The Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, Sony Xperia Z2 and LG G3 are the four big flagships of 2014. The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z2 launched early during the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona. The HTC One M8 is expected to launch on March 28 in New York during a HTC press event while the LG G3 is anticipated to launch in June. Given what we know so far about the specs, hardware, software, features and price of these devices many consumers are considering if they should buy the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 or wait for the HTC One M8 or LG G3 to launch. From what we know about these devices so far they all largely appear to share similar specs and hardware with some devices standing out compared to others but all are largely on par. The specs race has tamped down and now consumers should focus on software and features of these respective flagships.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 was among the first of the new flagships to launch on the first day of MWC 2014 in Barcelona. In terms of hardware the Samsung Galaxy S5 is powerful boasting a quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5 GHz with 2GB of RAM. The processor upgrade was anticipated but the 2GB of RAM of the Samsung Galaxy S5 is less than what was anticipated, the rival flagships like the Sony Xperia Z2 have 3GB of RAM while the upcoming ones are expected to as well. Perhaps Samsung wanted to distinguish the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which has 3GB of RAM and a quad-core Snapdragon 800 from the Samsung Galaxy S5 in terms of hardware by giving people a reason to continue buying the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 isn't expected to launch till IFA Berlin 2014 in September. The Samsung Galaxy S5 has the 16-megapixel camera as one of the major selling points, the camera boasts a fast autofocus of 0.3 seconds making it far faster than most cameras on the market despite not having as many raw megapixels as the Sony Xperia Z2. As with other Samsung flagships there will be 16GB internal memory and a microSD card slot which offers a further 16GB worth of memory expansion.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 includes a 5.1-inch FHD Super AMOLED 1920 x 1080 432 ppi display, slightly larger than the S4 and roughly on par with the rival 5.2-inch displays of other flagships. In other aspects the Samsung Galaxy S5 made a good improvement to the batter with a 2,800mAh battery along with two power saving modes, including one called Super Power Saving mode which turns the entire device into greyscale and turns off all unnecessary features allowing up to 24 hours of additional battery life. Aside from the regular suite of Samsung features the design of the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a new polycarbonate dimpled design, some have compared it uninspiringly to a bandage. However this new design comes with water resistance and dust resistance features of IP67. It's by no means waterproof in the same way the Sony Xperia Z2 is but the Samsung Galaxy S5 is now better able to resist moisture and dust. Other features include an on-screen fingerprint scanner along with a heart rate sensor on the back which can link with the Gear 2 and Gear Fit. In addition to that the Samsung Galaxy S5 has the typical suite of Samsung features and software like S-Voice and it runs the TouchWiz UI with Android 4.4 KitKat reducing touchscreen latency significantly.
HTC One M8
Less known about the HTC One M8 compared to the already released flagships but there have been many thorough leaks which have given us a good look at the design, specs, hardware and software of the device expected to launch at the end of this month. The HTC One M8 is anticipated to have a 5-inch full HD 1080p display with 440ppi making it larger than the old HTC One and comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S5 in terms of size. The HTC One M8 is expected to have the same kind of hardware as the other flagships with quad-core Snapdragon 800/801 clocked at 2.3G/2.5GHz with 2/3GB of RAM. While we can see some uncertainty about the exact specs what we know about the HTC One M8 is well in line with the other flagships. There are 32GB and 64GB memory options anticipated and according to a leaked video there will be a microSD slot on the all-metal body.
The HTC One M8 will have a dual Ultrapixel camera on the back. The dual lens camera has become one of the most distinctive features of the HTC One M8 and apparently it will result in better photo processing. The HTC One M8 will also have a 4/5-megapixel front facing camera making it one of the largest selfie camera's we've seen so far. On top of that HTC is reported to have a 31000mAh battery incorporating some new technology. It's not clear what this new technology is, but it could be a more optimized battery with a faster charge. In terms of features we've already seen that the HTC One M8 runs Android 4.4 KitKat with the new HTC Sense 6 UI and includes Blinkfeed in a tile style format. Other features that are rumored for the HTC One M8 include a fingerprint sensor, better front facing speakers and potentially a Moto X always-listening voice command capability. The last feature is definitely a rumor.
Sony Xperia Z2
The Sony Xperia Z2 is the most direct rival to the Samsung Galaxy S5, both companies set up their launches to clash with each other. The Sony Xperia Z2 specs and hardware include a Snapdragon 801 quad-core clocked at 2.3GHz with 3GB of RAM. The Sony Xperia Z2 has more RAM than the Samsung Galaxy S5 but once specs have reached this point it probably doesn't make too much of a difference. The Sony Xperia Z2 has a 16GB internal memory with a microSD card slot as well and has a unibody aluminum build that resembles its previous incarnations the Sony Xperia Z1 and Sony Xperia Z. The Sony Xperia Z2 makes a large leap in terms of its waterproofing and dustproofing features, it's possible to keep the device under 3 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
The Sony Xperia Z2 has its key feature as the 20.7-megapixel camera which is extremely high quality and capable of 4K and 1080p video along with extremely high quality pictures. The 4K video is of such high quality that it makes the display of the Sony Xperia Z2 appear as though looking through a window. The Sony Xperia Z2 screen is a 5.2-inch 1080p 424ppi Trilumnos display, putting it on par with the various other flagships. Like the others the Sony Xperia Z2 runs Android 4.4 KitKat with the custom Sony UI.
The LG G3 is the most unknown of all these devices with an expected launch date in June. Because of its later release date, possible around the same time as the Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime, the rumors about the LG G3 have been rampant. The LG G3 is rumored to have an Odin octa-core processor build by LG or perhaps a Snapdragon 805, which if true puts it a tier above all the current flagships in terms of hardware. The octa-core LG G3 means that it will have 4 cores clocked at 2.2GHz and 4 clocked at 1.7GHz making it extremely powerful and potentially with 3GB of RAM. In terms of other premium hardware the LG G3 is believed to have a QHD 2K display, which was what was rumored for the Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime.
When it comes to features the LG G3 appears to incorporate a wish list of the aforementioned flagships with waterproofing and dust proofing exteriors according to reports. On top of that the LG G3 may either have a fingerprint or eye scanner. At first glance this makes the LG G3 sound extremely powerful and lucrative but we would advise consumers to be wary of such early rumors. The Samsung Galaxy S5 was the subject of some very similar rumors in the months before its launch and from what we saw the Samsung Galaxy S5 was a very modest flagship. We imagine that the same will likely be true for the LG G3.
Comparing all four flagships show devices that are beginning to plateau out when it comes to the specs race with the focus now on their software and features. With processors and RAM maxxed out we are now seeing things like water proofing, dust resistance and fingerprint scanners become standard. All of these flagships will have to focus on things like improving UX, reducing touchscreen latency and providing faster updates. The LG G3 stand out among these devices, but that is because the majority of information about it are all rumors. Potentially we could see somewhat better hardware on the LG G3 compared to the more recently released flagships but we question if it is worth waiting for. Any increase in specs from beyond this point will come with a correspondingly massive increase in price.
Check out our other comparison articles among the major flagships: