Having lived with both handsets since they launched in March and May respectively, we thought it was high time to pit them against each other to see which is the best Android smartphone on sale today.
If you need reminding, here are our 5-star reviews of both phones:
HTC One (M8): Return of The Special One
LG G3: The laser-guided speed machine
Four months on from its launch, we still love the way the One (M8) looks and feels. It’s all-aluminium body simply oozes class in a way no other Android phone can. Only the iPhone comes close, but if it’s premium Android you want, this has to be the only option.
However, while Samsung continues to offer great phones wrapped in cheap plastic housings, LG has turned up the wick in its design department, producing what it calls a “metallic finish” to the G3. What this means is a phone that looks and almost feels like metal, but retains the lightness of plastic. The effect doesn’t work too well in our white long-term loaner, but the gold and silver models we’ve seen previously both look brilliant. They might not have the cold touch of the One, but they’re still a top-notch effort from LG.
As screens get larger, ergonomics play a huge part in how easy a phone is to hold and use. We’ll speak more about display quality in the next section, but as for overall size, the extra half inch of the LG G3’s panel is cleverly disguised by tiny bezels, meaning it’s actual footprint is almost identical to the HTC One (M8).
Weight stands at 160g for the HTC and 149g for the LG, while thickness is 9.4 for the One (M8) and 8.9mm for the G3 - both stats are hugely impressive given the G3’s larger screen, but overall we prefer the look and feel of the M8.
Arguably the most important component of any smartphone, the display is where battles are regularly won and lost - and where manufacturers can’t afford to take their eye off the ball. Thankfully, both LG and HTC have brought their A-game as far as the G3 and One (M8) are concerned. Both are stunningly sharp, beautifully bright and look absolutely gorgeous.
But the G3 has an Ace up its sleeve, in the form a Quad-HD resolution. Measuring 2560 x 1440, the G3’s display has twice as many pixels as the HTC and much of the Full-HD competition. This means images even sharper and even more stunning than you will have ever seen before; it’s like having a 4K television in your pocket and there really is nothing else on the market which looks this good.
But pixels aren’t everything, and while the text videos included with every G3 look out-of-this-world good, the rest of the operating system looks and feels a lot like it does on other HD handsets.
We have to give this one to the LG, based on its higher resolution and larger size (while retaining a similar footprint as the M8), but in reality they are equally impressive.
This is where the two handsets get closer than two coats of paint, as they both have the same Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor by Qualcomm. The LG’s is clocked to 2.5GHz, sloghtly faster than the 2.3GHz HTC, but in the real world you are never going to be able to spot the difference. Indeed, during our time with both phone we couldn’t spot a noticeable difference between the two, in terms of performance.
Apps opened and closed equally quickly, games were equally smooth and both handsets simply refused to put a foot wrong. Some users might start to notice the LG’s 3GB of RAM, compared to 2GB in the HTC, when switching between multiple open apps, but both offer truly outstanding performance.
Their hardware is also very similar. Both have 16GB of storage with the option of adding up to 128GB more via a microSD card slot; both are charged by microUSB and both have a full range of wireless connections, including the latest and greatest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and 4G. Both handsets have an infrared blaster on their top edge for controlling your television and home cinema equipment.
Power users will be pleased to see the G3’s removable battery - so you can swap in a new one when your phone dies after a busy day - and there’s integrated wireless charging too; the HTC misses out on both of these.
For us it’s a dead heat. Both phones offer unique features, but neither does quite enough to overcome the other. HTC and LG are both at the top of their game here; buy either and you’ll have an excellent smartphone.
Both run Google’s Android 4.4 KitKat, but HTC and LG have gone about garnishing it in different ways with their own design and applications. Both companies have take over the left of the home screen; LG uses this space for a pedometer shows steps taken, distance covered and calories burned in the last day. This is joined by a Smart Tips section highlighting how to use some of the phone’s features - unfortunately the two panels can only be deleted or reinstalled as one. In the HTC corner the One (M8) has the company’s Blink Feed page to the left of its home screen. Here you can see an overview of friends’ tweets and Facebook posts, and news headlines relevant to your interests.
Aside from these small extras, the two operating systems are very similar in design and layout, although to our eyes the HTC’s is both the better-looking and the slightly more responsive. Despite the LG’s extra power, its software isn’t quite as quick-witted at the One’s.
Both LG and HTC have broken new ground when it comes to mobile photography. The One (M8) uses an Ultrapixel sensor to capture more light, along with a depth sensor to let you blur the foreground or background of a photo after it’s been taken. Smart stuff, we’re sure you agree.
Fighting the G3’s corner is its laser autofocus, which employs an infrared sensor to focus the camera (eve in total darkness) in less than 300 milliseconds. That’s faster than you can blink.
Image quality is a sticking point for the HTC. Yes, they look beautiful in the right light and the Duo depth sensor borders on witchcraft - but image size is limited to just four megapixels. Fine on the phone and Facebook, but less sharp when viewed on a bigger screen.
Conversely, the G3 has a 13-megapixel sensor, and although it lacks the depth trickery of the One, a software feature can be used in the camera app to create a similar effect.
This is a tough one. The HTC’s depth sensor is super-smart, but the LG’s software alternative is the best we’ve seen. That, plus the extra megapixels and unbelievably fast autofocus mean the G3 wins this round.
After six rounds, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s a draw. The HTC wins when it comes to design and software, LG takes the honours for its screen and camera, while in the performance stakes it’s a dead heat.
These are two of the very best smartphones we’ve ever laid eyes on and picking one over the other is all but impossible. Having lived with both for more than a month now, we’re sliding towards the LG. That screen is phenomenal, the camera is fantastically fast and wireless charging is making us wonder how we’ve ever lived without it.
The HTC has the superior look and feel, but (in the metallic versions at least) the LG has the overall upper ground.