At least with the X, Evo 4G LTE, and S, the One series has a lot to offer on all major carriers except Verizon. They are all great phones, but the X stands out above Sprint’s model. So if you aren’t worried about carriers and are just looking for the best new Android phone, and are seriously considering one of these models, go with the One X.



James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.