"May Fall Short On Some Important Benefits"4.0 starson by tennisump1973
Pros: Fastest Processor Available, Great Pictures, Quantity of Features
Cons: Screen Dimmer Than Competitors' (As Per Reviewer), Call Quality Less Than Optimal (As Per Reviewer), Plastic and Proliferation Translate Into The "Volksphone" of Cells
Summary: The three most important benefits I want in a cell phone are: 1. call quality; 2. photo quality; 3. screen quality. I want features such as a battery lasting a full day and a fast processor, but I don't need a battery lasting a week or the fastest processor available.
Every few years I upgrade to the best cell phone I can. This is an upgrade year for me. I am considering the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One, and the Sony Xperia Z/ZL.
I haven't used any of these phones yet. (Two haven't been released yet in the U.S.) All I can go by is the reviews I've read, and I respect CNET's reviewers at least as much, if not more than, any other group of reviewers. With the reviews, I can filter reviewers' opinions of the features that translate into benefits for me.
I like the feeling of owning quality. I like the feeling of owning something that's a little special, rather than owning the "Volksphone" of cells. That tends to discount the plastic and soon-to-be top-selling Samsung Galaxy S4, but I'm still open to that great feature set.
As far as screen quality, Jessica Dolcourt opined about the Samsung screen: "Its screen is dimmer than competitors'...." That's the reason I didn't get the GS3 last year; Ms. Dolcourt reminded me of my disappointment at seeing the GS3 screen. With the GS4, I am expecting something competitively similar, albeit improved. That leaves me with a choice of the HTC One's 468 ppi in a 4.7-inch screen, and the Xperia Z/ZL's 443 ppi in a 5-inch screen.
From the reviews I've read, the Samsung GS4 takes excellent pictures. The HTC One seems to take very good low-light pics, but middling photos in other lighting conditions. HTC's four MP camera isn't a deal-breaker, but it's not the selling point the 13 MP Samsung and 13 MP Sony cameras are.
Brian Bennett described the Xperia ZL's camera quality thusly: "the Xperia ZL's shoots images of outstanding quality for a smartphone. Indoors, studio shots were clear with lifelike colors and crisp detail...outdoors...the Xperia ZL continued to demonstrate its imaging prowess. Details were sharp, and colors in the clothing of pedestrians and foliage vibrant yet not oversaturated."
Jessica Dolcourt gave her preliminary findings on the GS4's call quality: "Audio quality did not blow me away. Volume was a little low, even when I spoke from within a fairly quiet office building with the volume clicked up to the maximum output. Add the wind and road noise outside, and it became difficult at times to hear. Voices weren't fuzzy, but also weren't clear, and a layer of white noise crackled whenever my calling partner spoke...."
Brian Bennett described the HTC One's call quality: "I enjoyed relatively clean audio quality with very little distortion. Callers described my voice as clear if a little flat, and could easily understand the words I spoke. They did notice a slight crackle at the beginning of sentences and could certainly tell I called from a cellular connection."
Brian Bennett also described the Xperia ZL's call quality thusly: "Callers described my voice as crystal clear...and callers' vocal tones were surprisingly rich and warm."
Others may weigh benefits differently than I do. Others may look for different features than I do. But as far as I'm concerned, if a major carrier picks up the Xperia Z or ZL, I'll probably go with the Sony. If not, I'll probably go with the Samsung GS4.